Author George R.R. Martin has broken his silence on the frantic online reaction to the Game of Thrones finale, calling the whole phenomenon "toxic."
Martin has had little involvement in HBO's adaptation of his epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, especially in later seasons. The author has not written a script himself since Season 4, and the show has long since advanced beyond his books. Still, the backlash to the show's final season affected Martin, as he explained in an interview on the Maltin on Movies podcast.
“The Internet is toxic in a way that old fan zine culture and fandoms — comics fans, science fiction fans — in those days, was not,” Martin said. “There were disagreements. There were feuds, but nothing like the madness that you see on the internet.”
Martin has often expressed fondness and nostalgia for the science fiction fanzine culture of the 20th century, where he himself got his start as a published writer. He seems to feel that a thoughtful, analogue public forum like those publications would have been preferable to the criticism, petitions and heartbreak that Game of Thrones Season 8 was met with online.
Martin has made no secret of the fact that fan responses can affect his work, despite his best efforts. Martin's last novel in the main series of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance With Dragons, was released in 2011, the same year that the show premiered. Since then, he has continually delayed the sequel, The Winds of Winter, until the show eventually surpassed its own source material.
This has created a unique and confusing situation for fans, who are still arguing at length about which aspects of Game of Thrones will play out in the books, and how they will be different. Even before they split, the show had become a different story from the books, with some characters growing unrecognizable in the adaptation and several key story lines getting cut completely.
Martin himself has said that the two versions of his story will not be identical, although he did give the main bullet points of his story to the showrunners. After the series finale aired, he took to his blog to give his thoughts on how his books might be different from the show fans had just watched.
“How will it all end? I hear people asking,” Martin wrote. “The same ending as the show? Different? Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. I am working in a very different medium than David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss], never forget. They had six hours for this final season. I expect these last two books of mine will fill 3000 manuscript pages between them before I’m done… and if more pages and chapters and scenes are needed, I’ll add them.”
Martin has promised that The Winds of Winter will be done by next summer at the latest.