It has won over the hearts of fans and critics alike, but HBO remains cautiously optimistic about whether Game of Thrones will be on television long enough to complete George R.R. Martin’s series of books.

As far as the network is concerned, the longevity of the series is in the hands of the writing and producing team of D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.

The trick of producing a television program that’s based on a series of books (which haven’t yet reached a conclusion) is there may come a time when the show simply catches up to the unwritten book material. Given series creator Martin’s extraordinarily long turnover from book-to-book (five years between A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows as well as another five for the recently released A Dance with Dragons), Game of Thrones TV fans may have to wait for another decade to finish his seven-book saga – in order to complete the HBO series.

Naturally, despite the ratings success of the series and the recent Emmy nominations, HBO seems a bit reluctant in committing to a potentially decade-long run for the series – especially since filming on season 2 has just now gotten underway. Nevertheless, network president of programming Michael Lombardo said, “We told George we’d go as long as he kept writing.”

That statement may be easier said than done. Lombardo, facing the very real prospect of keeping the show on the air for another 10 years (or more) added the following:

“I don’t know where the show for us ends as opposed to the books… I think the challenge for us is always, how long do the creators want to stay with the show? Dan and David have signed on for a couple of years and we’re going to have those conversations with them every couple years.”

Of course, one of the nice problems to have when producing a series like Game of Thrones is that the rabid fanbase will constantly want more. Given what many consider is a scant 10 episodes per season, Thrones comes up short – according to many of its viewers.

In its favor, however, HBO has stated that it will not concede to a season longer than 10 episodes – for fear that any such increase would result in not only frustrating delays, but also a noticeable degradation in the overall quality of episodes and overarching seasons.

Even though production on season 2 is well underway, the series is still in its infancy. While its future (in relation to the source material) may eventually come into question, the fact remains that George R.R. Martin is “linked to everything [Weiss and Benioff] are doing.” – according to HBO co-president Richard Plepler. If that ‘link’ is a two-way street, it could be beneficial (in terms of insider knowledge) should the series get ahead of Martin’s publishing timeline.

Game of Thrones is currently filming its second season and will return to HBO in 2012.

Source: TV Guide