George R.R. Martin knows all the signs of Boba Fett Syndrome.
Named for the minor “Star Wars” character who fans demanded to know more about, Boba Fett Syndrome is most acute for any book or film series that has reached the level of phenomenon, when minutiae becomes major. For Martin, this has meant not just the usual demands for the next “A Song of Ice and Fire” fantasy novel (don’t ask, he’s still working on it), but constant letters and emails asking for information on everything from dragons to Aegon Targaryen’s war against the Seven Kingdoms.
Martin’s recently released “The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones” is 300 pages of back story and original artwork by some of the world’s top fantasy illustrators. He agreed to the companion volume in 2006 and expected it would take just a couple of years. He intended to write some brief text to accompany the drawings but ended up setting down some 300,000 words, more than enough to make his editor’s “head explode.”
“It was bigger than I anticipated,” he said during a recent telephone interview, acknowledging that “The World of Ice & Fire” might have delayed still further the next “Ice and Fire” novel.
Martin said “The World of Ice & Fire” offers material already in the “Ice and Fire” series, material he has long worked out in his mind and on paper, but had never released, and material he invented entirely for the book, such as the section dedicated to lands on the other side of the Narrow Sea.
Martin, 66, has completed five of seven planned novels: The most recent, “A Dance With Dragons,” came out in 2011, the same year the Emmy-winning HBO adaptation “Game of Thrones” first aired. Martin said recently that one challenge is keeping track of so many characters and events spread out over thousands of pages. Like a filmmaker hiring a continuity director, he works with longtime “Ice and Fire” experts Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonsson, who run the fan site westeros.org and are credited as co-authors of the new book.
“They displayed, right away, an almost obsessive knowledge of my world. In fact, I had to alter my world because of that obsessive knowledge,” Martin said, noting that they had caught errors in his work.