George R.R. Martin, author of the book series that was turned into HBO's Game of Thrones, has escaped a fate of imprisonment beside an acid lake on a volcanic island in New Zealand.
This isn't a plot twist from one of Martin's books. It traces back to a promise the writer made in early 2019 to have the long-awaited next installment in the A Song of Ice and Fire series done and in hand by this date in 2020.
In reality, Martin reported in March that he's still plugging away at The Winds of Winter.
Martin was supposed to be arriving in New Zealand to attend the Worldcon science fiction convention this month. Here's what he wrote in a blog update on May 21, 2019:
As for finishing my book… I fear that New Zealand would distract me entirely too much. Best leave me here in Westeros for the nonce. But I tell you this — if I don't have The Winds of Winter in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I'm done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I'll be fine.
Based on this, we can't actually imprison Martin on White Island, home to an active stratovolcano with an acidic lake in its crater. Martin didn't actually arrive in New Zealand since the in-person Worldcon was cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The convention has switched over to a virtual online format.
The details of the promise haven't stopped some fans from wanting to make good on it. One fan issued a warrant for his arrest via Twitter, but the conditions of his capture sound pretty humane.
The lack of a Winds of Winter manuscript was also the perfect occasion to drop some prison-related memes.
If we've learned anything from the long book delay, it's that Martin isn't afraid to take his time. Even the self-imposed threat of acid waters may not be enough to force him to finish.
Martin will be acting as the toastmaster for the virtual Worldcon and will participate in a couple of panels. That means there's still time for him to drop some positive news about The Winds of Winter. At this point, I'll take any glimmer of hope I can get.