'Game Of Thrones' Prequels: HBO Passed On Half Of George R.R. Martin's Pitches

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George R.R. Martin predicts who will win the Hugo Awards. Reuters

George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones’ source material, wrote a detailed response to HBO’s announcement of four in-development Game of Thrones spinoff series. One of the internet’s blessings is its open communication with artists and authors, unmediated by PR, so as always, it’s best to read it in his own words. BUT, we’ve got bullet points.

“So while I was on the road out California way,” Martin begins, “the story broke about the four Game of Thrones spinoffs that HBO is developing. And of course the news has since spread everywhere, all over the web and all over the world.” From there he describes the nature of the shows, including some frequently discussed plotlines the shows won’t follow. He also announced a fifth in-development Game of Thrones spinoff and even gave his standard The Winds of Winter update.

Here are the major points:

  • None of the five shows in development are sequels, all prequels.
  • Martin pitched two possible series last year, but only one moved forward to the current development stage.
  • GRRM is working with with all five series pilot writers (announced so far: Max Borenstein, Jane Goldman, Brian Helgeland and Carly Wray).
  • An unnamed fifth writer is writing a fifth pilot.
  • None of the series are based on Martin’s Dunk & Egg novellas.
  • None of the prequel series are about Robert’s Rebellion.
  • None of the prequel series are “the further adventures of Hot Pie.”
  • He’s still working on The Winds of Winter, “and will continue working on it until it's done.”

And here’s what you’re missing by reading my bullet points instead of George R.R. Martin’s more personal telling:

  • Martin is frequently disappointed with the “various distortions and misapprehensions” that “have crept into” media coverage of the series.
  • He doesn’t like the term “spinoff” for pedantic, but interesting reasons. Martin prefers the term “successor show.”
  • Martin mentions Frasier. Frasier is a good TV series.
  • The writers spent time with Martin in Santa Fe, sharing “sundry details found only in The world of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice & Fire… when we weren’t drinking margaritas and eating chile rellenos and visiting Meow Wolf.”
  • “If we do get five series on the air, I might have to change my name to Dick Direwolf.” (It’s a Dick Wolf joke)

Of course, Martin’s post leaves us with just as many questions as answers. Most pressingly, what the hell was Martin’s pitch that HBO turned down? Martin doesn’t say. But knowing his love for Jack Vance and H.P. Lovecraft, it’s fun to imagine that he pitched something set in the more out there corners of his otherwise (relatively) grounded world of A Song of Ice and Fire.  Like, maybe, a show set in Asshai-by-the-Shadow — city of “warlocks, wizards, alchemists, moonsingers, red priests, black alchemists, necromancers, aeromancers…” — where, according to The World of Ice and Fire, traders pursue “certain things spoken of only in whispers, things that cannot be found anywhere upon the earth save in the black bazaars of Asshai.”

But Martin did write “some may not even be set on Westeros,” so perhaps nothing was too outlandish for consideration.

Though Martin doesn’t say anything about the setting or plots of the potential shows (a point he emphasizes: most of these probably won’t make it all the way to series), he does us all a favor by shooting down Robert’s Rebellion speculation. “I know thousands of you want that, I know there’s a petition… but by the time I finish writing A Song of Ice & Fire, you will know every important thing that happened in Robert’s Rebellion. There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know.” Amen.

Making himself available to the full spectrum of Game of Thrones spinoffs has Martin busier than ever. “I will confess, I do wish I could clone myself, or find a way to squeeze more hours into the day, or a way to go without sleep. But this is what it is, so I keep on juggling. Winds of Winter, five successor shows, Fire and Blood (that’s the GRRMarillion, remember?), four new Wild Card books, some things I can’t tell you about yet,” Martin writes. “It’s a good thing I love my work.”

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