Monday, July 30, 2007

More waiting and waiting and waiting

This is certainly what I expect, but seeing it in print is displeasing. The short version: book five in the increasingly unwieldy series A Song of Ice and Fire (ASIOAF) by George R.R. Martin (aka "GRRM"), is not coming out in 2007 and who knows when the bloody thing will be issued. The wait is pretty ridiculous considering that volumes 1-3 came out in successive years from 1998-2000, book four took FIVE years and was only 50% of the story Martin intended to write after book 3, with the rest of book four to be published separately as book 5 (i.e., splitting the storylines into separate volumes). From the invaluable Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, based on Pat's own discussions at Martin's publisher (Pat himself has a manuscript he's trying to sell):

Unless a miracle occurs, there is no way the next ASOIAF volume will be released this year. The folks at Bantam are hoping to get the finished manuscript at some point this fall. But if Anne [Groell, senior Bantam editor]'s facial expression is any indication, they're not holding their breath. Which means that, at the earliest, we are looking at a spring 2008 pub[lication] date. [Not bloody likely -- TKM]

Many fans have been wondering why it should take this long for the author to write this new book, what with 50% of it having been completed already. Rumors have been circulating that GRRM did scrap some portions of what he had when they decided to publish AFfC [A Feast for Crows -- book 4] in its current format. Well, unfortunately that's not hearsay. It appears that GRRM did cut some chunks out of the original manuscript and has been tinkering with a few things. Hence, he didn't truly have 50% of it done with and ready to go. Which explains the slower than expected progress for A Dance with Dragons.

The good thing is that Bantam are pretty flexible and there's no rigid timetable as to when the book should be published. According to Anne, the editorial process will begin as soon as the manuscript reaches her office. As was the case with Robert Jordan with the WoT volumes between A Crown of Swords and Crossroads of Twilight, I believe that A Dance with Dragons will be released as soon as possible after the manuscript is turned in. I figure that no one at Bantam wishes to repeat the mistake which came back to haunt them with A Feast for Crows.

The mistake was basically setting a publication date in mid-2002 and then continually pushing it back until the book FINALLY was published in late 2005. That whole situation became a fiasco because Martin started from one concept, scrapped that, rewrote the whole thing and then added so much to the narrative that the book expanded beyond control.

Consider that the series has been optioned by HBO as a 13-episode series for each book and that Martin, who has a Hollywood background, will be heavily involved in the writing. Then consider how long it has taken him to essentially write the full next book in the series (pushing 7.5 years). This series may become the SciFi/Fantasy equivalent of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony.

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