Back in 2005, Tokyopop started working on manga-style graphic novels based on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. They released one volume of three planned for Legends of the Dark Crystal, taking place centuries before the movie, and two volumes of four planned for Return to Labyrinth, focusing on Sarah’s brother Toby as a teenager…and just sort of stopped. After two years, the third volume of Return to Labyrinth eventually came out, but it was unclear when the final volume would arrive.
Earlier this year I noticed an August release date for the conclusion of Return to Labyrinth. I checked a few days ago and was surprised to find that not only was it actually available…but so was Legends of the Dark Crystal volume 2. (Interestingly enough, the main thing I can glean from the Return to Labyrinth v.4 reviews on Amazon is that the Jareth/Sarah shippers hated it.)
Of course, when you start thinking about long-delayed fantasy books, one in particular always comes to mind: George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, the long-awaited fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s already been nearly five years since the last book, and while the cover art has been ready for most of that time…there’s no sign of the book being finished anytime soon. This is the book that indirectly prompted Neil Gaiman’s (in)famous essay in which he stated, “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” The really funny thing? People are reviewing the book on Amazon. Actually, they’re reviewing the wait for the book!
In addition to fan frustration, some readers are concerned that George R.R. Martin might follow in the footsteps of another fantasy author and die before he completes his magnum opus. Robert Jordan, fortunately for his fans, was already working on the conclusion of his epic, The Wheel of Time, and left extensive outlines and notes. Brandon Sanderson has been writing a trilogy to conclude the series based on Jordan’s notes and partial manuscript. The Gathering Storm came out last year and was surprisingly good. On Tuesday, Dragonmount reported that Sanderson has completed the final draft of Towers of Midnight, and is on track for its November 2 release. The final book, A Memory of Light, should be out next year.
I love Neil Gaiman, and I agree with him a lot of the time, but I don’t agree with that post at all. George R.R. Martin is of course not my bitch – nor presumably anyone else’s – but that doesn’t abrogate my right to bitch about the unreasonably long delay, nor my right to never buy one penny-worth of anything else written by Martin. I’ll still finish the series (must complete my collection!) but outside of that, I feel that Martin’s shown himself to be an author far more concerned with his own self-importance than with any sort of graciousness, and I’ll spend my money on authors who appreciate the support.
That’s funny. I just re-read the post and I don’t see Neil Gaiman saying that you don’t have a right to complain or that you don’t have a right to choose not to buy GRRM’s work in the future.
So is it that you disagree with the idea that artists and writers have lives, or that their priorities might not match what you want, or that they haven’t actually signed a contract with you to deliver on a particular schedule?
No, not at all. I just felt that Neil Gaiman’s post was somewhat condescending, sort of seeming to say, can’t you people just stop whining already. Which is a valid viewpoint for a creator. But I also think that when you have a vocal and engaged fandom – which many authors, including both Gaiman and Martin, have said they value having – then you have to expect fans to vocalize criticism and frustration as well as praise. Many of my favorite creators, including Gaiman himself and Joss Whedon, have shown themselves willing to engage with both negative and positive critiques and reactions to their work, while Martin seems to only want to play when people are lauding him; when it comes to dealing with fan disappointment or ire, he takes his toys and goes home. Which is, of course, his prerogative. But I felt that Neil Gaiman’s post was a sort of condescending scold to the fans, accusing us of childish behavior, when it seemed to me that Martin behaves at least equally childishly.