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in a web of glass, pinned to the edges of vision

hubris extremis.

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

mucha mosaic

hubris extremis.

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bibliophilia
Early April, 2003, I placed an order for a book.
In 4 months, it will have been more than 2 years since I placed that order.

The text below is by the author of the book in question. Now in fairness, he probably has gotten a lot of scathing commentary from folks who are getting sick of the wait.

As for those of you (only a handful, thankfully) who seem outraged that I continue to collect toy knights, read books by other people, travel, teach, speak, and make appearances (as evidenced by my website)... sorry, but I have a life beyond A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. You should get one too. I am sorry if the long delays on A FEAST FOR CROWS have made you lose interest in the series, but believe me, your frustrations cannot possibly hold a candle to my own. For one thing, the way the book biz works, I don't get paid until the novel is (a) delivered, and (b) published.

It is worth remembering that Jack Vance published the third volume of his wonderful Demon Prince series (THE PALACE OF LOVE) in 1967 and the fourth volume (THE FACE) in 1979. And need I mention how long J.R.R. Tolkien worked on THE LORD OF THE RINGS or THE SILMARILLION? Does anyone now wish that he had knocked them out faster?

In the end, the only thing anyone remembers about a book is how good it was. I won't tell you that A FEAST FOR CROWS is going to be great. That's not my call to make. But I will say that I am doing my damndest.

Hang in there. I'll try to make you glad you did.


—George R.R. Martin, June 16, 2004


So I just happen to be reading the third one as of last night, and happened to look at the copyright page. The book was copyrighted in 2000.

Okay, it's over 1066 manuscript pages. Maybe it's time to start breaking it down into smaller books, when one's overseas publishers publish the 3rd book in 2 volumes?

And fun as these books are- Tolkien & Vance are some pretty fucking tall ships to choose as far as a comparison to your own vessel. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1937; Fellowship & Two Towers in '54, and Return in '55; Silmarillion in '77- posthumous publication, by 4 years. Edited by his son, too, which to my eyes suggests that it wasn't even intended for publication in the first place. So four books in 17 years. Okay, that's a slow record.
Those four books were also not even a fifth of what he published in that span, though; go here for a bibliography. It bears note that Tolkien also chaired the Old English department at a major university while writing all that.

As a Lucas character contemporaneous to the publication of The Silmarillion might say, I Got a Bad Feeling About This.
  • I have waited longer than that for books by Diane Duane. But I don't LIKE it.
  • Apology, and perhaps a gentle reminder that a book, like a baby, takes nuturing, would have been fine.

    This letter, not so much. I'm...amused at the examples he chose to be his standard...although I have to say I've never read any stuff by him, so I don't know if it's a good standard to guide by.
    • Oh, the Song of Ice and Fire novels are, so far, really amazing in that they manage an epic scope and the humanity that made his editorship of the Wild Card anthos work so well.
      However, if you know the tale of the War of the Roses? You know the Song of Ice & Fire, for the most part.
    • (no subject) -
      • here is a pretty good summary page on it, along with a photo of the main keep of the seat of the Duchy of York.
        Now imagine it with a little more snow, and a kid climbing up one wall, if you would?
    • While he's certainly been working on the next book long enough (pushing 4 years now), interesting that you mention his editorship of Wild Cards since that's one of the few new projects he's also done with his time since 2001.

      (That, a novella, and overseeing the reprinting and/or merchandising of huge swaths of his back catalog, plus constantly doing the convention circuit seem to pretty much be it.)
      • Really? I'd assumed that the Wild Card books were dead in the water. Thank you!
        overseeing reprint/merchandising is not your job as an author: it's your job as a literary agent: you just ask the author about stuff you don't think he'd like.
        • Yeah, the first new book in a LONG time (Deuces Down, an anthology of stories about deuces) came out in Dec 02. It was pretty decent, too.
  • Touchy, touchy.

    I will point out that neither Tolkien nor (probably) Vance had the benefit of modern writing technology; Tolkien wrote all that longhand with the aid of a typist perhaps, and Vance may have had an electric typewriter. Possibly a "word processor" or computer of the less than useful sort by book three. And I don't know if Vance was working a full-time job or not. Admittedly, many modern authors (Gaiman leaps to mind) seem to get quite a lot of mileage out of writing books longhand, so maybe my prejudices are showing; I write very much faster when I type, and I adore being able to make edits on a screen instead of with white-out and scissors.

    This merely reaffirms my faith in my absolute tenet of such books: do not, do not, do not read the damn things until the series is completed. I am not patient, and impatience makes me cranky.
    • As an aside, I will mention that for me, writing longhand is the only way to slow my own creative process enough to get a whole story out on paper without jamming in six different plots.

      However, even so, it doesn't take me four years to articulate one idea. ;)

  • It doesn't really matter how long Tolkien took to write LotR, if he published the entire series within two years. Seems like a pretty weak comparison on that front, even ignoring whether Martin is writing a comparable series.

    I've only bought/read the first one, which I thought was really good. Eventually I imagine I'll pick up the other two -- at this rate, around whenever the next one comes out.
  • And now that I think about it - shit, I'd be glad and flattered if people *wanted* to read my next book. Guaranteed sales! I have fans! Hot diggity! Talk about validation!
  • as long as he doesn't pull a william manchester / gordon dickson and keel over before he's done, i'm good.

    and to be fair, i get the sense that he was responding less to the legions of folks waiting (im)patiently with at most dark mutterings on their ljs (i.e. us) but the rude few who wrote in to tell him what he should be doing with his time. if he chooses to spend the next 4 years debauching in the fleshpots of asia and whittling caricatures of harlan ellison rather than writing the next book, i'll be disappointed, but that's his business.

    • whittling caricatures of harlan ellison
      Now that's an interesting interpretation of the status of the Imp at the beginning of book 3...
  • You think he'd have taken crap like this when he was editing? I don't. :p
    • Given that the three novels were published so fast, I suspect Tolkien was done writing them before anybody even started editing RotK.
    • No, no, I meant Mr. Martin. Having been an editor, he should be more aware of the whole deadline concept. I'm almost certain that Professor Tolkien had his novels completed before he submitted them for publication.
      • Oh, yeah, most definitely. It's disappointing.
        To me, it's just- I dunno. I'd be fine with him publishing 3 400-page books in a 4 year span that do not at all stand alone: it's frustrating to me that I have to wait 4 years for what'll likely be less than 900 pages.
    • Tolkien thought of LotR as one novel and wrote it as such.

      It was his publishers who decided to split it up into three volumes, because of the sheer size of the thing. The publishers even came up with the titles; Tolkien disliked the title of the third volume because it gives away part of the plot.

      So, yes, he wrote it all as a piece, and he'd been working on it for years and years.

      The Jack Vance example is likewise disingenuous; yes, the Demon Princes series had a long gap, but the man was churning out other novels by the score, including other multi-volume series.
      • Indeed- Chris Tolkien has said that he believes his father would've been more pleased with a 7-volume edition, and divvied it up thus for the millennium because Dad would've preferred it.
  • I respectfully disagree. I want FEAST FOR CROWS done properly more than I want it (or half of it) done now.

    And I don't think his comparison is entirely unfair. I've enjoyed all three books of the series more than any of the books of of the LORD OF THE RINGS.
    • The three books of Lord of the Rings took the better part of 20 years to write.
      They were published within 1.5 years of each other.
      That's my only real objection here.

      Christ, there's a trilogy of books I'm waiting on the conclusion of right now- the final volume's a bit delayed due to a bit of chaos in the author's life.
      to wit,
      HIS HOUSE BURNED DOWN AND ALL HIS POSSESSIONS WENT UP IN SMOKE.

      He still expects to get the third one into the printer's hands by the beginning of this coming year, rather than the originally-contracted beginning of 2004. They aren't the fat monsters that SoI&F books are- but they are considerably more unique of a story, in my view, as Martin's only re-hashing the War of the Roses.

      I'm starting to fear that he's succumbed to Jordan's Syndrome.
      • Whoa! Who's this, whose house burned down?

        (Also, a couple of Stephenson's books have been split into three volumes for distribution in Spain & France.)
        • Author's name is Ricardo Pinto: you've probably not heard of him, as he's been quashed pretty solidly for being a non-hetero fantasy author.
  • I've been waiting ten years for even a hateful, hateful rumor indicating there might be a second Masters of Magic game.

    YOUR TWO YEARS MEANS NOTHING TO ME, SODOMITE. NOTHING!
  • Can you imagine if we'd had to wait for the Lymond Chronicles? It's one of the reasons I never got into the Niccolo books. I didn't want to sit there waiting for the next installment.

    I'm certain you've already seen this, but:
    http://trashotron.com/agony/columns/2004/12-15-04.htm
    • Would've been quite frustrating, yes, to wait 4 years between any two Lymond books. And in fact, she got the whole septet out in 14 years: longest wait in there was for the last one, which was- you guessed it- 4 years.
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