Anybody still interested in Game of Thrones? Jennifer Vineyard, in NYMag:
Why, you might ask, is George R.R. Martin offering us a new book (The World of Ice and Fire) that’s not the new book (The Winds of Winter)? Because he can’t stop writing about Westeros! (Along with Essos, Sothoryos, and Ulthos, of course.) “I was supposed to write 50,000 words of text for sidebars, and then I wrote 300,000!” Martin told us recently, laughing over a slice of pizza. “The more I wrote, the more stories were coming, and it just got to be hundreds of pages long.”
Anyone upset that the new book — a sort of compendium of historical information about Martin’s fictional world — doesn’t advance the story in progress is missing the chance to have a deeper understanding of the Targaryens’ long-lost hold on the Seven Kingdoms and the world around them. (As is Daenerys, who was given the histories of her world as a wedding gift and neglected to read them.) “But you know who does know a lot of [the history]?” Martin teased. “Tyrion.” Tyrion, who likes to make sure the royals in his vicinity have the benefit of a good education, might be inclined to share what he’s learned, but without his influence in King’s Landing, Cersei, the Queen Regent, is ruling blindly…
So, unless you want to be as oblivious as Cersei, it might be worth taking the very deep dive, so long as you keep in mind that The World shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel. The book is written from the viewpoint of a maester at the Citadel, one who hopes to pass its knowledge on to someone sitting on the Iron Throne. As such, the author may have … rearranged events to suit the interests of a particular royal family. “So who knows if it’s really true or not!” Martin chuckled. Furthermore, the maester’s knowledge comes from other scrolls that, in turn, may be unreliable. The narrative unreliability is reminiscent of Westeros’s first tell-all author, the court jester Mushroom, who claims intimate knowledge of various Targaryen bedroom secrets. “And he may be making up a lot of this shit,” Martin said. “That possibility is there, because he’s an old guy telling tales, and embroidering them, making them more sexual, suggestive, and violent.” Martin likens Mushroom to Suetonius, “the great gossip of ancient Rome,” whose stories helped shape I, Claudius. “It’s full of things like [Claudius’s third wife] Messalina having a fucking contest with a prostitute, and there’s no source for that! Unless you believe Suetonius,” Martin said. “People do know things, but the things they ‘know’ may not be right.”…
“People do know things, but the things they ‘know’ may not be right.” Sounds like the motto for our modern American politic, yes?
What is Game of Thrones?
I went to an event at the 92nd Street Y where they had a discussion with him about the book. He seems like a pleasant person, definitely someone who doesn’t take himself as seriously as most of his fans do. No information about the next book, nor really much discussion about the TV show.
I do think that, at this rate, there’s no way he gets the written series done before the TV show. Heck, who knows if he’ll even gets Winds of Winter done…
I read the first book. I’m glad I didn’t get into this series.
I liked the first three books a lot- not great literature, but really fun reading. And then the fourth and the fifth… sigh. I think it’s bad when writers get too big to listen to an editor anymore (Hi, Stephen King! Hiya, JK Rowling!).
I haven’t read the series so can someone tell me if it’s literary enough to justify the BS Martin is talking about? Or have people just invested so much in the books that they’re just gritting their teeth to make it through to the end?
IIRC, there’s a Not Meant To be A Factual Statement tag, isn’t there?
We had a nice bunch over for a lil b-day gig. I made sour orange garlic chicken, balk beans and chick pea, potato, mustard green and adobo stew!
Happy birthday, from one old fart to another.
@NotMax: Thx, it’s actually tomorrow but I’ll take what I can get!
Wife did a game drive in Zambia today. Saw leopards eating a fresh killed pregnant gazelle.
I was impressed.
Made it another year, old man. Congrats.
@Baud: Thx, my ass is draggin and the Bears and Packers are on!
@raven: Many happy returns, from one Scorpio to another!
@Corner Stone: It’s Lord of the Rings
without the fantastical creatures, plotting and counter-plotting, and big battles, but with lots more sex.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
It has nothing to do with being literary enough to justify that bullshit; it requires a complete misunderstanding of what stories are. Admittedly, it’s a misunderstanding that a lot of f/sf fans share. Let me put this in all caps so that people might grasp it:
THERE IS NO WESTEROS FOR ANY OF US, INCLUDING MARTIN, TO COMPREHEND.
The world of Westeros exists insofar only as it helps advance the story that Martin started to tell but has clearly lost interest in, or to advance other stories that he may or may not be interested in starting and never finishing. I am not lacking anything but not reading his new coffee table book or interesting tidbits, unless Martin is going to assume that I’ve read it as he tells the rest of The Song of Ice and Fire, in the unlikely event that he ever does actually write it.
The new book may be an interesting read. I hope the people who plunk down their shekels for it enjoy it. But that George R.R. Martin can be spewing crap telling us that it’s important to know all of this history as if we were researching for our doctoral thesis instead of reading a series of fantasy novels means that he has completed his transformation into being nothing but a bloated ego with legs.
George, you swindled me. You got me to buy expensive hardcover copies of the first five novels in the series by making the implicit promise that you cared enough about the story that you would keep working at it and finish it in a timely fashion. You lied to me. You didn’t care enough to avoid being seduced by the lure of large piles of cash into an endless stream of ways for you to make money off of other people you swindled. You lost interest in telling your story and haven’t even had the decency to apologize. Instead, you get huffy and pretend that there was no implicit promise to actually tell the whole story and that we have no right to be upset about the broken promise.
If nothing else, this whole episode has convinced me that I don’t want to write a series of novels. I have an idea for a setting that could produce multiple stories, but each one is going to be contained in a single volume. I don’t want to ever find myself breaking the promise to readers that Martin has, so I’m not going to make it.
@Anne Laurie: There it is!
The last sentence is correct, how sad for us on Main Street.
Karen in GA
@raven: Happy birthday, and may you have many more.
@raven: Happy Birthday, Youngster.
@Felonius Monk: In less than four hours I’ll no longer be able to say “I’m to young for medicare and too old for women to care”. Well, part of it anyway.
GoT fans will be even more disappointed than Lost fans when all is said and done
Villago Delenda Est
Well, that describes the bulk of the American electorate, based on Tuesday’s results.
Villago Delenda Est
@raven: Happy birthday, old soldier.
May you return for mucho mas.
@Villago Delenda Est: Thanks Dawg!
The Official Raven Birthday Vigil (TM) begins.
@raven: Happy B-day.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Sounds like a typical high school history class.
@Elizabelle: I hope I make it till halftime! All that cooking wore me out.
@raven: Happy Birthday raven, best wishes for many more to come!
We should sacrifice a virgin or something for ravens bday.
What would Westeros do?
@Omnes Omnibus: Thx, did you see the piece earlier today on the Bear-Packer replay game in 1989? Pretty funny.
This is going to sound kind of strange since I am a fantasy and sci-fi guy with about a thousand books in my house. Most I have read. I watch the movies, TV shows, play the video games but outside of maybe Philip K. Dick and William Gibson (reading his new book as we speak) I don’t read much of the genre. Can’t really explain it.
Aw shucks ya’ll.
Villago Delenda Est
@srv: Indeed possible.
I’m hoping Martin will be less idiotic than J.J. Abrams in that regard. Chris Cox, with The X Files though he had a long story to tell, too, but the “mythology” was pretty much made up as it went along, and it shows…badly. Ultimately, I lost interest in it because it violated the first rule of fiction…it has to make sense. If you’re going to have a ridiculous conspiracy theory, make it hold water.
Contrast with J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5, which pretty much fulfills the conditions that Tissue Thin Pseudonym lays out in 15. It’s set in a universe that has lots of stories to tell, but JMS made sure to CONCLUDE his story and bring it to a resolution. He had planned to do that over five seasons, but he wound up doing it in four specifically because a fifth season was called into question by the suits, so he compressed it a bit and wrapped up the main storyline in four. Then he launched another story based in the same universe, related to the previous story, but it too was cut short, this time abruptly so that there was no resolution of the story that was being told. Again, due to interference by idiots in suits.
Martin seems to have lost interest, as noted, in concluding his main storyline and wants to go exploring elsewhere. Well, frankly, that sucks. He needs to wrap up his main story, then engage in J.R.R. Tolkienesque backstory shit. It’s perfectly fine to explore those other stories AFTER you’ve brought the story you started to a conclusion.
Heck, if Chris Metzen of World of Warcraft can do a better job of wrapping up a story within the context of an MMO, you’re hurting as an author if you can’t do the same (although Metzen has plenty of loose threads hanging about all over Azeroth).
@Villago Delenda Est: The only series that left me satiated was Twin Peaks
@MBunge: I’m don’t know what you mean by literary (it could be a number of things), so feel free to take this with a grain of salt.
The writing is good enough for me (it tells the story and didn’t seem like writing for its own sake) and the characters act like real human beings (who live in a world with dragons and magic, to be sure). I didn’t enjoy Lord of the Rings last time I read the books, because it came off like I was reading about Legends With A Point. I can’t imagine Aragorn wanting to get it on with an actual woman; he’s supposed to marry a Queen because that’s what Good Kings do.
Fritz Leiber’s stories of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser I thoroughly enjoy. The heroes go to taverns, get drunk and pick up girls, along with the heroics. Leiber’s world is more comic than Martin’s, but they both are interesting settings.
@Villago Delenda Est: I read an interview with Chris Charter. Said he sold his show and soul to Fox to get the X Files on TV. He envisioned a story arc of 4-5 years. Fox said we own the show, good ratings, we’re going to keep it running. In one of the better quotes I’ve heard he said if anybody is going to run his show into the ground it might as well be him.
@Villago Delenda Est: also, too, I liked how Asimov wrapped up Foundation by undermining the whole premise and said the Robots did it.
And for the Star Wars fans, it was really fine when Disney flushed The Canon so JJ could vomit on them like he did with Khan II
Iowa Old Lady
@MBunge: Yeah, the books are fairly literary. IMHO, things have spun out of control in the last two, but it’s not pap by a long shot.
Villago Delenda Est
@Tommy: Network executives definitely all need to be on the tumbrel manifests when The Revolution comes. They’re all first and foremost Ferengi shitstains, so, it’s logical that they are manifested.
You made a move toward home plate and then threw to first?
@Villago Delenda Est: I’ve been watching a ton of BBC shows and I am stunned how they don’t seem to run shows into the ground. Sherlock is three shows a year (if that). Doctor Who is 8-9. And something like Broadchruch, which has been remade as Gracepoint in the US, is a limited run of I think 8 shows.
As a writer, I don’t know how you can tell a story when you literally don’t know how long you have to tell said story.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): A-fucking-men.
Iowa Old Lady
@Villago Delenda Est: I loved B5. I loved the way something would make no sense and then weeks later, you’d see something and get that great lightbulb going off feeling.
“You are the one.” Pause. “And you are the one, and you are the one.”
@Iowa Old Lady: I’ve not seen a single episode of B5. The comments here about it makes me think I need to find it on Netflix and do some binge watching.
@raven: Late here, but Happy Birthday!
Late here as well. Happy birthday Raven!
The first time I posted a comment here you savaged me. Thought you were a total asshole. Clearly I have learned since then you are not. A stellar guy. Here is hoping you have many more wonderful birthdays!
Villago Delenda Est
@Iowa Old Lady: “No one listens to poor Zathras.”
Ben Cisco (onboard the Defiant)
Happy birthday Raven.
“Zathras used to being beast of burden. “
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@Tommy: My personal take on Babylon 5 is that it was fantastic when it came out but that it hasn’t held up very well. In a lot of the ways it was the start of what we think of as narrative series television, taking ongoing storylines out of the realm of the prime time soap operas and into other spaces and genres. The was before Joss Whedon, before HBO and The Wire, and in a completely different world than something like Lost on network television. The X-Files started a year earlier but it was never as narratively tight as Babylon 5; though it had some ongoing threads it was much more episodic.
For me the primary problem with Babylon 5 was simple: the acting sucked. The cast just wasn’t able to deliver what Straczynski promised. I really wanted to like Garibaldi, and then Jerry Doyle would butcher another scene. Claudia Christian was beyond wooden.
The actors who played the aliens were a lot better than the ones that played the humans, but that’s in part because the aliens were played by people who not only had a lot more acting experience but also had some background in science fiction; Bill Mumy was in the original Lost in Space. Stephen Furst’s career dates back to playing Flounder in Animal House.
Bruce Boxleitner is the obvious exception to both the experience part and the never having done science fiction before (he was in the original Tron), but that was mostly a lot of experience of not being very good. He’s sort of the Jon Kitna of TV actors.
Going back to watch it now is kind of painful. In 1994 I was so overwhelmed by the things Babylon 5 got right, that no one else was getting right, that I barely noticed the flaws. Now that the door has been opened and there are shows getting those same things right and also closing up the flaws, they become a lot more obvious.
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
@raven: Happy Birthday Eve.
Villago Delenda Est
@Tommy: It’s important to watch it in episode order, and to endure the sometimes very dull first season. About midway through the first season, things start to pick up, and as you move on to the following seasons, you’ll recognize the foreshadows that you may not have noticed before, as Iowa Old Lady indicates. In the second season, things really start to flow, and the third season is a freight train running at top speed. There are often flashbacks to things that didn’t seem important in the previous episodes that are really important to the overall arc. B5 is an actual novel for television if you will. JMS plotted the whole thing out well in advance, complete with “trap doors” to accommodate actors departing the series, so that their characters leave in a way that enhances the storyline.
Cannot understand the fixation with this. Tried to read the first book and got about 80 pages and put it down in the pile to go to the thrift store (much as I did with Ayn Rand and Terry Pratchett’s oeuvre). Watched one episode and didn’t change my mind.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@Villago Delenda Est:
Well, he tried to, at any rate. I thought the disappearance of
LytaTalia ripped a hole in some important plot threads that the show never quite recovered from.
Edited because I got characters mixed up.
Villago Delenda Est
Martin should just do something along the lines of the Wars of the Roses (which A Tale of Fire and Ice is loosely based on), kill off Richard III at Bosworth Field, and the story of the Lancasters and Yorks is brought to an end by their own folly, and Henry Tudor shows up with his claim to the throne and takes over, starting a whole new storyline, essentially.
Crown someone king after killing off or exiling to The Wall all the main characters who haven’t already been killed off or exiled to The Wall. Well, he can chuck Tyrion into a brothel with a good library and conclude his story that way.
I’ve seen all of B5. I far prefer DS9.
As for GoT, like what Martin’s doing or don’t; care or don’t. But don’t be a cynical fuck who has to prove he’s better than the books, or knows what’s mtivating Martin, or how Matin is getting it wrong.
@Iowa Old Lady: No kidding. What the heck is Mr. Iron Bank going to do in the middle of 30 feet of snow?
@JasonF: Another DS9 fan here. I am re watching the series again, just finished Season2.
“Anyone still interested in Game of Thrones?”
I am NOT a fantasy fan, but I tried the first book and was quite impressed and absorbed. Same with the second book. Then I started on the third–and, like another commenter above, that’s when I gave up. I realized the story would NEVER end.
Eh, I feel that when you are dealing with quasi-legendary stuff like GoT, endings and conclusions are unnecessary. There are a bunch of great martial-fantastical-historical pageants in Chinese literature, like the Three Kingdoms, Tales of the Water Margin, and Journey to the West. The “concluding” chapters of all of them are among the least interesting.
I do wish that Sherlock was five episodes.
I loved B5. I got all shy and fangirl at Gulf Coast Comic Con this year around Mira Furlan. It was the 20th anniversary of B5, roughly, and almost everyone was there. JMS and Doyle weren’t; I think all the other surviving main actors made it.
Game of Thrones… eh, the books have *so* started to meander. Personally, I wish GRRM had just done a small taste of the lands around Valyria, and maybe even the southlands of Westeros then wandered back to the lands and people we know. Those other lands could have been fleshed out in further series. But, hey, I’m not an author, just a vaguely bored reader.
I read “Everything Bad is Good For You” last week. It’s 8 years old, but still, I hadn’t heard the main argument before – that TV series and video games are increasingly complex, and are increasing our cognitive capabilities. B5 and GoT certainly fit that. It was a really good book; well argued.
I’ve read and re-read all of the Ice and Fire books so far, and have watched all four seasons of the Game of Thrones HBO series with considerable enjoyment.
Much of the Ice and Fire series seems perfectly delightful to me; addictive page turners, with a great deal of humor.
Your mileage may well vary; I don’t much care if it does.
I’m hooked, watching the process of Jaime’s Lannister’s redemption, watching to see what will become of Jon Snow, and Tyrion Lannister, and Sansa and Arya Stark, and Brienne of Tarth.
I truly enjoy Davos Seaworthy’s struggles with his King, Stannis.
(I’m losing interest in the Bran Stark storyline and Danery’s Targeryan storylines, and in all things Greyjoy, and the entire Bolton thing is repellent. Oh well.)
And it will be interesting to see if Martin makes any real use of Tommen or Myrcella Baratheon, or of Rickon Stark)
I think that the HBO episodes are wonderful TV.
Yes, inflation mars the later books some.
Those of you who are actually hungry for additional Westeros stories can find them in the “Dunc and Egg” tales of Ser Duncan The Tall, which Martin has salted one-per in three or four anthologies he edited. They’re not separately published, as yet — I recommend heading down to the library to get “Legends” and “Legends II” to see if you like them. For my money, they’re some of his best stuff. Again, your mileage probably varies.
Right now, my interest in all things Martin is at low tide; I’m not much interested in this new The World Of, although as a sometimes-completist, I’ll probably pick it up eventually.
When the new season of GoT starts in April, or when Martin releases The Winds of Winter, whichever comes first, I’ll re-kindle the dragonfire and head back to Westeros.
If Martin never finishes the series, I’ve still greatly enjoyed what there is; I don’t feel he owes me anthing.
I do greatly hope that Winter is, in fact, coming.
Villago Delenda Est
@schrodinger’s cat: I’m a big DS9 fan too, but I refused to “take sides” in the idiotic “fan wars” between DS9 and B5…or between Star Wars and Star Trek.
DS9 is my favorite Trek series, mainly because it takes a different approach to the Trek Universe. They’re not all boy and girl scouts, like Picard’s bunch That and they took the time to develop the secondary characters…Rom, Nog, Damar, Kai Winn, Vic Fontaine, and most especially Garak all grew and changed during the run, just like the main ensemble cast did.
Voyager wasn’t bad, but the only interesting main characters were the Doctor and Seven of Nine, although Tom Paris and B’Ellana Torres had their moments as well.
The less said about Enterprise, the better.
If The X-Files had gone on to a movie series after season 5, like Chris Carter wanted, Mulder and Scully would have been able to defeat the conspiracy in the third movie. But as it was, the original conspiracy was defeated in mid-season 6, so he had to patch together a half-arsed conspiracy Mk 2, and then a poorly-conceived pair of new lead characters in John Doggett and Monica Reyes.
““People do know things, but the things they ‘know’ may not be right.” Sounds like the motto for our modern American politic, yes?”
Certainly applies to some commenters here too.
I’m glad Martin is finding success with GoT–I remember reading some of his SF back in the 1980s and being tremendously impressed.
And GAME OF THRONES is a must for me. It’s not for everyone (the same could be said of HANNIBAL), but it’s well written, well acted, and is just a damned good show.
My 2-cents, as always.
“DS9 is my favorite Trek series, mainly because it takes a different approach to the Trek Universe. They’re not all boy and girl scouts, like Picard’s bunch…”
Agreed, Villago. DS9 had some of the best stories I’d seen in the TREK universe, including “In the Pale Moonlight” and “Far Beyond The Stars”.
@joel hanes: I don’t feel he owes me anthing.
While that may still apply to Martin, given when he started the series, that attitude is a little harder to maintain in today’s social media/Kickstarter world where the relationship is moving from producer-consumer to artist-patron. When people are being actively engaged and made to think of themselves as not just fans but members of a fan community, they’re going to expect more because they’re being asked/expected for more.
I’m still interested in Game of Thrones taking a bit off from reading book 5 (or 4.2) “A Dance With Dragons”.
I try to keep an unread book between me and Game of Thrones Withdrawal so he can write all he wants.