I am not George R. R. Martin’s Bitch

Way back in 2009, an eternity ago in Internet Time, Neil Gaiman left a blog post that set fans of George R. R. Martin on fire:

Look, this may not be palatable, Gareth, and I keep trying to come up with a better way to put it, but the simplicity of things, at least from my perspective is this:

George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.

This is a useful thing to know, perhaps a useful thing to point out when you find yourself thinking that possibly George is, indeed, your bitch, and should be out there typing what you want to read right now.

People are not machines. Writers and artists aren’t machines.

You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you.

No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, and I assume that you enjoyed it because you want to know what happens next.

Fair enough, as far as it goes. However, this came out the other day:

Another year of waiting for The Winds of Winter to blow is in store for fans ofGeorge RR Martin, as his publisher confirmed there are no plans for the much-anticipated latest volume from his A Song of Ice and Fire series to appear in 2015. Instead, readers will have to comfort themselves with an illustrated edition of three previously anthologised novellas set in the world of Westeros.

A couple of points that are worth noting:

  • Gaiman posted his rant in 2009 – almost six years ago.
  • At that point, it had already been almost four years since the previous book in A Song of Ice and Fire had been published.
  • In all of that time, almost ten years, there has been exactly one new book in the series.
  • That one book has been widely regarded by the fans as not up to snuff with the previous entries in the series – as was the book immediately preceding it.

Here’s the thing: I picked up my copy of Game of Thrones almost nineteen years ago. More than half my life has passed since I first read it. I’ve graduated from college, gotten a job, gotten married, had three kids, been laid off, gotten a new job, started a few businesses that failed, started (or helped start) a few others that have succeeded, and converted to a new religion.

I’m not in the same place anymore as I was when I first read that first novel – and the general quality of the series has greatly declined.

Don’t get me wrong, when the next book comes out I will probably read it. But as of right now, I’m two seasons behind on the TV adaptation and I don’t miss it. And I really didn’t even much mind when I heard the next book wasn’t coming out this year. I expected it. And if the next book isn’t a return to form I might not be picking up the final installment.

George R. R. Martin may not be our bitch, but neither are we his.

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