Saturday, 2 January 2016

George R.R. Martin provides update on THE WINDS OF WINTER

George R.R. Martin has provided an update on progress on The Winds of Winter, the sixth and (so far) penultimate novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series. This is the first substantive update on the book in almost three years, since Martin confirmed in April 2013 that the novel was more than a quarter done.

Still not the actual cover.

The bad news is that the novel is not complete right now and will not be published before Season 6 of Game of Thrones starts airing in mid-April. Martin cautioned that the showrunners will be using his notes and outlines to bring the show (currently expected to end with the eighth season in 2018) to an ending, so some aspects of Season 6 may spoil the final two books in the series. Martin was understandably very disappointed by this, although philosophically it would have only delayed the problem by another year at best: getting A Dream of Spring done before the seventh season next year I think, it will be safe to say, is next to impossible. So the ultimate ending of the story and the ultimate fate of the characters will certainly now be revealed on screen before in the books. That seems likely at this point.

On the positive side of things, Martin believed it was plausible to bring The Winds of Winter to a conclusion with several months of work last year. If that holds true, completion of Winds for publication in late 2016 or early 2017 certainly seems possible.  Martin was cautious not to emphasise this point, however, given how badly his estimates have been off so far. He also confirmed that both his British and American publishers can get the book on the shelves within three months of completion, as with the previous three books in the series.

On the other hand, all being well, we will 100% definitely be getting Scott Bakker's new novel The Great Ordeal this year, Scott Lynch's fourth novel Thorn of Emberlain is almost done and seems likely for release, and even The Doors of Stone by Pat Rothfuss has not been ruled out for this year. But the Big One remains MIA, for now.


Anonymous said...

He claims to not make excuses, but that’s what he is doing. I certainly think he should live his life and enjoy it as much as possible, but he clearly does not work even remotely full time on this series. Going by him saying that it will take many months even if everything works out, makes me think 2017 will be the earliest possibility.

LarryM said...

Hi Wert,

Not being too optimistic, if there are only a few months left of writing time and a three month production lead time, could you expect a book than late 2016 or early 2017?

Is your figure a prudent estimate of GRRM's likely writing pace, or does it reflect a reality of the yearly publishing cycle? (I.e. all printing capacity will be tied up by a certain point in the year, which makes it a moot point when GRRM finishes).

Thanks for the brilliant blog and your ongoing efforts!

Adam Whitehead said...

Printing capacity is not an issue. At an absolute push, they could dump other books out of the production schedule to make room, but this never happens. The printers are never tied up to that extreme.

Previous publication times:

ADWD: final MS submitted May 2011, on shelves mid-July.
AFFC: final MS submitted at the end of May 2005, on shelves in October.
ASoS: final MS submitted in April 2000, on shelves in late July.

So if George finished in September, for example, the book could squeeze out in November or December. If he finished in July, it'd be out in September or October. The margins are that close.

Anonymous said...

I just remembered the good old days when there used to be debates all over the internet about the delay of Dance With Dragons on forums and blogs. That was a fun time. What would you say the reason has been for there to be not much of that debate while waiting for WoW. Is it because, the last 2 books have dropped in quality and that now the people actually don't feel as invested as before. The level of other fantasy books has just improved so much that people dont care about waiting for a book for so many years. Or is it because GRRM has pretty much come out and accepted the "detractors" version that he has just got too many things on his plate to concentrate totally on writing the book, hence ending the debate.

Dave said...

Personally I doubt we will be seeing Winds of Winter in 2016. He even said in his post that he's unhappy with some decisions he made earlier and you know he won't release a book he isn't happy with so who knows how many re-writes or chapters thrown out that will be.

Same old story with Martin, it is what it is.

Harsh said...

Adam, thanks for the update. Do you have a source for the Bakker news? Perhaps I missed something after your earlier blog post and Scott's qualification.

Adam Whitehead said...

Orbit and Overlook have scheduled THE GREAT ORDEAL for July 2016 and THE UNHOLY CONSULT for early 2017. They're not locked, but if they change it won't be by much. So those two books are pretty firm for this year and next.

The reason for there not being much debate about TWoW is down to three things:

1) The lack of a timeframe. An awful lot of the moaning about ADWD was down to the "promised" release of the book being out a year after AFFC. With TWoW no such timeframe (or any at all) has been promised.

2) Precedent. This is the fourth book in the series (and third in a row) to have taken 5-6 years (give or take). More people are just accepting this is how long it's going to take each book to come out.

3) The TV show has taken some - most - of the overall ASoIaF discussion away from the books.

4) Futility: the old detractor crowd made it clear they wanted to create such a noise about the situation that book sales would suffer. Thanks to the TV series, the books have instead sold about 60 million copies since then and they had to admit defeat, so there's not much pointing crying about it any more. The situation is what it is.

Unknown said...

I don't think you can discount the quality of the last two books when factoring in why debate on the release has been muted. There is a strong minority (or possibly even a majority) of readers who believe the quality of the last two books is well below what was produced in the first three. This, coupled with the clamp down on any sort of discussion on this topic on the official ASOIAF forums, is probably as much of a reason as those you've presented.

Unknown said...

Just in case you missed it in the comments to Martin´s original post: GRRM confirmed that the Horn cover is the official cover (at least for now).

Anonymous said...

It was quite sad reading his post yesterday not because the book is not done but because of the sadness and obvious depression in GRRMs words. He is obviously in a bad place and feels he is letting people down and that just adds more pressure to him. A discussion was had about the post in the Fantasy Faction group on Facebook and one comment made was "a gilded cage is still a cage" which I think is true, GRRM is in this position because of the success of the books and TV series and as he mentions in his post, he does not perform well to deadlines.

I see today he has posted again thanking the fans for the positive response to the news - the post from yesterday has 1,008 comments - and the outpouring of support he has received. This is heartwarming news and hopefully will lift his spirits because he sounded very down yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I think it is universally acknowledged that the detractors were right; Martin is obviously not working full time on the books. But I think that with the arrival of the TV series, it was always obvious that the show would overtake the books. This was clear from day one, which makes Martin's obvious blindness to the fact irritating.

It must be said that when I fell in love with these books 1998-1999 I wouldn't have thought that 20 years later they would still not be finished. I think there's a real chance that the books will never be finished; If we assume that he would need at least two more books to finish the series, that is, that it will run to 8 volumes, and that it will take 5-6 years to deliver every one of these volumes, this means that the ETA of the final volume is around 2028. Martin would be 80 years old.

So rejoice about the TV show, friends. It it likely to be the only closure we get.

Ghost said...

In April 2013 the novel was more than a quarter done. So that means in the 3 years since then, Martin has not been able to 3/4 of the book done. That tells us all how much he is not working on the book.
Also, I agree with Adam that printing would not be a problem. Richard Roberts finished the third book of his "Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain" series in late Nov and the book will be out on 8th Feb. For "The Winds of Winter", we would not even have to wait that long.

Adam Whitehead said...

One thing that is being left out of the discussions, of course, is the fact that GRRM is aiming to bring THE WINDS OF WINTER in at around 420,000 words, the same as ASoS and ADWD. The average length of, say, a romance or crime novel is about 80,000 words. Most fantasy novels (especially debut and early ones in a series) are 100,000-150,000. The massive mega-sized novels are rare, the authors who can write them so fast (Steven Erikson writing the 390,000-word TOLL THE HOUNDS in about 11 months) incredibly rarer.

That's the most frustrating thing: that GRRM actually writes these titanic monsters in 5-6 years despite having a highly inefficient writing/editing process, no outline, and whilst using a 35-year-old computer to write them on, lacking all kind of amenities that would speed things up (he to write a bit of code every time he wants to put a word in italic and again to switch it off). If he was able to change his process (get an outline like the loose one he had for AGoT/ACoK/ASoS, use better software) I suspect it would speed things up considerably even if he didn't change his editing/signing/convention schedule one whit. Alas, he feels that would mess with the mojo.

Unknown said...

Does he actually write on a 35 YEAR OLD COMPUTER? Including presumably saving changes to a floppy disk? Surely this is rather dangerous, at the very least, in tat it was surprisingly easy to delete files ( as I remember all to well with PC'S in the 1980's and 1990's)
PS - some enterprising publisher should do a book version of your history of Fantasy.

Adam Whitehead said...

Yes. It did kind of blow up whilst writing AFFC (the book was saved to multiple floppy disk, plus he does periodic print outs) and a guy had to come in and repair it with old and even fabricated new parts for it. He's the guy who AFFC was dedicated to.

Alex said...

The thing that worries me is us readers who started the books almost 20 years ago now have been really good at not spoiling things for the TV viewers. You only have to look at the reactions to the Red Wedding for that. I'm not convinced that the TV viewers will show the same degree of magnanimity to us. Perhaps I'm being harsh and I'd like to think I am but worry I'm not :/

Unknown said...

I did a little investigation based on some of the comments GRRM made recently and in the past and here are my results. I would be interested in your thoughts. In his most recent blog post regarding Winds GRRM stated:

"Yes, there's a lot written. Hundreds of pages."

I am going to assume here that GRRM is somewhat like me and uses "hundreds" when he has less than a thousand and uses "thousands" when he goes over a thousand. For instance I would say "hundreds" of dollars if I had $800 and would say "over a thousand dollars" if I had $1200. Given that, I am going to assume he has less than 1000 final manuscript pages complete.

For the second part of this I am going to assume past performance is indicative of future results. In May of 2011 GRRM gave a fairly detailed breakdown of his writing of Dance and stated the following:

"I was forging ahead as well, as the partials I sent to my editors testify. In September 2009, I sent them 998 pages."

He finished the book in May of 2011 as Adam stated above so at this point he was 20 months from turning in his finalized manuscript.

If you do the math 20 months from now is August of 2017 and publication time taking 2 months after that puts it on the shelves in October of 2017. Do you see any obvious problems with this calculation? Thanks!

zombiemosquito said...

Why not just hire Joe Abercrombie to finish the series?

Mark Andrew Edwards said...

Yeah. Martin's mojo...

The guy needs to outline. I get not wanting to tinker with your writing process, I really do. But the quality level of the first three books, which had a rough outline is so far above everything to come afterwards, it's not even funny.

At this point, I don't care. I used to care, passionately. But the man's feet are made of clay, he's a writer, a good one, but not a god. And I have a to-read backlog that includes about 50 Louis L'Amour novels I picked up at a library I have things to read.

Mithfanion said...

I share the lack of surprise that the masses have about the fact that it will not be out before the tv show. That is a big shame, I agree with George on that. But what interests me far more about this update is this:

Clearly the book keeps getting away from him. In May, he had advanced far enough he felt, that he would be done by October. In August, he concluded that that would not be doable, but Christmas certainly was, and he was thankful for that extra time. So you would think, given that he has now missed that deadline, that he is fairly close to finishing the book. You'd think that. But then George goes and says that "the book is still months away, and that is if the writing goes well". So even now, yes he may have missed the tv show deadline, but there is also no saying whether or not this book will be out 12 months from now. And that sucks, because I'd still much prefer to read the book first and then see GoT Season 6. IF only he could indicate if that were feasible.

Worryingly, his talk of not adhering to deadlines anymore might mean he will take an even slower and more relaxed approach now. He has missed the tv show deadline, where is now the rod that will keep him going to publish the book with any speed? He doesn't seem to realize it, but the season 6 deadline was actually very good for him in many ways.

Unknown said...

Alex Walsh, you have to be joking.

Readers have been spoiling things for show watchers from the get go. Some subtly, some bluntly, but spoilers have been a constant since Season 1.

Just because you are not a prick who goes out of his way to spoil things to others, or just because you are a very considerate person who judges every step who takes to make sure you're not spoiling anything, it doesn't mean that abstract entity known as "readers" behave the same way.

You just have to take a look to redit, or youtube to see that pattern, or check the episodes recaps in different outlets and see the hard time the moderators had trying (and failing) to keep the comments section spoilers free.

But anyway, if you worry about show watchers spoiling stuff deliberately to you, all I have to say is: don't worry, because you are gonna be spoiled any way, independently of the magnanimity of the viewers. The show is too mainstream now. You are gonna have references, quotes, misquotes, parodies, homages all over the media, comments and impressions in Twitter and the like that in turn would be reproduced in mainstream media. The final book won't be out for years after the series is done, avoiding spoilers for all this time in the Internet era would be simply impossible.

John said...

I think it'd probably be the James SA Corey guys if it ever came to that.

Mike Bonsiero said...

He's really the perfect storm of how to make a book take a long time.

1) Really long books (check).
2) Author who has other interests and the security to pursue them (check).
3) Fame causing demands on his time (check).
4) Obsessive attention to quality and reluctance to surrender any control (double check).

There's an interview that I can't find the link to now, but it has always stuck with me where he said something along the lines of "well unfortunately I need to eat, or else I could just wait until the whole thing was finished and release it all at once" or something along those lines. The point being: he wished that he could go back and edit A Game of Thrones to match continuity with new ideas that came into his head. Which, to me, implies that in his own mind, it's never quite good enough. That's probably what makes him so good at what he does, so it's just a trade off.

Bryce said...

I'm extremely happy that there's a TV series. We need to face the facts. Martin's output is averaging somewhere between 100 and 200 words per DAY at this point. That's a hobby, not a job, and at that rate he will almost certainly pass away before he concludes the series. I'll read the books if they come out, but I'm all but certain at this point that the ending we see on HBO is the only one we'll get.