With A Game of Thrones starting on HBO in just a few weeks I decided to give the novel another chance. I had previously bailed on the book when George RR Martin’s purple prose overwhelmed me, but I’m committed to making it all the way through this time. And if I make it through that book I will have the knowledge that more Martin books await, including the long-promised A Dance With Dragons.
Martin has been working on the fifth book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series for like ever, and he’s been promising it to fans since at least 2007. Fantasy fans, used to novels being churned out in the manner of plastic tchotkes, have been up in arms for a while. It seems weird to me that these folks think the creative process is akin to an assembly line, but I guess enough hacky authors have shit book after book onto the market over the years to reinforce the belief.
Anyway, good on Martin for taking his time with the book. The work is done when the work is done, and it seems as though the work is now done. He has promised not just a release this year, but a specific date. We’ll see, but this is the most concrete he’s been yet. And with the series airing it seems foolish NOT to try and cash in on the buzz.
Of course let’s hope that Martin keeps staying alive. Fantasy fans will remember with great bitterness how Robert Jordan just kept stringing along his horrible Wheel of Time books (he racked up 7000 mentions of ‘She tugged on her braid’) before croaking it. Seeing Martin on A Game of Thrones BTS stuff, I’d be worried. He’s a fat old guy who dresses exactly like Pete Seeger.
Meanwhile, Stephen King, a guy who publishes first drafts, has another gigantic novel coming out this year. 11/22/63 is a thousand page time travel novel in which a guy tries to stop the Kennedy assassination. The synopsis from King’s site is almost utterly incoherent:
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.
Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Dunhill and Epping… Dunning? I mean, I’m assuming that the pointless essay mentioned in the first paragraph end up being about our good buddy Jake. I like the idea that a diner just happens to have a portal to 1958 in it, too. This sounds like a short story at best, and I’m curious how the hell King is going to stretch this shit to a thousand pages, and how it will end up involving aliens and Pennywise, because you know it will.