These Are the Good Old Days


(If you haven’t read the A Song of Ice andFire books, or are just starting, you may want to skip this post)

Just some observations. As I’ve been reading through George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (now on book 3, A Storm of Swords) one thing keeps stopping me and pulling me out of the story. This is not a criticism, but it’s such a glaring difference between the type of society depicted in the books and our own modern first-world society that it makes me stop and ponder every time I run across mention of someone’s age.

Many of the characters depicted in the books are children, but you really never see any of them acting like children. Frankly I’m astonished at the adult attitudes, thoughts, and ways of behaving of even the youngest children. At the age of sixteen, Robb is a seasoned battle commander and king, and returns home with a spoil of war: a bride. Strategizing battles, grasping political maneuvers and intrigue, even murder, are not beyond the Stark children. The younger daughter, Arya, has to learn how to live on the streets and hunt small animals and birds to keep herself alive. Even before the tide turns against them and the family is shattered, these kids are paying attention to the manners and mores of the adults, studying their father’s conduct and interactions with lords and knights, and visiting nobles who come to see Ned at Winterfell. There seems to be little time for leisure, and games as entertainment apparently don’t exist. Life is hard for these kids, but they’ve never known anything else. It’s a striking contrast to 21st century USA where the vast majority of kids seem to have nothing more to think about than the latest Wii or XBox, or Nintendo games, getting the latest iPhone or grumbling about school. I’m not making any judgments about it, I certainly don’t wish to live in the world of the books and have to learn to hunt pigeons to feed myself, and I realize there are places in the world where life is far harder. I know we’re quite privileged here and believe me I appreciate all my creature comforts.  One of my high school teachers once remarked (I think he was quoting someone, but I don’t know who) “An extended childhood is the sign of an advanced civilization.” That would be us. Childhood for many here now extends well into middle-age.

Every time I run across these issues in the books, where these kids are put into impossible, unconscionable situations and have to face worst-case scenarios, it’s almost too hard to believe pre-teens and teenagers are able to do what they do when I compare them to modern teens. Nobody gets coddled or shielded from the harsh realities. And these are the privileged ones, the nobility who live in the castles and have servants to light the fires and cook their meals for them.

I really have to wonder how many of us could even survive, let alone thrive, under similar circumstances. Very few, I’d guess. And I suppose that’s good and bad. I’m a child of the 20th century, and I know I would have a rough time adjusting to life without hot and cold running water, electricity, and internal combustion engines. Not to mention mail-order. And the internet. Ok fine, I’d probably just die.

Now excuse me while I try to track down copies of the Foxfire books so I can learn to spin and weave and make my own crossbows and learn how to butcher a hog.

Game of Thrones Books vs Television Series

SO, I’ve had few hits on the blog lately from people using the search terms “will Game of Thrones follow the books.”

I can tell you in no uncertain terms I Have No Idea

My best guess is they will follow the books relatively faithfully, concerning major events, but some scenes not in the book have been reportedly written into the scripts. I’m not able to watch the show myself, as I don’t have cable, so I’m trying to keep up to an extent by following @GameofThrones on Twitter (the official Twitter account for the production) and @Westerosorg, the most complete fan site out there. Elio and Linda at probably have more info on the books and show than anyone; they’ve been on-set, gotten swagged by HBO with publicity kits, met GRRM, and usually tweet out what Martin writes on his own blog,

Sorry I can’t be more help than that, but since people are landing here looking for info I thought I could at least direct you to those who know more. I have to wait for the DVDs.

Game of Thrones Renewed for Second Season

Yes, that’s right. HBO has already ordered season two, and cast and crew (that survived season 1) are trickling back, casting calls are open, it’s “Game” on! According to “Production offices open, crew filtering back, casting calls, location scouting…”

They clocked in with 4.2 million viewers for the premier episode. I’d say they touched a nerve 😉

Check out GRRM’s blog:

For some reason, there is a lot of speculation about whether the show will keep its current title. I don’t think they can retitle it every season, that would be odd. “Game of Thrones” is short and to the point, and kind of sums up what it’s all about. The title of the book series is “A Song of Ice and Fire”, with Ice and Fire being the names of swords. I don’t think that works as well for a television show title.

We are HUNGRY for more.

How NOT to Review Books or Movies

Last week, the New York Times ran an opinion piece (can hardly call it a review) on George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones that was dismissive, scornful, insulting and sexist. The claim was that girls don’t read fantasy, and that sex scenes had been thrown in as a feeble attempt to lure in the female readership. Say what?

Needless to say, we geek-girls were insulted. That Ms. Bellafante was given this venerable platform on which to air her derisive screed against a genre about which she is apparently completely ignorant is more than disappointing. There have been some very fine rebuttals from Aidan Moher, Daniel Abraham, and many others to the review. Even Martin himself took issue with the slighting of his female fans on his blog, and thanked the geek girls for rallying to support him.

So what drove this raging piece of hate towards all things geeky? Apart from the obvious explanation that it was tabloid journalism shamelessly using hyperbole and controversy to increase readership, I’d say Ms. Bellafante is judging the entire genre by the covers.

In the early days of fantasy, and indeed sci-fi (since they are typically lumped together), people often think of the pulps, and works from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars, Tarzan), and publications like Amazing Stories, in which women were frequently marginalized, used as props, or left out altogether. The lurid covers of these early works often depicted half-naked women being abducted by monsters or aliens, clearly designed to appeal to adolescent boys (and less sophisticated adult males) as soft-core pornography.


Starting in the 1960s and on through the 1970s and 1980s the work of Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta depicted mostly naked warrior women, with unearthly body proportions. (Vallejo at least is now concentrating on erotic art, pretty much exclusively.) For years the covers of fantasy books were embarrassingly cheeseball, and this hasn’t quite gone away. Even Philip K. Dick’s books have had some of these titillating covers. For those unfamiliar, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the basis for the movie Blade Runner.

I’m afraid this is what has remained the public perception of fantasy and science fiction.

But fantasy and sci-fi writers are not responsible for these covers. And those who have not read anything in the genre should withhold criticism until they do. There is some damn fine writing (and some good covers) in the fantasy and science fiction genres, not to mention any other ‘genre’ you could name, which any reviewer shouldn’t have to be told. The fact that Ms. Bellafante seemingly had not even read the book (and I can’t quite tell from her piece if she even previewed the show) should have precluded her from writing about it.

Cast member Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jaime Lannister in the show was interviewed about his experience in the show and had this to say, that sums it up nicely:

But I read the Game Of Thrones books, and they’re great. A great world to enter. So, I guess I had some silly ideas. I didn’t really know much about the genre before.

But genre doesn’t really matter, does it? If the story’s good, it’s good. If it’s good writing, it’s good writing.

Sadly there are still many out there who have not discovered this little fact, and the perception continues that it’s all unworthy of ‘serious’ attention.

For those who didn’t get to see the premier last night, HBO has released the opening credits sequence on YouTube. I’d post it here, but HBO doesn’t typically like people to do that, even though it’s out on the internet, so here’s the link:

Go watch, it’s incredible.

Daily Fools

Just a couple of Fools for the day

Lots of silliness out on the interwebs. So far, Innsmouth Free Press has reported that Cthulhu has converted to Christianity, and Aidan Moher has tweeted that George R.R. Martin’s final book in the A Song of Ice and Fire, A Dance with Dragons, will be split into two books, as well as delayed. That was closely followed by word from George’s own NotABlog that it would actually comprise FIVE volumes. Ahem. When you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, relax, it’s all good April Fool’s Day fun. The blog entries are pretty funny, give them a look if you have time.

Vote for Jon Snow!

Suvudu has been running ‘cage matches’ of fictional characters and we have until 5:30 PM EDT to show our support for Jon Snow (from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series). Jon is pitted against Vin, from Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books. He was trailing badly yesterday, but a blog post from GRRM and the fans are rallying to support Jon! Collar your co-workers, family members, strangers on a train (err, maybe not) and have them vote for Jon. 🙂 You can only vote once (boo, I’m not above stuffing the ballot box for my fav Night’s Watch commander), which I didn’t realize and kept trying to vote again and again. Oops.

The clock is ticking, let’s put Jon over the top!

Oh, and if you’re in NYC near the West 4th street stop (subway, I assume?) catch the Game of Thrones food truck, and taste some of the foods the characters might eat. Today’s menu features Pentos. All recipes by Tom Colicchio.

Big News From George R. R. Martin

No, not the next book, but possibly better (for him!). George and his longtime partner Parris tied the knot! Read all about it and see pics on his blog, here. He has requested that people not post the pictures on their own sites, but to link back to his or Parris’s blogs.

Many congratulations and best wishes to them!

Game of Thrones Wallpaper

Ok Fellow Game of Thrones geeks, feast your eyes on this tasty morsel:

Owly Images

Sean Bean as Ned Stark in HBO’s production of Game of Thrones.

Click the photo to go to the site to get the computer wallpaper. I believe it was taken last June, 2010.
And I finished the first book so you can’t pull the rug out from under me now! HAHA! But for those who have not read them, I won’t be allowing any spoilery comments. Martin is doing the same thing on his blog, no spoilers allowed. There’s so much in the story, so many unexpected twists, and talk about your cliff-hanger ending. Seriously, who saw that coming? I sure hope HBO will be tackling the rest of the books. I have to get busy and read the last three now. At least now I won’t feel left out that I can’t see it on tv due to lack of cable. Unless of course the show deviates from the books, which I seriously doubt. I think GRRM’s rabid fans would storm the HBO studios with pitchforks and torches if they tried it.

Lots more info and some stunning maps of Westeros can be found at Westeros: The ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ Domain,. And of course visit the author’s site at George R. R. Martin’s official Web site.

A Game of Thrones (aka my latest geek-out)

Summers span decades. Winters can last a lifetime…

I’m not entirely sure which I heard about first, the books, or the upcoming show on HBO. I think it was the books, I’m almost sure it was. I definitely knew the author’s name long before this but am sorry to say I am a johnny-come-lately to his books. George R. R. Martin’s four-book epic fantasy saga collectively known as A Song of Ice and Fire, which begins with A Game of Thrones is now being turned into a series by HBO, set to debut in April, 2011.

As most of  you know, however, I don’t have cable and so no HBO for this kiddo. Sadness. But, everything comes to DVD eventually, and this looks like a keeper from the previews and trailers at the official Web site. Of course as I always do I have to read the books before I’ll allow myself to watch the show anyway (did the same thing with The Lord of the Rings, read the books before seeing the movies).

So the book. Honest to god, I was hooked from the prologue. Here’s a small taste (and with an 800+ page book I think this constitutes fair use):

Will saw the movement from the corner of his eye. Pale shapes gliding through the wood. He turned his head, glimpsed a white shadow in the darkness. Then it was gone. Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers. Will opened his mouth to call down a warning, and the words seemed to freeze in his throat. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps it had only been a bird, a reflection on the snow, some trick of the moonlight. What had he seen, after all?

” Will, where are you?” Ser Waymar called up. “Can you see anything?” He was turning in a slow circle, suddenly wary, his sword in hand. He must have felt them, as Will had felt them. There was nothing to see. “Answer me! Why is it so cold?”

Sean Bean (be still, my heart!) is in it, love him. God I hope his character doesn’t get killed off.

Here’s a short teaser-trailer:

There are longer ones, but I thought an eleven-minute trailer was a bit much to post here. If you have time go check it out, though. So naturally I followed them on Twitter, and SQUEEE! they followed me back, even sent a direct message saying “Thanks for following. First lesson…stick them with the pointy end.” Good to know, I’ll try to remember that. I’ll bet that’s the sort of pithy advice that could come in real handy in Winterfell.

And I swear if anyone posts a spoilery comment on the books, I will take Eddard Stark’s sword Ice and hunt you down.

You have been warned.