The A Song of Ice and Fire fandom is an international and informal community of people drawn together by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire book series, the HBO television series Game of Thrones, and the related merchandise.
During his years in television, Martin's novels slowly earned him a reputation in fiction circles, although he said to only receive a few fans letters a year in the pre-internet days. The publication of A Game of Thrones caused Martin's following to grow, with fan sites springing up and a Trekkie-like society of followers evolving that meet regularly. By 2005, Martin received tons of fan e-mails and was about 2000 letters behind that may go unanswered for years.
Sweden-based fans Elio M. García Jr. and Linda Antonsson run one of the main Ice and Fire fansites, Westeros.org, which they established in 1999. The site had about 17 thousand registered members in 2012. Martin himself has checked with García (whom The New Yorker dubbed a "superfan" with encyclopedic knowledge of Martin's works) to confirm details of his own series, and has referred HBO researchers to García as well.
The very first fan website and messageboard (as recounted by Garcia, Antonsson, and Martin) was a site called "Dragonstone", which only lasted for about one year between the release of the first novel in 1996, and when the site crashed in 1997, never to be rebuilt. The creator of "Dragonstone" moved on, however, several of the earliest online fans who had met on the site (Elio Garcia among them) coalesced again to create Westeros.org.
Though his work at Westeros.org is voluntary, García has been a paid consultant for licensed tie-in merchandise. García and Antonsson are Martin's coauthors of a companion book to the series, The World of Ice & Fire (2014). Martin had approached the pair about the project in 2008.
The Brotherhood Without Banners is an unofficial fan club operating globally. George R. R. Martin attends their gatherings on his travels and counts their founders and other longtime members among his good friends.
Since the creation of the television series in 2011 there has been a proliferation in the number of fansites dedicated to the show and novel series. These include 'WatchersOnTheWall.com' which provides news reports, reviews and discussion forums, 'ToweroftheHand.com', which organizes communal readings of the novels, and 'Fleabottom.net', an online discussion forum. In addition to these there is further discussion on more general sites, such as Reddit, and tumblr, where there are many fan-created blogs.
Moreover, there are also many podcasts covering the series. These podcasts, such as 'Game of Owns', and 'A Podcast of Ice and Fire' provide discussions of each book chapters, and each episode in the television series, as well as discussing the current theories in the fandom.
While Martin calls the majority of his fans "great", and enjoys interacting with them, some of them turned against him due to the six years it took to release A Dance with Dragons. A movement of disaffected fans called GRRuMblers formed in 2009, creating sites such as Finish the Book, George and Is Winter Coming?. It is not uncommon for Martin to be mobbed at book signings either. The New Yorker called this "an astonishing amount of effort to devote to denouncing the author of books one professes to love. Few contemporary authors can claim to have inspired such passion."
When fans' vocal impatience for A Dance with Dragons peaked in 2009, Martin issued an angry statement called "To My Detractors" on his blog to stem a rising tide of anger. Author Neil Gaiman backed Martin on his own blog, replying to a fan's inquiry about Martin's tardiness that "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch." Martin sees it a right to withdraw anytime and enjoy his leisure times as he chooses. Martin believes of himself as being bound by an informal contract with his readers; he feels that he owes them his best work. He does not, however, believe that this gives them the right to dictate the particulars of his creative process or to complain about how he manages his time. As far as the detractors are concerned, Martin's contract with them was for a story, their engagement with it offered on the understanding that he would provide them with a satisfying conclusion.
Interaction with the author
Martin is committed to nurturing his audience, no matter how vast it gets. Starting out as a fan himself, he visited his first convention in 1971 after selling his first story. Since there are different types of conventions nowadays, Martin tends to go to three or four science-fiction conventions a year simply to go back to his roots and meet friends, such as the Brotherhood Without Banners. His fan mail occasionally includes photos of children and pets named after his characters, which Martin displays on his website. He also administers a lively blog with the assistance of Ty Franck. Martin does not read message boards anymore, so as not influence his writing by fans foreseeing twists and interpreting characters differently from how he intended.