As a wise lawyer once said, "Always get it in writing." That phrase is coming back to haunt George R.R. Martin, who, in a blog post last year, said that readers would be able to imprison him if he didn't have The Winds of Winter finished by July 29, 2020, aka the first day of Wondercon in New Zealand.
"If I don’t have The Winds of Winter in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for Worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine," wrote the Game of Thrones author in May 2019.
While fans are holding him to that promise today, Martin does have the option to exploit a loophole created by the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the convention to go virtual this year. The writer can't "arrive" in New Zealand because of the global health crisis, thus rendering his original claim null and void. Court dismissed, bring in the dancing lobsters.
Martin did offer an update on the fantasy novel late last month, stating that he was "making steady progress" and hoped to have the book finished by 2021.