He Knew

Photo: Kevin Winter , Getty Images
Photo: Kevin Winter , Getty Images

On May 21, 2019, this sly son of a bitch gazed into our bleak future, and now he reaps the bitter fruit of the trap he set.

I refer, of course, to George R.R. Martin, author of the wildly successful A Song of Ice and Fire high-fantasy series, the final installments of which — The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring — remain unfinished. The last proper entry into the series was published over nine years ago, and he has mostly avoided committing to when fans can expect new material by providing vague updates every few months.

Oh, to live in a world without deadlines.

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Some have rightly speculated that the man has no pages. Martin himself contends otherwise. But on the date in question, perhaps to appease such sceptics, Martin volunteered to be imprisoned on an active volcano if TWoW was not completed by a specified date (emphasis ours):

But I tell you this — if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine.

Worldcon New Zealand officially kicked off today, July 29, 2020, and GRRM is booked to act as Toastmaster. Given the pandemic, CoNZealand (as it’s stylised on their website) became a virtual-only attendance so odds that George will “arrive in New Zealand” in the physical sense are basically zero. Indeed, the convention confirmed this in its opening note today. And boy, did we apparently miss out on something phenomenal: “CoNZealand Toastmaster George R. R. Martin lamented not having the opportunity to make a grand entrance by bursting from a paper mache kiwi on a physical stage. He noted members were ‘Socially distant in our own castles but still as one, united by our love of fantasy and science fiction.’”

Now, regarding his dramatic promise from last May, there are two options as I see it:

  • Martin got off scot-free on a technicality
  • He had advance knowledge that a cataclysmic event would shut down large gatherings and air travel, and made a promise fully aware he’d never have to make good on it

It seems the answer is clear: Why didn’t you warn us, George?