Saturday, April 13, 2019

Game of Thrones

I have never watched, have no interest.  My impression from afar, that it lacks a moral core, seems borne out by David French's largely positive anticipation of season eight. Yet I had forgotten my own insight from years ago - not the first time that has happened on many subjects. Fantasy writers eventually tell us what they really think is evil.  I recall in Piers Anthony's first Xanth novel the playful treatment of demons, and his tweaking of conventional sexual morality.  Yet as the series progressed more serious questions started to intrude, almost unbidden.  Grundy the Golem wondered if he had a soul; the front edge of a real hell and real oblivion became central in Night Mare. When intelligent thinkers are honest, surprising this happen.

I gave up on the series as repetitive one or two books later, but I understand from others that he drew back from seriousness.  Small wonder he moved on to soft pornography next.

Or consider Oscar Wilde - yes, The Picture of Dorian Grey and other Gothic novels qualify as fantasy before fantasy was entirely a genre of its own. He made his career as a flaunter of morality and satirizer of it, but in the end penned some of the most insightful moral pieces of the 20th C and powerfully made his piece with God.  Long before his repentance, one can see his deep understanding.

So I am not surprised that "Game of Thrones" could not find an ultimate conflict internally and had to reach outside itself to remind not only its audience but its characters what real evil is like.


james said...

I stayed with Anthony a trifle longer--to the extent of getting the occasional book from the library. He had completely mined out the possibilities in his original Xanth universe, and forays into other mythologies didn't mix so well. He was repetitive, and increasingly more shallow and PC. Other series from that era were "read one, that was more than enough." I gave up; he had "sold his birthright for a pot of message."

I wasn't even aware he'd turned to porn--but apparently that wasn't new. says he wrote the first one back in 1970. If that's accurate, he was writing that _before_ Xanth, though it wasn't published until later.

You're right that he did try to introduce some more serious themes. I wonder if he dropped them because they made him uncomfortable (he _really_ doesn't like Christianity), or because readers complained, or because "serious" PC themes were more congenial.

Since we don't have cable, GoT was never an option, so I haven't kept up--but I was surprised that people were asking questions about how the series was going to resolve. "Didn't they read the books?" But from the review you linked I gather Martin never resolved the series in the books.

Ambition against ambition never ends, even when somebody seems to have won the pot (just wait 'till next year!), so there probably isn't a way to resolve the conflict from within the environment.

Presumptuously predicting from only having read the review, I'd guess that the houses band together to defeat the Night King, and backstab at the next to the last minute so that one house wins the pot and a temporarily defeated Night King gets away.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Darn! i have been wondering how to use the pun "pot of message" for years. You beat me to it.

james said...

I swiped it from somebody else, who was writing about HG Wells.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I held the possible reworkings of "meaty urologist" at the ready for 30 years, and two years ago, a psychiatrist friend got in with it five seconds before I did.

Texan99 said...

I have the impression from far, possibly quite unjust, that it's simply dumbheaded. Odd, too, because I generally like fantasy quite a lot, but I can't bring myself to try it.

I felt the same way about the Twilight movies, which I avoided for years, only to find this week that I rather enjoy them. They're classic chick lit, about sex and commitment. Men who can't commit don't even make it into the story line except as bad guys who make a brief appearance before being killed.

Sam L. said...

I never got into GoT because it's on HBO and I don't do HBO. Then, 2-3 years ago, I ran into the Sad Puppies foofuraw and the Science Fiction Writers Association's Hugo Award fight, and Martin's part in that foofuraw, and decided I didn't need it.