What Do The Authors Of Serialized Works Owe To Their Fans?

Just recently I finished the fifth book from the A Song of Ice and Fire series. (5,000+ pages in two months. Where's my medal?) After putting down A Dance with Dragons I was overtaken by feelings of malaise and depression.

So many questions demanding answers. So many dangling plots! And answers will be a long time coming. There are still two books in the series forthcoming. Thus far, the first five books took George R.R. Martin 16 years to write. A Dance with Dragons came out last year. I am not holding my breath. 

Right after finishing the fifth book, I stumbled upon this: A music video by Geek and Sundry for a song titled Write Like the Wind (George R. R. Martin). In said video, these fans of the series beg that Martin finish the last two books as soon as possible, being sure to point out that the 63-year-old writer is old and could die before he has a chance to finish. 

Wait, what?

This video really bugs me. I mean, really guys? That's how you want to encourage Martin to write more? To remind him that he's old and is going to die? 

The band tries to walk it back, singing: You're not our bitch and you're not a machine and we don't mean to dictate how you spend your days...

And then they ruin that sentiment in the very next verse: But please bear in mind in the time that you've had William Shakespeare churned out 35 friggin' plays.

I get that this was probably done in good fun, but it strikes me as selfish and condescending. But hey, that's me. So I figured I'd bring it here and we can talk about it. Because it's an interesting discussion, I think: What does an author of a serialized work owe his or her fans?

When fans breathe life into the characters, is there some level of ownership there? How far does the ownership go? And why does it seem to morph so quickly into hate?

Who owns the characters?

It must be nice, to write something so beloved that people wait for the next installment with breathless anticipation. Something that people speculate about and create theories for. Something with a massive cultural impact. My hat is off to Martin. It's a well-deserved honor. 

But what is it that makes this story resonate so strongly? Certainly it's well-written. It's exciting (when the narrative is focused on anything but the Iron Islands). It speaks to universal truths, about power and wealth and religion. But that's not really it.

I think the thing that makes this resonate strongly--that makes any work like this resonate strongly--is that the reader can empathize with the characters. 

We care about Jon and Daenerys and Tyrion. There are things about them we can identify with--feelings of alienation and persecution. Inadequacy and rejection. Ultimately, triumph (we hope it for them, just as we hope it for ourselves). They are characters on which the reader can project, and reflect.

But would those characters be as powerful if removed from their cultural impact? There's something here that smacks of that old adage: If a tree falls in the woods and there's no one around, will it make a sound? Martin built them, but the fans give them life by reading them (and by supporting Martin so he can keep writing).  

When fans breathe life into the characters, is there some level of ownership there? How far does the ownership go?

And why does it seem to morph so quickly into hate?

Can't we all just get along? 

The level of vitriol toward Martin on the interwebz can get pretty scary. I found this forum, which predates A Dance with Dragons, in which fans talk about whether Martin will finish. Here's one of the comments from the thread: 

George R. R. Martin has consistently said that if he dies, we're fucked--he has never written down anything about how he wants this series to go or end. My guess is that's because he has no fucking clue how he wants this series to go or end, and he's just winging it at this point.

Every time he posts something about the New York Giants on his LJ I want to comment "FINISH YOUR FUCKING BOOK!" but I'm just too damned nice. I've been reading this series since I was 18. I am now 31. At this point I just hope he finishes it before I die.

A little intense, no? Sadly, it's representative of a lot of the comments I read, both there and elsewhere (some were nicer, some not so much). 

Martin took to his blog on Feb. 19, 2009, to address some of the vicious e-mails he had been getting from fans: 

After all, as some of you like to point out in your emails, I am sixty years old and fat, and you don't want me to "pull a Robert Jordan" on you and deny you your book.

Okay, I've got the message. You don't want me doing anything except A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Ever. (Well, maybe it's okay if I take a leak once in a while?)

Robert Jordan, of course, being the pen name for James Oliver Rigney, Jr., who died before he could complete his Wheel of Time series (another instance where fans were pissed off to no end, that the author wasn't delivering books fast enough). 

Neil Gaiman even came to Martin's defense, writing a great blog post addressing this in response to a fan who felt "let down" by Martin for not writing his books faster (and given the use of the word bitch and machine in the video, I'm sure Geek and Sundry read Gaiman's post too). Here's an excerpt: 

You're complaining about George doing other things than writing the books 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 existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.

It seems to me that the biggest problem with series books is that either readers complain that the books used to be good but that somewhere in the effort to get out a book every year the quality has fallen off, or they complain that the books, although maintaining quality, aren't coming out on time.

Gaiman contends there's no contract. So when I went to Amazon and bought the first five books, that's what I was paying for--it wasn't a voucher for two more installments. And I'm inclined to agree with Gaiman on that. 

And as a writer, it makes me sad and angry to see Martin take so much flak. I have to wonder what it says about our culture. I think we're spoiled, is the problem.

So maybe there isn't a contract. But could there be an understanding? I think it's fair to say that we have an understanding, George and I, that I will buy his books and sing his praises and hope to be rewarded with two more books and a satisfying conclusion (which of course would be Hodor on the Iron Throne).

Though, I'm not going to get angry at him. I'll even wish him a long and happy life, whether he keeps writing the books or not. As a writer I sympathize. Not that I know how it feels, to write a series of such acclaim and importance, but I can imagine if I close my eyes and wish really hard. 

Writing is important but there are other things that are important too. Sometimes the writing has to wait. If Martin has to go take a leak, who is anyone to deny him? 

And as a writer, it makes me sad and angry to see Martin take so much flak. I have to wonder what it says about our culture. I think we're spoiled, is the problem. 

The NOW Generation

We live in a glorious era where massive amounts of entertainment are available through the series of tubes we call the internet. But that easy access has made people selfish. 

Game of Thrones is one of the most pirated shows on the internet, and people try to beg off the fact that they're stealing it by bemoaning HBO's distribution method, and why should they be forced to wait weeks to see it legally? (It's a funny argument because of how loaded down with bullshit it is--if you're in a deli and you're hungry it's not your right to take a candy bar without paying.) 

And yet, people get all worked up and cry and moan that they can't watch Game of Thrones and they steal it anyway. Because that feeling, be it the ownership or the understanding or just selfishness, is enough for them to break the law to get their fix (and yes, pirating is breaking the law--people forget that, given how easy it is). 

Does the anger stem from the fact that we've been trained to expect things delivered to us quickly? Have lightning-fast downloads ruined us? In the future, are series' authors going to be expected to push out their books on a yearly or semi-yearly basis, just to keep their fans from rioting?

Your turn

I have just talked a lot. I'm surprised you're still here! While I used Martin as an example, it's only because I just finished the books, and then saw that video. But there's plenty of other examples, like the aforementioned Wheel of Time series. There was also the concern after Stephen King was hit by a van, that he wouldn't finish The Dark Tower series. 

Then there's a whole other conversation to be had about whether other authors should take over characters after the creators have died, like Brandon Sanderson did on the Wheel of Time series, or Robert Goldsborough on Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe. Or Max Allan Collins, who told us about completing Mickey Spillane's lost Mike Hammer novel.

So, there's plenty to discuss, but let's start with: As a reader, how do you feel? 

Is there a contract, or an understanding, or something else? Do you think readers have the right to be upset? Am I being too touchy about the above video? Do you think we've been spoiled?

Ultimately, what do the authors of serialized work owe to their fans? 

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Comments

Ashley McNamara's picture
Ashley McNamara July 9, 2012 - 7:45am

As a reader, I prefer quality over quantity - he can take all the time he needs, and if he dies, so be it. It will just make the books even more popular. Maybe that's his plan...

DorianaGraye's picture
DorianaGraye July 9, 2012 - 7:46am

So in regards to the Geek & Sundry video: 

I totally understand where you can find the video insulting, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Mr. Martin himself just did a long interview on another Geek & Sundry show, Sword and Laser.  If Mr. Martin was insulted by the video (which I think was done only in good fun), I highly doubt he'd be working with G & S on any other projects.

Anyway, it's worth pointing that out.

nekopi's picture
nekopi July 9, 2012 - 7:53am

Anyone who is insulted by a Paul and Storm song has obviously missed the point of their music.

 

I'll just leave this here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_and_Storm

amethystwyvern's picture
amethystwyvern from New York is reading Crime and Punishement July 9, 2012 - 7:54am

I was rather let down with book Five and can only hope he picks it up in Book six and Seven. I'm rather inclined to agree with Geek & Sundry as a fan, but as a student of Literature I believe an Author needs as much time as possible to craft their masterpiece. It's a tough call I'm not ready to make.

Aimy Dandelion Sait's picture
Aimy Dandelion Sait July 9, 2012 - 8:02am

i strongly believe authors such as George R.R. Martin doesn't owe us anything. its great enough that they decided to share with us their stories. whenever i read something so wonderful i keep thinking how their mind really work that they could come up with such brilliant things. i will wait for it even if it takes 10 more years. and if he couldn't complete the books then i will just accept it as one of those things that are meant to be uncomplete, something for me to figure out myself.

sorry for my bad english.. :)

James Hartley Francis Browning's picture
James Hartley F... July 9, 2012 - 8:07am

I'm still reading them so it might be hard for me to empathize with all of these angry people right now, but I couldnt agree with you more.

Except for the part about the video piracy.
I would happily pay to watch Game of Thrones if it had a distribution method that was anywhere near as good as the one that we, the people, have set up for each other. You have to be very careful because "stealing" is a loaded word. Stealing is taking the property of another person but when that property is infintely, and easily, replicable then the issue becomes somewhat more murky. Sharing is a positive thing, the fact that millions of people are illegally downloading Game of Thrones doesn't necessarily mean that those millions of people would (or even could) pay for it if they wanted to, yet the cultural impact of the show has increased dramatically as a result. Of course the people who make the show need to eat, I'm not trying to defend actions which could potentially take away from their livelihood, I am just trying to suggest that prosecution and accusations are a dumb way to solve what is clearly a problem.

I generally suggest that people look at how the Steam gaming platform works. Convenience is the key, the burden of which should be on the distributor, not the consumer. After all, the customer is always right.

Except, of course, in the case of all these people whinging that George R.R. Martin isn't writing fast enough. They're just mean...

EricMBacon's picture
EricMBacon from Vermont is reading The Autobiography of a Corpse July 9, 2012 - 8:12am

A writer owes the reader nothing. The consumers came to the author because they like his or her work, the author didn't create the story because he liked conumers. Some writers manufacture novels on a yearly basis, very few do it well. Yes, I understand that a reader is invested, but never more than the author is. Quality over quantity, and patience is an investment as well.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 8:56am

I don't feel nearly as strongly as fans of his series do, but I am inclined to wonder what, exactly, he does besides writing. I mean, it's not like it's his job or anything. Oh. Wait.

Honestly, five books in sixteen years is glacial to me. It doesn't take a decade to take a piss. He seems lazy. I think the thing I'm most surprised with is that Martin isn't more motivated himself to get the books out more quickly. I'm twenty-one and I worry about whether I'll do anything worthwhile before I croak, and here's this obese senior citizen dragging his feet on something he's obviously invested a lot of himself in. I'm disappointed with any author, myself included, who fails to meet my standard of creative rigor [an undefined equlibrium between quality and quantity of output], as absolutely illogical as that is.

I have a very ingrained notion of my job. If it's my job to do something, I do it. So to consider myself a writer, I would have to write. It's a matter of principle. It's hard to sympathize with people who do not feel the same way, and this is the source of my frustration. I see Martin's failure so far to complete his series as a personal moral failure rather than a public moral or personal creative one, something akin to watching a firefighter eat donuts while the donut shop burns.

But, then again, I've not read A Song of Ice and Fire and prefer stand-alone works to series anyway, so I don't really have a dog in this fight. Many—I'm tempted to write all but will not allow myself this absolute—writers I read are dead or otherwise have an established body of work to enjoy. In other words, this is just something I don't have to worry about. And this is why my thinking cannot really apply to Martin: I am not the kind of author who would attempt something like A Song of Ice and Fire because it is not the kind of thing I would enjoy writing. So, perhaps, I merely blame Martin for putting himself in a situation where he could fail himself so.

The sticky part in Gaiman's argument involves the exchange of money. If you pay someone for a service, then do they not, for the duration of that service, work for you? I'd say so, but where does the service end, then, with books? Gaiman is correct in his analysis that whatever paid for, say, A Game of Thrones was paid solely for A Game of Thrones, but surely Martin did not work for the buyer when he wrote Game. This is temporally invalid.

Still, Gaiman's advice is some to follow: Get on with your life. If Martin can find other things to do than finish A Song of Ice and Fire, surely you can find other things to do than read it. There are other books out there, after all.

 

On a side note, I think the biggest risk Martin is taking is financial. But I only think this because the person I am at twenty-one would not be reading for the first time the same series at thirty-one he read at eighteen. I would lose interest. Since this rarely seems to happen with readers of epic fantasy, I think Martin is safe. I mean, what are people gonna do? Not read the book they're so desperate for, they're pissed at him for not writing quicker? Yeah. Thought not.

EDIT: I originally referred to A Song of Ice and Fire as A Song of Fire and Ice, I suppose because the latter phonetically appeals to me more than the former.
 

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life July 9, 2012 - 8:21am

I say quality over quantity.

I find it interesting that most of you are saying he can do whatever the hell he wants. But what about the George Lucas situation? He's doing whatever the hell he wants, and I bet a lot of you guys are against it.

James Hartley Francis Browning's picture
James Hartley F... July 9, 2012 - 8:26am

To clarify the frustration of your average TV show downloader:
Imagine if the 6th book came out, but only in another country, with a few weeks to wait before it is given an official release wherever you may be. However in order to actually turn a profit the distributors in your country plaster it with ads and restrict access to it to a certain time of the day during which you might have to work. Then someone comes up to you and says "hey, I have an ad free version which you can read whenever you want, and you don't have to wait the few weeks in order to do so, and its free" That is doubtless a hard offer to refuse.

Yes, this is the NOW generation, but with good reason; we have the capabilities to be the NOW generation, sending a file across the internet from one side of the globe to the other is extremely simple. A global release platform would be technically easy to set up, we already have one and it's called BitTorrent. We no longer need the middle men that endlessly profit off the work of others. I for one would rather send my hard earned money to those responsible for making whatever it is that I am consuming. Yes, businesses may lose money as a result of such a scheme but only because they are becoming obsolete. It is a good thing. We are the NOW generation because we can be the NOW generation.

lightning fast downloads haven't ruined us, they will set us free. As long as we have the patience to actually wait for the content to be produced, the distribution should be the easy part.

Not to mention the vast improvement this would make to current TV ratings systems. Over the internet you can accurately count how many viewers are actually watching. TV is dead. Long Live the Internet. Also Literature.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 9:13am

I guess the gist of my above long-ass post is that Martin owes it more to himself than to his fans to finish A Song of Ice and Fire.
I guess the gist of my below long-ass post is that Martin owes it more to A Song of Ice and Fire than to either himself or his fans to finish A Song of Ice and Fire.

EDIT: I referred to A Song of Ice and Fire as A Song of Fire and Ice, I suppose because the latter phonetically appeals to me more than the former.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 9:14am

The position of the readers reminds me of something Michael J. Riser said on the Workshop Whoring Thread. [Michael, I am not calling you out; I just meant to respond to you there and forgot about it and have decided that this is a more relevant place to put said response.]

Anyone who comes to a workshop wanting anything but to be ripped a new asshole is there for the wrong reason. If something really does work and you get good feedback, that's great, but that just means it's time to get off the ass and get the thing published, and if there's anything else (and there should be a lot else; workshopped stuff should be bleeding red), you should be grateful for the chance to breathe new life into it. All feelings are irrelevant but those of your readers.

My reaction, in essence, was "bullshit." All feelings are irrelevant but those of your readers? What a load of crock! I recently submitted a rough draft of a story to the Workshop. I have no audience. I have no readers. But, goddamnit, I bled that fucking story onto my keyboard. And you're telling me I did it for readers who, as of yet, do not exist?

I think the act of creation has inherent value. That’s certainly true for me. A Song of Ice and Fire will always be valuable to Martin through the process he undertook in forging it, regardless of whether he completes the series. Consider how content Flaubert's Binet is in making his napkin rings. But what value would A Song of Ice and Fire have to the world if it were never read? None. That’s how much. Zero is the value of art that goes unexperienced. Herein lays the conundrum. Considering that his art needs an audience just as it needs a creator, what should the creator do when the desires of one conflict with the demands of the other?

He should do what’s best for the story for the story’s sake. I submitted that story to the Workshop because I care about it enough to want it to be the very best it can be. This doesn't mean following the feelings of readers. Hey, our Workshop is great—a vastly varied group of writers determined by design to give the best advice they can to help ensure they receive the best advice they can: it's a godsend as far as I'm concerned, a fucking stroke of genius—but I didn't even take each reviewer's word to heart. Frankly, even the smartest reviewer can make a mistake. It's up to the author to decide whether recommended changes are beneficial. I have long held the belief, or at least entertained the idea, however pseudo-spiritual it may be, that art exists in a vacuum, in some protean nether somewhere between an artist's intent and an audience's perception. Limiting the dimension of art to one party or the other denies art its rightful place.

A story is a living, breathing thing, a party unto itself. So, if I am perturbed at Martin’s fanbase even while I am perturbed at Martin, it is because they are mucking with his story by mucking with its natural development. In the end, the needs of A Song of Ice and Fire outweigh the wants of Martin or his readers in respect to A Song of Ice and Fire.

Christian's picture
Christian July 9, 2012 - 9:25am

I'm kind of a new-comer to the whole series, I watched the first season on HBO and read the books before the second aired, and I feel that GRRM needs to hurry up.  I loved the books and even though I only finished them a few months ago, I want to start rereading them.  With that said, the ending of A Dance with Dragons was miserable, GRRM left more cliffhangers than an episode of Lost.  Now I love Lost as well, but I didn't have to wait five years for the next episode to come around.  There is so much happening in the last few chapters, including multiple main characters facing death, that it seems cruel to take time in writing the next book. When I look back at the last few books I can't be sure of what's going on with any of the main characters; literally all of them are in danger or put in some other weird situation where I have no idea what's going on with them.  The only characters that we can make definitive statements about are the ones who are dead.  I've never read a book like it, a book with out some sort of resolution at the end, or at least ending at natural breaking point.  Damn it, now that I'm really thinking about I'm getting pissed.

Bob Pastorella's picture
Bob Pastorella from Groves, Texas is reading murder books trying to stay hip, I'm thinking of you, and you're out there so Say your prayers, Say your prayers, Say your prayers July 9, 2012 - 9:24am

Authors don't owe us anything. There's a long, long list of writers who failed to bring more to their fans. Ira Levin, who wrote Rosemary's Baby, amongst other GREAT works, had a notoriously low amount of published work. Why? Because he didn't give a shit if readers wanted another story by him or not. He did what he wanted to do, perioid. Same with Thomas Harris, creator of Hannibal Lector. From what I understand, he sold the rights to the characters, so he doesn't have to write anything. The man was sharp enough to basically write his own contract, which obviously had provisions if he just wanted to cash in the characters. I'd LOVE to read another Lector novel, would preorder it and wait with drool leaking down my chin for it to hit my mailbox, but it's probably not going to happen. T.E.D. Klein only has two books in his resume, The Ceremonies and a novella collection called Dark Gods. From what I understand, he has another book of short stories out as well, but I also heard they weren't that good. I'm quite content with his previous output, since it's so good. Klein is considered one of the GREAT horror writers, yet he hasn't done anything worth a shit in over 20 years. Chances are he's doing something else other than writing, and I'm sure it's a lot more interesting that what I'm doing right now, typing these words. 

For years, people have been begging for Robert Plant and Jimmy Page to get together with John Paul Jones and do a tour of Led Zep music. They do get together and play occasionally, once in a blue moon, some big charity event. They play for a couple of hours, pack it up and go home. Plant has said many times that's it's not about the fans, it's about them. When they are ready to do something, if there's anything to do, then they will do it. He stated that perhaps if the fans shut up about it, things might progress more in that kind of direction. 

They owe us nothing. If they don't want to write or play music, or act or make movies, then let them live their lives. If you quit reading their books, do you think they're going to call you or send you a personal email wondering where you've been, why haven't you picked up their latest book? (Funny thing is that with Facebook and Twitter, it kinda feels like that sometimes, like all the promotion is geared specifically and personally at you.) The writers who don't want to write aren't going to bug you when you quit reading. Let them be. 

Megan Gedris's picture
Megan Gedris July 9, 2012 - 9:26am

Steven King's Dark Tower series.

Took forever to write the first four books, which were incredibly good. Fans begged for more, and more quickly, but he took his time and wanted to work on other books in the meantime.

Then he got hit by that van and almost died, and realized his mortality, and how he might not get to finish the series. He wrote the last three books very quickly and they came out one after the other bam bam bam. I don't know anyone who finished the 7th book and didn't throw it across the room in frustranger.

Granted, I'm sure there are some people who loved the ending, but I know more people who didn't, and the quality of the rushed books, spurred on by fear of death, didn't do us fans any favors.

Christian's picture
Christian July 9, 2012 - 9:43am

I just wanted to comment on some of the the other comments.  This isn't about releasing another book for old time's sake,  putting the band back together.  It can't stress how upsetting the last book was.  If GRRM doesn't put out the next book, its not a question of long-term overall story arc, like "WIll there be peace in Westeros".  Its visceral, and very personal, like "What the fuck, is the character I fucking love going to die here, like this?"  If GRRM had finished his book with an ending/resolution that maybe left an opening for him to write another book, thats one thing, but he's stopped the action mid-swing.  And its not that he owes mee because I bought all the books and all the audiobooks,  it's because I've loved the story and I want to know what happens.  George, if you read this, I just want to know what happens, please, pretty please.

paulandstorm's picture
paulandstorm July 9, 2012 - 9:49am

This is Paul Sabourin, from Paul and Storm, the music duo who wrote and performed this song and video. A fan of ours sent us this link.

A few things:

1) We are both great fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The song and video are intended to humorously express the frustration of SOIAF fans, but also (and really moreso) to mock the indignance of fans who express that frustration in the manner the "narrators" of the song do. (Lyrics like "indignant, entitled and waiting for word" and "we won't stop whining until we're appeased" should be pretty strong clues to that intention)

2) We wholeheartedly agree with everything said above, as well as by both the blog postings of Neil Gaiman and John Scalzi (the song contains oblique references to both) that a series author is under no contract whatsoever to his or her readers, and should take as much time as they feel is necessary to finish. As has been pointed out in many places: once a book comes out, I will no longer care how long it took to write; I will only care if it's good or not.

I might love the McRib sandwich. (I don't, but follow me here) I might spend my time between McRib sandwiches doing nothing but waiting for, dreaming of and blogging about my next McRib sandwich. I tell the McDonalds corporation that I approve of the McRib by purchasing one regularly. But my purchase of a McRib sandwich puts McDonalds under no obligation to keep making them forever. If McDonalds discontinues them, I am allowed to be frustrated and angry with McDonalds; but I can't claim they OWE me more McRibs. When I was paying them, I paid them for the McRibs they made, not ones they were going to make for me in the future.

3) For what it's worth, we have it on firsthand authority that GRRM has seen/heard and approves of the song and video. That doesn't mean you can't still feel it's selfish and condescending; but at least know that the target himself understands the spirit in which the song was written and is cool with it.

4) Hodor on the Iron Throne is the best possible ending. It's the way EVERY book ever written should end.

 

Thanks,

P.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading A truckload of books July 9, 2012 - 10:27am

To put it very simply, no author owes anything to anyone. I have to sit back and smile at how personally people take it. People freaked out because King announced he was going to release a book in paperback only--they felt he OWED it to them to publish it in their favorite format, not HIS. It's his fucking book, get over it. This is Martin's fucking series--get over it. 

And to the person who said "it doesn't take a decade to take a piss", well, I suppose you're right, but that doesn't make the man lazy. It may mean he has a life outside this one series, and wants to write other things, or spend time with people, or just go for a goddamn walk in the park. His life, his series, his priorities.

 

element1133's picture
element1133 July 9, 2012 - 11:07am

Art for my sake. Not yours.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 11:43am

And to the person who said "it doesn't take a decade to take a piss", well, I suppose you're right, but that doesn't make the man lazy. It may mean he has a life outside this one series, and wants to write other things, or spend time with people, or just go for a goddamn walk in the park. His life, his series, his priorities. 

Aw. I miss the days we were on Username basis, Sparrow. I was commenting on the Martin's hyperbole quoted in the article. ["Well, maybe it's okay if I take a leak once in a while?"] It's pretty clear that readers wish Martin made different life choices, but I'm fairly certain his bladder is not responsible for his taking sixteen years to publish five books, and I'm fairly certain his readers understand that just as I'm fairly certain he understands his readers understand that just as I'm fairly certain most understand that his comment and mine were made in jest.

At the heart of my first post is this: I am not George R. R. Martin. Obvious, yes, but important. His desisions are his to make, and I can recognize that while looking down on those decisions. The one does not exclude the other. The same freedom that allows him to make choices allows me to judge them [if not the freedom to sentence him his readers seem to yearn for]. The same freedom that allows you to critique me allows me to critique him. Think of it this way: my life, my post, my priorities. Yeah, he can, within reason [think Bundy] do what he wants with his life, but if I took so goddamn long to finish a single work, I'd be ashamed. But of course, I am not George R. R. Martin.

If I may, I think your ire stems from the fact that these readers who pester Martin seem unable to grasp that, as per the wonderful McRib analogy, their anger and frustration do not mean Martin owes them.

Also, your statement that "no author owes anything to anyone" is way overstating it. I posit that an author owes something to anyone he feels indebted to. For instance, King wanted to publish paperback, and he thus owed it to himself to do so.

Limbless K9's picture
Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu July 9, 2012 - 12:12pm

It is my understanding that writers who write for their fans produce shit like Twilight, while writers who write for themselves produce masterpieces. 

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 12:38pm

It is my understanding that writers who write for their fans produce shit like Twilight, while writers who write for themselves produce masterpieces.


I agree with the sentiment that an artist will not produce something worthwhile if they have no stake in their art, but I'm not sure that Stephanie Meyer didn't write for herself, and writing for yourself does not guarantee you a masterpiece.

Caitlin O'Sullivan's picture
Caitlin O'Sullivan July 9, 2012 - 12:39pm

Just to start with, I think it's worth making a distinction between "serial" works and "episodic" works, because there's a major difference in the way that readers experience the books, although both types of books are often described as being part of a "series," and I think the difference illuminates some of the rageohol flowing on this topic.

Episodic books (the Sookie Stackhouse books or the Stephanie Plum books) have connecting storylines and the reader benefits from reading them in order, but they also have plots that are wrapped up at the end of each book. There are exceptions, but for the most part, there are no giant cliffhangers--no un-tied-up plot lines--at the end of a book in an episodic series. So readers get excited about reading the next book, but there aren't the same calls for blood when a book gets delayed.

A serial book series, however, has overarching plot lines that (at least in theory) the author has mapped out in advance. The completed series reads like one story in seven volumes. (Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles is an excellent example.) If the author wants to keep writing, he or she has to start a new series or write a spinoff novel. If the author dies in the middle of writing a series, despite the fact that he or she might have completed five books, if it's a ten-book series, that's like only getting half the story.

So that's why people are flipping their shit and talking about how GRRM "owes" them books--there is an implied contract between writer and reader that if the reader is willing to invest the time in a book, the writer will give them a beginning, middle, and end (because that's what a story is, unless you're venturing into experimental work).

Imagine you buy a book. It's a very long (and very exciting) book, and three-quarters of the way through, you find out that the remaining pages are blank. "Oh, I'm working on it," the author says. Are you going to be irritated? Yes, you are.

As a writer starting a serial book series, if I have the balls to start asking people to pay for my story before I even finish writing it, then I have an obligation to finish it. Immediately? Maybe not, but I would certainly feel guilty about leaving people hanging, and if people started howling for their book, I'd probably get extra defensive out of guilt.

Kyniska's picture
Kyniska from Pepperland is reading Just Kids by Patti Smith July 9, 2012 - 12:51pm

Thoughtful article, I enjoyed reading it. (Clearly a subject that many people have thought about.) I just started reading the series, so the Hunger hasn't hit me yet, but even when it does, TS. You can blame it on the NOW culture, if you must, but I blame it on what I always blame everything on: poor education.

Someone who is truly and honestly upset at the length of time someone takes to create something clearly does not understand how this works ("this" being the creative process, life in general, what have you). If you can pirate the show, and that presents no moral dilemma for you, you're going to do it, because you actually CAN. You cannot force an author to write any faster anymore than you can tell them what to write. And why one would want to is beyond me. They created this, they can do what they want with it. We can enjoy it, even assign value to it, but we don't control it. I may not like what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, but I accept that it's his creative property, and he has every right to foul it up. I assume most of the complainers are just letting off steam or are angry about something else; I have a hard time believing that they honestly wish Martin ill because he takes his time. Disappointed, sure; angry, not necessary. There are plenty of other books and series to take the edge off. And I agree that quality over quantity is paramount. I personally thought the Dark Tower series to be significantly weaker after King's accident; whether or not that was directly the result of him rushing to finish it, I don't know. 

What do authors owe their fans? To put their best into their work; nothing else.

And I believe the creators of the video already laid this out, but it's just a video. It looks like they had fun with it, with no malicious intent towards the author. But I'm glad it struck you the way it did, because it led to an interesting article.

Varkko Stush's picture
Varkko Stush July 9, 2012 - 1:18pm

The most ridiculous thing about all of this is that ''fans'' believe that giving an old man abuse is going to act as a motivational tool for them to get what they want. Martin should write the final books and take them to his grave with him, just as a big ''f**k you'' to the moaning buggers.

Varkko Stush's picture
Varkko Stush July 9, 2012 - 1:23pm

*Just to add my tuppence-worth on the Dark Tower series, it's possibly my favourite ending of any King book. How could it end any other way? I love that series and i believe it's his masterpiece.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 1:25pm

As a writer starting a serial book series, if I have the balls to start asking people to pay for my story before I even finish writing it, then I have an obligation to finish it.

This is a really good point and a perspective I hadn't considered.

You cannot force an author to write any faster anymore than you can tell them what to write. And why one would want to is beyond me. They created this, they can do what they want with it. We can enjoy it, even assign value to it, but we don't control it. I may not like what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, but I accept that it's his creative property, and he has every right to foul it up. I assume most of the complainers are just letting off steam or are angry about something else; I have a hard time believing that they honestly wish Martin ill because he takes his time. Disappointed, sure; angry, not necessary. There are plenty of other books and series to take the edge off. 

Well put.

God. I've monopolized this thread enough. Time to look for more pumpkin recipes.
For work.
I wish I weren't being serious right now.

Limbless K9's picture
Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu July 9, 2012 - 1:39pm

I agree with the sentiment that an artist will not produce something worthwhile if they have no stake in their art, but I'm not sure that Stephanie Meyer didn't write for herself, and writing for yourself does not guarantee you a masterpiece.

That is said much better than how I phrased it. 

Sharon3's picture
Sharon3 from Seattle is reading Gone Girl July 9, 2012 - 2:32pm

I saw GRRM at a reading at Town Hall in Seattle last week, and he claimed he'd be done with The Winds of Winter in 17 years. I can only hope he was kidding! During the Q&A, someone asked him who he wanted to take over the series if he died before it was finished. He said he wanted the questioner's head on a spike for even asking the question (it was a bit cheeky), but if he did die that he'd have "other things to worry about than finishing the [expletive] series."

Other authors taking over characters after the creators have died just doesn't work for me. The tone and style of language is always off, and I find myself second guessing everything I read, thinking "Is that really what they would've done?" There is a falsity to it I just can't get past. I would rather have it left undone, since that's how it would seem to me anyway. I am a big fan of ASOIAF, am patiently waiting for GRRM to finish it, and truly hope he does!

Btw, he does work on many other projects besides ASOIAF (including traveling to work with aspiring science fiction and fantasy writers).

Dark Riddler's picture
Dark Riddler from Portugal is reading Kafka (tales) / a Creative Writing book July 9, 2012 - 4:46pm

Today, "A Feast of Crows" (in Portugal, the 7th book of 10) arrived to my address. I haven't opened yet, for some misfortunes have devastated my life. I have no strength right now, to keep reading a story I am loving to be told.

Authors have a life too. Things can get messed up, other projects can come up, or simply a need to relax. To breathe. You do not know in what mood your favorite writer is right now. He can be blocked or cooking up some ideas, searching for inspiration, needing a pause. You are human, but you need to remember that the writings you are waiting impantiently are created by human beings too.

I don't care if I must wait, as a reader, the writers should have the freedom to take their time. Of course we can sigh, in despair, in front of a bookstore shelf if our favorites aren't publishing anything except special editions of previous works, but the writing style or the characters you are so fond of could not exist without them.

So take your time, Writers o.O «3

note: Keep in mind that telling/censuring/annoying an author about his age or body tissues or whatever, is, quite frankly, rude and it *does* make you a selfish and obnoxius person. (I wouldn't write even a crum of a line to someone like you <.<)  Even though that rushing obviously mean you liked the previous books a lot.

Ben Villeneuve's picture
Ben Villeneuve from Maine is reading Gardens of the Moon July 9, 2012 - 5:20pm

I've loved every Song of Ice and Fire book. I sort of reject the "serial novel" hypothesis; for me, each book has its own flavor, with its own beginning, middle, and end, and its own unique reason for me to enjoy it. I do get attached to the characters, but GRRM isn't going for cheap thrills or dangling mysteries in front of my face just to keep me buying and reading. The series has followed a cohesive narrative arc thus far, forming one of the best stories I've ever read. If it never got finished, I would be satisfied with what I have read thus far. I would be sad, yeah, but more because of the death of an extremely talented writer than because I don't get to read the ending of one of my favorite fantasy stories. I think people have gotten too used to caring disproportionately about endings and answers, and that if people would pay attention to the shape of the story itself, they'd see that what GRRM has given us thus far is top-notch and worthy of praise on its own.

Also, Bret Gammons, I appreciate much of your argument here, but let it be noted that Martin hasn't just been resting on his laurels when not pumping out Westerosi goodness. He's very active in the community, attending conventions and contributing to anthologies, so on and so forth. Also, each Song of Ice and Fire novel is huge, and editing is always necessary to make it fit into the larger planned story arc. So his job is "writer," but it's not specifically "writer of novels in the popular Song of Ice and Fire franchise." The question becomes, when a particular piece of an author's body of work becomes extremely popular, does that author owe it to a fanbase to work exclusively on that? The "take a leak" snark was just that; the crux of the issue is how much of an author's time does a fanbase have the right to demand. No matter what the phrasing is, the answer is always "none."

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list July 9, 2012 - 5:33pm

There are a lot of comments here, so I will try to keep mine somewhat brief. When I was growing up Harry Potter was the big thing. The first two books came out quickly. They were short, but awesome. Then the gaps between books began growing and all of us waited on pins and needles for the next installment. Some great fan fiction came out, podcasts discussing theories became popular, Wizard Rock was born. The fandom took on a creative life and built a community. Honestly, the gap between books made it special. When we finally got the next book we would celebrate and devour it. We grew up with the books and they are now a huge part of our lives.

People are spoiled. A lot of readers have become very mean spirited. Charlaine Harris, who write the Sookie Stackhouse books, has been viciously attacked for churning out a book a year. Readers accuse her of lacking quality due to deadlines. Yet people who take longer to release books are accused of being lazy jerks who need to buck up and do their job. It seems to me that many readers are not writers and do not understand the level of work that goes into writing. Writers need to take breaks and live normal lives. Otherwise they would get burnt out or depressed and the work would suffer for it anyway. So... that wasn't very brief, but whatever! Haha

writercrossing's picture
writercrossing July 9, 2012 - 8:28pm

I like to write, and I'm working on a serial, but I'm also a reader, and so I'm going to talk about Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time series - and the reasons why I will not read Martin's books until he finishes them.

Some time when I was about a senior in high school, or as Conan O'Brian put it, "In the year 2000..." I picked up the Wheel of Time series and began to read it.

After I got to "Winter's Heart" some months later, I'd already forgotten what happened in the previous eight books. I set the series aside, hoping the next book would be out soon, and as book #10, it would be the last.

I waited impatiently the first year, semi-patiently the second year, and I'd forgotten that I was waiting the third year.

Then the 10th book came out. In one epically wasted summer, where I only sporadically slept or ate, I re-read the entire series just so I could "remember" enough of the action to be able to read the 10th book. Staggering, I came to the conclusion, only to discover... There Was More Yet To Come.

I stared at the picture of the corpulent, white-bearded, Sci-Fi Santa Claus figure on the back cover and said, and I quote,

"He is going to die before he finishes this g*dd*mn series."

My "Cassandra complex" had kicked in. I knew the future, and it was not looking good for his health, or for the completion of the series. After spending so many weeks of my vacation pouring over this beautiful and complex plot, I realized that the frustration, the cliff-hangers, the conflict... would never be resolved. There was no period to the plot sentence

My spirit broke. I literally cried, mourning the loss of the completion that would never be. I gave up, and I did not read any Wheel of Time book that followed.

He died four years later, and I said, "See! SEE! I TOLD YOU!" (My friends can vouch for this because any time we talked about impossibly long books, long series, or Harry Potter, I would always go on a Robert Jordan rant.)

But lo and behold! Who cometh now but Brandon Sanderson! My new favorite author of Elantris, the Well of Ascension, and the new book love of my life, "The Way of Kings"!! A modern epic fantasy virtuoso who would Complete The Series!!

It was too late. I was already broken, cracked on the Wheel of Time's impossible twisted depths, lead-ins, and cliff hangers that left you feening for years, rather than yearning for months. What happened after Book Ten can be comparable to the lowest low a drug addict feels after they come down from their trip. You don't wanna go back there. You never wanna go back there.

And I haven't.

That's why I like my serials the way Jim Butcher writes. With a conclusive end (Alera), or with an over-arching plot that does not take away from a stand-alone set of circumstances (Harry Dresden). And with books that come out in a timely manner, thank you.

I'm okay with delayed gratification. Getting my hands on a Michelle Sagara/West book after a year is like having an orgasm, because the build-up is so incredible.

The Robert Jordan experience was like tantric sex that was all painfully dry friction and no orgasm. It lasted forever, you wondered when it would end, and it never did. You wondered if the build-up would lead somewhere, but it didn't happen. Robert Jordan gave me - a female - the largest case of reader's blue balls I've ever had.

So does a serial writer have an obligation to their fans to complete their work?

Well, does your sex partner have an obligation to give you an orgasm?

The answer is: No. No, they don't. Bad sex happens all the time. Together, you can have lousy sex without any climax, but - they'll forever be remembered as the person who sucks in bed.

So, for their reputation, they need to complete their series. And for your reading pleasure, you need to choose authors who are not going to leave you frustrated.

 

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 8:54pm

Also, Bret Gammons, I appreciate much of your argument here, but let it be noted that Martin hasn't just been resting on his laurels when not pumping out Westerosi goodness. He's very active in the community, attending conventions and contributing to anthologies, so on and so forth. Also, each Song of Ice and Fire novel is huge, and editing is always necessary to make it fit into the larger planned story arc. So his job is "writer," but it's not specifically "writer of novels in the popular Song of Ice and Fire franchise." The question becomes, when a particular piece of an author's body of work becomes extremely popular, does that author owe it to a fanbase to work exclusively on that? The "take a leak" snark was just that; the crux of the issue is how much of an author's time does a fanbase have the right to demand. No matter what the phrasing is, the answer is always "none."

I think my problem is that, as a writer, I can't sympathize with the man. There's too much Bradbury/Poe in my psyche. Also, as you've pointed out, I've dedicated more time arguing points tangent to the question in the article rather than to the question itself. Instead of coming down on the side of the writer or on the side of the fanbase, I came down on the side of art, inventing a kind of Green Party. Obviously, my assertion that Martin owes it to A Song of Ice and Fire itself to complete A Song of Ice and Fire is fairly radicle, and someone who does not share my views on art will simply disagree with it.

To reiterate, if Martin is happy chugging along at this pace, good for him. I just wouldn't be. [To clarify, I don't care whatever else I were doing: an unfinished project hanging over my head for sixteen years is unfathomable to me. Part of this is no doubt age; sixteen years is seventy-six percent of my life. I only reproached Martin as I might reproach myself. The problem is that I am not and never will be Martin. The odds that I would write an epic fantasy series spanning five-plus massive books and have that series be popular and acclaimed are nonexistent. I just don't think it's something I have in me; I'm not even sure it's something I'd care to have, all things considered.] And his fanbase has every right to be frustrated, but that does not necessarily mean that he owes it to them to finish on their time schedule. If I must put it in terms of owing, what Martin owes his fanbase is gratitude for their money. But perhaps his fanbase owes Martin patience.

If it never got finished, I would be satisfied with what I have read thus far. I would be sad, yeah, but more because of the death of an extremely talented writer than because I don't get to read the ending of one of my favorite fantasy stories. 

This is incredibly off topic, but how much does Martin's being in your estimate an extremely talented writer color your hypothetical sadness of his death? I mean, is any writer so much more important than a normal person? Surely, part of the significance of his being both talented and dead would that he would not be able to share more stories with the world. But then, how could you say you were truly satisfied with what he'd written before? Maybe you are. Is it, then, that his death is sad simply because he existed and was a writer? Now I've come full circle.

His being an author does matter. After all, you don't know everyone who dies–you don’t even know of everyone who dies—and you certainly don’t care about everyone who dies. You know of his death because you knew of his work. But are writers so important, anyway? What I mean is, a fiction author can never be important in the same way a mechanic or nurse or lawyer or doctor or police officer or farmer or teacher or waiter or chef or engineer is important, but those are precisely the kind of everyday, ordinary people that die all the time. Still, we judge his death as sadder because he was a talented author. You may not have specified consciously, but I'm sure you'd agree with my assertion that you just don't care about everyone who dies.

Gosh. I am rambling. They have very little to do with this thread, but these are some of the loose thoughts that have been rattling around in my head since Bradbury passed.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... from I'd prefer it if you didn't know. So would you, only you don't know it. is reading whatever he makes time for this week July 9, 2012 - 8:58pm

writercrossing, your post was both hilarious and thought-provoking.

Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from Danville Virginia is reading The Iron Council, by China Mieville July 9, 2012 - 10:49pm

Thank god Patrick O'Brien lived to finish the Aubrey/Maturin series. He just barely got there.

I think the last Martin installment was a bit tired, but I do want to see what happens to my favorite characters (Tyrion and Ayra). But as for Martin owing me anything, what a very odd idea.

Hodor on the Iron Throne! Yeah!

herovillain's picture
herovillain July 10, 2012 - 6:20am

I don't think there is a contract. The feeling of obligation fans get after reading books is natural because they got so invested in the series, but you have to remember in the first place that George, or any other writer, sat down willingly on his own and wrote the books from his ideas in his mind on his time. No one came to his door with a petition signed by millions of people and asked him to write seven books as quick as you can, please. A Song of Ice and Fire has always been his baby, and we are all just fawning uncles and aunts who would very much like to steal that baby, but all we can do is look after it while George goes to the movies for the night. 

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer July 10, 2012 - 6:55am

He's a pretty well-off author. I'm sure there are things he likes to do other than write. He could stop writing now, be probably doesn't need the money. People need to stop complaining.

Honestly, it seems like EVERYTHING is a series now. I'll bet we see a lot of unfinished series in the next ten years as authors either die, retire, or just get burnt out. Better get used to it. I have a friend who recently signed an urban fantasy book deal. She originally mapped it out for a trilogy. They want at least six books, one every six months. Literally, she will not be writing anything but that series for at least three years.

Is it fair to the authors that we expect that of them? I wouldn't want to have to work on nothing but the same storyline for the rest of my life. That sounds like torture.

ophelia01's picture
ophelia01 July 10, 2012 - 7:41am

Writercrossing's analogy pretty much nailed it.

(Un)fortunately I wasn't reeled into the Wheel of Time series which seems to have left such a bad taste in everybody's mouth. 

I myself don't believe that GRRM has to adhere to a deadline or force himself to produce a piece of work for the sake of timeliness or public pressure.  That just leads to bad work and ergo, unsatisfied readers, then nobody gets what they want.

Having said that, I do believe that writers of serialised works do owe their followers a certain duty of care.  Afterall, it's by an author's projected sales numbers that publishers gauge a their advance, so I don't believe that writers can ignore the people who mark their calendars for the release of their next book and dutifully pre-order it on Amazon. 

That, by no means giving the audience what they want, rather I'm alluding to the fact that a lot of serilaised works aren't going anywhere.  We all know that ASIAF was supposed to be a trilogy, and then it expanded to it's current 7 book saga.  Let's be honest, who really liked the 5th book?  I just want to let writers know that when you decide to prolong the lives and adventure of our favourite characters please keep in mind where you're going with the plot!  When you're stretching the series for the sake of another paycheck we as readers can tell!  There's nothing wrong with writing another book (or 3 or 10 for that matter) for money, as long as you have in mind where you are taking us.

In many interviews before the last book, JK Rowling had made it known that she already planned the ending to Harry Potter from the very beginning.  I have no doubt that she encountered hurdles getting there (Book 5 and 6) but as a reader of the HP series, I'm pretty sure that the series ultimately did end with the 7th book the way it intended to.

I must say that I didn't really like the 4th book of ASIAF, but the 5th was definitely more disappointing and I can't help but wonder how awesome the original trilogy would've been.

Fine GRRM, take your time and I hope you can finish the series the way you exactly want it.  But if you're a responsible master of the universe we love so much, please write it down somewhere so that at least some poor ghost writer can finish it up for you.

Joshua's picture
Joshua from Little Rock is reading DOVE SEASON July 10, 2012 - 9:36am

Rob, I want to take your emphasize on the "NOW Generation" in a different direction.

While I can sympathize with GRRM fans for the lack of product in the given time-frame, but, as others have pointed out, GRRM doesn't owe anyone anything. He is producing exactly that -- a product. You bought it; it's yours -- what he does next is his own business. If he passes on before producing the conclusion, then I look at this as art imitating life, just as the story does not go on for so many of GRRM's characters, past the part they've played. The fact that the product is serialized does not change the matter; we have no claim on the product which we have not yet purchased.

However, other examples have been held up in this forum, ie. JK Rowling, etc., of authors embroiled in similar cases of Reader Separation Anxiety. In some of these cases, the authors, or a community of supporting producers, kept the work alive by providing outlets, blogs where they discuss their work, post chapters-in-process, and generally keep up a flow of information.

As this practice becomes more and more commonplace (not to mention the popularity of various SciFi/Fantasy fan-conventions), perhaps it is this sort of whetting the appetite that produces so vitriolic a reaction by fans to what they feel is an overdue product. 

Having visited it, I can tell you that, by more contemporary standards, GRRM's website looks antiquated. Having just revisited it in after a long absence (because, at the time, I'd found it not too up-to-date), it appears that GRRM keeps it much more current at the moment.

Perhaps this sort of attention by the author is solely what the consumers (I use this term purposefully) need to keep their attentions from wandering, or their tempers from flaring.  

We also cannot be unmindful of the part of the media in all of this hullaballoo. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, that if the media discovers there's a shred of audience dissatisfaction over this sort of an issue, then it goes out to a million outlets (in our wonderful 24-hour, on-demand news cycle) where it replicates itself in millions of other consumer's skulls. Anyone else remember the outcry when Rowling killed off Dumbledore (for myself, I applaud an author who is fearless to bludgeon some of her most beloved characters)?

Also, Rowling's series construction, the tale dealing largely with a boy (or a group of children) who are enrolled in English-style education. It creates for itself a nice artificial structure -- seven years, or episodes, to get the story told and done with. Seems like GRRM has a more organic structure going, so we'll all just have to take the books as they come. And if GRRM does something so unthinkable as die during the process, well, then, that's life then, isn't it, imitating art.

1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 July 10, 2012 - 10:57am

Neil Gaiman said pretty much everything that needs to be said as far as I'm concerned...but let me go ahead and prattle on...

I understand why people feel passionate about this issue, but you've already been given what you were promised for your money - which is the book you just read.

You did not pay for future books and stories and you are not owed them for you financial and time investment (nor your emotional investment).

And if you don't like the fact that Martin leaves things dangling and takes a long time to tie everything up then perhaps this is not the book/series/writer for you.

I'm sure NOBODY wants to finish the books and leave everyone happy more than Martin himself.  But it's not up to his fans to monitor his time online or with his family or watching sports or whatever and suggest that he should be spending his time more wisely so they can have what they want...it's just insanity.

 

youmissedit's picture
youmissedit July 17, 2012 - 5:42am

So...I'm guessing you've never heard of Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time, and don't have much experience with this genre or its fanbase (5000 pages in 2 months is not bad for an adult, but the legions of highschool teens that make up the readerbase clip through at 300+ pages a day).

Jordan is Martin--long fantasy book series with a huge cast of characters, political machinations, different kingdoms, magic system, etc-- except Jordan wrote his saga a decade earlier and died of cancer before finishing it. This is why the community is a bit worried about Song of Ice and Fire being completed.

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life July 17, 2012 - 6:36am

@noYOUmissdedit: I'm guessing you didn't read the fucking article, because the Robert Jordan situation is clearly discussed.

Vanessa Reis's picture
Vanessa Reis August 28, 2012 - 10:07am

Rob, you said it all: you've spent the last 2 months reading aSoIaF, completely immersed in the world that GRRM created, delighted with characters, events and plot. Even if you spend some weeks (re)watching the series and another couple of days reading blogs and FB pages dedicated to the subject, it won't be long until you start to see the situation from another point of view and be a lil' pissed.

The fans are what made aSoIaF what it is, and Martin should have a more diplomatic approach to the subject, because the truth is that he's taking his own sweet time to finish the series and the recent books are pretty lame.

I've read the books in english before they were published in Portugal in portuguese. I made that inve$timent never thinking that would take this long to finish the series and passed the books through my friends hoping they would enjoy the books as much as I did... and now we're all waiting for the series to end, many years after.

We've read a lot of books and authors since, but aSoIaF left its mark, so although I'm not a violent or pushy person, I think I have the right as a fan to say to Martin: finish the friggin' series already! If a more educated request would have other result, I'd do it, but the truth i that he knows he's stalling and that the expectations go up with every month and year he chooses to stay put.

John Dye's picture
John Dye August 3, 2013 - 12:25pm

Here is the deal:  The author gets our adulation.  He is given all kinds of ego kibble, panting fans, large quantities of money, and fame potentially everlasting.  That Willie guy is still going strong.

 

BUT...they don't want to take the reverse.  People can quickly turn that adulation for defamation.  And by making himself a public figure, he puts himself in line for public recrimination.  He is old.  He is writing slowly.  He is getting distracted by Big HBO money...and that angers fans who were the ones who built him up to the point he is earning Big HBO money in the first place.

 

Without that fan base, he'd never be where he is now.  They resent being put in second tier status.  That is the danger of having fans.

While I wish him the best, long health and enough time to finish his books, I take a certain amount of schadenfreude from these facts.

1)  He keeps adding more and convoluted side plots to his stories.  The last book of his I finished had some bad guys killing off a bunch of maesters.  WHY?  He already has more plots hurling in the air then he can successfully juggle?  Why add more?  This is self inflicted and if that slows down his output, he has only himself to blame.

2) By accepting the vast adulation from the Nuevo Martinites (and cashing the Big HBO Checks) he has now put himself on the hook to those corporate masters.  They are less forgiving than fans who bitch on the internet...and can do more TO him then the most horrible internet troll.  He is now a staff writer.

Maybe they can provide him sufficient motivation to skip the occasional Giants game...

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated September 4, 2013 - 1:46pm

I don't know anyone who finished the 7th book and didn't throw it across the room in frustranger.

Granted, I'm sure there are some people who loved the ending, but I know more people who didn't, and the quality of the rushed books, spurred on by fear of death, didn't do us fans any favors.

That rush afraid of death feeling added a lot to the hurried end of the quest. 

I might be the odd man out, but I think an author does owe it to readers to finish what they start/said they'd finish. I understand plans don't work out and I totally get many/most writers have day jobs, but if you are selling millions of copies my sympathy tends to be low. I didn't want to go to work last night, but I did. If he was saying this is as fast as he can go and the books be good that would be one thing, but his message seems to be 'I have a life'. Which is fine, but to get these done already he'd have needed to write about a 110 extra words a day, less than most of the posts we've made here. 

Carolyn Lavergne's picture
Carolyn Lavergne June 9, 2014 - 1:10pm

As a reader, I've always assumed that all the quips telling GRRM to write faster were just jokes. I've never taken them all that seriously, or met anyone who honestly wished GRRM harm. He's not the fastest writer on the block, but he's well worth the wait!

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated June 13, 2014 - 9:22am

Yeah, but I think they are kidding on the square.