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A Game of Thrones

(25 posts)
  • Started 8 years ago by John E. Rogers Jr.
  • Latest reply from JohnWThiel

  1. John E. Rogers Jr.

    Caught episode one - "Winter is Coming" - last night on HBO.

    Indeed, if truth be told, I ordered HBO last week just so I could watch this show.

    A Game of Thrones is the first novel in an adult fantasy series called A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.

    HBO is producing the entire novel on the small screen in what I imagine will be an unusually lengthy mini-series.

    Talk about inspired. Spectacular photography and design.

    Perfect casting across the board.

    For instance, Peter Dinklage was born to play the brilliant dwarf Tyrion Lannister (my favorite character). And not just because of his diminutive stature. His combination of 100-proof insouciance, hang-dog pathos, simmering bitterness and basic human decency is ideal for the role.

    But the key to the series' success is how it captures Martin's unique synthesis of traditional fantasy with ultra-mature themes - such as frank sexuality, unsteadiness and unreliability of character, painful loss, equally painful growth, merciless brutality, and byzantine power-struggles among the ruling elite. His writing is like a combination of Tolkien, Allen Drury, and maybe Norman Mailer.

    It isn't that Martin dispenses with the magic and the heroics, he just tempers them with grown-up stuff. His characters aren't two-dimensional RPG icons, they're conflicted, compromised individuals - struggling to understand themselves, deal with the political chaos of their times, and prepare to meet the supernatural forces looming on the horizon.

    Must see material, folks.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  2. ByronBailey

    HBO? What's that? Horrible body odor? I get that without having to order it. I suspect all I have to do to watch this HBO series myself is to simply avoid taking a shower for a day or two -- no need to order -- and then inhale deeply. The show begins!

    Posted 8 years ago #
  3. John E. Rogers Jr.

    heh! So everything they show necessarily stinks, eh?

    Damn cool stuff. If I can find a way to burn a disc, I'll send you a copy. Got a DVD player?

    Posted 8 years ago #
  4. ByronBailey

    "heh! So everything they show necessarily stinks, eh?"

    Not from what I've heard although it's probably been over a decade since I've seen anything on HBO. I have fond memories of it as a a kid, though, trying to sneak up late at night to watch the movies the parents didn't want me to see, the volume turned down so low to avoid detectkion that we couldn't hear. Ah, fond memories of HBO.

    "Damn cool stuff. If I can find a way to burn a disc, I'll send you a copy. Got a DVD player?"

    That would be cool. Personally, I don't have a DVD player but I can usually borrow one.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  5. LukeJackson

    If you have a computer you can almost definitely view video files on it...

    Posted 8 years ago #
  6. Gordon Van Gelder

    HBO has sent me some promotional stuff about the show. If anyone wants a chance at winning a set of three dragon eggs, go here:

    They're also promoting a lot of items in their store in conjunction with the show. If you're interested, they're all online at

    Posted 8 years ago #
  7. ErikOlson

    I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced by any of the hype coming from the fans of this series, in print or screen.

    Take for instance John Rogers' list of "ultra-mature" themes. These are not themes, they're noun phrases. To have a theme, you need to assert an idea about the subject. They're not mature, insofar as they describe a bully.

    And does sanctioned rape make a story "mature" or worth reading? It kind of makes you wonder about the reviewers who advertise it. Contrast it to the novel The Red Tent, or the TV miniseries of Genghis Khan, or the love scenes in Mongol, and Martin's little voyeuristic scene comes up empty.

    It's not "grown up stuff" until you say something grown up about it.

    I'm not against ordinary fantasy stories about warlords that keep you guessing "what will happen next?", I just don't believe that genre deserves to be praised to the sky.

    My hope was what in the hands of a competent screenwriter, Martin's book might turn into something psychologically interesting before HBO poured millions of dollars into it. Did it?

    Posted 8 years ago #
  8. LukeJackson

    I may not know much about art, but I do like HBO's habit of giving us the ultraviolence and a bit of the ole in-out.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  9. John E. Rogers Jr.

    I understand your concerns, Erik.

    But it's not clear to me you've seen the show. Your comment about "sanctioned rape" indicates you have - though I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to - Daenerys's marriage to Khal Drogo?

    But the final question makes that uncertain. Are you asking because you want to know or simply to get our takes?

    My take, of course, is that yes, it did.

    I suppose the themes I'm talking about are only in their nascent stage at this point. Like, for instance, the incest within the houses - and how it leads, or will lead to madness and political crisis; or Tyrion's tribulations and the tortured path to his betrayal.

    The sexuality, often violent, certainly raw, may not be psychologically challenging. Martin isn't, for example, exploring the foundations of intimacy, or making some larger statement about the nature of interpersonal contact. The sexuality is mature in the fact that we see it - clearly. It drives large plot elements - and is a consuming, corrupting influence.

    The personal struggles of the characters speak for themselves and are thus defensible on their face. If they don't work for you, they don't work for you. They certainly work for me.

    The intrigue, similarly, is what it is - convoluted, ruthless, often based on the irrational fears, naked desires. The forms of betrayal and the depths of corruption mirror The Sopranos in some ways - a show most of us would deem mature.

    Insofar as the grown-up commentary is concerned, it interlaces the show and the dialogue. A tiny example - Eddard's brother cautioning Jon Snow about what he is "really giving up" by taking the black.

    Haven't read The Red Tent, so I can't speak to it.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  10. SpaceMonkey

    I shot my TV set 15 years ago, and never regretted it. However, when this series comes out on DVD, I'll rent it and check out the first few episodes on my PC.

    Recommending a film or TV series on this forum is likely to be risky. If you consider the Magazine of F&SF, it looks like a book. Go inside and you'll see that they recommend books. When they talk about movies, they usually criticize popular films and recommend ones you haven't heard of. Most of the people on this forum are people who read, not watch.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  11. ByronBailey

    "I'm sorry, but I'm not convinced by any of the hype coming from the fans of this series, in print or screen.

    "Take for instance John Rogers' list of "ultra-mature" themes. These are not themes, they're noun phrases. To have a theme, you need to assert an idea about the subject. They're not mature, insofar as they describe a bully.

    "And does sanctioned rape make a story "mature" or worth reading? It kind of makes you wonder about the reviewers who advertise it. Contrast it to the novel The Red Tent, or the TV miniseries of Genghis Khan, or the love scenes in Mongol, and Martin's little voyeuristic scene comes up empty.

    "It's not 'grown up stuff' until you say something grown up about it."

    I haven't seen any of the HBO series but have read the first three books in the series. They're not my favorite, but I appreciate them a lot. What I appreciate is how Martin takes a genre that's been highly romanticized virtually unto ludicrousness and adds the darker, more realistic elements. I think there is a level of maturity that's beyond "it's not 'grown up stuff' until you say something grown up about it." It's the maturity to take a culture and start seeing it through the eyes of someone within that culture yet still see them as essentially human like yourself. There's lots of cultural elements that can be very disturbing to us that are common in other cultures. The other culture doesn't see them in quite the same way that we do, though. Most people don't question their culture too much. It's just taken for granted. What I appreciate most about good science fiction and fantasy are the writers that can thoroughly wrap us in another culture, even the disturbing elements, and show us what the characters who are products of that culture, think about it. I'm not condoning those disturbing practices. But I will note that if you start perceiving how other cultures view behavior that's disturbing to you, you can start finding behavior in your own culture that many find highly disturbing with just as much cause usually but because we are products of our culture and take our culture for granted, we don' see them too well. This series, at least the books from what I've read, has the maturity to take stuff that we may find disturbing and show how the culture perceives it. That takes a kind of maturity, I think, possibly well beyond taking another culture and telling us what our culture has to say about it.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  12. Fabrice

    I discovered the series in the pages of Asimov's (an excerpt about Daenerys), and I fell immediately in love with it.
    I've read all of the 4 published books of The Song of Ice and Fire, and I consider it as one of the masterpieces of fantasy.

    I admire the world-building done by Martin (including the past history of his world), and it's really what I would call "adult" fantasy (as opposed to "kid" fantasy such as the Harry Potter phenomenon). The characters are complex: you can care for the "good" guys (maybe they are not so good) AND for the "bad" guys (who are not completely bad), the byzantine political intrigues are quite fascinating, the cast of characters, great and small, is quite astonishing (Tyrion is one of my favorites, too), and (as far as I can tell, given that English is not my native language) it is quite beautifully written.

    All in all, a marvel. Probably my second fantasy "shock" after discovering Tolkien's LOTR.

    Glad to hear that there is a TV series in the making (video files welcome).

    Posted 8 years ago #
  13. robertbrown

    There was a story about this series in the NYT in which the HBO hot shots are portrayed as concerned about the feasibility of presenting big-budget fantasy to a mass audience. They mention trying to tone down the dragons for instance, and fear about the dorkiness factor.

    Are these people for real? LotR made how many gazillion gold pieces? The Harry Pooter franchise netted how much over several decades and media?

    I think it's safe to say there's a mass audience for fantasy. (Good fantasy, it should go without saying--but apparently won't. We can all list some very bad fantasy that didn't make much money.

    Honestly, some people can't see past their own biases, even if it will grant them a license to print money. Unbelievable.

    All that said, I'm neither a fan of the Martin books nor an HBO subscriber, so good luck to all concerned.

    Posted 8 years ago #
  14. CWJ

    HBO is probably painfully aware that after Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, the fall-off for fantasy audiences is pretty steep. Look how the Narnia series has been struggling--which ideally should tap into both fantasy fans and the Christian market. There have been many terrific books that were turned into lackluster movies. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was a sharp, clever book, and the movie had Brendan Frasier, Andy Serkis, and Helen Mirren, and yet it was a tedious movie and vanished from screens almost immediately. All of us can easily point out, in hindsight, the problems with those particular cases, but if it were easy to see problems ahead of time they would have been dealt with. So I can understand HBO's nervousness.
    However based on the first night's performance, they have ordered a second season, so I think they are nervous no more.
    I have to find a way to watch it--I don't get cable at all--but I am looking forward very much to Peter Dinklage's performance of Tyrion.
    (And I wrote my own comments on the books: )

    Posted 8 years ago #
  15. LukeJackson

    Y'all need to learn how to utilize a little piece of software called BitTorrent!

    Posted 8 years ago #
  16. Steve R.

    Finally finished watching season one last night, a bit late (by two years). Enjoyed it. One thing that was unexpected, no "real" fantasy until the last episode of season one, which is an author's prerogative.

    This gets into a pet-peeve of mine, which is that a culture based on magical elements will be fundamentally different than a culture based on science. Season one, did not present a culture that would have been much different from what we did have just prior to 1500. That should not detract from the the fact that it is a good story. Now onto season two.

    Posted 6 years ago #
  17. Marian

    Now that GofT is ending, what did those who watched it think of it?

    Posted 8 months ago #
  18. Steve R.

    Still one more episode to go!!! Unfortunately, Season 8 has been pretty much of a dud. Seems that the writers are racing to close the various story lines. Consequently, Season 8 seems too rushed.

    The other Game of Thrones thread-->>

    **** Spoiler Alert ***

    Episode 3 was unwatchable (pun intended). Episode 4 had a lot of strained relationships that were irrational. Given the events of Episode 5 were Jaime and Cersei die together; the relationship between Brienne and Jaime in Episode 4 was misguided. Their relationship (Brienne and Jaime) should have remained totally platonic in Episode 4.

    I found it to be quite perplexing that Sansa would ever shed any tears over Theon dying. Theon was a despicable character who had treated Sansa very badly.

    The fight between Jaime and Euron in Episode 5 was totally contrived. The chances of them meeting were pretty close to 0%. Even if they had met, it would seem that Euron would not have an interest in attacking Jaime.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  19. Steve R.

    Why the Writing in Game of Thrones' Season 8 Feels Off. This article should be of interest to anyone who writes. Interesting article on the process of writing.

    So far, Season 8, has been a dud.Tonight's the final episode. Hopefully this last episode will be better.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  20. dolphintornsea

    A bit off-topic, I know, but does anyone know what happened to John E. Rogers, who started this thread, or know what happened to him? We used to have lively discussions on the Asimov's forum, and it would be nice to say hi again.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  21. LukeJackson

    Hi there,

    I'm in occasional e-mail contact with Mr. Rogers. I received the following unfortunate news from him a few years back, but otherwise he seems to be doing well:

    "I don't think we've communicated in quite some time, so you may not know that unfortunately I had a car accident and suffered a spinal cord injury. I am now an incomplete quadriplegic. I have limited function of my arms. I have reasonable use of my left hand. I can move my legs and can stand with assistance but cannot yet walk. Consequently I'm not getting around too much. I work mostly out of the house though I do go into the office one day a week now.

    Talk about a black swan event… But we are making the best of it."
    I can provide his email address via PM if you like.


    Posted 8 months ago #
  22. dolphintornsea

    Luke, I'm very sorry to hear that. Please send his e-mail to mine:

    Posted 8 months ago #
  23. Steve R.

    Well the finale to Game of Thrones was a disappointment.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  24. Steve R.

    Game of Thrones Season 8 Rotten Tomato Episode Scores

    Season 8 started off OK, but then subsequently declined. For me Episode Three was the worst.

    Posted 8 months ago #
  25. JohnWThiel

    As he was getting into further recovery when that email was sent, is he doing better still at the present time?

    Posted 7 months ago #

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