In an interview with EW last week, George R.R. Martin revealed that he hopes to have The Winds of Winter, the next book in his sprawling Song of Ice and Fire series, completed in 2016. It's the first even semi-official news about a Winds release date, which fans have been anxiously trying to guess ever since they closed the last page of A Dance With Dragons. It's harder to predict the book's progress than you might think; Martin famously wrote A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords in just two years apiece, then slowed way down, taking five years on A Feast for Crows, then another six for A Dance With Dragons. (This summer will make four years since Dance.) Optimists say that Martin should be writing faster now that he's past the labyrinthine plotting of the past two books; pessimists argue that Martin's current bevy of side projects have cost him his earlier vigor. Who's right? We'll find out in one to five years!
Who: George R.R. Martin himself
How: Using his own knowledge of his schedule and work ethic, as well as a healthy dose of optimism, Martin gave EW a loose promise of his progress: "I canceled two convention appearances, I’m turning down a lot more interviews — anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done." If he gets into the right groove, Martin said, he'll just beat out the premiere of Game of Thrones season six, a deadline he swears "has been important to me all along."
Estimated Completion Date: Spring 2016.
Who: Redditor YouWill_SayHerName (An Oberyn Martell reference, nice.)
How: All the way back in August 2013, one Redditor attempted to use the power of math to estimate when Martin would finish. Using the average time between books, and the assumption, later disproved, that Martin was around three quarters done with TWOW, they came up with a very rosy prediction ...
Estimated Completion Date: April 2014, which even the theory's author admitted was based on nothing more than "poorly executed math." Just to be on the safe side, they amended their prediction,"with absolutely no credible evidence whatsoever," to June 2015.
Who: Walter Hickey of FiveThirtyEight.com
How: Like many others, Hickey used Martin's words-per-day rate from previous books to gain a rough estimate of when he would be finished with Winds. Then he took it two steps further, examining the "current mood" section of Martin's LiveJournal account to figure out if his progress could be gleaned through emoji, as well as the win/loss records of the New York Giants and Jets, to see if he wrote faster when his favorite football teams were playing well.
Estimated Completion Date: Using Martin's previous writing speed as an indicator, Hickey came up with three rough predictions for when TWOW would be completed: April 2014 (if Martin wrote at the speed of A Clash of Kings), November 2016 (if he wrote at the speed of A Dance With Dragons), and April 2018 (if he wrote at the speed of A Feast for Crows). Other than the discovery that Martin wrote infinitesimally faster when the Jets had a good season, the rest of Hickey's emotional analysis proved fruitless. "The stats tell us essentially nothing," he concluded, adding a "current mood" of "anxious."
Who: ASOIAF fan BryndenBFish (A Blackfish reference, nice.)
How: In an exhaustive essay for Watchers on the Wall, BryndenBFish brought a new level of analytical rigor to the Winds-watching field. Taking Martin's stated progress from 2012 to 2013, and then comparing that to his pace on Dance from 2008 to 2010, BryndenBFish came up with what he called a "Scientific Wild-Ass Guess" (or SWAG for short) that factors in not just Martin's writing progress, but also his rewriting progress.
Estimated Completion Date: After examining Martin's progress, BryndenBFish came up with three separate predictions. In the pessimistic prediction, Martin continues at his languid 2012 pace and finishes in the first half of 2019. In the optimistic prediction, Martin's pace rises exponentially as he goes back and finalizes old pages — a process he's said has been easier on Winds than on Feast or Dance — and he finishes in the early months of 2016. Finally, there's the true SWAG prediction, which figures Martin will continue at his slightly quicker 2008 pace and complete Winds of Winter around the end of 2016. Which means that fans will start clamoring for A Dream of Spring, just in time for season seven!
How: As pop-culture bloggers, we don't have the fancy math skills necessary to do a deeper dive into George R.R. Martin writing progress. Instead, we'll simply average out all the other predictions. It's like aggregation, but with numbers.
Estimated Completion Date: The mean publication date of the four predictions above is May 2016. Since that'll be right in the middle of GOT season six, we'll push it back a month after the finale, to June 2016. Check back in on this post then to see if we're right!