Having started watching the latest (fourth) season of A Game of Thrones, the television series sometimes-closely and sometimes-loosely based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the day of the mighty, uppity bookworm is coming to an end.
 You know, just in case you were living under a rock for the past three years.
We used to have a usenet fan community that was heavily into reading these books, and we even had a re-read “CHapter Of the Week” review and discussion thing going. It was teeming with debate and activity once upon a time, and we had wikis for the links to the first few books’-worth of CHOWs.
We can still be fairly certain that his sister had a baby, and he promised her to keep her secret. Something had to happen to that baby.
Incinerated by a dragon twenty years later?
*not very hopeful*
Wouldn’t be the first.
But the point is (and most of the dumber Jon Snow Thaerists seem to be ignoring this element of the thing), lost princes can suddenly show up out of nowhere and be conveniently retcon-explained with a backstory nobody ever suspected, *five books in*. Martin is essentially telling us, “your thaeries are adorable, but I’m telling this story and if I want to make you all look like muppets, it’s just this easy, watch … in fact, I’m going to type this next paragraph, explaining how Arya is actually Rhaegar’s daughter from Wylla, using my penis. Just a heads-up, because as a result of this move there will be a lot of numbers scattered through the first draft on account of my gut overhanging my genitals.”
An excerpt from some of my finer moments of critique. Actually written in May 2012, so pretty recent in the scheme of things. Usenet isn’t dead, it’s just sleeping through the long summer. And when television finally kills the paperback star, the newsgroups will rise again.
Anyway, the point of all this is, Martin’s TV series has diverged from the books, and due to the necessities of putting out seasons once a year in a competitive and fickle market, his TV series is going to overtake the books. Guaranteed. It’s already started to happen, we just haven’t noticed so much because of the already-happening divergences. But it’s only going to get worse.
Because in a competitive book market, even if Martin writes the whole series tomorrow, that’s going to be – what, two more books? So they’re going to have to release them once a year for maximum market penetration. So, 2015 and 2016. The series will most likely be done by then. Its popularity will wane because TV viewers only have the attention-span for five or six seasons, max. After that, it’s just going to be the fans of the books still watching anyway, and that’s not going to be good enough. So they’ll want to bring it to a close before the pop culture mass psyche collectively goes “oh look, shiny” and turns to look at something else.
 They might release them every six months if he gets them finished that fast. For the sake of the story, I hope he doesn’t even try.
And he’s probably not going to write one book a year anyway, let alone one every six months, let alone tomorrow, so that’s a moot point.
Just in case the TV show doesn’t diverge from the books completely, I want it on record that I was the first person to make this joke.
Now, this means a couple of things for the readers of the book series.
First, it means that they will fall off their irritating little “I know what’s going to happen next” pedestals. The characters are different, the plotlines are different, there are whole new characters and the existing ones are doing different things. Being literate was, for about the first three seasons of this show, something to be proud of, something that provided a tangible benefit and a sense of superiority. Sorry, but now the show’s got a life of its own and the books are out of the picture, literacy is once again the domain of nerds and nobody watching the TV show cares anymore. Again. Might as well just go back to being bitter, cliquish and aloof. So, that’s one thing for the readers to be worried about but in my opinion it’s pretty minor. It’s been happening to us for years, we’ll bounce back.
 Oh alright, we. Although I consider myself long since resigned to the books and the TV show being two distinct GRRM creations, and nothing to get upset or smug about.
Second, and more worrying, is the fact that once the TV series overtakes the books or diverges from them enough, and then reaches a conclusion, the book series will stop mattering to anyone. Think about it.
What’s going to be the point? Either Martin writes out the last couple of seasons of the A Game of Thrones TV series in book form, after the fact, in which case only the die-hard fans are going to care. Or he’s going to complete the divergence and write a different final couple of instalments for the book series altogether, so there really are two stories. In which case, again, only the die-hard fans are going to care.
I don’t know, it just seems like a really difficult situation to salvage to me. But he’s making a steady paycheque from reprints of The Wit and Motherfucking Wisdom of Tyrion Goddamn Lannister, so more power to him. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the “world of” books and other stuff are going to be like, and how he’s planning on reconciling the two stories, if at all. It’ll be interesting.
I was also the first one to make this joke. I googled it.
So, anyway. That’s what I was thinking about this morning.