Act Four: Is winter actually coming?

I suspect George R.R. Martin is never going to finish writing A Song of Ice and Fire.
 
Act Four
Alyssa Rosenberg on culture and politics
 
 
George R.R. Martin at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles /Invision via Associated Press) Every week, I answer a question from the previous Monday’s Act Four Live Chat in the Wednesday edition of this newsletter. You can read the transcript of the May 8 chat here, and submit questions for the May 15 chat here. This week, a reader asks me to ponder what big news at HBO means for readers a certain very long, and very long-delayed fantasy series. With the news that HBO is planning to at least write multiple spin-offs of “Game of Thrones,” where George R.R. Martin is playing an active role on at least two different concepts and he continually seems to be doing things other than writing “The Winds of Winter.” [Editor’s note: not to mention “A Dream of Spring,” the planned final volume of the series.] Do you believe Martin will finish A Song of Ice and Fire and does it even matter at this point? This is a frequent conversation topic around my dinner table (my husband has been a “Game of Thrones” fan for longer than I have), and I have to admit my prognostications go back and forth. I want to believe Martin is going to finish the novels because however much I like “Game of Thrones,” I do want to be able to see the version of the story that’s been sitting in his head for years and compare and contrast it to the final version that airs on HBO, and because there are elements of the novel that have been cut from the show (among them, the fate of Lady Stoneheart), I would like to see how Martin develops them. That said, I’ve kind of made peace with the fact that I don’t expect to see “The Winds of Winter” or  “A Dream of Spring.” There are elements of the novels that aren’t present in the show, and I miss them. But I do appreciate the disciplined editing David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have given Martin’s sprawling narrative. The story will get finished, in one form or another. I’ll know what happens, and I’ll have had the benefit of both Martin’s prose and Maisie Williams, Gwendoline Christie, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s performances (as well as a lot of dandy writing and direction on the show). And when it’s over, I’ll be grateful for the pleasure both the novelists and showrunners have given me.
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