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-   -   Will George RR Martin actually finish his series? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=536635)

Lantern 10-20-2009 02:18 AM

Will George RR Martin actually finish his series?
 
Like many here, I am a fan of the Song and Ice and Fire series and patiently waiting for the next book in the series: Dance of Dragons. At the same time I am wondering whether Martin will ever finish the series.

DOD is the fifth book in the series and the first four were released in 96,98,2000 and 2005. Clearly the gap has increased from two to five years. However DOD and the fourth book: Feast for Crows were originally one book which were split into two. IIRC a lot of DOD was already done when FFC was published so one might have guessed that it would take less than five years to write. And for some time it appeared that DOD would be available in 2008. So I am seriously beginning to wonder whether Martin really has a grip on his series. It's a vast sprawling epic with many moving parts and perhaps he has just lost control over the plot and doesn't know how to proceed.

The HBO series adds another twist. Assuming one year per book that means it will finish around 2016. At his current pace it doesn't look likely that Martin will finish by then. However the series could induce Martin to at least write a treatment to finish off the series. If he doesn't want to finish the novels himself he could commission someone else to write them based on the treatment. Not ideal but better than leaving the series dangling without an end.

Khadaji 10-20-2009 02:47 AM

No one can say for sure, but IMO, Martin will pull a Jordan and die before he finishes.

Hellestal 10-20-2009 03:04 AM

I gave up any real hope of him completing the series when I saw him in person and saw how old he looks. He's not terribly up there in years, but he moves like he'll shortly belong in the home.

If I had to put a dollar on it, I'd put it against him finishing. I've decided to be happy with what I have and rely on a friend's made-up ending: The Wall falls, the Others win, and the epilogue is a completely frozen world. That is, until the moon cracks open above to release its dragons to heat the world again.* I'm prepared for a real downer on this one, so I've made plans to accept that downer early on.

*Based on the myth of dragons coming from the moon. Who cares if it's accurate? As long as it fills the howling gap of an uncompleted narrative, my mind will be somewhat more at ease.

aldiboronti 10-20-2009 03:45 AM

This reminds me of the seemingly interminable wait for Jack Vance to finish his Demon Princes pentalogy (? series of five books). The first three were published 1964-1967, there was then a 12 year wait until the final two volumes appeared.

Apparently Vance had tired of the series and moved on to other novels, it wasn't until a lucrative deal was offered by a publisher that he was finally persuaded to finish the series and satisfy his fans who had been waiting for years for Gersen to complete his vengeance and track down the last two Demon Princes, Lens Larque and Howard Allan Treesong.

Busy Scissors 10-20-2009 05:38 AM

I think the odds are against a successful completion of the series, either through non-completion or through the whole thing unravelling into a low quality set of books. In hindsight, a Feast for Crows was a major disappointment. It was a let down on the page by page level, but more worryingly it showed that GRRM was losing his grip on the whole structure of the series.

So, the series is delicately poised at the moment. Looking at it optimistically, it could be that aFfC was required just to move the chess pieces around the board a bit - consolidate the many threads of the story in order to move ahead with the next book. Hope so.

DrFidelius 10-20-2009 06:20 AM

I hate to say it, but I no longer care.

Simplicio 10-20-2009 06:26 AM

Here's the latest update from his blog, dated oct 6:


Quote:

Finished a Jon Snow chapter, and have just passed the 1100 page (manuscript pages, the page count in the final printed book will be different) mark on A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. That's counting only finished chapters in something close to final form. I have considerably more in partials, fragments, and roughs....Even with just the finished portions, DANCE is now longer than A FEAST FOR CROWS and A GAME OF THRONES, and I'm closing in on A CLASH OF KINGS. I do hope I can wrap things up before I approach the 1521 page length of A STORM OF SWORDS.
So he apparently hasn't abandoned it, anyways, but I can't imagine we'll see it in the near future either.

Feast of Crows wasn't bad, but having killed off most of his characters and having had most of the story lines either resolve or muddle off into irrelavence in the last few books, he's basically just left writing a bunch of very loosely related vignettes.

Busy Scissors 10-20-2009 06:48 AM

Thinking about it some more, the imbalance between the song of fire, and the song of ice, seems like it will be extremely difficult to resolve. The weakness of the whole Danaerys storyline really sucks the energy out of any proposed grand showdown or resolution. I'm not confident GRRM can make the Danaerys and the dragons really matter in the way his earlier characters did. I guess we'll see for sure in the next book.

Simplicio 10-20-2009 06:53 AM

I sort of assume that's why he moved a bunch of characters across the ocean, so that Danerys has someone to interact with.

One And Only Wanderers 10-20-2009 07:17 AM

I have no problem with the Daenerys plot. I have always find it interesting. just imo. I too fear he will pull a Jordan, but until I read Gathering Storm when it comes out in the next couple of weeks, I don't know how bad Jordan dying was. Maybe the ghost writer can do a credible job. At least I hope so....

Drain Bead 10-20-2009 08:09 AM

George R. R. Martin has consistently said that if he dies, we're fucked--he has never written down anything about how he wants this series to go or end. My guess is that's because he has no fucking clue how he wants this series to go or end, and he's just winging it at this point.

Every time he posts something about the New York Giants on his LJ I want to comment "FINISH YOUR FUCKING BOOK!" but I'm just too damned nice. I've been reading this series since I was 18. I am now 31. At this point I just hope he finishes it before I die.

Mahaloth 10-20-2009 08:10 AM

I stopped reading after book two, having realized that the huge wait was probably heading in the direction of it never finishing.

I doubt it will finish.

MichaelQReilly 10-20-2009 08:42 AM

I don't expect an author to spend his every waking moment working on a book, but it think it is fairly obvious from the various postings on Martin's blog that he just doesn't give a shit anymore and would rather work on other things or go to conventions.

silenus 10-20-2009 08:54 AM

Heck, he didn't seem all that interested in the series back in 97, when I had coffee with him. He seemed more interested in talking about Armageddon Rag than Song.

Little Nemo 10-20-2009 09:29 AM

A big problem is that Martin has said that he's very bad about finishing series. He's started about a dozen different series with plans on how they'll go and by his reckoning, he finished only one (the Haviland Tuf stories). He apparently starts with some good ideas but then, during the long work of putting the words on paper, he'll think up good ideas for another series and become more interested in the new series than completing the old one.

Anonymous Coward 10-20-2009 09:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drain Bead (Post 11682643)
George R. R. Martin has consistently said that if he dies, we're fucked--he has never written down anything about how he wants this series to go or end. My guess is that's because he has no fucking clue how he wants this series to go or end, and he's just winging it at this point.

Every time he posts something about the New York Giants on his LJ I want to comment "FINISH YOUR FUCKING BOOK!" but I'm just too damned nice. I've been reading this series since I was 18. I am now 31. At this point I just hope he finishes it before I die.

The Mountain that Writes has someone moderate his blog comments, so he never sees any of the negative comments.

DrFidelius 10-20-2009 09:35 AM

I can appreciate this. I also suffer from a touch of ADLS. (Attention Deficit Look! a Squirrel!)

Enderw24 10-20-2009 10:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drain Bead (Post 11682643)
Every time he posts something about the New York Giants on his LJ I want to comment "FINISH YOUR FUCKING BOOK!" but I'm just too damned nice. I've been reading this series since I was 18. I am now 31. At this point I just hope he finishes it before I die.

He posted about a year ago on his LJ about some figurines for sale, one of them including Daenerys. I commented how I found it odd that Daenerys had silvery blonde hair because that's not how I was envisioning her. He actually responded to me, slightly incredulous, stating that OF COURSE Daenerys has silver hair. He'd only written about it in every friggin paragraph of every chapter of hers.
Hyperbole aside, I was suitably embarrassed.
But then I thought about it. And I held my tongue rather than reply back what I really wanted: gosh, I'm sorry. It's literally been 8 years since I've read a single thing about Daenerys. I'm sure a detail or two has slipped my mind in that time.

Four years ago he came out with a Feast of Crows with the promise that A Dance of Dragons would be just a few months away.
Two years ago was the last time he's updated his webpage that shows what progress he's made on the book.
I'm of the belief that ADoD, when (if) it comes out, will be the last book in the series.

Diogenes the Cynic 10-20-2009 10:27 AM

I suspect we'll see it around the same time that David Gerrold completes the next Chtorr book.

Lantern 10-20-2009 11:43 AM

Man, this thread makes for some depressing reading. I too am beginning to think that DOD is going to be the last book. I hope that he at least resolves the cliffhangers in FOC and gives the book some closure. The other hope is that the HBO people have put him under some kind of contractual agreement to at least give them a treatment for the remaining books. Presumably they are working under the assumption that the series will be a hit in which case they will need material for the last couple of seasons in a few years.

DigitalC 10-20-2009 12:14 PM

I understand why people were disappointed with A Feast for Crows. I wanted more about the Lannister/Stark war also, but really that stuff is over and the good guys lost. I think people thought the books were going to be about the Starks vs the Lannisters when in reality they are about the slow collapse of ALL the seven kingdoms with Daenerys and the Others waiting in the background. Now that the Riverlands and the North have been crushed, and the Lannisters have mostly self destructed and the Vale is being undermined from within the emphasis is of course going to shift to other characters in the other kingdoms. In the last book we had Highgarden being invaded by the Iron Fleet and Myrcella being seriously injured while a "guest" of Dorne which will likely lead to a confrontation with the crown. Slowly but surely anyone and everyone who could hope to unite and defend the seven kingdoms is being taken out and its all going to lead to Daenerys coming as a liberator rather than conqueror.

AuntiePam 10-20-2009 12:52 PM

I wonder if he could write the books faster if he was making better use of technology. Over at SFF World, they're saying Martin still uses an 80's word processor. He has a lot of characters and plot points to keep track of, and it's gotta be more time-consuming if he's referring to written notes. I remember working on a DEC, and it was a right bitch to rearrange paragraphs. And those floppies don't store nearly enough data.

Personally, I don't care if he finishes. I read the books because I like hanging out in the world he's created. If I have to leave it too soon, it will still have been a great experience.

Fenris 10-20-2009 01:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic (Post 11683154)
I suspect we'll see it around the same time that David Gerrold completes the next Chtorr book.

For what it's worth, apparently Gerrold has a legit excuse: he's adopted an autistic kid who requires enough time/attention that Gerrold can't write the Cthorr stuff (which takes massive research).

I find that disappointing, but I'm finding it hard to get mad at someone for taking care of a seriously disabled kid rather than entertaining me.

But damn I want that next Cthorr book.

(Actually, what I'd be satisfied with is to find out what the invasion is. Where's it coming from? Who's behind it?)

clnilsen 10-20-2009 01:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DrFidelius (Post 11682467)
I hate to say it, but I no longer care.

Expanding on this (and I agree personally):

A DoD will come out. It will not be written as the last book in the series, possibly with a note in the back that the next book "A Lot of Language" will be out in a few months.

Because it's been so long since his last book, fans will be underwhelmed or ignore entirely.

The lackluster reaction will only re-enforce him to abandon the series, complaining that the fans don't appreciate his work. More SoF&I miniatures and Wild Card books are seen in the following years.

The Tooth 10-20-2009 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fenris (Post 11683978)
For what it's worth, apparently Gerrold has a legit excuse: he's adopted an autistic kid who requires enough time/attention that Gerrold can't write the Cthorr stuff (which takes massive research).

I find that disappointing, but I'm finding it hard to get mad at someone for taking care of a seriously disabled kid rather than entertaining me.

But damn I want that next Cthorr book.

(Actually, what I'd be satisfied with is to find out what the invasion is. Where's it coming from? Who's behind it?)

I'd be satisfied with my money back. He raffled off the opportunity to be minor characters in the next book, and I ponied up. If I don't get to read about my own death by Chtorr I want my money back.

schnuckiputzi 10-20-2009 02:05 PM

Well, since I've been given five years before the cancer carries me off, I charge you Dopers to read it over my grave when my long-delayed Amazon pre-order finally arrives.

Mahaloth 10-20-2009 08:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by schnuckiputzi (Post 11684244)
Well, since I've been given five years before the cancer carries me off, I charge you Dopers to read it over my grave when my long-delayed Amazon pre-order finally arrives.

Are you really ill?

Qadgop the Mercotan 10-20-2009 09:02 PM

Any websites that give the Cliffnotes versions of the series? I really want to keep up with the discussion, but I can't afford the time to re-read the books at the moment.

Maserschmidt 10-20-2009 10:23 PM

I really hope he doesn't finish it. It's become a running joke every year at the block party - my friend and I keep sucking new people into reading the series, and then the next year they tell us we're bastards, and then we all talk about how we hate Martin.

Plus I can't remember a damn thing about it anymore, except the kid on the ice wall up to the north and the hunchbacked guy who's a clever schemer.

The Tooth 10-21-2009 12:38 AM

Robb's wedding was pretty memorable, I thought.

HazelNutCoffee 10-21-2009 12:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Maserschmidt (Post 11686024)
I really hope he doesn't finish it. It's become a running joke every year at the block party - my friend and I keep sucking new people into reading the series, and then the next year they tell us we're bastards, and then we all talk about how we hate Martin.

I convinced my boyfriend to start reading the first book. I need someone else to bitch about Martin with.

The trouble is, I'm still interested to know what happens next. With Wheel of Time I fell into apathy after the 10th book (or was it 11th? don't remember) and wasn't all that upset when Jordan died (I mean, I was sorry he was dead, but not as annoyed as a lot of his readers). If Martin dies I may just write my own ending so I can get some sort of closure and move on with my life.

Lantern 10-21-2009 01:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan (Post 11685746)
Any websites that give the Cliffnotes versions of the series? I really want to keep up with the discussion, but I can't afford the time to re-read the books at the moment.

Check out Wikipedia. It has plot summaries of the books as well as articles on the characters,places and events in the universe.

quixotic78 10-21-2009 02:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MichaelQReilly (Post 11682752)
I don't expect an author to spend his every waking moment working on a book, but it think it is fairly obvious from the various postings on Martin's blog that he just doesn't give a shit anymore and would rather work on other things or go to conventions.

This. I think it's far more fun for him to play in the world he's made, with games and figurines and TV shows and whatnot, than it is for him to actually work to finish it. I'm not sure if it's greed (I'm almost certain he makes more from licensing than he does from writing) or laziness or a Peter Pan complex or what.

I bet he's typed the phrase "And then a giant meteor came and killed everything so God could go watch football and play with toy soldiers without hordes of fans bitching" more than once.

John DiFool 10-21-2009 09:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aldiboronti (Post 11682351)
This reminds me of the seemingly interminable wait for Jack Vance to finish his Demon Princes pentalogy (? series of five books). The first three were published 1964-1967, there was then a 12 year wait until the final two volumes appeared.

Hell, I'm still waiting for C. J. Cherryh to get back to the Morgaine Saga, 20+ years and counting now...

Tamerlane 10-21-2009 11:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John DiFool (Post 11687077)
Hell, I'm still waiting for C. J. Cherryh to get back to the Morgaine Saga, 20+ years and counting now...

Not quite the same thing, as the nature of that story is pretty open-ended. She could write twenty more or she can consider it finished where she left it, which I half-expect is the case. While she left herself some plot points to continue with if need be, it was always more a story about the character growth of the protagonist and that ended on a fairly mature note. I would be happy to read more, but I'm not bothered if that's it.

Martin, on the other hand, bothers me.

statij 10-21-2009 12:26 PM

Can someone convince me to read these books? I'm kinda fascinated. Like most people, I read (twice) Lord of the Rings and loved it, I don't read any fantasy but like science fiction some, love historical fiction and LOVE long books. So, yeah, I'm very intrigued. It's obviously not a small undertaking if I start so I want to know if I should. Anyone?

Mahaloth 10-21-2009 01:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by statij (Post 11688114)
Can someone convince me to read these books? I'm kinda fascinated. Like most people, I read (twice) Lord of the Rings and loved it, I don't read any fantasy but like science fiction some, love historical fiction and LOVE long books. So, yeah, I'm very intrigued. It's obviously not a small undertaking if I start so I want to know if I should. Anyone?

I wouldn't, actually, considering that it is unlikely to finish.

However, they are pretty good fantasy books, with a very limited amount of fantasy. What I mean is that there is not a ton of magic and dragons and so forth, though things do exist like this.

What's cool is that it contains multiple story lines going on and each chapter follows a different characters, so you get to know a bunch of people. I found myself looking forward to various character chapters a lot and dreading others. Maybe not dreading, but certainly not getting excited.

Anyway, if you are OK that it does not have an ending and may never have one, go for it.

Oh, and it is unpredictable. Main characters sometimes die.

statij 10-21-2009 01:13 PM

Thanks, I think I might give it a whirl. I don't care for magic and dragons very much anyway. If I ever made it through all 4 books it'd be a miracle, so I guess I'm not concerned about it ending either.

Oredigger77 10-21-2009 01:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HazelNutCoffee (Post 11686360)
The trouble is, I'm still interested to know what happens next. With Wheel of Time I fell into apathy after the 10th book (or was it 11th? don't remember) and wasn't all that upset when Jordan died (I mean, I was sorry he was dead, but not as annoyed as a lot of his readers). If Martin dies I may just write my own ending so I can get some sort of closure and move on with my life.


Must have been 10 I just finished it and all 1000 pages of the book take place over two weeks and basically just talk about what everyone else was doing during 9. I'm doing a reread in preparation for 12 coming out next week.

I've given up on Martin there were too many chapters about characters I either didn't care about or actively disliked being in their heads. I don't even remember if i read the last book. Jordan on the other hand wandered a lot but there are no characters that when I see a chapter is going to be about them I consider if I want to skip the chapter.

schnuckiputzi 10-21-2009 01:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mahaloth (Post 11685650)
Are you really ill?

Well, not ill at the moment like throwing up, but yes, I really do have follicular lymphoma that is incurable, and at the moment untreatable because I have become hypersensitive to the chemo.

Sorry about the hijack. Carry on with the bitching and moaning about Martin.

Simplicio 10-21-2009 01:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by statij (Post 11688114)
Can someone convince me to read these books? I'm kinda fascinated. Like most people, I read (twice) Lord of the Rings and loved it, I don't read any fantasy but like science fiction some, love historical fiction and LOVE long books. So, yeah, I'm very intrigued. It's obviously not a small undertaking if I start so I want to know if I should. Anyone?

I think you should read them. As I said earlier, after the first book, the story increasingly abandons pretending to have any sort of central plot and degenerates into a bunch of vignettes taking place in the same world and with overlapping casts of tangentially related characters. While this is a little annoying if you're invested in having a central story, it also means the fact that it may never finish doesn't really bother me.

And its a cool series, better then any fantasy I've ever read. It portrays a medieval fantasy world as it would probably be if such a place was inhabited by real humans, life is nasty-brutish and short. The upper class treats the people they rule as almost inconsequential, there's constant fighting and betrayal, main characters die or are maimed almost as easily as non-main characters. And events don't begin and end in nice self-contained story lines, which again, makes the lack of driving plot more of a feature then a bug.

So while it may never end, personally that doesn't really kill my enjoyment of the books. When we first meet the characters in the first book, they're attempting to recover from the unresolved issues and dangers left over from the previous war. If Martin stops writing now, he'll more or less leave his next generation of characters in the same place as we found their mothers and fathers at the beginning of the series, which seems like as close to an ending as The Song of Ice and Fire is likely to get even if the author does write a "final" book.

Time Stranger 10-21-2009 01:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HazelNutCoffee (Post 11686360)
The trouble is, I'm still interested to know what happens next. .... If Martin dies I may just write my own ending so I can get some sort of closure and move on with my life.

I feel the same way - I've already decided how the series ends. I really enjoyed these books and spent a lot of time acting out scenarios in my head, so really anything Martin can come up with at this point (and count me in as another that doesn't think there will be anything published after DOD, if that even) is just going to be a disappointment to me.

Eleanor of Aquitaine 10-21-2009 02:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mahaloth (Post 11688329)
However, they are pretty good fantasy books, with a very limited amount of fantasy. What I mean is that there is not a ton of magic and dragons and so forth, though things do exist like this.

What's cool is that it contains multiple story lines going on and each chapter follows a different characters, so you get to know a bunch of people. I found myself looking forward to various character chapters a lot and dreading others. Maybe not dreading, but certainly not getting excited.

The limited use of fantasy elements is one of my favorite aspects of this series.

On book three I skipped ahead to read all of Jaime and Brienne's chapters, and then went back and read the rest of the book. I sort of wish he wouldn't name the chapters after the characters and make it so easy for me to do this.


I guess I won't be too upset if he never finishes the series, because I have so enjoyed the storytelling. I hope he gives Dances a nice, firm ending without a lot of cliffhangers, even if it leaves the plot dangling.

Lantern 10-21-2009 03:08 PM

IIRC Martin planned to make the series a straight historical series without any fantasy elements and that might have made for a better series. Most of what I really like about the books: the political and military intrigue is historical. And a lot of the fantasy stuff hasn't worked so far. For example Mellisandre is a really thin character: straight out of sword-and-sorcery cliche. In addition she seems overpowered rendering a lot of the plot seemingly irrelevant. Just about the only fantasy element that I enjoy are the dragons; and that too mostly for their potential.

I tend to agree that the series is worth it even if it doesn't get completed especially if DOD brings some closure. I have a feeling that Martin knows he won't finish the series so he may push more of the plot into the book. And Martin's habit of killing off major characters means that major parts of the story like the Lannister-Stark struggle have already played out bringing a certain amount of closure.

Just Some Guy 10-21-2009 04:57 PM

Not only am I certain that Martin has isn't going to finish I also have come to the conclusion that he has achieved the dreaded "Too big to edit" stage. This is where popular authors become so popular that their editor is just a rubber stamp. Consequently their books become bloated monstrosities with each successive one worse than the last. J. K. Rowling might be the most famous example of this but you can see it in a lot of very popular long running series. When the books start growing by a third without actually adding anything to the story then you know you're in trouble.

Mahaloth 10-21-2009 07:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Just Some Guy (Post 11689382)
Not only am I certain that Martin has isn't going to finish I also have come to the conclusion that he has achieved the dreaded "Too big to edit" stage. This is where popular authors become so popular that their editor is just a rubber stamp. Consequently their books become bloated monstrosities with each successive one worse than the last. J. K. Rowling might be the most famous example of this but you can see it in a lot of very popular long running series. When the books start growing by a third without actually adding anything to the story then you know you're in trouble.

Well, Order of the Phoenix was a bit overlong, but Half-Blood Prince is the tightest and best edited book.

Anyway, Robert Jordan is the all time king of overbloated and out of control.

Hamlet 10-21-2009 07:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mahaloth (Post 11689826)
Anyway, Robert Jordan is the all time king of overbloated and out of control.

Said Mahaloth wearing his stout Two Rivers woolens.

DrFidelius 10-21-2009 07:37 PM

I always thought of that as being the Clancy Syndrome.

Archergal 10-21-2009 08:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Khadaji (Post 11682307)
No one can say for sure, but IMO, Martin will pull a Jordan and die before he finishes.

Agree (1)

Maserschmidt 10-21-2009 08:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by statij (Post 11688114)
Can someone convince me to read these books? I'm kinda fascinated. Like most people, I read (twice) Lord of the Rings and loved it, I don't read any fantasy but like science fiction some, love historical fiction and LOVE long books. So, yeah, I'm very intrigued. It's obviously not a small undertaking if I start so I want to know if I should. Anyone?

They're really pretty entertaining, and he does a good job of intertwining a lot of good plot threads. You should give it a try.

The block party's in June, by the way.


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