So, the latest volume of George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire just hit the shelves. For those not in the know, this is a huge epic fantasy series that is super popular and which recently spawned an HBO series that is incredibly good (and possible better than the books?).
I read the first three books when I was in high school and I really, really, really liked them. I reread them several times while I waited for the fourth book to come out. When it did, during my sophomore year in college, I purchased it in hardback and read it. I then read all four books several times while I waited for the fifth book to come out. Unfortunately, it took six years for the fifth book to come out, and I am somewhat over the whole thing.
Awhile back, George R. R. Martin complained about how his fans would flame him and berate him about how long it was taking him to write this book. He said that writers work at their own pace, and you can’t force it, and etcetera. I was less sympathetic. Not because I think that Martin somehow owes me this book, but because Martin basically makes a living by stoking the kind of rabid fandom that can cause a fan to get really crazy about an author taking six years to finish a book.
I mean, George R. R. Martin has an HBO TV show, card game, spin-off novellas, line of miniatures, reprints of long out of print novels, other random merch and a whole host of other side projects that basically came about as a result of the belief that people love A Song Of Ice And Fire so much that they’ll pay for anything even vaguely ASoIaF related. I mean, each of these books is more than a third of a million words long, and I read each of them an ungodly number of times.
I don’t really think you can get that kind of fandom without having at least a few people in it feel like they are owed something by you. I mean, I really like Ursula Le Guin, but I don’t even notice when she puts out a book. Her book Lavinia won the Nebula a few years back, and I never even read it. But I read two of Martin’s early novels (Fevre Dream and the Armageddon Rag) and I even bought his hugely expensive short story collection (Dreamsongs). All of them were amazing, of course, but I doubt I’d have bothered if I hadn’t felt like I was somehow invested in him and his series.
But that investment has dissipated. For a mere $15, I could be reading A Dance With Dragons on my kindle right now. It would be difficult to count the number of times over the last six years that I have fervently wished I could be reading that book right now. Well, right now is here and I am not reading it. I mean, I’m definitely going to read it eventually. It’s on my list of things to read, but, you know…there are a lot of other books on that list. And I’m definitely not doing that thing where I re-read every other book in the series so that I am totally current on every last little event and character (although at this point, I don’t think there’s any aSoIaF trivia that I don’t already have stored in my brain’s RAM).
Did anything in particular happen to cause this cooling down? Nope. Six years just went by, and gave me a little perspective.