You recently sounded enthusiastic about HBO green-lighting the George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones series. Speaking as someone who loves the books, I am very, very apprehensive. And not for the normal book-translations reasons ("It will never hold true", "They will get it all wrong" blah blah). I don't care about any of that. My worry is Martin himself. If you are not familiar with the books, here is the short version of my complaint. Game of Thrones was published in 1997, theoretically the first of seven books. Now, 13 years later, we have seen 3.5 of those books. The ".5" comes from the last book, which was half of what he intended; he split the "4th" because it got too long and bumped the series up to 8 predicted books. At the time he said that the "second half" was essentially written and would be out quickly, but that was in 2006, and nothing since. He used to update his blog on his progress, but nothing there since Jan. 2008 except for vague references about being stuck.
Martin is an amazingly talented and imaginative writer who started a fantastic series, but seems to have either lost interest, has bitten off more than he can chew, or just doesn't have time. (A parallel situation happened with the fantasy author Robert Jordan, who resolved it by dying before finishing.) Reading these books is quite an investment, but I've had to accept that I'm never going to get the payoff. Hence my worry about a TV series which I would otherwise be very excited about. It’s bad enough that we have to worry about the premature ending of any TV show for the normal reasons (low ratings, low profits, whatever). But to add to this the unreliability of the author and it really makes this sound like a bad thing to invest time into.—John
A fair concern, and one I share since I have chosen not to start reading the fourth book until the fifth is published so I can have a more complete reading experience. I only read the original trilogy a few years ago, anticipating the sale to HBO, and was transfixed, but also awed by its scope and range of characters; I often found myself ending a chapter and paging forward to see how long it would be—sometimes 100 pages or more—before I’d be able to return to a specific set of characters or narrative point of view. It is a daunting task to adapt something like this for TV, especially given that the end of the story has yet to be written, and depending how much of the tale each season eats up, the TV show could eventually outpace the literary version. (Funny you mention the Robert Jordan series; I tried that one, too, in the immediate wake of the Lord of the Rings movies, and when it stalled about seven or eight books in, I just gave up. I much prefer the Martin series.) But all concerns aside, I’m so excited to see this epic fantasy come to life, and on a network that can handle its adult concerns and support its ambitions, that I’ll worry about these other matters if we’re lucky enough to get to that point. Bottom line, though, a memo to George R.R. Martin: Get a move on!