The moment of truth is here. For years fans of George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire have been hoping that he could somehow write fast enough to stay ahead of the HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones . But Martin recently announced that Season 5 of the show will definitely be getting ahead of his books.
That puts book fans who want to read the tales before seeing them on TV (or hearing about them on Twitter) in a difficult position. Fantasy author Douglas Cohen, who started reading the series back in 1996, is adamant that he can and will avoid spoilers.
“I will go to extremes,” he says in Episode 146 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I will walk out in the middle of a conversation with friends if they start talking about Game of Thrones.”
But most fans think that avoiding spoilers will prove well-nigh impossible. The internet is an obvious minefield, with spoilers cropping up on every news site and social media network. But even avoiding the internet won’t be enough, since ubiquitous billboard ads provide a running update on which characters are still alive. Author and TV producer Andrea Kail is throwing in the towel and watching the show.
“It’s going to get spoiled for you,” she says. “It just is. You can’t avoid it.”
Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams is also planning on watching Season 5.
“If it was just me, maybe I would try to avoid the spoilers and read the books first,” he says. “But I’m watching the television show with my wife, and we have friends over when we watch it, and so it’s become a social thing.”
Fantasy author Chris Cevasco is still on the fence, but more and more he’s leaning toward watching the show, since the stress and aggravation of trying to stay in a spoiler-free bubble just seems daunting.
“I almost wonder if that’s going to sour me to all things Ice and Fire more so than having a couple of spoilers is going to sour me to it,” he says.
For more on the pros and cons of spoiler avoidance, listen to our complete conversation with Douglas Cohen, Andrea Kail, John Joseph Adams, and Chris Cevasco in Episode 146 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Douglas Cohen on George R. R. Martin:
“I came to George’s website, and he was actually selling off first edition hardcovers of his book, and he would sign it and everything. You just had to send him a check for 25 or 30 dollars. … I actually took the time to write him a letter. At this time I hadn’t done anything editorially, I had no writing [in] publications, I hadn’t been to any writing workshops. I just knew that I loved this stuff and I wanted to be involved with it, and I thought that George was just the most amazing author in the world after reading that book. And I got the book back, signed to me, and much to my amazement he actually took the time to write out a whole letter to me—on a typewriter, no less, very old school. … Not a lot of authors would take the time to do that. And the way he signed the book was great: ‘Dear Douglas, may all your winters be short and your books bestsellers.’ I mean, what more can you ask for if you’re a fan and an aspiring fantasy author?”
Chris Cevasco on divergences from the books:
“What I think the clincher was for me is that HBO and George R. R. Martin have now confirmed that the series on TV—to some extent—is going to be going in different directions. In some ways I think that’s what is going to make this all possible for me, because by not knowing ‘Is this actually from the books or not?’ I can trick myself into thinking none of this is from the books. And until I actually read the books, for all I know nothing that I’ve seen on the show is actually the way it turns out.”
John Joseph Adams on unfollowing people who post spoilers:
“Just the other day, somebody I follow on Twitter just cavalierly wrote [a major Game of Thrones spoiler]. And I said, ‘Dude! What are you doing? That’s a huge major spoiler!” And he said, ‘Oh, it’s been a year. I think the statute of limitations is passed.’ And I said, ‘Dude, you just watched it now! Lots of other people are just going to be watching it now. What are you doing?’ … And I’m actually really, really quick to unfollow people on Twitter if I see them post any kind of spoiler—even in a case like this where that’s not a spoiler for me because I already saw it—I will unfollow that person. This is a case where I didn’t feel like I could unfollow the person who said that, but I’ve unfollowed people for way less than that.”
“So you know there’s a lot of speculation about who Coldhands is? So George donated a bunch of manuscripts to some library somewhere, and some fans dug them out and looked at them, and George’s editor had written some notes throughout the manuscript, and there was a section with Coldhands, and the editor wrote, ‘I think this is such-and-such character. Am I right?’ And George had written a response. And I don’t know what he said—I purposely stopped listening to the podcast at that point. But that’s just another thing that’s out there on the internet. People know this secret information.”