A Song of Ice and Fire Books Featured George R. R. Martin

George R.R. Martin: A Song of Ice and Fire will consist of seven books, “I hope”

Welcome to another round of Martinology, where we pour over quotations from author George R.R. Martin and try to extract information about the status of his Song of Ice and Fire series. Martin has written a fair amount on his Not a Blog over the past week, most of it about the 2017 Hugo Awards, which will be presented on August 11. The Hugos honor the best in science fiction and fantasy fiction, and Martin has a long, interesting history with them. In a post today about the nominees for Best Series, a new category, he ruminated on the nature of A Song of Ice and Fire:

I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be a series, not as I define the word…I consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be one single gigantic story published in multiple volumes. (Seven, I hope).

To Martin, series consist of more discreet volumes — he mentions his Wild Cards series, which is a collection of separate, interconnected stories set in the same world, as an example.


 

But the most interesting quote comes at the end. How many books will be in the finished A Song of Ice and Fire saga? “Seven, I hope.” Martin is working on the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, right now. For some fans, the prospect of waiting for a seventh and final book must seem daunting. But might he push it to eight or more?

Seven books has been the official word from Martin’s camp for a while, but this isn’t the first time he’s called that number into question. Here’s what he told Entertainment Weekly back in 2014:

My plan is to finish in seven. But my original plan was to finish in three. I write the stories and they grow. I deal with certain things and sometimes I find myself not at the end of a story. My plan right now is still seven. But first I have to finish Book Six. Get back to me when I’m half-way through Book Seven and then maybe I’ll tell you something more meaningful.

We note that Game of Thrones was originally going to be seven seasons, but that eventually ballooned to eight. Will A Song of Ice and Fire follow suit?

Moving away from A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin also reflected on the changing landspace of the science fiction business:

Being an old guy, I can remember a time when most science fiction novels were stand-alones. If they were popular enough, they might spawn sequels, but the series novel was the exception rather than the rule. Today the reverse is true. It has become increasingly hard to find a science fiction or fantasy novel that is NOT part of some series.

A Song of Ice and Fire included.

31 Comments

  • I honestly think he will not finish the series. He’s made his money from the current books and probably much more from the TV show. I think they are intentionally not publishing Winds of Winter so as to not spoil anything in the HBO series. …And whens it’s over George will just publish B&W’s solution/conclusion to the drama slightly modified to fit the current book differences. Call me cynical…

    • I’ve been listening to similar complaints for 17 years now… He is going to finish the series. He is a very slow writer who gets slower with age, but he always delivers. You just need to accept that it’s not in our hands to decide the release dates, and be mentally prepared for the long years you’ll have to wait for the last volume.

      • He’s one cheeseburger away from dieing. I will eat my work boots if A Dream of Spring ever gets released

        • Unfortunatelly it is very likely, based on age and most probable health problems (being overweight with all its consequences being the most obvious), that he will not complete the series. The question is, because he has said that he doesn’t want anyone else to finish them for him in case he passes away, whether the publishers will repsect that or not or maybe just print his drafts and memos on “a dream of spring”.
          He is not obliged to do anything he doesn’t want, but still it’d be a pity if the series were left unfinished..

          • “Unfortunately it is very likely, based on age and most probable health problems (being overweight with all its consequences being the most obvious), that he will not complete the series.”

            A possibility, yes… but I wouldn’t say “very likely”. He’s only 68. Even if we go with the average lifespan of someone from his generation, he’s got at least another decade ahead of him. But factor in that he’s rich, which allows him access to the best quality health care and we can give him better than average life expectancy. He’s overweight, yes, but from what I know about him, he doesn’t seem in poor health. I don’t know of any health scares that he’s had in recent years at all. He gets around a lot. He almost always seems to be in good spirits. There’s no signs of any health struggles going on. Of course, these things can change on a dime, but there’s no reason to expect it to happen any more significantly than we would any other 68 year old.

            Assuming he gets TWOW out this year or next year, then given all reasonable assumptions about what his life expectancy is, he’ll have a good 10 years at least to get ADOS done. Seems more than enough to me.

        • “One cheeseburger away” 😂🤣😂
          I think he finished the book awhile back. But he probably has a deal that doesn’t allow him to publish until after this season and possibly next airs 👍

        • We don’t live in Medieval Times…The average life span in the US is almost 80 years, and G.R.R. Martin’s only health problem is that he sometimes catches the flu. Stop talking like he is a dying man that should include you in his will, and have some respect, because without him this page wouldn’t exist and you wouldn’t be able to act like a-holes for everyone else to see.

          • AWS and Angelos L,
            of course no one can predict the future. None the less, it is pure deduction to assume he has health problems (whether they have become public or not) based on him being overweight.
            Obesity is linked with heart disease, diabetes, hypertension etc. A stroke or heart attack is much more probable in overweight people, age co-factoring.
            Even if none of these things happen, mental clarity and commitement to mental activities diminishes with age (relating to poor blood circulation conditions in the brain -angiopathy-) even when Alzheimer’s is not peresent.

            So, in my educated opinion, I think it likely -regardless his life span- that he will not finish the series.

            As I have said before he is not to blame for that. It’s his prerogative anyway.

            I just think it’s a pity such an epic work of fiction to be left uncompleted.

  • I have all the optimism and a lot of confidence that he’ll complete TWoW within the next year or two. ADoS however… I can see him finishing Winds and thinking, *Phew! I need a break now.* With his writing pace, if he adds on a lengthy break before beginning the last book (or finishing ASoIaF) the chances lower even more for his completing it. I can almost see Winds being 1500 pages and ADoS coming out as a pamphlet. :P

    It will always confuse me as to why he’s so slow with his writing. As an author I’d think that he’d have this story swirling around in his head and would be excited to write it down and get it out of there. In not doing so it makes me think he doesn’t know what to write, doesn’t know where he wants to take the story or how to finish it. From things he’s said he gives the idea that he knows how he wants it to end. ? Well, if he knows that, quit farting around, quit adding more characters and storylines while slowing those of the mains and finish the thing!

    • “It will always confuse me as to why he’s so slow with his writing.”

      Have you ever tried writing something like what he’s writing? It doesn’t just happen. It’s not just a stream of consciousness that flows from brain to page in a smooth, easy flow. It takes work to figure out all the details, organize all your thoughts, etc. There’s trial and error in writing things and reading it back to see how it reads and spotting things you didn’t notice you were doing while you were writing it. When you have a story being told from multiple viewpoints like ASOIAF has, you have to switch between different characters’ mindsets from chapter to chapter, which isn’t always easy to do. And with as many characters as this story has, there’s a LOT for him to be juggling and keeping track of and switching between… and he has to imagine it all first, then actually analyze whether it’s saying what he wants it to say, and then show it to his editor and publishers etc to get their feedback on it… writers need feedback from other people to point out things that you’ve grown blind to as a result of being so close to it. There’s a LOT of think about and work on and re-work on and then most likely re-work on again once a year has passed and you’ve gained some objectivity on what you wrote a year ago and realize it didn’t actually make as much sense as you thought it did, or you’ve changed your mind about what’s important and this chapter or paragraph or line of dialogue is no longer relevant… then once you change that, you have to go and look at everything else that might be connected and change it to follow suit… and then if you get all that finished, you have to sit back and think, “Is this story actually turning out the way I want it to? What is it saying? What does it mean? Does it represent my intentions accurately?” etc…

      Writing is a complex process at the best of times. Martin has made his story especially complex, spanning hundreds of characters, a bunch of different times and places, ongoing themes, unraveling mysteries, depth of thought and emotion… that stuff takes work to figure out.

      Yes, he has said that he knows how the story ends. But getting there is a journey. His exact quote is that he knows “in broad strokes” how it ends, which means that he knows the general gist of what happens. The major events and overall meaning of it all, etc… but he still needs to figure out all the details, all the machinations by which these events will happen, all the characters’ thoughts and feelings and the exact words they say or think, etc… again, this doesn’t just happen. You have to actually put the work into making it all be there on the page, and make sure it makes sense and is actually interesting and satisfying narratively. I can definitely relate to this, as I’m a screenwriter and I have a few big projects knocking around in my head that I would love to just get out onto paper… and I’ve tried getting started on writing them a few times, only to stop myself and say, “Yeah, I’m not ready to write this yet.”… because even though I know basically every single event in the story, every character’s journey, I even have entire dialogue scenes figured out in my mind… it’s still a very involving process to actually delve into the story and actually figure out EVERY SINGLE NECESSARY DETAIL of every scene and figure out every word I want the characters to say, etc… and if I’m not ready to invest the time and mental energy into it, then I know it’s not going to turn out right. That’s how bad writing happens… when writers just write to get something done and don’t delve deeply enough into it. That’s why most Hollywood movies are poorly written, because they contracted a writer to hammer a script out before a deadline and they didn’t have enough time to actually be an artist.

      And aside from all that, there’s also just the simple physical work of typing out the words. I don’t know what Martin’s typing abilities are like, what his word-count-per-minute is… but even if he’s a really fast typist, there’s still how-many-goddamn-words? in a 1500 page novel? Even if every single word just flowed out of him without any hesitation or revision, it would still take a lot of time to type it all out. But obviously, it doesn’t just flow like that. Martin’s writing is quite sophisticated and descriptive, and I’m sure he thinks a lot of about every single word he types. And even though you’re just sitting there in front of a computer, it’s mental energy and that can tire you out just as easily as physical exertion. After a few hours of in-depth writing, I often find myself more drained and wanting to relax than I would be after an 8-hour shift of physical labour. Getting into the story has a psychological effect that has physical ramifications on your body… if you’re writing a really tense scene, you sometimes find your body getting really tense, your breathing is affected, etc.

      And then, of course, there’s always the occasional, or sometimes frustratingly frequent, writer’s block. You reach a point in the story that you hadn’t quite thought enough about before and now you’re not sure what you want to do. Or you surprise yourself by stumbling upon an aspect of the story you didn’t even know would ever be there. You realize, “Ah, I need a scene that get THIS across!” but you don’t know what would actually get that across in a way that isn’t cheesy or cliche or confusing. Sometimes, you have to just walk away from it for a while… sometimes days or weeks or months or years… until you eventually have that Eureka! moment of figuring it out. You can’t always force creativity. Sometimes you need to wait for inspiration to come to you.

      So basically… do you want it done fast or do you want it done right?

      • only thing i`ve read from your post is:
        “So basically… do you want it done fast or do you want it done right?”
        and that is wrong question,right one is:
        does GRRM have skill to finish his over-bloated compilation of historical events,myths & classic fantasy books?”
        and sadly he does not have it

  • The ‘explanation’ could be as simple GRRM having written too much material and that he or his publishers are consider splitting TWOW into two parts. This has happened with previous books in the series. Also, it is no secret that George has already written vast amounts of information based in this world.

  • I wouldn’t over-think the “Seven, I hope” comment from Martin. Over years I think he has decided not to speak in absolute terms…especially with regard to ASOIAF. He has seen his plans change drastically over the past 20 years and now doesn’t want to box himself in any way.

    As far as completing the “gigantic story” is concerned, I do believe the success of the TV series along with the fact that the TV series has now surpassed the timeline of the books has probably affected his overall vision for the story, which is probably one of the issues that he is grappling with right now.

  • I continue to believe that GRRM is just insulting his fans at this point.

    I have exactly zero faith that (1) book 6 will come out before the end of the TV series, or (2) book 7 will ever be released.

  • I don’t reckon the final book will ever be released. But I’ll be more than happy to be proven wrong.
    I’ve simply given up even thinking about when WoW will be released. It was making me really angry and frustrated. I just want to enjoy the next book when it is released.

    BUT, I’ve learnt from this whole experience. I simply will NEVER start reading a series again that isn’t finished. I started reading this series when I was in high school, I’m in my thirties now. But I also felt like I got stung by the inheritance series as well.

  • And in no way am I comparing ASOIAF and Inheritance, except for the fact they are both series I got into when they weren’t complete.

  • From the graph:

    On a page by page basis, he’s working about as quickly as J.K. Rowling.

    Absolutely false.

    That was true through 4 books and 12 years ago. Since then, he has fallen well off that pace.

  • I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that “Seven, I hope” implies “…or maybe eight.” He could simply be saying, “Gods willing, I will live long enough to finish ADoS.”

    Call me a Pollyanna, but I continue to believe that the seventh book wil take less time than the sixth. He is at that point where he has to get all his ducks in a row for the big windup, and not leave out any critical details of the setup. The climaxes of the various major character arcs have to be clearer in his mind by now than how they get moved into their ultimate positions. Right now he’s doing what animators call “in-betweening.” The final frames have been drawn for a very long time now.

    • That’s what a lot a of people, including me, thought about TWoW. “The problem was the 5-year Gap and the Meereenese Knot. Now he’ll be able to finish the last two quickly.” Apparently not.

      His “gardening” style keeps him from doing enough planning to simplify things. He can’t (or won’t) envision the storylines without laboriously writing them out. Plus he won’t make a decision and stick with it. (Remember how he kept changing his mind on the “Tyrion meets the Shrouded Lord” scene?)

      Plus, he wants the Best Novel Hugo, so he’s probably doing excessive rewrites. The Perfect is the Enemy of the Perfectly Good Enough.

      I hope you’re right about the final scenes. I’m terrified that he has actually avoided envisioning them for fear of becoming disinterested.

    • Yeah, this is a grammatical thing that bugs me. The verb “pore” is to study intently, reflect, meditate upon. Pour is what you do with a drink. Sure, you could pore over a glass of water. But you’re more likely to “pour” it.

  • I want to know how the writing style will cover the events of the last series, I just don’t see how it’ll be done!! Will there be a Cersei, Margery and Lancel POV for the blowing up of the sept?!? Will Bran have two POV chapters at the same time in different time lines to deal with Hodor origins? Or will we get a Hodor POV for that?!? That would be interesting to see what’s going on in his head vs what he can say…

  • As many believe, I too don’t think he will ever finish the series. Maybe “winds of winter” will be released at some point, but that is very unlikely for “a dream of spring”. He is quite old, probably has health issues (being overweight the most obvious one), so he may not be able to complete after a point or so.
    The fact that he has not yet completed it maybe attributed to many factors all of them being at some degree right, but I think the most important is that he has spread the story way too much and probably is overwhelmed on how to wrap up loose ends. He probably has hundreds of editors, but maybe he should get more or something to help him with that.
    Having said that, the fact remains that he doesn’t owe anyone anything, so whether he finishes the story or not is enterily his thing. It’s just a pity for all of us who have indulged in the story that will be left disappointed. But then again life is full of disappointments.
    I just wish I hadn’t started the series ..

  • It would be much wiser as a fan to accept that the Winds of Winter is the true finale of a Song of Ice and Fire upon release, even though the book likely will have chapters that will be edited out for the never to be finished a Dream of Spring. Sadly, those chapters I would wager will be added to only a few more in the distant future and be the only ones we will ever see. I will not be upset or angry with George, just appreciative for what he’s given us.

  • Given how weak a book A feast For Crows was, and how outright bad and disappointing A Dance with Dragons was, it may be better if GRRM does not publish any more books at all.
    However if the problem is that he has written too much material to fit into the remaining books the solution is an editor.
    The problem with aging successful authors is that they come down with a syndrome knows as JamesMichener-itis or TomClancy-itis, where they believe that everything they write is so good it must go into the book.
    This is not so!
    It is why JRRTolkein used appendices and extra books of Arcana to place the old material and keep the story edited and going.

    Because now whatever GRRM publishes now will just be flabby Game of Thrones fanfic. By his own lethargy, his words are no longer canon.

  • He just means that he hopes to be able to wrap the story up with book 7, rather than having to split up ADOS and make the eight. Because he knows that’ll take even longer and his age may by then catch up with him: right now he’s only 68, comparatively that’s not that old for a human by today’s standards, that’d mean he’s around 74 when ADOS might finish (a fine age for many a writer to still pen their books). But if he ends up having to write eight books, he’d be around or past 80, which is more worrying.

  • “I hope” Martin says…im sure the “hope” is concerning his health, he “hopes” he will finish book7 before his health fails…

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