NEW YORK• The moment that some Game of Thrones fans have long feared may finally be at hand.
No, winter has not come. But the next season of the hit HBO series will be aired before the publication of the novel it is based on, the author said last Saturday, creating a minefield of potential spoilers that may be hard for readers to escape.
George R.R. Martin said in a post on his personal blog that he had missed a Dec 31 deadline to finish the sixth book, The Winds Of Winter, in the best-selling fantasy series.
That "almost certainly means" the sixth season of the show - the most popular series in HBO history - will have its premiere, scheduled for April, before the book is published, he wrote.
"You're disappointed and you're not alone," he wrote to his fans in a message on his LiveJournal page. "My editors and publishers are disappointed, HBO is disappointed, my agents and foreign publishers and translators are disappointed." He added, "But no one could possibly be more disappointed than me."
The plot has diverged from the books in ways large and small over the years but, he said: "I can't think of any other instance where the movie or TV show came out as the source material was still being written."
He added that he decided to make an announcement because of pressure from "hundreds of my readers, maybe thousands or tens of thousands", who were worried that the show's sixth season would reveal plot twists from the unpublished novel.
"Will the show 'spoil' the novels?" he wrote. "Maybe. Yes and no. Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has."
He added: "The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly. There were other factors, too, but that was the main one."
His post outlined a busy year of distractions, slow progress and missed deadlines - as well as meetings with publishers and cable executives. He said he originally agreed to present a completed manuscript to his publishers, Bantam Books, by Halloween, but was unable to do so. A new deadline was set for Dec 31, he wrote, but he missed that one, too.
"Look, I have always had problems with deadlines," he wrote. "For whatever reason, I don't respond well to them."
He pushed back against online rumours that he had yet to write a single page of the new book, calling the speculation "the usual garbage Internet journalism that I have learnt to despise". He said he had written "hundreds of pages" and "dozens of chapters" but still had a long road ahead of him.
"I am months away still," he wrote. "And that's if the writing goes well. (Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't.)"
NEW YORK TIMES