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Author Topic: Game of Thrones sucks  (Read 570 times)
Zanthius
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Game of Thrones sucks
« on: October 21, 2018, 11:23:51 pm »

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Death 999
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2018, 04:03:27 am »

The world of GoT is hellish; I don't think it makes the time seem more appealing. What it does have is emotional intensity due to all the terrible stuff that's happening.
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Shiver
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2018, 07:33:18 am »

Game of Thrones is pretty much an extended rant about how feudalism is the worst thing ever, so no, Zanthius is wrong and this most recent Timecube-esque essay deserves an F.
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ArilouSkuff
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2018, 10:29:52 am »

Fantasy, like all fiction, can be (but is not always) an extremely powerful vehicle for the exploration of real world issues such as politics, religion, societal issues, etc., and for the human condition itself.

I don't know to what degree these themes carry over into the TV program as I have only read the book series, but if you think the books peddle in a romanticized past you are wholly uninformed. While some fantasy loses itself to cheese and tropes, "A Song of Ice and Fire" places a magnifying glass on a very harsh, brutal time period/world. Characters die easily and unexpectedly, their lives are extremely challenging, and while a touch of magic exists it does not impact the lives of most characters. For the few who are impacted by it, it makes their lives harder and more dangerous, not easier.

What sets "A Song of Ice and Fire" apart from a lot of generic fantasy is that it aims to believably portray the harshness of the human experience in the conditions that are created for them. When you take out the bits about it being a different world with different seasons and there being a little magic and a few monsters, it reads very much like a real world historical story. You seem to be confusing it with pulp fantasy, which is often written by writers whose main source is existing fantasy. George R.R. Martin, on the other hand, draws primarily from history and historical fiction. A major inspiration is actually the French book series "Les Rois Maudits," which are historical novels about the 14th century French dynastic struggle that preceded the Hundred Years War. He also draws heavily from the real world history of the War of Roses.

In doing so, he not only creates a harshness of setting for his characters to inhabit, he also explores important issues such as political tribalism, leadership, societal repression, power dynamics, etc. Listing a few of its themes does not remotely do justice to the intensity of its political and social commentary. I would therefore suggest you look up some articles that analyze those aspects of the novels in depth or simply read them from yourself.

You are correct in your assessment of the dangers that can arise when people create a romanticized past (although, I hope you're not unaware of how that has been used to advance society as in the case of romanticizing the Romans), but to make blanket attacks claiming that fiction contributes to that problem simply by being set in (or based on) the past is extremely ignorant. There's plenty of fiction in genres that you seem to be dismissive of which counter that kind of thinking by either attempting to show the dangers of such thoughts (e.g. M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" attempted to use the horror genre to comment on how unrealistic it is to try to achieve security by living in an imagined past) or by showing the past (or a fantastical take on the past) in a realistic light. "A Song of Ice and Fire" does the latter.

You want to combat the idea of the 1950s as a time when people could leave their doors unlocked and the idea that shows like "Leave it Beaver" represented an accurate portrayal of life and morality during that decade? A very good way to do that is to show them fiction set in that time period that counters those ideas. Similarly, do you want to combat the perceptions people get of the medieval era by reading/watching pulp fantasy? Presenting them with realistic historical fiction is a good way. Another good way is to carry those same themes over into gritty well written fantasy books like "A Song of Ice and Fire" because guess what often tops lists when people who start out on pulp fantasy ask for fantasy recommendations?

As for your general dismissiveness of fantasy; to what degree works in the genre use fantastical settings and concepts to tackle real world issues depends on the writers. But the same applies to science fiction. A lot of sci fi is also pulp fiction that simply replaces magic with technology and then heavily builds a story around action, explosions, soap opera type stories, characters that lack depth, etc. The type of sci fi I’m describing also does very little to “prepare” anyone for the future. Just because there's a robot in a story, doesn't mean it's teaching people something applicable. It might be that the robot is simply a generic monster with little depth. There are, though, plenty of examples of sci fi stories with depth that address real/possible issues, just as there are plenty of examples of fantasy stories which do the same. Monsters are actually a good example of this as well written monsters are often not monsters at all; they're dehumanized "Others." You want fear of immigration, foreigners, and minorities addressed in fiction? Well, monster fiction containing that understands that mythological monsters represent people does this exceptionally well. Guillermo del Toro recently did this in the movie "Shape of Water," Anne Rice's vampire novels draw parallels between vampirism and homosexuality (as does a lot of vampire fiction), and so on.

Additionally, it important to point out that well written characters, regardless of the setting, provide insight into human behavior that improve a reader/viewer’s understanding of others and thus improve their ability to relate to and understand real people. There’s a reason, for example, why readers are, on average, more empathetic.

And, again, you’re ignoring the “gateway” effect that pulp fiction has on getting people into fiction with more advanced themes. Some people like to stick with pure escapism because they don’t want to be bogged down with real life issues, while some like to get lost in fiction that romanticizes the past. I mentioned “Leave it to Beaver” earlier because of a video I watched of a 1950s obsessed person who cited that show as an example of why the decade was so much nicer than the one we live in today. The show is actually a very valuable insight, not into reality, but into the kind of lifestyle and morals that a subset of the population at the time were trying to promote and it’s of course always unfortunate when people don’t get that. But a lot of people also transition into fiction that challenges them by first going through escapism and, in doing so, they develop stronger critical thinking skills as they have a point of comparison between different kinds of writing.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 10:35:18 am by ArilouSkuff » Logged
Zanthius
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2018, 11:33:54 am »

As for your general dismissiveness of fantasy; to what degree works in the genre use fantastical settings and concepts to tackle real world issues depends on the writers. But the same applies to science fiction. A lot of sci fi is also pulp fiction that simply replaces magic with technology and then heavily builds a story around action, explosions, soap opera type stories, characters that lack depth, etc. The type of sci fi I’m describing also does very little to “prepare” anyone for the future.

Thank you for the insightful reply. I am now thinking that good retro fiction should strive to give a realistic portrayal of the past, while good science fiction should strive to be scientifically plausible.

We should be very careful with retro fiction that gives an unrealistically nice portrayal of the past. I don't know if we need to be equally careful with unrealistic science fiction, but it is certainly not very useful for educating us in science.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 11:37:11 am by Zanthius » Logged
Death 999
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2018, 03:41:43 pm »

Speculative fiction (fantasy or science fiction) is at its best when it sets up interesting hypotheticals and then explores the consequences. If these are socially relevant hypotheticals, all the better. It doesn't need to be a literal prediction, nor does it need to be a science lesson.
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Zanthius
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2018, 04:13:21 pm »

The world of GoT is hellish; I don't think it makes the time seem more appealing. What it does have is emotional intensity due to all the terrible stuff that's happening.

I am however curious. If you got the choice of living in this world today, or in the world of GoT, would you choose to live here or there? If you would rather live in the world of GoT, I think you have an unhealthy relationship with retro fiction.

On the other hand. If I have the choice of living in this world today, or in a science fiction world with much more advanced technology, more advanced governance, and more advanced cultural norms. It is not necessarily irrational to prefer that world over this one.

The future and the past is not necessarily the same thing. You have already argued with me in another thread that the universe only goes forwards in time, so why not align our production of dreams with the direction of time? Isn't it better to have our cognition aligned with the physics of our universe? Isn't that what science is all about?
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 05:19:22 pm by Zanthius » Logged
Death 999
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2018, 06:25:09 pm »

HERE. Not even vaguely close. They only advantage that world has is the possibility of resurrection, and as far as I can tell it's not widely available and not very good even when it is.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2018, 06:44:05 pm »

The world of GoT is hellish; I don't think it makes the time seem more appealing. What it does have is emotional intensity due to all the terrible stuff that's happening.

I am however curious. If you got the choice of living in this world today, or in the world of GoT, would you choose to live here or there?

I am curious why you honestly thought Death 999 might prefer living in a world which he had just described as "hellish".
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Zanthius
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2018, 08:09:11 pm »

I am curious why you honestly thought Death 999 might prefer living in a world which he had just described as "hellish".

Maybe he could have thought that it would be exciting to go there and fight against white walkers or something?
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ArilouSkuff
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2018, 01:45:47 am »

On the other hand. If I have the choice of living in this world today, or in a science fiction world with much more advanced technology, more advanced governance, and more advanced cultural norms. It is not necessarily irrational to prefer that world over this one.

Fantasy worlds can be just as utopian and/or improved over the real world as science fiction worlds. "A Song of Ice and Fire" is not one of them, but magic heavy worlds with spells that heal, extend life, resurrect, allow for immorality, cater to one's basic needs and extravagant wants offer, at least for a subset of the population, higher qualities of life than we have now. So someone saying they want to live in such a world does not necessarily indicate that a person is glamorizing the past. The setting for a lot of fantasy may be based off of the real world medieval period, but the introduction of fictional elements like magic make it is own unique world. And although there are people who romanticize the medieval era or have problems distinguishing between fiction and reality (there are [mostly] young fantasy readers who legitimately think dragons, magic, and the like really existed), a fantasy world's fictional elements (as opposed to the medieval inspired setting) are more likely to be the reason someone would tell you they'd want to live there.
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Zanthius
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2018, 01:59:33 am »

Fantasy worlds can be just as utopian and/or improved over the real world as science fiction worlds.

I would prefer if you said "Retro fictional worlds" and not "Fantasy worlds" because it isn't necessarily clear that a fantasy world necessarily must be in the past. In a retro fictional world, there should definitely be less advanced science than we have today, and I am not convinced that a world with less advanced science necessarily can be better than the world we have today. This is because as science grows, it grows into everything, even politics:



Since a world with more advanced science will know more about the consequences of everything, it seems likely that a "better world" necessarily must have more advanced science.
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Deus Siddis
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2018, 02:01:31 am »

readers who legitimately think dragons, magic, and the like really existed

Well technically, these things probably did exist.  The serpentine western dragons were liking the spitting cobra family while the eastern "dragons" were salamander larvae.

Magic may very well have meant technology, just of varieties that seemed quite advanced to the pre-industrial masses but would seem quite primitive to us today.
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ArilouSkuff
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2018, 03:48:44 am »

I would prefer if you said "Retro fictional worlds" and not "Fantasy worlds" because it isn't necessarily clear that a fantasy world necessarily must be in the past.

1. Retro fiction is not a thing. You made up the term and are not trying to get other people to use it even though it makes no sense. Something that is retro imitates something from the past. A novel can be retro if, for example, it imitates a particular writing style that has gone out of style, but you can't blanketedly lump anything about the past under the word "retro." If you want to clarify that you're not talking about "Shadowrun" or "Tales of a Dying Earth" type fantasy, it would be more apt to say medieval inspired or past era inspired fantasy or something along those lines.

2. The majority of fantasy worlds are not in the past; they're examples of parallel development. What that means is that they exist in their own universes where the development of societies followed a different path based on the introduction of fantastical elements. For example, a fantasy world may have developed something similar to our medieval era, but little may have changed for them for thousands of years because magic diverted focus away from technological development and/or magic users may actively try to stunt technological development because they see it as a threat to their power.

There is, by the way, a subgenre of fantasy known as historical fantasy, which blends historical fiction with fantastical elements. Essentially you will  have characters interacting with historical figures, and magic will be real for the purpose of the narrative. The "Outlander" series is an example that you may be familiar with.


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In a retro fictional world, there should definitely be less advanced science than we have today, and I am not convinced that a world with less advanced science necessarily can be better than the world we have today. This is because as science grows, it grows into everything, even politics:

Since a world with more advanced science will know more about the consequences of everything, it seems likely that a "better world" necessarily must have more advanced science.

There's fantasy where oracles and seers are real, where people commune directly with gods even. The search for knowledge and understanding is a big part of a good amount of fantasy and it's achievable for some because of the aforementioned reasons. The difference is that because of magic their worlds operate differently, so the kind of understanding they obtain/seek is applicable and true in their worlds, not in ours. Many of the same results come out of that understanding, though. For example, science fiction might deal with an attempt to unlock immortality. Fantasy does this as well, but it's done by uncovering ancient scrolls, devoting one's self to the study of magic, finding magical relics, etc. This is an idea that I assume you think is worth exploring since it's a scientific possibility. Well the idea has been explored at length in stories of vampires and heroes for thousands of years (the oldest known example being the "Epic of Gilgamesh"), so there's a crossover of themes and ideas even if the vehicle for exploration is utterly fantastical.

Similarly, science fiction might deal with an attempt to create robots with artificial intelligence. Fantasy again uses magic to do this. A common example of artificial constructs created by magic are golems. They are often mindless, but they aren't always. I recently read "The Golem and the Jinni" and the golem there is created to look like and act like a young woman, thereby granting her an intelligence of her own. The story by the way is, at its core, a spin on an immigration narratives and offers advanced commentary on themes like assimilation.

Knowledge of the unreal may be uninteresting to you as a reader/viewer, which is fine, but your hypothetical asks people if they would choose to live in a fictional world if it were real and if it were real the fantastical elements would possibly allow for a parallel method to understanding the fantasy world we're discussing. Magic can bring understanding, knowledge, advancement to quality of life, and it flows through everything, including politics. Technology and magic are simply substitutes for one another. The only difference is that one has possible real world applications and the other exists only in fiction. You can have a preference for one or the other as a reader, but they're both capable of exploring the same real world issues.

Well technically, these things probably did exist.  The serpentine western dragons were liking the spitting cobra family while the eastern "dragons" were salamander larvae.

Magic may very well have meant technology, just of varieties that seemed quite advanced to the pre-industrial masses but would seem quite primitive to us today.

Sure, mythology is often based in real world truths. The issue I was addressing, though, had to do with people who are uninterested in trying to understand the origin of fantastical ideas and instead sincerely believe that those things actually existed in very similar forms to their fictional descriptions. For example, I once had a conversation with a ~15 year old who thought dragons had to be real because they existed in "every culture," and I had to explain to him what the real world inspirations might've been to get him to understand why that became a widespread idea.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 03:54:38 am by ArilouSkuff » Logged
Zanthius
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Re: Game of Thrones sucks
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2018, 11:28:48 am »

There's fantasy where oracles and seers are real, where people commune directly with gods even. The search for knowledge and understanding is a big part of a good amount of fantasy and it's achievable for some because of the aforementioned reasons. The difference is that because of magic their worlds operate differently, so the kind of understanding they obtain/seek is applicable and true in their worlds, not in ours.

Ok, but what about the reversed. Wouldn't the Scientific Method or Bayesian Inference be applicable in any of the fantasy worlds you describe?  No matter how many fantastical elements you introduce, I still believe it wouldn't be able to compete with science because science isn't just a tool. Casting a spell to heal yourself is fine, but it doesn't explain why and/or how the spell is able to heal you. Science doesn't just give us medicines to heal ourselves, it also explains how the medicines are working.


Technology and magic are simply substitutes for one another. The only difference is that one has possible real world applications and the other exists only in fiction.

This is not a trivial difference. The vast majority of humans already believe in religious fairy tales. I suspect that many humans might believe that the "fantastical" or "magical" elements can be reintroduced to our society simply by getting rid of science. This is exactly why I am skeptical of retro fiction.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 11:35:57 am by Zanthius » Logged
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