A plea to George R. R. Martin

georgerrmartinBY BRIAN GODAR

If you watch even the smallest amount of television, you are most likely aware that there is a show called Game of Thrones on HBO that has received wide critical acclaim. What you might not know is that this show is based on an ongoing series of fantasy novels written by George R R Martin. Fans of the show know this, and they also know that Martin likes to take his sweet time writing these books.

One of the more worrisome conversations when dealing with the relationship between the show and the books is that Martin has slowed his writing to a snail’s pace in recent years, which leaves fans of the show wondering if there will ever be sixth and seventh seasons. Martin took six years to write the fifth book, while the TV show takes one year to produce an entire book’s worth of episodes. At that pace, the show will have the first five seasons done years before Martin is done writing the sixth book.

This wasn’t always the case. Martin wrote the first book in one year while the second and third books were finished in two years each. At that point, the series was slated for five books, but Martin wrote so much for the fourth book that he ended up splitting it up into two books, and increasing the desired length of his series to seven total books. Fans of science fiction and fantasy shuddered at that announcement.  At the same time, it took five years for the fourth book to be released.  That was worrisome, but maybe it took longer because he had to figure out how to split the material up between the fourth and fifth books. There was still hope. However, this hope was dashed when it took him six years to write the fifth book. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, but writers in the science fiction and fantasy genres tend to get far too involved with their books, never wanting to finish the series. These writers leave behind the most unfinished works when they die (Robert Jordan is most famous for this, dying after writing a total 11 out of 14 planned books in his wildly successful The Wheel of Time series), and I fear the same thing will happen to George R R Martin. The man is 64-year-old and more than a little obese, which leads some fans to believe he won’t finish the sixth book, much less the seventh.

Martin has been interviewed about this topic in the past and laughed it off as fans wanting him to write 24/7 without taking any breaks. That is a valid point, but the inevitability of his health failing is also a valid point. Even if he doesn’t die before finishing the series, there is still the question of how he will finish the sixth book by 2015, which is when season six of the TV show would need to begin filming. That would cut one year off the time it took him to write the fifth book, and the history of his pace slowing down as the series progresses makes that possibility very unlikely. Even worse, it’s doubtful that the TV show will ever see a proper ending, because even if the timeframe is met for the sixth book, that would leave Martin with one year to complete the seventh book, or the TV show would need to go on a multiple year hiatus.

So George, as a fan of the books and TV show, I am begging you to please get back to writing as soon as possible. I’m not saying you should cancel publicity tours or book signings, but it’d be nice if you could multitask a bit, given that Type 2 Diabetes can’t be far off. Losing a leg is bound to take even more focus away from writing. Also, your books have spawned an entire franchise, and the TV show will go on, with or without you. If you haven’t finished the next two books in time, the TV show is going to hire some hack writers to copy your style and create two more seasons. Inevitably, these writers will butcher your dream and bastardize the series. I doubt you want that any more than the fans do, so it’s in everybody’s best interests that you write a little faster.

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