Thursday, March 03, 2011

No Dancing, By George

There must be pigs flying over a frosty ground in Hades today, because George RR Martinannounced that his long-awaited book A Dance With Dragons will be published in July of this year, though “long-awaited” may be too kind of an understatement, I suppose. For the uninitiated, Martin is the author of one of the more popular fantasy series of recent years A Song of Ice and Fire. This forthcoming book is the fifth in the series and has been six years in the writing.

With many updates from the author claiming that he was “almost done” and that it was “coming together” and hopeful predicted publication dates of 2008, 2009 and 2010 that all had less substance than any spectre that might haunt one of his characters, it’s a little hard to get too excited. Even though the announcement is “official” now, I’m still skeptical.

I guess I’ll believe it when I see it. But then again, when I see it, I won’t buy it.

A Dance With Dragons

Now don’t get me wrong – the series has been great and the first book Game of Thrones is maybe the best fantasy book I’ve read. Period. But let’s look at the series’ publication record. The first book came out in 1996, the second in 1998, and the third in 2000. Pretty good , right? Two years a pop. Well, the fourth installment came out in 2005 after what seemed an interminable wait. Forward to now and that means that for fans of the series there’s been ONLY ONE BOOK IN MORE THAN A DECADE! Part of me recommends this series more than anything I’ve read in a long time and the another part of me is thinking, “Enter at your own risk!” Arrrrgh!

I don’t think I’m the only one to feel a little jilted by Martin. If you go to his Amazon author page, one of the top threads is “Screw You GRR Martin!” Readers and fans are dismayed because Martin seems to have ample time to travel the world attending convention after convention, collaborate with HBO to make a television series out of the material, as well as produce other works – seemingly do everything except the one thing that created his fanbase in the first place. I will be very curious to see how it sells or whether people have cooled to it. I certainly have – though I have to admit I’m really excited to see the HBO version of A Game of Thrones – so how’s that for double-standarding?

A Game of Thrones

Martin has been stung by opinions like mine (which I’m sure he been barraged by) because he claims as a writer he wants to pursue his passion and produce the best material he can and asserts that can’t be expected to be done on a timetable. I get that – I really do. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it (or maybe more importantly, buy into it). It’s a funny thing, the relationship between an author and their fans, isn’t it? I wonder if people were like this with Stephen King and the 6 year hiatuses between books in the middle ofThe Dark Tower series. I’m sure they were. I just came to the series after it was completed so I didn’t care.

And in a way that’s what I plan to do with A Song of Ice and Fire. After enduring two 5+ year waits, I think I’m going to keep my personal curiosity bottled up until the end of the series (which should be book 7 or 8) is in sight. Because let’s face it, to really enjoy it I’m going to have to start over and I’m only going to do that sort of reboot once.

Keep ‘em coming, George.


Budd said...

I agree. At this point I would have to read the whole series over and it is something that I would only be willing to do once.

N. R. Williams said...

I couldn't help but think of Harry Potter as I read your post. The difference I think, is that fans had the movies to hold them over.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

DEZMOND said...

now who wouldn't wanna dance with dragons???

Budd said...

N.R. I think another difference may be that the Potter stories are pretty much self contained. There is an overarching plot line, but it doesn't require you to be intimately familiar with the previous books to get it. SoIaF is pretty much just one story that is broken into parts. A general summary of the previous book will leave you fairly lost.