A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin does not want anyone else to write stories set in the world that he has so lovingly created. It’s a topic that the author has recently addressed on his Not a Blog, when a fan asked if he would ever allow another author to write in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe.
OneFairfax: “Do you think Daniel and Tyler could eventually write stories in the ASOIAF universe?”
George R.R. Martin: “Uh… no.”
OneFairfax: “Do you see anyone? Or will ASOIAF books forever remain your work alone?”
George R.R. Martin: “I don’t see anyone else ever writing (legally) in that universe.”
For those wondering, “Daniel and Tyler” are Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, the authors of The Expanse book series, which Martin was discussing in his post. Franck also served as Martin’s personal assistant.
Martin is 67 years of age, and many fans A Song of Ice and Fire are worried that he may not live long enough to finish the series. This is a morbid line of thought, but it’s a valid concern.
Perhaps the best-known example of someone who didn’t live to finish a beloved novel series is Wheel of Time author Robert Jordan. Jordan, who would be the same age as Martin had he lived, passed away in 2007 while working on the 12th book in the series. Much to the relief of his fans, he prepared detailed notes, and author Brandon Sanderson was able to complete the series according to Jordan’s wishes.
Martin is opposed to this process. In 2013, while speaking in Australia, Martin was asked about the possibility of another author finishing his works. His response? “Not while I’m alive.” He expanded:
I don’t think my wife, if she survives me, will allow that either. But one thing that history has shown us is eventually these literary rights pass to grandchildren or collateral descendants, or people who didn’t actually know the writer and don’t care about his wishes. It’s just a cash cow to them. And then we get abominations to my mind like Scarlett, the Gone with the Wind sequel.
George cited what happened to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings universe as an example of what he’d like to see happen to his legacy—J.R.R.’s son Christopher finished many of his father’s works but has never allowed another author to write in the Tolkien universe.
I’m sure there are publishers waiting in the wings with giant bags of money just waiting for someone to say ‘yes, go ahead, let’s write Sauron Strikes Back. I hope I never see Sauron Strikes Back written by some third rate writer who leaps at the opportunity.
That’s some fairly strong wording, but he’s got a point.
Another example of what happens when an author dies before finishing a series: Frank Herbert’s Dune novels. When Herbert died, his son Brian took up the cause and wrote six more books together with author Kevin J. Anderson. Now, while I personally liked those six books, they were not on par with Frank Herbert’s originals, and as a longtime fan of the series, I felt that it tarnished Herbert’s legacy, albeit in a minor way.
Martin is also extremely adverse to fanfiction…and I am glad, or else we would probably end up with Fifty Shades of Westeros or something atrocious like that. Going back to his Not a Blog, Martin rightfully stood atop his soapbox and once and for all made his stance on fanfiction clear.
My position on so-called “fan fiction” is pretty well known. I’m against it, for a variety of reasons that I’ve stated previously more than once. I won’t repeat ’em here.
He may not repeat the reasons, but he did further explain what fanfiction means to him.
Consent, for me, is the heart of this issue. If a writer wants to allow or even encourage others to use their worlds and characters, that’s fine. Their call. If a writer would prefer not to allow that… well, I think their wishes should be respected.
Basically, George thinks that authors who allow fan fiction set in their worlds are making a mistake, because once that particular door is opened it can be extremely difficult to close again. As a long time A Song of Ice and Fire fan who has read the series going on six times now, I would not want to see another author finish Martin’s work if he dies before completing A Dream of Spring.
George R.R. Martin has a unique writing style, and that style has helped make his books some of the most beloved in the history of literature. If fans could legally publish novels set in the Song of Ice and Fire universe, it would water down the world he has worked so hard to build.