Finish the Book, George

23:29 Sun 02 Nov 2008. Updated: 17:25 28 Jan 2009
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Today I came across a blog dedicated to scolding George R. R. Martin about the fact that he hasn’t finished A Dance with Dragons. The fact is, I can see why the authors of the blog decided it was necessary. It’s been three years since A Feast for Crows, and the next book was supposed to be half-done when he released it. Worse, it’s been twelve years since the first book.

I know how hard it is to write a novel, never mind a good novel. A series of good novels, that’s certainly a tall order.

Furthermore, Martin’s books are extremely detailed in terms of the world he’s created, the histories of the characters involved, and the intricacies of the political movements. That makes it entirely reasonable for him to take as long as he wants, essentially.

However, what irks me, and what the authors of Finish the Book, George also find objectionable, is the emphasis that Martin places on his other works.

He can write whatever he wants. He’s free to stop here and never finish the series. But that will drive a lot of people nuts, and it’s driving many of us nuts already to read Martin’s blog and discover that he thinks we’re interested in things that are not A Dance with Dragons, or with his working on those things.

It’s a curious phenomenon, really, the expectation created by a series like this. I’m not sure it’s the same as in other forms, such as films, because it’s generally understood that films are so complex and expensive to make that a huge number of people can be responsible for things going wrong. With books, though, it’s just the author. There’s nobody else. There’s nobody to absorb some of the responsibility when things don’t follow the schedule, and I think that fans are aware of that, and get more frustrated because it’s theoretically a manageable situation—just get the one person to write, and that’s it.

Lots of fans understand the difficulty (otherwise, one assumes that they’d write their own books), but the enthusiasm created by a successful series has a flip side, and the flip side is the frustration and anger produced when the creator fucks it up (see Lucas, George) or delays it past the point that seems reasonable—which is what’s happening here.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a fantastic series. I can’t wait for the next book to come out, but that’s been the case for three years now, and it’s hard to maintain the enthusiasm, or even interest, without occasionally veering into the feelings expressed at Finish the Book, George.

On a different note, a fantastic ASoIaF resource can be found at Tower of the Hand. That might help distract you from the absence of the next book… or increase your impatience about its production.

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