Update (May 17, 2019): This story was first published in March 2017. Since that time, George R.R. Martin has done several more things that are not finishing his book series. As the HBO series Game of Thrones ends this weekend, we have updated this story with the most recent of Martin’s non-book-writing activities.
Game of Thrones scribe George R.R. Martin is starting a non-profit foundation to bring more TV and film production to his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico. An undoubtedly noble and worthwhile endeavor—just not what his millions of anxious fans prefer that he do.
Rather, they would very much like the author to finish the sixth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter.
The fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011. Since then, Martin has provided occasional updates to his fans about his progress, or lack thereof, writing The Winds of Winter. First, he said he’d finish it before Halloween of 2015. No dice. Then he thought he could finish it by the end of that same year, but still no book. In early 2016, he claimed he had written “hundreds of pages,” but had once again missed his deadline. Three years later, the book still does not exist, and it’s unclear if it ever will.
Game of Thrones, the wildly popular HBO series based on Martin’s novels, has zoomed past its source material. Launched in 2011, the TV show has now aired nearly eight seasons (71 episodes) in the time since Martin’s last novel was published. The HBO show will thus conclude before Martin finishes the next book.
Martin, who holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, has said he has a problem with deadlines. He’s also called himself a “slow writer.” Both of which may be true. But the author has nevertheless kept himself quite busy in the years since A Dance with Dragons was released. In that time, he has:
- criticized the ending of the hit ABC television series Lost
- attended various conventions
- wrote four episodes of the HBO series Game of Thrones
- cameoed in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
- edited several sci-fi and fantasy anthologies
- went to the Super Bowl
- edited the Wild Cards book series which will now become a TV show of its own
- wrote two novellas set in the same world as his A Song of Ice and Fire series
- funded an arts collective called “Meow Wolf“
- told Deadspin he does, in fact, have pages of The Winds of Winter
- campaigned for Hillary Clinton for US president in 2016
- went to the Emmys
- did the late-night US talk show circuit
- endorsed Joe Biden for US president in 2020
- appeared as versions of himself in Robot Chicken, and Z Nation
- wrote a graphic novel
- saw Avengers: Endgame
- moderated a panel for the premiere of Tolkien
- closely followed the NFL draft and the New York Giants’ controversial selections
- complained about fake news about himself
- admitted the books are not remotely near completion
- executive-producing the HBO fantasy series Who Fears Death
- co-producing two Game of Thrones spin-offs for HBO and consulting on two others
George R.R. Martin can do whatever he wants with his time. To paraphrase author Neil Gaiman, he is not the servant of his fans. But as A Song of Ice and Fire junkies have argued, Martin’s relationship to them is a two-way street. The deal is, he writes the books, they read them and then make him very wealthy. The longer Martin waits to publish his next entry, the fewer people there will be to care about it.