game of thrones season 7 tormund

First of all, A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin wants us to know that there aren’t four Game of Thrones spin-offs in the works at HBO. There are five. Second of all, he wants us to know that they aren’t “spin-offs,” as they will not involve any character introduced in the first series. Third of all, he promises that he’s still working on that sixth book. For real.

While we’ll take umbrage with Martin’s definition of spin-off (the phrase has evolved to mean any kind of television follow-up!), the whole blog post where he talks about the spin-offs, his involvement in each and every one of them, and their place on the Game of Thrones timeline is good, enlightening, and very entertaining stuff.

While there’s more to be read and enjoyed over at Martin’s personal blog, let’s run down what you need to know. Let’s get warmed up with his rant about the shows being spin-offs and how he doesn’t think the term applies to what they’re doing here. It’s in the midst of this rant that he reveals that every single script currently being developed is a prequel set before the events of Game of Thrones:

For what it’s worth, I don’t especially like the term “spinoff,” and I don’t think it really applies to these new projects. What we’re talking about are new stories set in the “secondary universe” (to borrow Tolkien’s term) of Westeros and the world beyond, the world I created for A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It is a world, and a pretty big one, and if there were eight million stories in the naked city back in the 50s, just think how many more there are in an entire world, and one with thousands of years of recorded history. […] None of these new shows will be ‘spinning off’ from GOT in the traditional sense. We are not talking Joey or AfterMASHor even Frazier or Lou Grant, where characters from one show continue on to another. So all of you who were hoping for the further adventures of Hot Pie are doomed to disappointment. Every one of the concepts under discussion is a prequel, rather than a sequel. Some may not even be set on Westeros. Rather than ‘spinoff’ or ‘prequel,’ however, I prefer the term ‘successor show.’ That’s what I’ve been calling them.

I love you, Mr. Martin, but I will never, ever, call these successor shows. They are spin-offs. You are amazing. And wrong on this front. Go with R’hllor.

As previously reported, the line-up of writers on the spin-offs includes Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, Kingsman) and Brian Helgeland (L.A Confidential, A Knight’s Tale), and Carly Wray (Mad Man), with Martin himself also credited on the Goldman and Wray scripts. However, Martin emphasized that he has met with every writer and remains in touch with them as they work:

It was stated in some of the reports that I am working with two of the four writers. That’s not quite right. I’ve actually been working with all four of the writers. Every one of the four has visited me here in Santa Fe, some of them more than once, and we’ve spent days together discussing their ideas, the history of Westeros and the world beyond, and 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. They are all amazing talents, and I am excited to be working with them. In between visits, I’ve been in touch with them by phone, text, and email, and I expect there will be a lot more back-and-forth as we move forward.

For those interested in more minute trivia, Martin also adds that he originally pitched two Game of Thrones spin-offs and one of them is among those being written. Martin also took this opportunity to reveal that a fifth spin-off script is being written:

And there’s more. We had four scripts in development when I arrived in LA last week, but by the time I left we had five. We have added a fifth writer to the original four. No, I will not reveal the name here. HBO announced the names of the first four, and will no doubt announce the fifth as well, once his deal has closed. He’s a really terrific addition, however, a great guy and a fine writer, and aside from me and maybe Elio and Linda, I don’t know anyone who knows and loves Westeros as well as he does.

And finally, Martin took a moment to to take a few potential storylines out of the running. First of all, he says they will not be adapting his Dunk & Egg novellas, which are set a century before the events of Game of Thrones. He added that Robert’s Rebellion is out of the running, as we already know everything important that goes down. Here’s more:

We’re not doing Dunk & Egg. Eventually, sure, I’d love that, and so would many of you. But I’ve only written and published three novellas to date, and there are at least seven or eight or ten more I want to write. We all know how slow I am, and how fast a television show can move. I don’t want to repeat what happened with GAME OF THRONES itself, where the show gets ahead of the books. When the day comes that I’ve finished telling all my tales of Dunk & Egg, then we’ll do a tv show about them… but that day is still a long ways off. […] We’re not doing Robert’s Rebellion either. 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. That’s not a story I want to tell just now; it would feel too much like a twice-told tale.

Between the revelation that every series will be a prequel and that those particular stories aren’t being adapted, three quarters of my guesses for what the spin-offs could be about have now gone up in smoke. But I’m not upset! Not at all! On the contrary, I’m very excited to learn which corners of Westerosi (or beyond) history these new shows will explore.

Game of Thrones season 7 is set to premier on July 16, 2017.

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