The next season of “Game of Thrones” still doesn't have an official premiere date. Now it has an even bigger level of uncertainty attached, as George R.R. Martin has revealed that his next book won't be done in time to be published before “GoT” season 6 debuts – which means, for the first time, the show will be able to spoil the books, instead of the other way around.
In a post on his LiveJournal blog, Martin explained that he originally had an October deadline to turn in the manuscript in order to ensure that “The Winds of Winter” would be in bookstores before HBO debuted the next season of the show, which will be roughly covering the same stretch of Martin's “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga. When he realized he wasn't going to make that, his publisher pushed the deadline back to December 31, but:
Here it is, the first of January. The book is not done, not delivered. No words can change that. I tried, I promise you. I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I've now blown the end of the year deadline. And that almost certainly means that no, THE WINDS OF WINTER will not be published before the sixth season of GAME OF THRONES premieres in April (mid April, we are now told, not early April, but those two weeks will not save me). Even as late as my birthday and our big Emmy win, I still thought I could do it… but the days and weeks flew by faster than the pile of pages grew, and (as I often do) I grew unhappy with some of the choices I'd made and began to revise… and suddenly it was October, and then November… and as the suspicion grew that I would not make it after all, a gloom set in, and I found myself struggling even more. The fewer the days, the greater the stress, and the slower the pace of my writing became.
(The “mid-April” date he mentions doesn't make sense, given that the new Martin Scorsese/Mick Jagger/Terence Winter-produced “Vinyl” will still be airing on Sundays at 9 at that point, meaning the earliest “GoT” could return would be closer to the end of April. But maybe HBO has some strange scheduling plans they haven't let the world in on yet.)
Martin blames no one but himself for the delay, but acknowledges that it's about to flip the knowledge gap among the show's fanbase on its head, because, “For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that's up to you.” Though he also notes that the books and the show have deviated enough by this point that the two stories won't be close to identical anymore.
As a non-reader who's had many of the show's biggest plot twists spoiled by obnoxious fans offended by the idea that anyone wouldn't read the books first, I'm not exactly going to mind going into a season of the show where all fans are in the dark about what's coming next. But I can certainly empathize with longtime GRRM readers who are used to experiencing the story in print first – or ones who aren't watching the show at all, but will probably have a much harder time avoiding news of plot twists and character deaths than non-readers did when the math on all of this was reversed.
But this was the bargain Martin made. As he notes, it's an unusual circumstance to have an adaptation coming out as the source material was still being written. He's gotten to bask in many of the rewards – more money, more fame, more travel – that come with having a globally popular TV version of his signature work, but that also means that he loses control to a degree of where things go. HBO was never going to slow down the series to fit Martin's writing schedule – and at this point, it seems hard to imagine the final book being released before the TV show is over – which brings us to where we are now.
“Look,” he writes, “I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has. The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly.”
For those of you who were GRRM readers before you were “GoT” viewers, how do you feel about the news? Would you consider not watching the new season until “Winds of Winter” one day is actually published?