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George R.R. Martin hints that the next Game of Thrones book may be finished this summer

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A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin left a post on his LiveJournal this week in which he explained his convention appearance schedule for 2015, and it holds some exciting news for fans waiting patiently for the next installment of his series.

Martin explained that he would have to cancel a previously announced appearance at Saratoga's World Fantasy Convention, and additionally that he had no plans to attend this year's San Diego Comic Con. The author's schedule, it seems, is too full with his work on Winds of Winter (which he sometimes affectionately refers to as "Son of Kong"), the sixth and penultimate book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, the inspiration for HBO's Game of Thrones.

However, at the end of his entry, Martin gave some indication of how far along he is on the book:

My apologies to anyone who saw Saratoga on my Appearances page and planned to go in order to see me. I won't be there. Go anyway. You'll have a great time.

Also, I have decided against attending this year's San Diego Comicon. Same reason. But since Comicon was never listed on my Appearances page, scratching it is not as big a deal.

(Should I complete and deliver WINDS OF WINTER before these cons roll round, I reserve the right to change my mind).

With San Diego Comic Con and the World Fantasy Convention occurring in July and November, respectively, that seems to indicate that Martin plans to be hard at work on finishing up Winds of Winter through the rest of the year. If Winds is editorially turned around as fast as some of its predecessors, it might be out for sale in early 2016, if not sooner. And with four years of waiting and joking under their belts, that's good news for readers of A Song of Ice and Fire, not to mention a few HBO show-runners.

The last time an installment of A Song of Ice and Fire hit bookstore shelves, it was the year 2011 and the first season of Game of Thrones had concluded a mere month previous. With a hugely expanded fanbase, and a regularly-in-production television show, jokes about Martin's writing speed reached a certain prominence, and were often met with fellow fantasy author Neil Gaiman's words on the subject. When a Song of Ice and Fire fan asked Gaiman whether they had a right to be angry that Martin had taken a vacation when the author could have been writing the book the fan so desperately wanted, Gaiman wrote a very nice note about the nature of the implicit contract between writer and reader, but also summarized his own response as "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch."

The joke and response reached its peak, perhaps, at 2013's San Diego Comic Con, when Martin, Gaiman and Paul and Storm — who penned their own semi-serious ode to Martin's talents, "Write Like the Wind" — collaborated on this small piece of theater: