TIME Television

Here’s How George R. R. Martin Would Improve HBO’s Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones

Author would make each season last longer if he had his way

With the season 4 finale that premiers this Sunday looming, the HBO series’ fans cannot help but wish Game of Thrones were longer — and George R. R. Martin agrees.

In an interview with the New York Times, the author of the books on which the series is based said he regrets that the show’s writers have had to leave out scenes because of the 10-episode cap on each season.

“I wish we had more episodes,” he said in the phone interview. “I’d love to have 13 episodes. With 13 episodes, we could include smaller scenes that we had to cut, scenes that make the story deeper and richer.”

For instance, Martin explained, a scene from the first book was left out in which sisters Arya and Sansa Stark argue when invited to meet with Queen Cersei because Arya would prefer to go hunting. He said he thinks the scene would have been helpful in developing the relationship between the two sisters. He added, however, that he understands “battles are expensive”—an episode of Game of Thrones reportedly costs around $6 million.

Martin’s first book in the Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, is 825 pages long — so it is not surprising that the show’s writers had to be selective. Season 4 of the show covered the second half of the third book, A Storm of Swords, and the author has yet to publish the remaining two books in the seven-novel series, which has left some fans wondering whether writers will be able to keep each character’s storyline interesting as they use up the show’s source material.

Ironically, Martin began his career as a science fiction writer in the 1970s by writing short stories. Now, his A Song of Ice and Fire series numbers some 5,000 pages — and he cannot write the rest fast enough.

TIME celebrities

George R.R. Martin Is Now On Twitter

All Men Must Tweet

Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin joined Twitter Tuesday—shifting mediums from 864-page, seven (maybe eight?) part book series, to the svelte 140-character-or-less genre.

Martin’s first tweet warned fans not to expect to much social media action:

(The live journal bit is not ironic—the author is very active on the older, more literary-inclined platform).

In spite of his warning, we still hope he live-tweets GOT episodes.

TIME Spain

After Four Centuries, Don Quixote Writer’s Remains May Be Found

Specialists use ground-penetrating radar to penetrate into the sub-soil in central Madrid
Specialists use ground-penetrating radar to peer into the subsoil beneath a Trinitarian convent in a quest to find the remains of Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes in Madrid on April 28, 2014. Sergio Perez—Reuters

A team of researchers will spend several months excavating a Madrid church in search of Miguel de Cervantes' bones

When Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish writer best known for penning Don Quixote, died in April 1616, he was buried at a Trinitarian convent in Madrid.

For centuries, that’s all we really knew. The exact location of his remains was poorly documented and thus forgotten; it was long assumed that what was left of one of modern literature’s first great writers had been lost for good.

On Monday, however, researchers said they had identified a handful of locations in a Madrid church where Cervantes may have been buried — although they were quick to rein in their optimism.

“We don’t want to generate false hopes,” forensic anthropologist Francisco Etxeberria, the project’s leader, said at a news conference, according to an AFP report. “I don’t know if we are going to find him … We are talking about a universal figure, we want to do things without any rush, seriously.”

The Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians, where Cervantes’ bones are suspected to lie, has been renovated several times over the centuries, meaning any remains once buried there may have been misplaced. The excavation process, BBC reports, will require several months of effort.

The city of Madrid will fund the next phase of the project, which first began in April, Mayor Ana Botella told reporters at the news conference.

TIME Books

‘Calvin and Hobbes’ Creator Pens First Comics in Nearly 2 Decades

Bill Watterson, creator of the syndicated cartoon strip "Calvin & Hobbes" is shown in this Feb. 24, 1986 file photo at his home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. C.H. Pete Copeland—The Plain Dealer/AP

Bill Watterson, the lauded creator of "Calvin and Hobbes," drew as a guest on a syndicated strip this week

The reclusive and celebrated cartoonist Bill Watterson, creator of the renowned “Calvin and Hobbes” series, emerged from nearly two decades of retirement this week to guest-draw in a syndicated strip.

Watterson, beloved for his portrayal of the troublemaker Calvin and the animated stuffed tiger Hobbes, is known considered by many the J.D. Salinger of the cartoonist world. He eschewed contact with the public after his last strip in 1995, and reportedly turned down Steven Spielberg’s offer to make an animated Calvin and Hobbes movie.

But when syndicated cartoonist Stephan Pastis drew a strip that praised “Calvin and Hobbes” and sent it to Watterson, thanking him for his influence, Watterson emerged with an offer: would Pastis be interested in teaming up on a strip?

Pastis recounted in a blog post Saturday that Watterson wanted to guest-draw Pastis’ “Pearls Before Swine,” and would draw as a less-competent Pastis. What resulted was Watterson drawing in the guise of a very funny second-grader on his strip.

Pastis called it “the highlight of my career.” You can check out the rest of the strips and the story of Watterson and Pastis’ collaboration here.

TIME Companies

Hachette: Layoffs Aren’t Related to Amazon Fight

The company denies the layoffs are related to its ongoing spat with Amazon

Hachette Book Group, the publishing company involved in an ongoing dispute with online marketplace Amazon, said Friday it would be cutting about 3% of its U.S. staff, according to Publishers Weekly.

The move is reportedly a part of a “cost-saving initiation” essential to the company’s future growth. Hachette, however, says the layoffs were planned well before its ongoing fight with Amazon broke out into the open. Amazon has been blocking customers from pre-ordering Hachette books and taking them off prominently featured pages in a dispute over the publisher’s contract with the online marketplace.

(WATCH: Stephen Colbert Ripped Amazon Apart Over Its Hachette Dispute)

Hachette’s sales reportedly fell 6.2% during the first quarter of this year. A total of 28 positions will be cut.

[Publishers Weekly]

TIME Books

For $20,000, You Can Get Killed Off in Game of Thrones

"Game Of Thrones" Panel - Comic-Con International 2013
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin is offering fans a chance to be in his next novel for $20,000. Albert L.—Getty Images

Author George R.R. Martin's donation campaign to save wolves has found fans scrambling for the chance to be a doomed character in the next installment of the A Song of Ice and Fire series

From crushed skulls to having molten gold poured onto one’s head, death on the Game of Thrones is seldom civilized. And for a donation of $20,000, author George R.R. Martin is offering fans a chance to meet their own gory end — not on screen but in his next novel.

While details of the death will be decided by Martin, the winner can choose what title they’ll hold in Westeros, including Lord, Lady, Septon, Maester or Knight, among others.

Although it comes at a hefty cost, Martin’s offer is for a good cause. All money collected from the crowdfunding campaign will go to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary — which houses more than 60 wolves and wolf-dogs, many of them rescued — and the Food Depot of Santa Fe, N.M.

The author also offers many other goodies for smaller donations, including T-shirts and a map of Westeros signed by Martin himself.

Martin wrote of his affection and concern for wolves on his donation site. “I’ve always been fond of wolves … direwolves in Westeros, and real wolves in the real world. U.S. wolf populations hit critical lows during the twentieth century, and finding a way for humans to co-exist with this majestic creature is an important part of the conservation movement.”

As of June 6, at least 4,000 people had signed up for the chance to be killed off in the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. From this pool, one winner will be selected at random.

TIME movies

Lupita Nyong’o to Star in Americanah Movie Adaptation

Lupita Nyong'o
Actress Lupita Nyong'o attends the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall in New York City on June 2, 2014. Evan Agostini—Invision/AP

The 12 Years a Slave star says she's a big fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel

Lupita Nyong’o will star in an adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel Americanah as her next big project.

Adiche’s love story about two young Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, charts their experience as immigrants in the United States and the United Kingdom. Americanah won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and was selected as one of the “Ten Best Books of the Year” by The New York Times Book Review, the BBC, and Newsday.

“It is such an honor to have the opportunity to bring Ms. Adichie’s brilliant book to the screen. Page after page I was struck by Ifemelu and Obinze’s stories, whose experiences as African immigrants are so specific and also so imminently relatable. It is a thrilling challenge to tell a truly international story so full of love, humor and heart,” said Nyong’o in a statement.

Nyong’o won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave.

TIME Television

Orange Is the New Black: The Time Martha Stewart Almost Went to Litchfield

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart Paul Bruinooge—AP

As detailed in Piper Kerman's original memoir, the lifestyle mogul almost served time in the real-life prison that inspired the Netflix series

Many fans of Orange Is the New Black, which returns Friday with its 13-episode second season, know there are a number of differences between Netflix’s breakout hit and Piper Kerman’s original memoir of the same name. One of the more interesting stories left on the cutting room floor of Jenji Kohan’s television adaptation was the time Kerman nearly crossed paths with Martha Stewart, who seemed to be headed to Danbury — the real-life prison Orange’s Litchfield is based on —following her insider-trader scandal in the early 2000s.

It never actually happened. But what if the show did add a Martha Stewart-like character to the show? The arrival of the queen of all things home living would embody so much of what makes Orange Is the New Black addicting: inmate clashes, critiques of America’s prison system and a look at prisoners’ tumultuous relationship with the outside world.

When Martha Stewart was sentenced in 2004 to five months in prison and five months of home confinement, she asked judges to send her to Danbury’s federal correctional institution so that Stewart’s elderly mother could visit her from her home in Connecticut. News of Stewart’s possible arrival was a major event for the women of Danbury, who were “deflated” when she was ultimately sent to a prison in West Virginia. “Everyone had been hoping that against all odds she’d be sent to live with us, either because they believed that her presence would somehow raise all our boats or just for the entertainment value,” Kerman writes in her book.

They weren’t the only ones excited. Helicopters frequently flew over the camp during that time, and reporters tried to sneak their way onto the facilities. Kerman says it was no accident that Stewart ultimately didn’t serve her time at the Connecticut prison: She suggests the authorities weren’t thrilled about having such a high-profile inmate with a major media presence inside the prison, and so Danbury went out of its way to keep Stewart’s Connecticut wish from coming true. “The Camp had been ‘closed’ to new inmates since her conviction, allegedly ‘full,’ although we had more empty beds as every week passed,” Kerman writes.

It’s easy to imagine the type of trouble Stewart — who told Vanity Fair that her prison nickname was “M. Diddy” — would get into if a fictionalized version of her made it to Litchfield. She might butt heads with prison officers about regulations for decorating her bunk — or maybe she’d have strong feelings about the aesthetics of the holiday pageant. “I imagined Martha Stewart trying to take over Pop’s kitchen,” Kerman writes in the book. “That would be better than Godzilla vs. Mothra.” (Not that Pop’s Netflix equivalent, Galina “Red” Reznikov, played by Kate Mulgrew, needs any more enemies — the show’s second season finds her clashing with old rival and notorious drug-dealer, Yvonne “Vee” Parker, played by Lorraine Toussaint.)

Although the Orange’s best drama happens entirely inside the prison confines, a few of the first season’s most poignant moments occurred when the outside world got involved — like when Larry (Jason Biggs) goes on a This American Life-esque show to talk about his fiancée’s incarceration and horrifies Piper’s bunk mates by revealing what she really thought about them. Orange was partly about how women find meaning and pride in a system that deprives them of so much freedom and dignity, and a Martha Stewart story would continue to explore the ways inmates’ self-esteems are tested. Kerman writes that some of her fellow prisoners were deeply hurt when an old PEOPLE magazine story about what Stewart could expect from prison quoted a source who called Stewart’s potential new roommates “the scum of the earth.”

As for the fun part—who would play Stewart? — the current cast might spark some ideas. In an interview with TIME hitting newsstands this week, Taylor Schilling, who plays Piper, says noted lover of crafts Diane Keaton is the latest addition to her list of dream co-stars, and the resemblance is already there. But there’s also a strong case against creating a Stewart-like character — because Orange Is the New Black already has its fish-out-of-water white lady, Piper.

That’s not to say a Stewart character’s struggles would have been identical to Kerman’s or any less interesting, but as Orange creator Jenji Kohan has said, the character of Piper Chapman was “a trojan horse,” a way to tell the stories of women of all identities who normally don’t get TV shows made about them. As the second season shifts the focus away from Piper and shares the love with the other inmates, a hypothetical Martha Stewart character, while amusing, might just distract from the real draw of the show: the women who were already there.

TIME technology

This Interactive App Lets You Play With the Words of Classic Books 

It brings word games to a whole new level


Israeli designer Ariel Malka has created an entirely new way to read books: by untangling them. Malka’s app, He Liked Thick Word Soup, turns the text of classic books like Ulysses into strands of sentences that have to be reassembled as the reader makes their way through the novel.

The game “forces you to read with your fingers,” as the new media blog Creative Applications notes. To play, straighten out each sentence and match sections of it to the words that appear at the top of the screen. It necessitates a different kind of attention than just scrolling through an article or flipping a page—a kind of attentiveness that’s very useful when reading something like Ulysses, James Joyce’s intricate, dense book that appears in the app’s video.

TIME Books

Stephen Colbert Ripped Amazon Apart Over Its Hachette Dispute

The comedian gave the massive retailer the middle finger not once but twice for its tactics against Hachette in its publishing dispute

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,The Colbert Report on Facebook,Video Archive

Stephen Colbert isn’t “just mad at Amazon—I’m Mad Prime.”

The Comedy Central host ripped the online commerce corporation apart on his show Wednesday night for its ongoing battle with Hachette, the publisher of Colbert’s books and of a slew of other notable authors like J.K. Rowling, David Sedaris, and Malcolm Gladwell.

So why did Colbert flip the retailer the bird not once but twice on air? In an attempt to renegotiate ebook pricing, Amazon has actively been trying to dissuade customers from buying Hachette books. This includes completely removing preorder buttons and putting books on backorder for weeks on end.

National Book Award winner and Hachette author Sherman Alexie came on the show to urge people to stop buying on Amazon. “I’m just happy to be here,” Alexie said. “If Amazon had been in charge of the travel, it would have taken me two to five weeks to get here.”

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,The Colbert Report on Facebook,Video Archive

At the end of his show, Colbert encouraged viewers to purchase California by first time Hachette author Edan Lepucki at a local Portland store Powell’simmediately making it a bestseller.

Hachette said Wednesday that it plans to resolve its dispute with Amazon — but the online retailer may wish to settle terms before Colbert takes over from David Letterman on CBS, where his audience (and influence) will be even greater.

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