It will be done. George R.R. Martin will finish The Winds of Winter, the sixth installment in his epic Game of Thrones saga, in the year 2020. And he gave us permission to lock him up on a remote New Zealand island surrounded by a lake of sulfuric acid if he doesn’t.
As for finishing my book… I tell you this — if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine.
If you’re wondering why he would write something this weirdly specific, it’s because he was responding to a message from Air New Zealand offering to fly him to the country so he could work on his book. He threw in the bit about the sulfuric acid lake — which is a real thing, by the way — himself.
As for worldcon, that’s a science fiction convention Martin attends every year. This year, it takes place from July 29 to August 2 in New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington. So Martin has promised to show up with the completed Winds by August 2 at the latest. And if he doesn’t, he has given us his “formal written permission” to “imprison” him on White Island, a desolate isle located 30 miles east of New Zealand’s North Island.
Also known as Whakaari, White Island is really just the top of a huge but mostly submerged andesite stratovolcano. The volcano is active, constantly releasing deadly gases, and was in a state of continual eruption from 1975-2000. Unfortunately, White Island’s perilous environment has been in the news lately: it was the site of the eruption that killed 19 tourists and left 25 more in serious condition on December 9, 2019. That isn’t the first time the volcano has killed people: 10 miners were killed attempting to mine the crater for sulfur in 1914.
So maybe literally locking Martin up on White Island isn’t the best way to get a finished book. We’re sure New Zealand has other little deserted isles where he could stay. Perhaps the Chatham Islands could do the trick, or we could truck him over to the Waitomo glowworm caves.
But seriously, while no one’s gonna lock Martin up until he’s done with the book, it is intriguing that he set a deadline for himself. We’ll be keeping our eyes on New Zealand.