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Will ASOIAF be a cultural phenomenon 50 years in the future?


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I am asking this question because I see that a lot of fans who have grown disinterested to the series because of the long time it takes for George to write his books and especially after the ending of the show. For example, I managed to convince my mom to read the series and she really enjoyed it but now, more than a year after finishing it, she told me that she is beginning to lose interest in the series because there is nothing new and she read the series because she expected George would finish the next book very soon.

Similarly, I know a lot of people from my previous class who have only watched the TV series and they didn't like the second half. Now, they don't even want to talk about the series and claim Game of Thrones is dumb (and I am assuming they won't give the books a chance).

I myself read the books around 7-8 years ago and I am still a fan of the franchise but I admit that my interest is starting to wane because there are no new books. Since I finished the series, I got into a lot of other franchises - I read The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, I watched Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, I watched the anime Death Note and last year I watched a lot of anime/western animation series like Netflix's Castlevania, League of Legends' Arcane, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Monster and Attack on Titan. I also watched Squid Game (which, by the way, is said to be on its way to become a more popular series than Game of Thrones). I also read some classic Russian and Western literature.

I also read some fanfics (my favorite is based on She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and is called "Cat-Ra". It is now almost 1, 500, 000 words and is still not finished, but the author is very good at reimagining the characters from the show while at the same time, keeping their personalities).

My question is, do you think ASOIAF will be a cultural 50 years from now considering how many people are already losing interest in the franchise both because of the long delay for the next book and because of the show's bad ending and that right now it's a lot easier to publish your own story and there are constantly new fantasy and sci-fi IPs emerging which draws attention away from ASOIAF? I am not saying it won't have a small, devoted following in the far future, I am just saying that almost no one will talk about it decades from now, but I want to hear your thoughts on the matter.

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I believe ASOIAF will be no more than LOTR, if Tolkien had not finished ROTK. That is nothing. It would still be OK if someone finishes it good for him (like TWOT). But it also depends on how the story end. No end or bad end, and it's dead. If as good as I think it could be, I've no doubt it could survive as Tolkien LOTR.

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17 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

Lol. You look at all the digital ink generated here since oh, say Christmas '15 and it starts to make you wonder if it's not of greater interest in it's current state than it will be when all the questions are answered and Spring is finally on the horizon.

It is something that crossed my mind, just today, and many times before. That we are in a strange state that will end when we will have all the answers. But we are very few, not enough to be a cultural phenomenon. How many of those who came here have lost interest after 5 or 10 years of waiting? And we still hope to see the end of the story! If GRRM had said he will never finish, long time I would have forgotten this unfinished story. Regretting even my choice of ever starting it.

Edited by BalerionTheCat
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25 minutes ago, BalerionTheCat said:

Regretting even my choice of ever starting it.

The amount of time I spend thinking about this story in a day is probably not healthy or reflective of a well rounded personality or lifestyle.

I'd hate to have missed it though.

TO your other point, I agree. It's Jodorovsky's Dune if it doesn't get finished. A curiosity and a tease at what might have been, but nothing like a cultural phenomenon.

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36 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

The amount of time I spend thinking about this story in a day is probably not healthy or reflective of a well rounded personality or lifestyle.

It'll pass... Although I'm still here so maybe not lol. It'll get better though 

37 minutes ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

I'd hate to have missed it though

I agree

 

So obviously if it's finished by GRRM it'll be a great read for the years to come. So yes I do think it'll sweep the culture for at least 50 years.

Aside from asoiaf my favorite epic is rotk. Like the epics of Homer we think we know who the author is. A 16th century poet named Luo Gunazhong, although historians believe it could be a century or 2 older then that and Luo Gunazhong just published it, like Homer. Regardless, in the 17th century, long after a Romance of Three Kingdoms shocked the culture waves of China the father and son Mao edited rotk by adding 120 more chapters among poems and stuff, this edition is the one that's most commonly read. So, if Liu Bei can still inspire/entertain/think way too much like @Aejohn the Conqueroo

500 years after his publication (and 1,800 years after his death) then i have faith in the longevity of Lord Snow

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6 hours ago, boltons are sick said:

My question is, do you think ASOIAF will be a cultural 50 years from now considering how many people are already losing interest in the franchise both because of the long delay for the next book and because of the show's bad ending and that right now it's a lot easier to publish your own story and there are constantly new fantasy and sci-fi IPs emerging which draws attention away from ASOIAF? I am not saying it won't have a small, devoted following in the far future, I am just saying that almost no one will talk about it decades from now, but I want to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Unlikely. Comparing it with a series that does have long-lasting cultural impact, ASoIaF simply does not have many of the things that have made Lord of the Rings so lasting. Just to give an example, but LotR is an openly mythical and heroic setting while ASoIaF is from the outset created to be more realistic. And this heavily works against ASoIaF, especially since Martin seems to have confused cynicism for realism. Tolkien has - possibly due to his experiences in First World War - recognized the importance of escapism for fiction, especially fantasy. Tolkien's work has more in common with the Illiad and Odyssey, whereas ASoIaF has more in common with school history book. And this means that Lord of the Rings are simply more accessible (that, and they are shorter and simply better-written).

Another problem is that ASoIaF is simply not finished yet. And if it never ends up being finished, it will be like... Lord of the Rings without Return of the King.

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as finished ? maybe 

as unfinished ? doubtful

question is what does it bring to the table to be a "cultural phenomenon" , 50 years from now? 

it should either be really good in the writing style , worldbuilding , the story or  what it attributes to the genre ... OR it has to age really well . 

at least as finished it has a chance in "story" and "genre" area because other categories will not make it a phenomenon.

4 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

It already is. The numbers the HOTD show is pulling in show this can all be a marketable franchise, whether GRRM finishes writing the actual books or not.

 it is now . but what prevents it to be forgotten in 50yrs? more TV shows?

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During GRRM’s lifetime, new readers will continue to pick up the series. But if he doesn’t finish the books, and his estate doesn’t entrust someone else to finish them after him, then no, ASOIAF will not be picked up by new readers except for those who stumble upon it by accident. George’s comment after his friend died earlier in the year, when he said he hopes a talented writer is hired to finish his friend’s work, makes me think that he’s not as opposed to appointing a successor as he once was though.

23 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

It already is. The numbers the HOTD show is pulling in show this can all be a marketable franchise, whether GRRM finishes writing the actual books or not.

At the risk of sounding like a hater, HOTD’s numbers are very good. . . but not as impressive when you factor in the $100 million HBO spent on advertising it. And the Dance is one of the only completed stories in the canon.

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8 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

The amount of time I spend thinking about this story in a day is probably not healthy or reflective of a well rounded personality or lifestyle

Some are probably thinking the same of me.

8 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

I'd hate to have missed it though.

Today yes. Because I still believe we will have the ending. And a good one. But if not ...

7 hours ago, Aldarion said:

ASoIaF is from the outset created to be more realistic.

Yes in term of human behavior. The characters are much more realistic (sadly). But I don't see it as a handicap. On the contrary.

And we have to have the end to know about realism. We have dragons, undead, demons, rumors of gods...

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4 minutes ago, BalerionTheCat said:

Yes in term of human behavior. The characters are much more realistic (sadly). But I don't see it as a handicap. On the contrary.

And we have to have the end to know about realism. We have dragons, undead, demons, rumors of gods...

It is a handicap in terms of becoming a long-lasting cultural phenomenon. Fantasy is all about escapism, and Martin's world is in many ways simply too similar to the real world. Worse, it is in some ways similar to modern world.

And there is also the fact that almost all modern fantasy - ASoIaF included - is treading the path that Tolkien had made. Warhammer 40k is a much more unique setting, despite almost being a Tolkien ripoff, simply due to actually bringing something new and unique to the table (specifically, a blatant marriage of history, religion, fantasy and science-fiction, that is only even approached by Star Wars).

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14 hours ago, EggBlue said:

 it is now . but what prevents it to be forgotten in 50yrs? more TV shows?

Not the trade off I want! HotD is better so far than I anticipated, but they can't just turn this into a huge TV franchise and hope we'd forget... The show ending would become by default The Ending and all of these other shows would forever be either justifying or trying to escape it. 

 

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I think many of the commenters on this thread are making mistakes in their analysis of the series, mostly by projecting thier own feelings of ASOIAF onto the public at large. For example, claiming the series is too "realistic" and too much like the modern day, as @Aldarion has argued, is undermined by the huge fantastical elements of undead weights, Others, dragons, humans warging with animals, 700 foot high walls, bloodmagic, prophesies, Lovecraftian horror, children of the forest, giants, glass candles, undead Beric, undead Cat, undead Gregor, undead Jon (maybe). If you are looking for an escape from the real world, well, it's abundantly clear these elements are highly fantastical and each serve important purposes to the story Martin is telling. It may not be "realistic enough" for some, it may feel too much like the modern world for some to escape into fully, but this is a subjective experience. It is not shared by all, and probably not even the vast majority, of audiences. Everyone has their own experience.

Another mistake many are making is taking the reactions of people they know, or at least read/watch on social media, as evidence of some kind of larger lack of interest in the series. But it is safe to say the overwheliming majority of ASOIAF readers/GOT and HOTD viewers are not flocking to Reddit to share their latest hot take on ASOIAF. Its like saying "everybody I know likes political candidate X, so he must be about to win," and then being shocked when political candidate X loses. Also, one could just as easily make the opposite claim about the longevity of the series using the same sort of evidence. For example, my older brother recently bought a copy of Fire and Blood shortly after the new spinoff show premiered, even though he hasn't read the ASOIAF novels in years. I could argue that he proves the series is timeless and relevent, but I won't, because that is anecdotal evidence. And so is the talk about Reddit threads and other family members or friends indicating more negative reactions. Again, these are all subjective experiences reported by a tiny minority of people, so their value as evidence is very limited.

 

20 hours ago, EggBlue said:

it is now . but what prevents it to be forgotten in 50yrs? more TV shows?

Well, yes, and also this: the books aren't going anywhere. I think it would be silly to argue that they will stop being read just because George didn't finish writing them. (As an aside, I kind of doubt the publishers of the series would just let the franchise die that easily. If there is a demand, it will be met, and there is still a demand for ASOIAF).

 

19 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

During GRRM’s lifetime, new readers will continue to pick up the series. But if he doesn’t finish the books, and his estate doesn’t entrust someone else to finish them after him, then no, ASOIAF will not be picked up by new readers except for those who stumble upon it by accident. George’s comment after his friend died earlier in the year, when he said he hopes a talented writer is hired to finish his friend’s work, makes me think that he’s not as opposed to appointing a successor as he once was though.

At the risk of sounding like a hater, HOTD’s numbers are very good. . . but not as impressive when you factor in the $100 million HBO spent on advertising it. And the Dance is one of the only completed stories in the canon.

I wanted to quote this one in full, mostly because I think your first paragraph is a pretty solid prediction. The second one though, feels more like a stretch. The show is doing well precisely because of the $100 million HBO spent advertising it, and the ratings are impressive because people like what they are seeing. And there is no reason why other creative ventures in the future can't set orgininal stories in Westeros without any book material established beforehand. It just needs George's blessing. More to the point, though, is that, even after the horrifically bungled ending of GOT, HOTD is a ratings smash, reflecting a continued desire for more stories in this setting. When HOTD is getting better ratings than Marvel or Star Wars shows on Disney+, it says something about the kind of cultural impact it is having. 

 

22 hours ago, Aejohn the Conqueroo said:

TO your other point, I agree. It's Jodorovsky's Dune if it doesn't get finished. A curiosity and a tease at what might have been, but nothing like a cultural phenomenon.

This is such a weird argument to make. Jodorovsky's Dune never saw the light of day, never had a chance to make any impact whatsoever. ASOIAF has five books which audiences can read, and had already become bestsellers in their own right even before spawning a highly successful TV series. Even more than that, you have Frank Herbert's Dune, David Lynch's Dune, Dennis Villaneuve's Dune, each of which has a large fanbase. Your argument would only make sense if Jodorovsky's attempt at making Dune was the only example of anyone trying to adapt the book. And even then it still wouldn't work as a comparison to ASOIAF because ASOIAF at least has material available to read.

I stand by what I said. Regardless of whether Martin himself finishes the books, the franchise has real staying power. 

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2 minutes ago, Nathan Stark said:

This is such a weird argument to make. Jodorovsky's Dune never saw the light of day, never had a chance to make any impact whatsoever. ASOIAF has five books which audiences can read, and had already become bestsellers in their own right even before spawning a highly successful TV series. Even more than that, you have Frank Herbert's Dune, David Lynch's Dune, Dennis Villaneuve's Dune, each of which has a large fanbase. Your argument would only make sense if Jodorovsky's attempt at making Dune was the only example of anyone trying to adapt the book. And even then it still wouldn't work as a comparison to ASOIAF because ASOIAF at least has material available to read.

There was a doc produced a few years ago about his movie and what it would have been had been able to make it. It's compelling, inspiring (and Jodorovsky's a character, man). That would have been a helluva movie had it ever got done - much more like the comic he eventually did than Herbert's book. It was one example of a promising project that dwindled away to nothingness under the weight of its creator's ambition and the other attempts don't really change that in any way. Yes, it's a bit hyperbolic to make that comparison but the point I was making is that ASOIAF will become a forgotten curiosity if it's left undone. Sure, maybe not quite as forgotten as a movie that didn't get made, but 50 years from now I'd bet that difference would be negligible.

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"Cultural phenomenon" is a rather vague term.  Here's my take on the question.  I will admit that I haven't read much fantasy, except for Tolkien and ASOIAF; I'm more of a science-fiction guy.

In the science fiction community, there are some authors who have achieved lasting fame, even if their names aren't household words.  That includes Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, and more recently the "Big Three:"  Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke.

Heinlein may not known to everyone, but his works are still on the bookstore shelves, even though they're all 35-40 years old, and some were written in the 1940s and '50s.  Many younger authors acknowledge that he was an influence on them, as do some astronauts, scientists, and others who grew up to work in the space program.

I will venture a guess that GRRM has earned an equivalent status in the fantasy world, even if he never finishes ASOIAF, by virtue of the sheer brilliance of his writing. 

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There’s also a matter of how pop culture trends tend to be cyclical. Vampires were really big during Anne Rice’s heyday, then they faded away for a while before making a resurgence during the early-2000s, and now they’ve receded again (although the Interview with the Vampire reboot with Grey Worm is starting soon). People will read fantasy until the end of time, but it will probably be replaced as a mainstream trend eventually, just like superheroes will.

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