Face it: Winds of Winter is never coming. At least, not any time soon. With A Song of Ice and Fire — now eclipsed by Game of Thrones, as the television adaptation intriguingly becomes the canon for the foreseeable future — George R.R. Martin has crossed the bridge of procrastination into the territory of “writer’s block.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with that — every writer tires of their world and their characters at dark points — but with so many people relying on him, it’s time for Martin to admit he could use some help to expedite the process. Because as the Dothrak-bros would say, he moves at a snail’s pace: It is known. But there’s nothing wrong with asking for help; know no shame. (Wrong show?) Here’s who Martin should enlist.
1. Stephen King
The King is the obvious choice, because he would get the series done in two months flat and it would be good. King is absurdly prolific, crushes deadlines like The Mountain crushes Oberyn, and he’s no stranger in complex epic fantasy — thanks to The Dark Tower. And no offense to GRRM, but King’s hilarious twitter feed beats Martin’s LiveJournal.
He critiques other writers thoughtfully.
Muses on politics:
Shows off his dog, who he refers to as Thing of Evil.
And even engages with fans in self-aware discussions about adaptations of his own work.
2. Brandon Sanderson
Sanderson is another obvious choice, having done a similar maneuver with the Wheel of Time series. Just like A Song of Ice and Fire, the series meandered away from its point and got too unwieldy for its own good. Sanderson was able to whip it into shape with a satisfying finish — and in a timely manner. He could do the same for the Game of Thrones books before next season overtakes them too.
3. Kelley Armstrong
Kelley Armstrong is a dark horse contender. As an urban fantasy writer, she’s not experienced in epic fantasy of the Westeros and Essos variety, but with her Otherworld series, she’s well-versed in writing urban fantasy with a large cast of characters and intricate magic systems. And though her novels take place in cities far more than castles, with Haunted she did show off her ability to stray into other realms, and there was even a castle or two. More importantly, she’s absurdly prolific, churning out up to three books a year.
4. Joe Abercrombie
Joe Abercrombie is another natural choice — he writes gritty fantasy filled with clashing swords and morally ambiguous characters and clever dialogue. He’s also a realist in a way that would suit George R. R. Martin’s work well, as he told Inverse, “I’ve always been interested in economics, progress, politics, and trying to bring those things into my fantasy as I think they’re often a little overlooked in the genre. Gandalf never worries much about how he’s going to pay for things.”
5. J. K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling is an unlikely contender mostly because she would never do it, but she certainly knows how to helm an epic, complicated series, maintain a tight grip even as it meanders, and deliver it to the publisher in a timely fashion. She could write a book on it.