TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2011
Yes, I know. You’ve all seen publication dates before: dates in 2007, 2008, 2009. None of those were ever hard dates, however. Most of them… well, call it wishful thinking, boundless optimism, cockeyed dreams, honest mistakes, whatever you like.
This date is different. This date is real.
Barring tsunamis, general strikes, world wars, or asteroid strikes, you will have the novel in your hands on July 12. I hope you like it.
Naturally, as a recent fan of A Song of Ice and Fire, I was over the moon on Thursday, bobbing through class and life like a buoy. Since I won’t be able to watch Game of Thrones until it’s released on DVD (or I make a friend who has HBO), these were certainly glad tidings. I can only imagine what it must be like for people who read A Feast for Crows the day it came out and have been waiting ever since. Actually, I don’t—several people (several of whom I don’t even know!) have been very vocal to me about how much they hate being forced to wait… and wait… and wait. It’s been interesting, being new to the fandom and all, to examine the issue of George R. R. Martin’s debt to his fans—or, as Neil Gaiman puts it, “entitlement issues“. (His words! Not mine!)
When I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire last year, I decided to read one book of the series a year to stretch it out as much as I could. (This plan ended up in me devouring A Clash of Kings on my bedroom floor for two days in January.) I was frightened, you see—friends, book bloggers, and even, on one occasion, a complete stranger warned me about the long waits between books. Several are waiting for the entire series to be completed and released before diving in. My plan was a reaction to this, steeling myself for the day when the river would run dry and I’d be forced to wait with everyone else.
But this never truly came to pass—partly because of the fact that I’m only two books into the series, but partly because these are huge novels, in size and in scope. Last fall, I got the chance to ask Brandon Sanderson about his plot structure. (Dragon*Con is full of wonders.) He told me that, because of the sheer length of his books, he wants the reader to be able to put it down, wholly satisfied (but, of course, still interested in the next installment). And that basically sums up my relationship with A Song of Ice and Fire. These books are so satisfying that I can wait—despite the release of A Dance of Dragons being near, I probably won’t start on A Storm of Swords any time soon. Given their scope and their quality, I can hardly blame Martin for taking his sweet time with it.
Would I feel differently if I’d started following the series from Day One in 1996? (An impressive feat for a five year old, by the way.) I’m sure I would have my share of frustration and fatigue, but I think this situation ultimately illustrates why series need to be composed of novels that can work on their own, as opposed to pieces that only work in context with each other. (Of course, they should work best in context with each other—but they ought to be able to keep their heads above water.) The first two installments of A Song of Ice and Fire work so thoroughly as novels in their own right that there are successful novellas inside of them—Blood of the Dragon, which is a collection of the Daenerys Targaryen chapters from A Game of Thrones, won a Hugo in 1997. And that’s exactly the way it should be. (Robin McKinley’s Pegasus, I’m looking at you.)
Of course, the real problem is going to be that my copies of the series aren’t going to match…
Ah, my first week after a show! How refreshing. I finally finished Outlander and The Guns of the South, as well as Burn My Heart for class. I’ve started on Phantastes (quite interesting so far!) and, finally, Tigana! I can’t wait to jump into Memory’s readalong on Wednesday, provided I can get far enough in. Heh.
The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!