A Song of Ice and Fire: Publication Delays and Fan Reactions

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has become a cultural phenomenon creating a large and passionate fan following. Martin published the first book of the series, A Game of Thrones, in 1996. The next two books were released in 1998, and 2000 respectively. This began to form what seems to be a sense of uniformity or schedule that was later unhinged by the fourth book, A Feast for Crows, as it was published in 2005. The release of A Feast for Crows, five years after the release of the third book, A Clash of Kings, is the first presence of publication delays amongst the ASOIAF fandom. What the fans did not know at the time of these delays was that they would continue on with each subsequent book in the series. With A Dance with Dragons being released in 2011, and the release date for The Winds of Winter being continuously pushed back, the fans are losing their patience and reacting very vividly on social media. While the fans continue to get frustrated about the publication delays, there is a new dilemma that fans have never seen before and is unprecedented in any other transmedial world. With the upcoming seasons of the hit HBO Game of Thrones series, they are running out of books to use as source material. George R.R. Martin is unable to keep up with the pace of the T.V show, sparking many different conversations all over the Internet, and has left many fans asking the question what happens next?

Fig. 2 Fans after the news of Winds of Winter being delayed.

Fig. 2 Fans after the news of Winds of Winter being delayed.

Since fans, and their very active involvement with the source through social media, have become a very important aspect to fandom culture, it is important to consider their reactions. It is very interesting to consider the reactions of fans in such a social media driven culture because for the first time ever we are seeing the source material actually paying attention to fans’ demands.

ASOIAF fans have been excitedly awaiting news on the release of the newest installment of the series since A Dance with Dragons (ADWD), which was released in 2011. Throughout the majority of last year, there have been rumours throughout the Game of Thrones fandom suggesting that Winds of Winter would be released in 2015.[1] Fans have also fueled these rumors by making plots as to when, or how, Martin would release information regarding the release of Winds. Martin took to his official blog and set the record straight. Fans had suggested that Martin was keeping secrets and that the release would be shocking and surprising, but Martin announced on his blog that there would be no surprise, and he would announce the release date, on his blog, when the book was ready.[2] This unfortunately did not stop the rumours that the book would be released in 2015. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jamie Lannister in the Game of Throne series, was quoted in an interview suggesting that Martin had in fact finished Winds of Winter, which further encouraged these rumours.[3] Unfortunately, fans expecting a release date for this year soon became very disappointed.

Fig. 3 Lower Your Expectations.. A book is not likely coming out soon

Fig. 3 Lower Your Expectations.. A book is not likely coming out soon

Last month, George R.R Martin and his publication team made an announcement that was dreaded throughout the ASOIAF fandom. The announcement made by Martin’s publication team declared that the Winds of Winter novel will not be released in 2015, and will most likely be released in 2016 (we hope). This announcement came as a shock to absolutely no one and was expected by many.[4] The complete announcement was that instead of Winds of Winter being released, a collection of novellas written by Martin will be released and fans will have to wait, at least, another year.[5] This announcement failed to please fans, as they are still eagerly awaiting the release of Winds of Winter. Dealing with a large fandom, it becomes obvious that fans will react in different ways.

An aspect of this dynamic that I find quite interesting is how, because of the delays between the last few books, there is less shock value amongst fans when an announcement such as this is made. In any other fandom it would be assumed that havoc would ensue, and fans would be distraught, but what we have seen from the Game of Thrones fandom is mostly disappointment paired with witty and clever memes all over the Internet. An example of this amusing and entertaining fan reaction was the creation of “Would You Finish Winds of Winter”, a YouTube video parodying the hit Disney song “Let it go”.                                                          

                                                      This video is a great example of the frustrations of fans, but the fans that use these slight frustrations to fuel comical creations. While, it may be a parody and a source of humour, but the song eloquently discusses the frustrations of fans, like Martin answering fewer questions and no longer posting on his blog. Instead of reacting aggressively and threatening Martin, this shows that some fans are able to show their composure and while still being frustrated, create clever things like videos or Internet memes. Memes have also become a source of comic relief amongst eagerly awaiting fans. Unfortunately, this is not the only way fans react to publication delays.

Fig. 4 Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for Game of Thrones

Fig. 4 Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for Game of Thrones

Fan reactions to the various delays and book news vary. Obviously, when dealing with a large group of different people from all over the world, different fans will have different reactions. Some fans have become frustrated with Martin and act out by asking him if he will finish the books before he dies. As Martin has taken 16 years to write five books, fans have become worried that considering he is an older author he might die before he finishes the books. Martin does not take kindly to these remarks. In an interview with Tagesanzeiger, Martin responded to these comments by saying, “I find that question pretty offensive, people speculating about my death and my health…”[6] It is quite appalling that fans would use his health or age as a hope for a sooner release date.

Fig. 5 Fans need to give Martin a Break

Fig. 5 Fans need to give Martin a Break

Even though Martin’s death would be a tragedy, fans should not be using the warning of his forthcoming death in order to secure the release of the next book.[7] Amongst questions of his death, he also receives endless questions on when he will finish the series, he has responded on several occasions by flipping fans off.[8] As the writer of the source material, Martin obviously takes pride in his work and has every right to be upset when fans act poorly towards him.

Fig. 7 We always fear for our favourite characters.

Fig. 6 We always fear for our favourite characters.

With fan culture becoming such a key part of our society, for the first time we have fans feeling entitled to information and demanding deadlines for the writers.

Fan entitlement has become a big problem in the fandom world and our society. As fandoms and fan cultures are growing at a rapid rate so is their influence on the main source. After years of appreciation and opinions, some fans are embracing a new sense of entitlement that is rather unfortunate for the creators of the original content. “They now see themselves as customers instead of devotees, wanting prompt, consistent service.”[9] Fan issues of entitlement have been growing for quite a while in the Game of Thrones fandom. Neil Gaiman tackles this topic in his journal entry titled ‘Entitlement Issues’.[10] In this entry he addresses a fan letter, this letter is a perfect example of reactions to the extended release date of Winds of Winter. The letter is essentially scrutinizing Martin’s lack of discussion about the release of Winds of Winter, and debating whether fans have the right to be disappointed with Martin for his delays. Gaiman sums up the situation perfectly by saying, “George R.R. Martin is not working for you”[11] The reactions to Martin’s publications delays are deep rooted in entitlement issues where fans seem to feel that, after years of admiration and purchasing his work, they are in fact entitled to all information. Unfortunately for them, this is not the case. Gaiman discusses how that for some fans, it almost seems as if when they bought the first book they signed a contract with Martin that he will publish books quickly and the way they want him to. Obviously, this contract does not exist.[12] It becomes difficult when fans become demanding of an author. Martin has recently stated that the demands of constant interviews and fan expo’s are the main obstacles delaying publication.[13] Ultimately, fans have no say in what happens in the series or when Martin will publish the books. The only thing fans should be entitled to is the enjoyment from the material that they are a fan of.

Unfortunately for the Game of Thrones and ASOIAF fandom, the future has become quite uncertain. For the first time ever, a show based off a book series will surpass its source material. This possibility has fans shocked and horrified, worrying about what’s coming next for the series.[14] With the announced delays in the book series, it is more apparent that the show remaining in time with books will not be possible.[15] When you look at the release dates and schedule of the Game of Thrones show it is easy to see why many fans are worried about what happens next.

Fig. 6 Book to TV show season schedule.

Fig. 7 Book to TV show season schedule.

After the upcoming fifth season, it is likely that the show’s canon will become separate from the books. Some fans have begun thinking up theories as to what the writers of the TV series will do in the upcoming series. So far there are two main theories; first, assuming that Martin has a plan for the next books in the series and will inform the writers. This will hopefully ensure that the TV series will be as true to the book series as possible. The second option is that the show’s writers will take their own path for the remainder of the series.[16] The second option has begun stressing fans out and leaving them wondering what will happen if the series has two different endings. In response to questions regarding the TV series separating from the books, HBO’s president of programming, Michael Lombardo, said “..Martin is an integral part of the creative team on this. So at least with respect to next season, every step, every move is being choreographed very closely with him..”[17] This has calmed concerns, for now, that the T.V show will become separate from the books. Hopefully, the T.V show writers will continue to include Martin in their creative team. Even though this will hopefully be a successful approach to the remainder of the series, fans still hold their breaths eagerly waiting for what’s to come for the fandom. Whether or not Martin finishes the books before the TV series, or if the series takes a route of its own, fans will still support both the books and the TV show to their fullest abilities.

Being a fan of something should be celebrated, and be seen as a positive thing, but unfortunately fans are often stereotyped. This is seen especially when fan entitlement, and vicious fan reactions come into play. Ultimately both the fans and George R.R. Martin are extremely passionate about the series, the difference is the fans are eager to read it and Martin wants to make sure the books are as great as they can be. As the TV show inevitably surpasses the source material of the books, the fans are uneasily going where no fan has gone before, resulting in a wide range of reactions that are for the most part, quite entertaining. Although fan entitlement is an issue that needs to be discussed in the fandom world it also reasonable for fans to be moderately upset, or disappointed when having to wait five years after a cliffhanger for the next book. Fans are an extremely important part of contemporary pop culture so their reactions to certain news and events within a fandom will have an impact. Artists, writers, and TV show-runners have now entered into a phase of society where fan’s feel entitled to give feedback and are able to interact with the artists. Though it can be debated why authors and artists should not have to be concerned with fan feedback it is difficult to ignore. With all this in mind, the question to ask is where do they go from here? For now the only thing we (the fans) can do is wait and prepare for whatever comes next.

Fig. 9 Death is coming... for our favourite characters.

Fig. 8 Death is coming… for our favourite characters.

 

[1] Bellotto, Adam. 2015 ‘Winds of Winter’ Releasing in October 2015? HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ May Conflict with George R.R. Martin. VC Post. http://www.vcpost.com/articles/49617/20150316/winds-of-winter-releasing-october-2015-hbos-game-thrones-conflict-george.htm Accessed April 1, 2015.

[2] Martin, George R.R. Martin. 2014 Rumours and Fabrications. http://grrm.livejournal.com/395189.html Accessed April 2, 2015

[3] Mohan, Keerthi. 2015. “Game of Thrones Actor Nikolaj Coster- Waldau hints at Completion of Winds of Winter: When Will It Be Published?” http://www.ibtimes.co.in/game-thrones-actor-nikolaj-coster-waldau-hints-completion-winds-winter-when-will-it-be-625406

[4] Kain, Eric. 2015. HBO Needs to finish Game of Thrones With or Without George R.R. Martin. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/02/01/hbo-needs-to-finish-game-of-thrones-with-or-without-george-r-r-martin/

[5] Flood, Allison. 2015. George R.R. Martin The Winds of Winter: no plans for publication in 2015. Accessed April 3, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/30/george-rr-martin-the-winds-of-winter-publication

[6] Tages Anzeiger. Video. 2014. Accessed April 4, 2015 http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/panorama/leute/Fuck-You-to-those-people/story/24094113

[7] Jones, Tony. 2015. Game of Thrones: Books, T.V, and a lot of Noise – Rambling Rant. Accessed March 31, 2015. http://www.justsomerandomramblings.com/blog/game-of-thrones-books-tv-and-a-lot-of-noise-rambling-rant

[8] Kain, Eric. 2014. Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Gives Upset Fans the Bird. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/07/09/game-of-thrones-author-george-r-r-martin-gives-upset-fans-the-bird/

[9] Miller, Laura. 2011. Just Write it! The New Yorker. Accessed March 31, 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/04/11/just-write-it

[10] Gaiman, Neil. 2009. “Entitlement Issues…” Accessed March 31, 2015. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

[11] Gaiman, Neil. 2009. “Entitlement Issues…” Accessed March 31, 2015. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

[12] Gaiman, Neil. 2009. “Entitlement Issues…” Accessed March 31, 2015. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

[13] Trivedi, Sachin. 2014. “Winds of Winter Release Date Blamed on Trips and Interviews.” International Business Times. Accessed April 1, 2015 http://au.ibtimes.com/winds-winter-release-date-delay-blamed-trips-interviews-1382237

[14] McMann, Scott. 2015. “Winter is Coming… But Winds of Winter is Not.” Movie Pilot. Accessed April 1,2015. http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/01/31/winter-is-coming-but-winds-of-winter-is-not-2644799?lt_source=external,manual,manual

[15] Tassi, Paul. 2015. “There is Now No Chance George R.R. Martin’s Books Will Out Run HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones” Forbes. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/01/31/there-is-now-no-chance-george-rr-martins-books-will-outrun-hbos-game-of-thrones/

[16] Tassi, Paul. 2015. “There is Now No Chance George R.R. Martin’s Books Will Out Run HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones” Forbes. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/01/31/there-is-now-no-chance-george-rr-martins-books-will-outrun-hbos-game-of-thrones/

[17] Goldman, Eric. 2014. “Game of Thrones: HBO Comments on Possibly Passing the Books and Whether a Movie Could Happen.” Accessed April 1, 2015. http://ca.ign.com/articles/2014/07/11/game-of-thrones-hbo-comments-on-possibly-passing-the-books-and-whether-a-movie-could-happen

Bibliography

Bellotto, Adam. 2015 ‘Winds of Winter’ Releasing in October 2015? HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ May Conflict with George R.R. Martin. VC Post. http://www.vcpost.com/articles/49617/20150316/winds-of-winter-releasing-october-2015-hbos-game-thrones-conflict-george.htm Accessed April 1, 2015.

Flood, Allison. 2015. George R.R. Martin The Winds of Winter: no plans for publication in 2015. Accessed April 3, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/30/george-rr-martin-the-winds-of-winter-publication

Gaiman, Neil. 2009. “Entitlement Issues…” Accessed March 31, 2015. http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

Goldman, Eric. 2014. “Game of Thrones: HBO Comments on Possibly Passing the Books and Whether a Movie Could Happen.” Accessed April 1, 2015. http://ca.ign.com/articles/2014/07/11/game-of-thrones-hbo-comments-on-possibly-passing-the-books-and-whether-a-movie-could-happen

Jones, Tony. 2015. Game of Thrones: Books, T.V, and a lot of Noise – Rambling Rant. Accessed March 31, 2015. http://www.justsomerandomramblings.com/blog/game-of-thrones-books-tv-and-a-lot-of-noise-rambling-rant

Kain, Eric. 2014. Game of Thrones Author George R.R. Martin Gives Upset Fans the Bird. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2014/07/09/game-of-thrones-author-george-r-r-martin-gives-upset-fans-the-bird/

Kain, Eric. 2015. HBO Needs to finish Game of Thrones With or Without George R.R. Martin. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2015/02/01/hbo-needs-to-finish-game-of-thrones-with-or-without-george-r-r-martin/

Martin, George R.R. Martin. 2014 Rumours and Fabrications. http://grrm.livejournal.com/395189.html Accessed April 2, 2015

McMann, Scott. 2015. “Winter is Coming… But Winds of Winter is Not.” Movie Pilot. Accessed April 1,2015. http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/01/31/winter-is-coming-but-winds-of-winter-is-not-2644799?lt_source=external,manual,manual

Miller, Laura. 2011. Just Write it! The New Yorker. Accessed March 31, 2015. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/04/11/just-write-it

Mohan, Keerthi. 2015. ‘Game of Thrones’ Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Hints at Completion of ‘Winds of Winter’: When will it be Published? Accessed April 1, 2015 http://www.ibtimes.co.in/game-thrones-actor-nikolaj-coster-waldau-hints-completion-winds-winter-when-will-it-be-625406

Tages Anzeiger. Video. 2014. Accessed April 4, 2015 http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/panorama/leute/Fuck-You-to-those-people/story/24094113

Tassi, Paul. 2015. “There is Now No Chance George R.R. Martin’s Books Will Out Run HBO’s ‘Game Of Thrones” Forbes. Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/01/31/there-is-now-no-chance-george-rr-martins-books-will-outrun-hbos-game-of-thrones/

Trivedi, Sachin. 2014. “Winds of Winter Release Date Blamed on Trips and Interviews.” International Business Times. Accessed April 1, 2015 http://au.ibtimes.com/winds-winter-release-date-delay-blamed-trips-interviews-1382237

Video and Image Sources

Fig. 1. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/24-reasons-why-george-rr-martin-is-the-biggest-troll-in-lite?#.lnoLJRqak Accessed April 2, 2015

Fig. 2 http://gifs-to-wear-pants-to.tumblr.com/post/32320080712 Accessed April 6,2015

Fig. 3 http://10r3.tumblr.com/post/108648472293/people-who-think-twow-is-coming-out-this-year Accessed April 2nd, 2015

Video 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YH1S0YfF6c4 Accessed April 1, 2015

Fig. 4 http://masha-russia.tumblr.com/post/109689764319/grrm-confirmed-no-winds-of-winter-release-in-2015 Accessed April 2, 2015

Fig. 5 http://www.justsomerandomramblings.com/blog/game-of-thrones-books-tv-and-a-lot-of-noise-rambling-rant Accessed April 2, 2015

Fig. 6 http://www.justsomerandomramblings.com/blog/game-of-thrones-books-tv-and-a-lot-of-noise-rambling-rant Accessed April 2, 2015

Fig. 7 http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/01/31/there-is-now-no-chance-george-rr-martins-books-will-outrun-hbos-game-of-thrones/ (Screen Shot)

Fig. 8 http://cafeleningrad.tumblr.com/post/109593389934 Accessed April 6, 2015

Advertisements