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About Those Spinoffs...

So while I was on the road out California way, the story broke about the four GAME OF THRONES spinoffs that HBO is developing. And of course the news has since spread everywhere, all over the web and all over the world.

Yes, it's true. More or less. Though, as is all too common these days, various distortions and misapprehensions have crept into some of the reports along the way. And television being the fast-moving business that it is, there have already been some further developments.

For what it's worth, I don't especially like the term "spinoff," and I don't think it really applies to these new projects. What we're talking about are new stories set in the "secondary universe" (to borrow Tolkien's term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history.

None of these new shows will be 'spinning off' from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASH or even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than 'spinoff' or 'prequel,' however, I prefer the term 'successor show.' That's what I've been calling them.

Yes, I am involved, and have been for months. I had my first meeting with HBO about the possibility of a successor show back in August, when I pitched them two possible series. (One of those is among the concepts being developed, one is not). In the months that followed, other writers were brought in and pitched other ideas. Ultimately HBO decided to go ahead with four separate developments, to be written by Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland, and Carly Wray.

It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That's not quite right. I've actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we've spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and sundry details found only in The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire... when we weren't drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I've been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.

And there's more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He's a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don't know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.

Some of the reports of these developments seem to suggest that HBO might be adding four successor shows to the schedule to replace GAME OF THRONES. Decades of experience in television and film have taught me that nothing is ever really certain... but I do think it's very unlikely that we'll be getting four (or five) series. At least not immediately. What we do have here is an order for four -- now five -- pilot scripts. How many pilots will be filmed, and how many series might come out of that, remains to be seen. (If we do get five series on the air, I might have to change my name to Dick Direwolf).

The one goal that EVERYONE involved shares here is to make these new shows just as good as GAME OF THRONES itself. No easy task, mind you. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are a tough, tough act to follow, as all those Emmys demonstrate.

I can't tell you what the shows will be about (well, I could, but I won't), but I will tell you a couple of things they WON'T be. Which will disappoint some of you, sure, but better to do that now than later, I think.

We're not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I'd love that, and so would many of you. But I've only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don't want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I've finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we'll do a tv show about them... but that day is still a long ways off.

We're not doing Robert's Rebellion either. I know thousands of you want that, I know there's a petition... but by the time I finish writing A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert's Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know. That's not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale.

More than that, I will not say. Feel free to makes your guesses, if you like... but I am not going to be confirming or denying anything, so don't expect replies.

And yes, before someone asks, I AM STILL WORKING ON WINDS OF WINTER and will continue working on it until it's done. I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. WINDS OF WINTER, five successor shows, FIRE AND BLOOD (that's the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Cards books, some things I can't tell you about yet... it's a good thing I love my work.


May. 15th, 2017 01:57 am (UTC)
Incidentally, are you ever going to give a name to the World of Ice and Fire? In the English-speaking world, we call our planet Earth. In the legendary period of Earth history written about by Tolkien, the inhabitants call it Arda. Fans have, in the absence of such official names, dubbed the world of Westeros and Essos and Sothoryos 'Planetos', but that obviously feels a bit tongue in cheek.

Basically, if you were to sit down with a Maester and ask him what planet he lives on, he would have an answer, right?

Edited at 2017-05-15 01:58 am (UTC)
May. 15th, 2017 05:07 am (UTC)
He would probably call it Earth.

Of course, it would not be that word, since he'd be speaking the Common Tongue, not English.

But it would mean Earth.
May. 15th, 2017 12:25 pm (UTC)
Honestly, I'm surprised I didn't get a Mathematician's Answer on this one.

Question: "if you were to sit down with a Maester and ask him what planet he lives on, he would have an answer, right?"

Answer: "yes"

I was really just setting myself up for it with that last part.

Thanks for the reply. :)
May. 15th, 2017 01:15 pm (UTC)
Well, thank you for clearing that detail up. I wonder if they have similar planets to us though, there are Seven Wanderers but are the Moon and Sun counted like the Seven Classical Planets? Ah well, I suppose there's more important stuff to worry about at the end of the day. Best of luck with the writing.
May. 15th, 2017 03:43 pm (UTC)
I thought the Common Tongue WAS English.
May. 15th, 2017 04:33 pm (UTC)
Both Westeros.org's Wiki and Game of Thrones Wiki have to use the cumbersome title "The Known World" for our article on that.

Btw, Elio mention something about this: an astronomy project that never got off the ground.

My *assumption* was that their night sky is the same as ours, but their constellations are different because that's a cultural thing - i.e. they played "connect the dots" differently, so they have "The Crone's Lantern" but not "Orion". Did the abandoned astronomy project ever go into more detail on that? We know that there are 8 "wanderers" (planets) (one apparently red and Mars-like -- MCRN 4EVR!)

...wait...we thought Common Tongue just happens to sound exactly like English. Are you now saying it's "universally translated from whatever language they're speaking" a la Tolkien?

And Ulthos...don't get me started on Ulthos. That was tweaking our nose and you know it. :)
Felipe Bini
May. 15th, 2017 04:45 pm (UTC)
Regarding the Common Tongue and English
Does this mean that names and nicknames that only work with wordplay in English, like Egg and Hodor (which also pose real challenges to translators, I suppose), also work in the Common Tongue?
I mean, would the words for "egg" and "door" in the Common Tongue also be "egg" and "door"?
May. 15th, 2017 11:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Regarding the Common Tongue and English
I was about to write that even Tolkien, linguist that he was, at some point probably used wordplay which makes sense in English but which makes no sense if you begin with the conceit that they're actually speaking Westron or Sindarin or what-have-you. I was also about to write that pursuing this line of thought could cause even the most detailed of constructed worlds to unravel.

But a quick search reveals I actually have given Tolkien less credit than he deserves. From the Lord of the Rings wiki entry on Westron:

"In The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Westron was presented as having been completely translated by English. This had certain important implications: first of all, proper names with derivations somewhat evident to speakers of Westron had been translated, to preserve the effect. Thus, names like Baggins, Bagshot Row, Peregrin, Rivendell etc., are presented as not the actual names. (For example, Meriadoc Brandybuck's actual name is supposed to have been Kalimac Brandagamba, short Kali (meaning jolly, merry). 'Meriadoc', short 'Merry', is designed to maintain the reference to merriness contained in the original name."

If this sort of things bugs you, it would be easy enough to apply the same reasoning here.

For added comedy points, if following this approach, I suggest acting as if 'Aegon' in the original High Valyrian is actually 'Larry', with 'Lar' being the Westerosi word for Egg. That way, you can forever after think of Larry the Conqueror and Larry the Unworthy when reading.

Edited at 2017-05-15 11:44 pm (UTC)
May. 15th, 2017 04:51 pm (UTC)
The Common Tongue isn't the same as English? But I recall several rhyme-based jokes in the books that only make sense in English.
May. 15th, 2017 04:53 pm (UTC)
And of course the rhymes in the songs. "Castamere", "not a soul to hear". "The Bear and the Maiden Fair".
May. 17th, 2017 02:19 pm (UTC)
My interpretation is that the Common Tongue is not English, but English is used to represent it. Rhymes/wordplay in English are understood to represent the Common Tongue verse. It's a simple suspension of disbelief. You can just think of the Common Tongue as serving a similar role in their world as English does in ours, and sounding anglo/germanic. Likewise, High Valyrian isn't literally Classical Latin, and the Free Cities don't literally speak dialects of Vulgar Latin that are diverging into Romance languages, but the parallel is there to give you context.

In general, the ice&fire world is full of parallels to ours, but it's not the same planet.
May. 16th, 2017 01:42 am (UTC)
Basically, everyone you ask lives on rock, dirt, mud, something of the like. They all mean the same as earth.
May. 16th, 2017 07:20 pm (UTC)
This made my day.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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