Game of Thrones fever is back.
The highly popular fantasy TV series premiered its sixth season April 24 on HBO. Unlike previous seasons, season 6 will consist largely of content not found in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
This distinction is drastically changing the dynamic of the series.
Since the end of last season, the show has been caught up with the books. Readers of the novels no longer have an advantage over those who have only watched the show. No one, besides the shows creators, know what will happen next.
And that’s pissing a lot of people off, especially considering the next book isn’t going to be published any time soon.
As I write this, The Winds of Winter, the sixth and penultimate novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, has not been published and, according to Martin’s blog, is not even finished. The last novel in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was published in July 2011, nearly five years ago.
Readers of the series are getting fed up, some having stuck with Martin since the first volume, A Game of Thrones, was released in 1996.
Twenty years is a very long time to stick with a story and considering the TV show has only been around since 2011, this new season might seem like a slap in the face to long-time readers.
It’s also frustrating that it’s been five years since the fifth book was published, and there isn’t even a release date for the sixth. Martin should be working harder, shouldn’t he?
While 20 years is undoubtedly a long time to spend on a series, it’s an even longer time for an author to spend on a project. If Martin had the ability to finish the series faster, don’t you think he would have done so already?
Especially considering the incredibly nasty things people are saying about him, the songs urging him to write faster and the website that attempts to predict if Martin will die before finishing the series.
Seriously people, what’s wrong with you?
I want The Winds of Winter to come out as much as the next person, but I am not going to harass the poor guy, threaten him or make a website that places more value on his work than on his life.
In the words of Neil Gaiman, “George R.R Martin is not your bitch.”
Writers have enough to worry about: meeting deadlines, attending conventions, updating social media, connecting with fans and living their own lives. They don’t need you to take to social media to harass, criticize or belittle them for not working as fast as you’d like.
It sucks that season 6 of Game of Thrones has, and will continue, to spoil crucial plot points of the series, but shit happens. If you feel disappointed, I guarantee Martin feels 10 times worse.
He wouldn’t continue to delay the book if he could help it, because no one wants to invite the kind of criticism he’s currently receiving. And no author wants to make their fans wait for the next volume of a beloved series.
Martin has already vowed to attend less conventions and to stop writing for the Game of Thrones TV show in order to focus on writing The Winds of Winter.
And that’s more than I expect from him—because we shouldn’t expect anything from him.
When, or even if, he finishes The Winds of Winter, we should just feel grateful that he was willing to share his creation with us.
Gaiman explains on his blog, “You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the book you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: That you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you. No such contract exists.”
Stop feeling entitled to the sixth book, because Martin doesn’t owe you anything. He obviously wants to makes his fans happy or he would have given up on the series years ago.
Criticizing him now isn’t doing any good. It’s only making him, and every other writer, feel worse about themselves, as if their value is only based on the work they produce. And that needs to stop.
I’ll continue to support George R.R. Martin at whatever speed he writes the next book. I’ll hope for his good health, not just so he can finish the series, but because he’s a human being who’s worth more than the books he creates.
I’ll still be waiting eagerly for the next book, and devour it happily when Martin thinks it’s ready, but if he can’t finish it for whatever reason, I won’t blame him.
Any real fan should do the same.