George R. R. Martin’s story suggests a new sense of what an author owes his readers.
As the chief moderator of Westeros.org, García deleted forum posts that he regarded as “not constructive,” including increasingly wild speculation about the cause of the delay and the ultimate fate of the series. Martin’s blog was similarly monitored. Even so, the discontent soon spilled over into other platforms—from science-fiction and fantasy forums to discussion boards on Amazon.com. One poster wrote, “George R. R. Martin, you suck. . . . Pull your fucking typewriter out of your ass and start fucking typing.” Another joked that Martin had written a book called “How to Cash in Big Time After You Write Half a Series.” Such invective has flourished even after Martin, in early March, announced that “A Dance with Dragons” will finally be published on July 12th. One skeptic, posting on Amazon.com, said of the release date, “Don’t hold your breath on this one unless you like passing out.”
An entire community of apostates—a shadow fandom—is now devoted to taunting Martin, his associates, and readers who insist that he has been hard at work on the series and has the right to take as much time as he needs. Even Gaiman got dragged into the feud when he responded, on his own blog, to an inquiry about Martin’s tardiness by issuing this reproof: “George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.”
The online attacks on Martin suggest that some readers have a new idea about what an author owes them. They see themselves as customers, not devotees, and they expect prompt, consistent service. Martin, who is sixty-two, told me that Franck calls the disaffected readers the Entitlement Generation: “He thinks they’re all younger people, teens and twenties. And that their generation just wants what they want, and they want it now. If you don’t give it to them, they’re pissed off.”