A Game of Thrones

Having watched Season 1 of the HBO series a second time – apparently the beginning of the next season is fast approaching (Apr 1st) it’s better than I thought the first time around. I’m not sure what saves it, if 15 years of maturation and writing, growth and rewrites, or just great acting make up the difference. I’m quickly working through the first novel, and it’s interesting to see what has and hasn’t been changed.

With the rise of comic book movies, it’s interesting to see a novel get the same treatment. Chop the book into tenths, lift the dialog waypoints (frequently verbatim), storyboard the main images and figure out how to connect the dots. Rather than internal monologue and explicit description of character relationships, most of the actors exhibit great restraint and subtlety that enrich the story in general. However, the character ages have been skewed upward (frequently directly) which makes some of the character’s progression far less believable. Characters adolescent fantasies and naive chumpery are far less believable/forgivable when character ages have been inflated 12-18%. Whether this is to avoid scandalous accusations of child pornography or to bring it more in line with current norms and expectations of the audience, it throws the writing temporally out of joint between character actions and ages.

The first book published 5 years after the first Wheel of Time book, the author learned from Robert Jordan’s mistakes and de-emphasized some of the weaker elements (pervasive magical system, avoiding power creep), develops some of the elements more strongly (character driven stories, court intrigue, more realistic/less silly tone), though they both share some flaws (poorly written women, less solid rules or magic, solid invocation of fantasy clichés). One personal pet peeve of mine is pushing the biological incest button to get people to physiologically react to the “bad guys”, once again it’s used in the context of monarchy/keeping bloodlines pure so sometimes it’s mentioned nonchalantly, and other times it’s explicitly demonstrated, when they’re going for audience reaction.

2 hour premier of Mad Men is on tonight, but being without cable, I’ll have to be patient.

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Posted in TV
5 comments on “A Game of Thrones
  1. angryscholar says:

    I read the “Game of Thrones” novel. Wasn’t thrilled. Love the intrigue, but it wasn’t that gripping, honestly. Also lots of weird sexuality. I suppose it makes a kind of sense, in context, but it just wasn’t my thing. I mean, 14 year old Daenerys (I understand they aged her for the show) breast-feeding baby dragons was certainly a… memorable scene? But that was about the point where I lost interest.

  2. vigorousbog says:

    I stopped reading it. One thing I’ve never really understood is how these (being generous here) mediocre novels make it into the zeitgeist – Harry Potter, Twilight, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, whatever. They’re not all bad, and many of them make a good gateway to the actual genre that they represent, encourage kids to read, etc.

    On the other hand it wears me out always being on the outside of these cultural events, and that kind of instant community and shared experiences that these books seem to generate are definitely enviable.

    • angryscholar says:

      Yeah, I agree completely. But then, I suppose I play games in part because it gives me my own niche. I stay up to date on game releases, and I can claim a similar sense of community. Unfortunately it’s far more marginal than those big Hollywood productions or books like Harry Potter.

      • vigorousbog says:

        I understand that is part of the appeal for buying games at the $60 price point, but for whatever reason I’ve never really managed to gel with any subset of the gaming community. I’ve got some friends who I used to raid with in World of Warcraft (who have since moved on to Diablo 3) who used games as a method of focusing everybody and giving them something to do while they sat around and talked. This “fantasy sports” take on gaming was always frustrating for me, because the main motivation was “hanging out with my friends” not, “taking down this boss” and that started spilling into the group dynamics.

        But for whatever reason, whether it’s liking the wrong thing, hating the right thing, or just missing the point entirely – it’s a fairly lonely existence. That’s part of what makes the internet so frustrating – all of a sudden there’s this massive infrastructure helping people communicate who never had any real issues in the first place. The idea that being a nerd is somehow socially acceptable and monetized now, the various tribes and communities and all that stuff, is pretty alienating.

        I guess that’s the difference between “nerds” and nerds. One is the co-opting of symbols and communities that other people have created, where as the other group is just a group of people doing what they love, in-spite of whatever socially normative forces and pressures that are exerted on them. Did I ever tell you about the time someone threatened to break up with me if I didn’t stop playing Magic: The Gathering?

  3. angryscholar says:

    Wow, sorry, great response. You’re talking like a folklorist now, which is beautiful and terrifying, like the sea.

    Yeah, I agree. Nerddom, which is pretty much coterminous with fandom, is a fascinating thing, and scholars are getting into that. This “co-opting of symbols and communities” that you speak of is at the center of popular culture study and I’m kind of just getting really into that. There’s a book (haven’t read it yet) by Henry Jenkins called “Textual Poachers” about Star Trek fan communities and their reappropriation of their favorite characters and storylines (basically an early study of fanfic and convention culture, if I understand correctly). It seems pretty interesting and I really need to get around to reading it.

    You’re definitely right in saying it’s pretty lonely, too. I like to talk up gamer culture, but it really is alienating, especially at our age when nobody “hangs out” anymore, and when online multiplayer is the norm. I just like to know that there are other people out there as invested in Mass Effect as I am, even if I have no idea who they are. It’s somehow validating, but it’s also an empty victory.

    I miss the days of couch co-op game marathons, or round-robin playthroughs of single-player games. My SMC crew and I used to just sit around and play through a single-player game (hello, Fatal Frame) with one person playing (me) and everyone else watching, and that shit was SUPER fun. Everybody screamed pretty much non-stop.

    On a related note, we are getting old, brother.

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