Reading · Writing

Author Existence Failure

gameofthronesLately I’ve been hearing a lot about A Game of Thrones… good stuff too. I don’t know what kept me away until now, maybe it was the number of books out there, maybe it was their daunting size… or maaaybe it’s the fact that the last two books in the series will be published in 2015 and 2020 respectively.

Yes, I’m not deceiving you. Feel free to check the books up on Goodreads for their expected publication dates. I was actually planning to venture – albeit timidly – into the world of George Martin, then I stumbled across the publication dates and backtracked. For curiosity’s sake, I checked Mr. Martin’s profile and was dismayed to learn that he’s 64 years of age. Let’s do a little math here, shall we? Martin will be 66 years old in 2015, and 71 in 2020. The average male life expectancy in the States is 75 years old. Do you see where I’m going with this?

He might die before completing the series.

Not meaning to be a cynic, and I do want the man to live well into his 90s or even 100s, but really how do we know that he’ll still be alive by 2020? Personally I’m not willing to tackle this massive series when I know there’s a possibility that I might not get to learn how the series ends. Can you imagine how horrifying that would be? To me it’s almost as horrified as I would’ve been had J.K.Rowling died before publishing the final Harry Potter book.

A fan might try to say, “Nah, that won’t happen to my author.” Well, I bet that’s what the fans of Douglas Adams told themselves before the author died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 49 without finishing his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Don’t forget J.R.R. Tolkien, whose son ended up having to complete his unfinished works. Apparently even Stephen King had a near encounter with death when he had published only four of the seven books planned for the Dark Tower series, to which an anonymous Michigander said:

“I was with this good friend of mine when we heard (Stephen King) got popped. Man, we just started shaking our heads and saying, ‘There goes the Tower, it’s tilting, it’s falling β€” aw, s***, he’ll never finish it now.'”

Sometimes the authors have the sense to plan their novels ahead of time and outline everything to the last detail should unforeseeable death occur, at which point the notes are either handed to another author or else unveiled to the masses, but then the new author might have a completely different style and the notes won’t have any flesh on them.

I think, if I ever became famous and suddenly kick the bucket while writing a highly anticipated novel, my readers’ curses would follow me to the grave, because I do lack the sense to outline and plan ahead. I guess that’s probably why I’m currently stuck quarter-way (or half-way?) through my WIP.

Maybe I’ll consider reading the series when all seven books are released, but until then I’d rather cling to my sanity. What about you? If you’re a fan of George Martin, how do you feel about this? Panicked? If you haven’t read the books yet, does this deter you from grabbing the nearest copy? Do you plan in advance with the idea of death in mind?

On a more cheerful note, I came across this related video while researching this post. It’s pretty funny. πŸ˜€

42 thoughts on “Author Existence Failure

  1. I should point out that when books are released isn’t necessarily right after they’re finished. There’s plenty to do after a book is complete, including lots of prep, printing and more. So he could die well before the release of his final book and still be completely done.

    That said, this has absolutely no influence on my decision to read the books. I don’t plan with that in mind, either. It was honestly something I didn’t know people considered until reading this post. I mean… panicking just because a guy is old seems rather paranoid. Read and enjoy, hope for the best, come what may. Life is stressful enough without worrying about things like this.

    1. Well it’s not just the fact that he might die before finishing the books. There’s also the idea that you have to wait at least seven years for a book that you might not end up reading after all. That’s a bit… daunting yo. =x

      1. I’m a reader of The Abarat series. I know what a wait is like. I guess what I feel is that the ending isn’t the only important part. There’s also… well, all the rest. The beginning, the middle… and considering how long this series is, there’s plenty of that. I wouldn’t deprive myself of allllllllll that because of a possibility that’s just mere speculation. It’s worth the risk, I think! (You mentioned Tolkein… but you’re a Tolkein fan, so there you go. xD)

        1. I’m not taking away from the importance of everything else. xD Stillll. It would suck big time if you were faithful to a series for a long time and then have all hopes of a satisfying ending crushed. But as you said, I might be a tad paranoid.

  2. How funny that the books are projected to be released so far in advance. I can see your dilemma. I wouldn’t be worried about the possibility of his death before publication as that’s just life, but waiting that long for the next installment could be frustrating! Knowing this, I think I may just wait until they are all written before starting this series? I don’t know. Now you have me over-thinking this πŸ˜€

    1. Haha, I think I over-thought this a bit too much myself! I just remembered how I felt waiting for the next Harry Potter book to come out, and since I’d have to wait twice as long with George Martin’s books, I decided to opt out! Or at least wait until every last one of them is out.

  3. I tried the first book in this series. I found myself a bit disturbed two chapters in and decided not to ever continue. I have heard good things about the show from friends, though.

  4. I’ve thought about starting this series, but the size of the books and the number of them have scared me away. Plus, I’ve heard there’s a lot of rape and violence against women in them, something I’m not keen to read about. Guess time will tell if I change my mind.

    Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate it. πŸ™‚

    1. Oh dear, really? I try to stay away from books with rape and violence too. Maybe I need to take a further look into this!

      And thank you for returning the visit (and the follow)! πŸ˜‰

  5. I haven’t read A Game of Thrones and don’t have any plans to do so at this time. However, what if he is dragging his feet in writing/publishing for a similar reason? What if he worries there won’t be a reason to live after he writes the last book? Or there won’t be any ideas left, and he will waste away and die? Obviously, I don’t have a clue, but the video was pretty funny, and if that is really him in it, then he seems to have a good sense of humor.

    1. I considered this, but the author actually has several other projects too. I came across some people who were telling him to just quit everything else and focus on the series before he dies. Can’t imagine the amount of pressure he must be under! And at first I thought it might be him, but Mr. Martin is twice his size in diameter and has an impressive beard!

  6. From what I’ve heard, Martin has already told the tight-knit producers of the show what happens at the end just in case he kicks the bucket before he finishes.

    The thing is, I know I’m going to read the series at least two more times (I’m on my first read-through at the moment), because in two years I’ll need to remind myself exactly what happens before reading the next one.

    1. Well that’s good to hear! At least he took some precautions.
      And fair enough. I always do that when it comes to series; it offers a sense of continuity. πŸ™‚

  7. I haven’t read Game of Thrones, Zen. I’m also wondering why the release dates are so far out! I’ve heard that writers live longer if they are constantly working on something so maybe he’s thinking very positive thoughts about his future! πŸ˜€

    1. I suppose since his books are so huge (all of them are nearly over 900 pages!), it takes time to write them. Haha, maybe! He certainly is an optimistic fellow. πŸ˜€

  8. Ah Zen, you’re such a worry warts! A talented writer, yes, but an unnecessary worry warts! The question you need to ask is not ‘will my enjoyment be irreparably damaged by not seeing a book series I read and come to enjoy never successfully concluded’; it is ‘should I take a risk; a risk to be enjoyed for several days and nights; a risk to enter a fantastical, fictional realm; a risk to read, which is a real hobby of mind; and risk not seeing a perfectly great series never concluded.’ Are you better off not to read the series, and be forever deprived of something because of your assumptions (and what if they are wrong? What if 2020 comes and the series is concluded? How will you feel?), or are you better off reading several stories without a plausible end? Risks are sometimes rewarded Zen!
    Also, I don’t mean to correct you (your writing is far better than mine FYI) but it is ‘kick the bucket’ my dear Zen, not ‘hit the bucket.’ If we went round hitting buckets our hands would be red raw and we wouldn’t be able to write no more; in this world or the next.

    1. Ahaha, you present a good argument! But I have a reply ready: George Martin’s books may be fantastic, but there is no shortage of other fantastic “stand-alone” novels in the world. πŸ˜‰ I promise you if I ever run out of material to read, I’ll pick up his books. And if 2020 comes and the books are released, then I’ll swallow my pride and buy the entire set!
      Whoops! Thank you for correcting me. I knew something sounded wrong about that expression, haha.

  9. I never plan ahead either, at least, not in detail. I like leaving my ideas open in most instances so that I can revise more easily if need be. But I haven’t read any of George Martin’s novels, though I’ve heard this topic being discussed in several places, and that if he should end up passing before the books are completed, others will take up the torch to finish it.
    Either case seems like an even trade in my point of view. You get the notes, which aren’t going to be fleshed out, or you get another author writing the same things into a story that may not be quite as good, or at least as similar, as the original’s. Whichever goes, it seems kind of jarring.

    1. Me too! I feel if there’s a specific outline, I will feel like I absolute HAVE to stick to it and that causes such a mess.
      And yes, it does seem jarring, which is why I hope for the sake of his fans out there that he does manage to finish the books… and live for many many years after that too, of course. πŸ˜‰

      1. Agreed! It’s just so much easier to keep your ideas open so that if you need to adjust something, you’re not creating a plot hole of some type. As for George Martin, here’s hoping for a completed series by him! I just lost someone close, so I definitely hope he gets to be in his nineties and lives in a nursing home writing assisted living epics! πŸ˜€

  10. I totally get it, Zen. I cannot even begin a series until I know for sure that it’s complete or will be complete very soon. I’m intrigued by this story, but I’m not going to read it (now) for exactly that reason. I just cannot wait this long. My heart would explode with anxiety. So I’ll read other fabulous books for now and at some point in the future I’ll come back to it.

    1. Glad to hear that you agree with me! With seven years left to go, I certainly do not wish to wait for the book. D= And that’s what I do. There are so many other good books out there. πŸ˜‰ Question: have you ever read something by Walter Moers? He’s a German writer, so I thought you might’ve heard of him.

      1. Yes, he’s quite well known. I don’t care too much for his humour though. I find it quite childish. But he did invent a figure that is popular and kind of sweet in children’s TV (captain blue-bear would be the literal translation, I have no idea if there is a translation of that…)

        1. Actually it has been translated into English. I haven’t read it, but I’m currently reading a book titled “The City of Dreaming Books” by him; it’s proving to be a good read! πŸ™‚

        2. Oh yeah? I’ve never read it, but the impression I got from friends who had, didn’t encourage me to pick it up. Maybe it’s better in the translation! πŸ˜‰

        3. Maybe! I know translation can drastically affect quality at times, and the one I’m reading is the kind of good where you can hardly tell it’s a translated book.

  11. publish date & finish date & two different things – Agatha Christie has a couple of finished novels put away to be published after her death –

      1. He admits it takes him a long time to write them but he does indeed spend enormous amounts of time describing dinner so I am not surprised. Get a leg on, George.

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