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The Plutionian Others

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Ice Queen said:

You mention Athena in connection with Arachne who was, of course, turned into a spider.

Yes: https://sweeticeandfiresunray.com/2017/08/03/lord-varys-introduction/

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There is also the legend of Ariadne and Theseus. After saving him with the thread in the Labyrinth, he leaves her to die. She either hangs herself or is rescued by and marries Dionysus (depending on the version).

And this is of course related to the Cretan goddesses who are symbolized by a "maze".

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About Varys. Eunuchs who are castrated as young as Varys says he was don't go bald. Ever. There is no testosterone to produce DHT, which shrinks the hair follicles and causes them to fall out, 

Edit: You also mention Varys' height as 5'8". In reality, eunuchs are huge men, much taller than average. There's a reason for this: boys castrated before puberty have no estradiol to tell the epiphyseal (growth) plates to close and fuse at the proper time, so they just keep growing and growing. (And why girls who start their periods at a younger age are shorter and have shorter legs.) As an example, Farinelli was determined to have been 6'4".

Either Martin messed up, or there's more going on with Varys than we know.

I do not explicitly confirm that Varys is bald due to shaving or hair loss. Only feature I confirm he is indeed pale, for he wouldn't be wearing any powder the night he kills Kevan, as it would leave traces. That said, even eunuchs could end up bald due to other life situations: malnutrion can cause severe hair loss.

As for the "tallness": on the one hand Varys would not have had a normal male growth spurt. On the other hand there are "reported" instances of some skeletons that show the epiphyses of the bone did not close properly (in 2 subjects of a particular group of ). So while they don't have a growth spurt as much as non-castrated men do, it's hypothzied they would "keep growing". But this finding does not seem to be the case for all eunuchs. And it does not account for the kyphosis effect (bowed spine), which has a higher incidence rate (though not will all) than the not closing of epiphyses.  https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/84/12/4324/2864451 And here too malnutrition for an extended period has adverse effects on growth.

There's more going on with Varys. George has stripped him off as much identifiable physical traits as possible. Even my proposed leukism acts like a mask layer. The color purple stuff is also important and needs to be objectively analysed. I have a draft, but unfinished as of yet. I do think George might have messed up here, for he does not particularly refer to the Unsullied as above average tall men.

But I'll work in your remarks (and credit them) in the original essay.

Edited by sweetsunray

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7 hours ago, Ice Queen said:

So...the Cailleach or Queen of Winter? She is sometimes depicted as a spider. 

The "ice magic: armor" essay is nearly done. It focuses on both its mirroring and camouflaging aspect. There are several mirroring-armor parallels in the series and in other writing of George (Armageddon Rag): all of these are "guards", "sword shields/swords" (bodyguard/roadie who wears reflecting sunglasses and is nicknamed Mirrors) and almost all for a pincess/queen/woman.

There is quite a lot of circumstantial evidence that the Others (or their queen) use ice as remote looking glasses, and that includes the Wall, if you accept that the Others were hunting Ser Waymar Royce as a mistaken identity and are in truth looking to kill Jon Snow (see Joe Magician's theory). The shard in Waymar's eye alludes to the mirror that distorts how you see good and bad of Anderson's fairytale "the Snow Queen". The biggest hints are actually how Jon thrice avoids being recognizably near ice -

  1. a stream icing up, but Qhorin leads him away and soon hiding inside the cave
  2. with Rattleshirt they are to cross a frozen stream that joins the Milkwater, but Rattleshirt's horse breaks the ice
  3. Ygritte tries to get Jon to swim in the half-frozen Milkater. He just has to take his clothes off. And Jon makes himself scarce.
  4. Mance and the FF originally gathere at the foot of a glacier. Jon saw this in a Ghost vision and for a moment believed he was back in CB look at the Wall. By the time Jon joins the FF though, the FF are already moving through the Valley of the Milkwater, away from the glacier.

Basically, scouts of the Others saw Jon at the Fist, diging up the dragonglass (and carrying the VS - dark and deadly- that he showed this and then that way to his friends in the yard at the Wall). So they went to pick off FF to make a wight army, along the Milkwater. They knew where they were, because the FF could be spied upon via the glacier. They were completely unaware that Jon had left the Fist, because he journeyed for a big part along the Skirling Pass. They attacked the Fist, believing he was with the NW, and when he's not with the dead, they chase the survivors. And since Jon doesn't face any icy glass/mirror until he climbs the Wall with the FF, the Others never knew they were looking for him in the wrong place and with the wrong people.

The trees in the Prologue are very much trying to protect the three rangers, even trying to rid Waymar of the sword and cloack, with which the Others identified him and that they very much tried to obliterate. Except the Others killed the wrong guy, and destroyed the wrong sword.

Finally, there aree several exsoskeleton parallels used as camouflage:

  1. there's the manticore that first looks like a jewel-scarab, and then when it unfolds still has a fake human face..
  2. there are the brazen beasts: 6 humans with locust masks accompany Selmy to arrest Hizdahr. They are are reverse parallel. Masked to look like an animal, an insect, but human behind the mask.
  3. Rattleshirt: he wears an armor made of bones. He's wearing an "exoskeleton". But Mel uses it to glamor Mance, to make him look like Rattleshirt, when he in fact isn't.
  4. The exoskeleton armor/suit is an older idea of George. He uses it in The Plague Star short story of the Tuf Voyaging series. He actually refers to it as an "exoskeleton suit". It has 4 arms (with pinceers) and  2 legs.

So, I suspect the armor might actually be exoskeleton and/or makes for an ice-glamor giving the Others a humanoid shape.

Oh and the same Plague Star short story also includes a "walking web"... it's some sort of stone spider attached to a web (they're one) and the web can walk.

I'm certainly going to look up what I can find on Cailleach sometimes being depicted as a spider.

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9 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Yes: https://sweeticeandfiresunray.com/2017/08/03/lord-varys-introduction/

And this is of course related to the Cretan goddesses who are symbolized by a "maze".

I do not explicitly confirm that Varys is bald due to shaving or hair loss. Only feature I confirm he is indeed pale, for he wouldn't be wearing any powder the night he kills Kevan, as it would leave traces. That said, even eunuchs could end up bald due to other life situations: malnutrion can cause severe hair loss.

As for the "tallness": on the one hand Varys would not have had a normal male growth spurt. On the other hand there are "reported" instances of some skeletons that show the epiphyses of the bone did not close properly (in 2 subjects of a particular group of ). So while they don't have a growth spurt as much as non-castrated men do, it's hypothzied they would "keep growing". But this finding does not seem to be the case for all eunuchs. And it does not account for the kyphosis effect (bowed spine), which has a higher incidence rate (though not will all) than the not closing of epiphyses.  https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/84/12/4324/2864451 And here too malnutrition for an extended period has adverse effects on growth.

There's more going on with Varys. George has stripped him off as much identifiable physical traits as possible. Even my proposed leukism acts like a mask layer. The color purple stuff is also important and needs to be objectively analysed. I have a draft, but unfinished as of yet. I do think George might have messed up here, for he does not particularly refer to the Unsullied as above average tall men.

But I'll work in your remarks (and credit them) in the original essay.

It depends on how old they were when they were castrated. It wouldn't affect the height of a male castrated after puberty, obviously, although those men would lose muscle and gain fat. And it's based on more than two skeletons--it's a real thing, not merely "reported". But whatever. 

I have to check out his description of the Unsullied, but there is another example: Strong Belwas. 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

When I said "there is no flesh and  bones" in evidence, I mean after the spell is broken. It all melted away. There's nothing left anymore. If there were real human bones, at least those would have remained. They didn't. So, no human origin.

The human was transformed into ice and gave up it's mortal shell. There would be no returning to human form. If you kill the icy form - that's it. The icy form was the second and final life.

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World Book

Archmaester Fomas's Lies of the Ancients—though little regarded these days for its erroneous claims regarding the founding of Valyria and certain lineal claims in the Reach and westerlands—does speculate that the Others of legend were nothing more than a tribe of the First Men, ancestors of the wildlings, that had established itself in the far north. Because of the Long Night, these early wildlings were then pressured to begin a wave of conquests to the south. That they became monstrous in the tales told thereafter, according to Fomas, reflects the desire of the Night's Watch and the Starks to give themselves a more heroic identity as saviors of mankind, and not merely the beneficiaries of a struggle over dominion.

14 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

1 - Plenty of people died that night at the fort. Why don't they count?

All the people that died are claimed by the god of death. There was no "debt" that needed to be repaid.

14 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

2 - Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie avoided death too. Why didn't Jaquen then demand 6 names to be killed?

Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie weren't dying for certainty. None of them were fatally injured or trapped by fire, whereas Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter were trapped inside a flaming carriage. Death was certain if no one helped them escape. Arya provided a way to escape, so she "stole" three lives from the god of death. Jaqen offered to "pay" the debt back, because his life was one of the lives stolen, but Arya got to choose, because she's the one that stole them in the first place. Technically Arya was paying the god of death back for the lives she stole.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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Posted (edited)
On 6/18/2019 at 1:35 PM, Ice Queen said:

Edit: You also mention Varys' height as 5'8". In reality, eunuchs are huge men, much taller than average. There's a reason for this: boys castrated before puberty have no estradiol to tell the epiphyseal (growth) plates to close and fuse at the proper time, so they just keep growing and growing. (And why girls who start their periods at a younger age are shorter and have shorter legs.) As an example, Farinelli was determined to have been 6'4".

Either Martin messed up, or there's more going on with Varys than we know. 

Quite so. They also have higher voices. I realize Varys has been known to "titter", but he also disguises himself as Rugen the undergaoler down in the Black Cells and he was known to be gruff and coarse of speech. Perhaps Varys's true self is more like Rugen and "Varys" is an assumed "character"?

Edited by Feather Crystal

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GRRM has stated that the white walkers are akin to “sidhe made of ice”, and I think he has inserted a number of ideas into the story that represent the sidhe. The Irish sidhe are an ancient fairy race that live in mounds. In ASOIAF the Children are an ancient race too and while their underground cities could represent sidhe mounds, the story also has burrows or rather large mounded graves that belong to the First Men which hints at a human connection.

In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series he has bestowed some humans with special powers and calls them "Aes Sedai" which appears to be inspired of the Irish spelling for sidhe, "Aos Si" or "Aes Sídhe". The Aes Sedai of Jordan's books can "channel" which is equivalent to magic. Female Aes Sedai  channel by drawing on "saidar" while males draw on "saidin". Both are actually accessing the "One Power" which consists of the five elements of earth, water, air, fire, and spirit. IMO GRRM has drawn on Jordan's version of Aes Sedai to create his sidhe made of ice and connect them to a human source.

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10 hours ago, Ice Queen said:

It depends on how old they were when they were castrated. It wouldn't affect the height of a male castrated after puberty, obviously, although those men would lose muscle and gain fat. And it's based on more than two skeletons--it's a real thing, not merely "reported". But whatever. 

I have to check out his description of the Unsullied, but there is another example: Strong Belwas. 

Yes, Strong Belwas is also described as bald and is a eunuch. Of course pre-buscent castration halts the growth of hair at the genitalia and armpits. Perhaps George made a mistake that way, especially since the Chinese eunuchs were all shaved.

I'm not saying it isn't a real thing. The link I posted was a scientific literature article that summarized the research findings. And I gathered from it that not all pre-bupscent castrated skeletons showed this particular growth of the bones issue. Not that it matters, I do put forward in the essay that Varys is taller than most readers assume, and that there is a suggestion he survived a period of malnutrition in his youth, which would also have a negative effect on his growth. While you gave Farinelli as an example, growth is such a complex issue, that his height is more anecdotal than what I consider real world scientific evidence. (purely talking real world castration)

I thank you, in any regard, for your comments about it. I didn't know this. And I'm sorry if my prior post to you may have come across as crabby. I'm dealing with a horrible tootache for a 2nd day in a row, and using painkillers to make it through today. My dentist sees me tomorrow morning.

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7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The human was transformed into ice and gave up it's mortal shell. There would be no returning to human form. If you kill the icy form - that's it. The icy form was the second and final life.

It is up to you to provide evidence that they are humans. I've provided ample arguments and literary evidence why we should not believe so. Even if they are not camouflaged as humanoid figures, even their physical description is not that of a human. At the very least they are another inhuman humanoid species.

7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

All the people that died are claimed by the god of death. There was no "debt" that needed to be repaid.

Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie weren't dying for certainty. None of them were fatally injured or trapped by fire, whereas Jaqen, Rorge, and Biter were trapped inside a flaming carriage. Death was certain if no one helped them escape. Arya provided a way to escape, so she "stole" three lives from the god of death. Jaqen offered to "pay" the debt back, because his life was one of the lives stolen, but Arya got to choose, because she's the one that stole them in the first place. Technically Arya was paying the god of death back for the lives she stole.

This is nonsense. If we go by Jaquen's logic, a character needs to kill someone whenever they save someone. It's rubbish. And no, you cannot say "oh, they escaped through a tunnel, so they were not going to die for sure, but Jaquen and co were going to die for sure. None of them died, because Arya did a perfect humane thing. She threw an axe so they could save themselves, just like she told Gendry and Hot Pie to get into the tunnel.  

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7 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

Quite so. They also have higher voices. I realize Varys has been known to "titter", but he also disguises himself as Rugen the undergaoler down in the Black Cells and he was known to be gruff and coarse of speech. Perhaps Varys's true self is more like Rugen and "Varys" is an assumed "character"?

Actually, not necessarily. Pre-buscent castration of course prevents the "breaking of the voice", but not every boy has a falsetto voice. Most boys have lower voices than girls.

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

GRRM has stated that the white walkers are akin to “sidhe made of ice”, and I think he has inserted a number of ideas into the story that represent the sidhe. The Irish sidhe are an ancient fairy race that live in mounds. In ASOIAF the Children are an ancient race too and while their underground cities could represent sidhe mounds, the story also has burrows or rather large mounded graves that belong to the First Men which hints at a human connection.

In Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series he has bestowed some humans with special powers and calls them "Aes Sedai" which appears to be inspired of the Irish spelling for sidhe, "Aos Si" or "Aes Sídhe". The Aes Sedai of Jordan's books can "channel" which is equivalent to magic. Female Aes Sedai  channel by drawing on "saidar" while males draw on "saidin". Both are actually accessing the "One Power" which consists of the five elements of earth, water, air, fire, and spirit. IMO GRRM has drawn on Jordan's version of Aes Sedai to create his sidhe made of ice and connect them to a human source.

Feather Crystal, your post makes me wonder whether you actually read the OP. The OP mentions and includes George's statements about Sidhe. It is one of the arguments why we should not think they are "humans".

I know who the folkloristic Sidhe are. The CotF are clearly not described as Sidhe. And actually their normal abode are dwellings in trees, not in burrows, nor do they have underground cities. There's a reason why giants refer to them as "squirrel" people - because they live in the trees. More like what Arya sees when she visits the human Lady of the Leaves. The greenseers live underground. When we meet the CotF for the first time, it's winter and wights threaten their existence. Which is why they all survive inside a cave.

I've read WoT, and I see little to no comparison with the Others and the Aes Sedai. I see an answer or Goerge's version of Tad Williams' Norns, but his answer is still entirely different.

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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Feather Crystal, your post makes me wonder whether you actually read the OP. The OP mentions and includes George's statements about Sidhe. It is one of the arguments why we should not think they are "humans".

I know who the folkloristic Sidhe are. The CotF are clearly not described as Sidhe. And actually their normal abode are dwellings in trees, not in burrows, nor do they have underground cities. There's a reason why giants refer to them as "squirrel" people - because they live in the trees. More like what Arya sees when she visits the human Lady of the Leaves. The greenseers live underground. When we meet the CotF for the first time, it's winter and wights threaten their existence. Which is why they all survive inside a cave.

I've read WoT, and I see little to no comparison with the Others and the Aes Sedai. I see an answer or Goerge's version of Tad Williams' Norns, but his answer is still entirely different.

I have read it. Well, I extensively read and absorbed large chunks of it, but skimmed over the science parts. I did enjoy the spider analysis, but you barely touched on the sidhe, unless I missed the comparison to the Wheel of Time Aes Sedai?

I think the main difference between you and I are deciding what kind of work of fiction GRRM has written here. My understanding is that you feel he's written a Lovecraftian horror grounded in science to explain the white walkers. If that is your assertion I couldn't disagree with you more. ASOIAF is a fantasy with supernatural and magical occurrences in a mythical world with no basis in science. 

The metaphors used to describe various people, i.e. crabs, manticores, spiders, etc, are helpful in learning about them, but your explanation for why ice spiders are connected to the Others is off base. My interpretation is that all of the people with animal or insect qualities like crab, manticore, and spider are still just people. The Borrels are like a spider crab. Varys is like a spider. Armory Lorch is like a manticore. I believe the word "Others" is our biggest clue that the Others are simply people who are alien or different and have been "otherized" in order to justify violence against them and for keeping them contained behind the Wall. The wildlings are like "spiders" because they can climb over the Wall like a spider! You claim they are like insects and show no emotion, but the white walkers that engaged Waymar Royce "laughed":

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The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.

The white walkers made strange noises, because they are made of ice. Their vocal chords are frozen, so their speech would sound strange. Ser Ilyn Payne made strange noises too, because he was missing his tongue:

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Ser Ilyn opened his mouth and made a clacking sound. A laugh, Jaime realized. Something twisted in his gut.

The propaganda stories about the wildlings are just fanciful scary stories with exaggerated claims with the sole purpose of dehumanizing them. 

Edited by Feather Crystal

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Posted (edited)
On 6/20/2019 at 5:45 PM, Feather Crystal said:

I have read it. Well, I extensively read and absorbed large chunks of it, but skimmed over the science parts. I did enjoy the spider analysis, but you barely touched on the sidhe, unless I missed the comparison to the Wheel of Time Aes Sedai?

I asked, because twice you "informed" me of a text quote or what George said, while both are actually discussed in the OP.

Secondly, pity you skimmed it, because that made you miss out on how I framed the science part and what exactly I took out of it. And that's how you end up with the narrow framing view on the OP, to which I will reply below.

I did not focus much on the sithe aspect, because this was not a fully focused "myth/folkklore" analysis, just as I did not focus much on the chthonic symbolism, though both are mentioned. So we have chthonic Pluto and we have folklore Sithe. It acknowledges the Sithe reference, but it does not elaborate it. 

As for Aes Sedai: even if I had written a Sithe essay, I would NEVER use the Aes Sedai for it. The Aes Sedai are NOT sithe/sidhe. And George would never use the word sithe to describe the Others to ILLUSTRATORS in relation to the Aes Sedai of Jordan's Wheel of Time. It is quite possible that Jordan named the Aes Sedai with the Sidhe in mind, but they are human sorcerers, and do not fit the folklore descriptions of Sithe/Sidhe. To pull the Aes Sedai into it is imho nonsense. George's Others as Sithe has nothing to do with the Aes Sedai, but far more with the Norns of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I'm not sure if you ever read it.

If not: In that series, you have Sithi (actually named thus in the series) who as immortals once journeyed away from their homeland and settled in Osten Ard. They took along a certain enslaved species who evolved and split into two other species: dwarrows and neskies. The dwarrows are the artifact makers who dwell in mountains (though they're neither small nor chubby, no beards either, but long limbed spindly), while the niskies evolved into ship dwellers who sing storms down as well as certain humanoid ocean creatures with sharp teeth that would otherwise climb aboard and eat people. Both the dwarrows as well as the niskies freed themselves from slavery. Then humans arrived in Osten Ard, and they attacked and warred with the Sithi, and as usual humans won (with their iron swords). The Sithi prince though used magic to forge himself a sword of witchwood to defeat the humans in a last stand as their capital lay under siege. Its a dark, poisonous sword imbued with black magic, and Ineluku's father tried to dissuade him from it, and in his anger Ineluku killed his own father. Ineluku died in the siege, but some of his spirit remained (called the Stormking) and tries to regain life and body in the series. The Sithi split in the aftermath in two political factions - the majority wanted to retreat and be at peace. These are still called the Sithi. The other faction, led by Ineluku's vengeful mother, fled north. Because of their winter homeland those sithi have evolved into the norns or "white foxes". They are cruel, harsh, and have a deep hatred for all of mankind (and iron) and whomever allies with them (and that includes the ancestral Sithi at some point). They have white skin and inhuman eyes. 

The theory that the CotF created the Others against humans is basically a version of Tad Williams' tale. In such a tale, the Storm King and his living mother are the great enemy that need to be defeated. I can undertand the proponents of this theory in relation to Tad Williams' Norns to have soem merit. George mentioned this series, not just as inspiration, but that reading it inspired George to write an "answer". Tad Williams wrote an epic fantasy that features female characters more realistically, includes a female protagonist, and is grittier and more grey than what was typical for fantasy at the time, and converts several tropes in a surprising way. While I sold every book of tWoT series I had, I kept MST, and still reread it every few years. And recently Tad Williams has written a sequel series 30 years later, to "answer George's answer".

I recognize a lot of deeply layered similarities between MST and aSoIaF. I do not for tWoT. The comparison to tWoT only holds up in a superficial way. tWoT has all the fantasy tropes (to uphold them, except for Rand's final choice): a run in the mill fantasy story, except with far more POVs and characters (that are so superficial they bore me). Since George incorporates most of these tropes to convert them, you end up with superficial ties. 

However, despite recognizing how much George's aSoIaF is an answer to Tad Williams' MST, I do not believe he's copying the Norns, nor their origin story. Does he plant seeds for that idea? Sure, he does. But imo that's a red herring. Just as Tad Williams' used Tolkien and fantasy tropes to deceive the reader and the in-world characters on what to do in order to defeat the Stormking (and he does so masterfully, and I'm not spoiling it here), imo George is deceiving the fantasy reader familiar with MST into believing the Others are like Williams' Norns.

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I think the main difference between you and I are deciding what kind of work of fiction GRRM has written here. My understanding is that you feel he's written a Lovecraftian horror grounded in science to explain the white walkers. If that is your assertion I couldn't disagree with you more. ASOIAF is a fantasy with supernatural and magical occurrences in a mythical world with no basis in science. 

This is the narrow framing you do, and that must be because you only skimmed through the science part. My believe on what GRRM is writing is far more subtle than that. If I have to describe it in just a few words I'd say he's writing "grounded fantasy". I agree that he is a writing a fantasy with supernatural and magical occurrences (period after this). NOWHERE have I ever denied this. NOWHERE! So, basically you are setting up a straw man frame.

However, in his books magic power is not unlimited. It's actually the opposite: very limited and rare. To come back to tWoT and the Aes Sedai - George dislikes the sort of sorcery the Aes Sedai are portrayed in using. In contrast, he not only sets up rules and limitations to the magic used and occurring in the series, he does prefer to steep it within physical, chemical and historical boundaries. Wildfire is a magical substance, but it's heavily based on the historical Greek fire

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Wildfire, of course, is my magical version of Greek fire—to go back to the Constantinople reference. And once again, fantasy is bigger, so wildfire is Greek fire times 10. It’s Greek fire but it’s worse than Greek fire, and it’s got a little magical element to it. It’s really nasty stuff, and it burns with green flames, which is a nice pyrotechnical effect. (https://www.smartertravel.com/game-of-thrones-exclusive-george-r-r-martin-talks-season-two-the-winds-of-winter-and-real-world-influences-for-a-song-of-ice-and-fire/)

Greek fire was a real thing, and thus based on chemical processes. It wasn't a magical substance in our real world.

Same thing with Valyrian steel. George borrowed from real world Damascus steel to describe the VS swords.

Or how about them dragons. These are obviously magical creatures - breathing fire and all that - right? But George still cares about biological evolution rules. That's why he makes sure his dragons have only 2 legs and 2 wings, NOT 2 legs, 2 arms and 2 wings.

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His dragons have no front limbs -- just rear legs and wings. He said that although the traditional depiction of dragons as six limbed creatures has become a staple of fantasy -- the fact that no animal in nature has ever evolved in such a way always bothered him. As a sci-fi writer originally, he insists on the depiction of the dragons with just four limbs. I never heard that before and though it was pretty neat.. In addition, he said that although AsoIaF dragons are intelligent, they cannot speak and will never evolve into the sort of dragons we see in Tolkien or Le Guin. (SSM: https://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/2267/

So, claiming he's writing a fantasy with "no basis in science" is pure BS. George himself cares about basic biological stuff. So, even if Others are obvious magical creatures too, George would wonder and care about stuff such as "hmmm, if they are deep cold things and still have fluid blood, then obviously that can't be water based, or it's frozen solid" and would for himself determine in an elementary way, even if not actually wholly scientifically accurate "what are they made of". Will he ever explain or show what type of material the Others are made of in detail in the books? Of course not. It's overall not all that important for the reader. But authors do work out stuff and questions for themselves in huge archives of files, because it helps them make it as real as possible for themselves, because they usually are they're worst devil's advocate (how? why? what?...). They can have several A4s on the background of a side character, that may not ever see the actual page, because the character dies before it ever has the chance to be relevant to the reader. But the author knowing these tidbits of extra in order to write realistic dialogue from that person's mindset.

Guess what George has? A whole lot of piles of cards with information on it for his own private use. And it's this personal archive that formed a basis for the World Book, and have it written by the only faction that has a "scientific" mindset - a maester who looked stuff up in maester archives (wasn't written by Aes Sedai; two fantasy worlds with two opposite factions leading their world's "university" - says enough where George stands on science within fantasy). And while the World Book remains aloof about the Others, it does mention how for example dragonbones are abnormally rich in iron. @Crowfood's Daughter picked up on that recently and put together that super iron rich red blood might be the idea that George has to solve the "fire-breathing" ability of dragons. She did so while I simultaneously worked on the "ice" question and ended up with hemocyanin rich blood for the Others. Now, if the World book had never been published we might never have known about dragonbones being so black because of being abnormally rich in iron, and it would still be on the archive cards of George to satisfy his own "euhm how would that fire breathing work?" and the reader's fun wouldn't be any less without it. But we do have it, and it is filled with tidbits of info that shows that George CARES about these things at the very least for himself.

Do I think the science behind it matters more than anything else? Absolutely not. Does everything have a scientific explanation? Some may have some scientific sounding ideas behind it, but overall I'd say his scientific-like stuff would fall flat under actual scientific peer review (as others here argued well when they pointed out that no matter what density the material the Others are made of, their mass would still leave prints due to pressure). It matters not to me what you or even myself believe in. What matters to me when I analyse George's writing is what George thinks is important.

Anyone who has read several of George's writings, beyond aSoIaF, will notice that, no matter what genre he writes his stuff in, the humanity of the protagonist matters the most to him. Sci-fi, historical, fantasy, sci-fantasy, horror, comic hero fanzine stuff - people are still people in there, with all their failings and mundane cares: from base greediness, to pining over lost love, as well as leave your fellow petty passengers fall to their own demise while mourning your dead cat and busy yourself with cloning it, while everybody else gets horrifically killed by monsters on a spaceship. Everything else takes place in a certain genre setting, which he does prefer to remain grounded and scientific-like, even though the particular setting will dictate how much he can elaborate on that. For example in a sci-fi story he will explain that his walking-web monster is a rock/stone looking spider made of silicone, at the heart of a physically attached web that can cut through the most durable metal.  He cannot do that in a fantasy genre where there's no handy "matter probe scanner" lying around. Likewise, he will try to work in mythological visuals and gods as often as he can, preferably chthonic ones in any type of genre. He's fascinated by all sorts of spiders and just loves to work them in often. He uses the word "red" to "highlight" a person, because his first typewriter had a worn-out black-red lint and he didn't yet know about italics, so he used to type words in red to emphasize them. The combo colors of black-red are thematically a signal of ruthless people willing to sacrifice other people (including blood sacrifice) to gain demonic powers, while green-gold harks back to Dr. Weird a fanzine comic hero who saves the world from turning into a demon's playground.

So, frankly I don't care what you believe, what matters to you, what you prefer or how your mind works. I care how George's author mind works, what he finds important, what he cares about. Only the latter will help me understand some of the mysteries. I'm pretty sure, your beliefs will not help me at all, for you obviously don't care or don't know what is important to George.

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The metaphors used to describe various people, i.e. crabs, manticores, spiders, etc, are helpful in learning about them, but your explanation for why ice spiders are connected to the Others is off base. My interpretation is that all of the people with animal or insect qualities like crab, manticore, and spider are still just people. The Borrels are like a spider crab. Varys is like a spider. Armory Lorch is like a manticore.

Is that another straw man? I EXPLICITLY warned readers in the OP that we do not think the various people we used with spider parallels in there are anything but people. Nowhere did we ever propose to think Varys is an actual spider, etc. In fact, we'd argue against anyone trying to claim that Roose, Varys, Lorch are anything but humans. Just shows more and more how shallowly you actually read the OP and never understood our use of those parallels.

But that's not an argument to claim we are off base in how we connect ice spiders with the Others. It builds an alarming high incidence of story elements where spiders' biology is thematically and symbolically incorporated time and time again. This goes beyond "gimmick" and it always boils down to "the blood". And we are explicitly told the Others physically have blue-liquid blood, unlike Varys, Borrel, Roose, Lorch, etc.

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 I believe the word "Others" is our biggest clue that the Others are simply people who are alien or different and have been "otherized" in order to justify violence against them and for keeping them contained behind the Wall.

Hence it makes no sense you argue Sithe. You failed to reply on my prior argument that if you bring up George comparing the Others to Sithe to an illustrator that by itself contradicts your claim that Others are of "human" origin. As would the fact that they are elongated, sword-thin ice beings with an unknown ice language who don't talk the old tongue.

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You claim they are like insects and show no emotion, but the white walkers that engaged Waymar Royce "laughed":

Actually our stance is more nuanced than your straw-man framing: insects have no humane emotional motivations. We generally don't consider people slaughtering another warm blooded being with mocking laughter "humans". When humans do that, we consider them psychopaths: a mind that is more excited about what's on the menu than a picture of a cute kitten. And such minds are compared to shark-minds or insect-minds, devoid of rich emotion. Which is one of the reasons why we have Lorch as manticore-like. You must be reaching if you use the Others' mocking laughter while they butcher Waymar as evidence they are "humans with emotions".

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The white walkers made strange noises, because they are made of ice. Their vocal chords are frozen, so their speech would sound strange. Ser Ilyn Payne made strange noises too, because he was missing his tongue:

And yet, Will cannot recognize the "language", while Jon can note Wun Wun's rocky speech or Mag the Mighty's and still recognize it for the Old Tongue, or Bran can note the musical water/leaf/wind voice quality of the CotF and recognize Common Tongue when they speak it. We don't need to understand one word of a certain language to recognize it. If the Others spoke the Old Tongue, the Common Tongue or Valyrian at the very least Will would think "hmmm, strange, but it sounds familiar somehow." He doesn't. And for more on this I have to refer to the blog version of the OP as that discusses the show's attempt at developing the WW language Skroth.

Edited by sweetsunray

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On 6/16/2019 at 10:07 PM, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

More spiderlike behavior.

Beyond the well known, females seeing males more as food, as prey, more than sexual partners? There are species where the male sacrifices his penis in order to ensure paternity.

If we translate that into a setting where the female or entity in question has no interest in reproduction in the traditional sense, more in multiplication or increasing power, and the male, or supplicant?, sacrifices his or her reproductive future in an offering of such finality? 

Even if the Others don't much care about humans enduring or surviving as individuals, an offering that compromises survival of the species would be the most valuable a supplicant could give.

Good point. If we think of insect hives, and thus a nest, there's one queen who has the right to breed (it's almost all she does). The rest of the hive are workers or soldiers, defending, foraging and nursing the brood. Some males get a chance to deposit their dna, but often witha huge price. Praying mantis's lose their head. Male bees' ejaculation is so strong their penis and stomach explodes and so they die. Male spiders may come away with their lives, but if so, they don't actually get to copulate. Their seed is dropped "manually" into the egg depository. The reward for this sacrifice is that they just don't get 1 son, but a whole batch of brood made from their seed.

The breeding female queen also barely ever leaves the nest/hive, and usually looks quite different than her worker/soldier force. Only when the hive is dying of to near extinction will a queen come out to find new opportunities to breed.

Our story of the Long Night, the defeat for the Others and then several centuries later the Corpse Queen found wandering to mate sounds similar to this type of queen of the hive behavior.

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I can’t find the thread again. :( But elsewhere round these parts where the weirwoods were being likened (pet nightmare, yes!) to that gigantic mass of trees somewhere in the US?

(also on an X-Files episode, iirc)

It smacked me again how the 'gods' or supernatural influences in this verse are so very much not like Eru and the Valar. Those are creation entities, and Man as a species, or all living things in the end, are part of creation, and as such actually are supposed to be given a damn about.

Using spider attributes to describe the Others just pushes the 'don't really emote about humans' intelligence of them. Same as every other bit about the weirwoods gives us more 'otherness' about them as well. They don't even experience Time the same way 'animal' beings do.

Same as I don't subscribe to the 'Golden Army' way of seeing them as a creation of the CotF. That would make them a weapon with an actual use and target, even if we could consider they could go astray or out of control. But it would still diminish the sheer 'threat' of them to reduce them to an unintelligent tool. I would somewhat be interested in the horror level thought if they'd been an engineered species, but it resounds with my own recently reawakened arachnophobia (thanks for that :)) more deeply of they'd simply always been a part of the world they live in and eventually just woke one day marabunta style and went off.

The 'insect' characteristics also allow the Others to gain a societal structure, behavior and even an archetype of perfection and efficiency. It is ingrained in our minds. 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/8/2019 at 3:15 AM, FictionIsntReal said:

The link includes life without carbon. Here's a relevant section:

 

This silicone life stayed in the back of my mind, when I recently read Plague Star, the origin story of Tuf's Voyaging. One of the monsters in there is a "walking web" (huh, a WW!).

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There was a black blob of some sort, floating in the air ahead of him. [...] The dark blob was small and round, barely the size of a man's fist. Nevis kept about a meter's distance from it, and studied it. Another creature - as damned ugly as the one that had dined on Jefru Lion too, but weirder. It was brown and lumpy, and its hide looked like it was made of rocks. It looked almost like it was a rock, in fact; Nevis only knew it was alive because it had a mouth - a wet black hole in the rocky skin. Inside, the mouth was all moist and green and moving, and he could make out teeth, or what looked like teeth, except they looked metallic. He thought he saw a triple set of them, half-concealed by rubbery green flesh that pulsed slowly, steadily.

The weirdest thing was how incredibly still it was. At first, Nevis thought it was hovering in the air somehow. But then he came a little closer and saw that he'd been wrong. It was suspended in the center of an incredibly fine web, the strands so very thin they were all but invisible. In fact, the ends of them were invisible. Nevis could make out the thickest parts near the nexus where the creature sat pulsing, but the webbing seemed to get thinner and thinner as it spread, and you couldn't see where it attached to wall or floor or ceiling at all, no matter how hard you looked.

A spider, then. A weird one. The rocky appearance made him think it was some kind of silicon-based life. He'd heard of that, here and there. It was real god-damned rare. So he had some kind of silicon-spider here. Big deal.

Kaj Nevis moved closer. Damn, he thought. The web, or what he thought was the web ... hell, the damned thing wasn't sitting on the web, it was part of the web. Those fine, thin shiny web strands grew out of its body, he saw. He could barely make out the joinings. And there were more than he thought - hundreds of them, maybe thousands, most of them too thin to be seen from any kind of distance at all, but when you looked at them from the right angle, you could see the light gleaming off them, all silvery-faint.

Nevis edged back a step, uneasy despite the security of his armored suit [he got away unscathed by anything blasted at him so far], for no good reason that he could name. Behind the silicon-spider, light shone from the end of the accessway. [...] It gave him the creeps, but what the hell else could it do to him? Kaj Nevis shifted his pincer arms and brought up the right pincer to snip the web.

The gleaming, bloodstained, serrated metal blades closed on the nearest visible strand, smoothly and easily. Gleaming, bloodstained, serrated shards of Unquish metal clattered down onto the floor plates. The whole web began to vibrate. Kaj Nevis stared at his lower right arm. Half of the pincer had been sheared off. Bile rose in his throat. He took a step backwards, another, a third, putting distance between him and the thing back there. (Tuf Voyaging - the Plague Star)

George knows his Asimov ;)

It's interesting though that here he describes a walking spider that hovers in the air using webstrands to hover and move, most of those are invisible....hmmm.

Edited by sweetsunray

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@sweetsunray I'm taking the time to read your awesome essay fullsize and ponder it out to nurture my inner, sh*t scared of spiders child.

Just a thought on the Roose Bolton is an Other weird notion? When I got to the bit where you transcribed Barbrey Dustin's description of him I honestly did a spit take. Again.

Roose Bolton is not an Other. He's just had a very badly done, heavy handed botox aplication. :-) 

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49 minutes ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

@sweetsunray I'm taking the time to read your awesome essay fullsize and ponder it out to nurture my inner, sh*t scared of spiders child.

Just a thought on the Roose Bolton is an Other weird notion? When I got to the bit where you transcribed Barbrey Dustin's description of him I honestly did a spit take. Again.

Roose Bolton is not an Other. He's just had a very badly done, heavy handed botox aplication. :-) 

:lmao:

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10 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

As for Aes Sedai: even if I had written a Sithe essay, I would NEVER use the Aes Sedai for it. The Aes Sedai are NOT sithe/sidhe. And George would never use the word sithe to describe the Others to ILLUSTRATORS in relation to the Aes Sedai of Jordan's Wheel of Time. It is quite possible that Jordan named the Aes Sedai with the Sidhe in mind, but they are human sorcerers, and do not fit the folklore descriptions of Sithe/Sidhe. To pull the Aes Sedai into it is imho nonsense. George's Others as Sithe has nothing to do with the Aes Sedai, but far more with the Norns of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. I'm not sure if you ever read it.

I don't understand the level of vitriol you continually direct towards me whenever you counter one of my posts. Do you want an objective discussion of your ideas or do you only want flattery and compliments? You say you don't care what I think, what my opinion is, or even how my brain works. That was very rude and unnecessary for you to say. What exactly have I done to have offended you so? Disagree with you?

This will be my last post on your topic/thread. I'm not sure why I even bothered to post again. No. Wait. I do know why I am writing this. Posterity. Regardless of what people say, I think Winds is very close to publication, and if GRRM is to begin wrapping this story to a conclusion, surely the mystery of the Others will be revealed? I offer my theories humbly (I hope), because I don't claim to "know" George's mind nor claim with all certainty that my theories are sure to be proven true, but you do. Your position is that "you know George" so of course that makes your theories right while other people's are "nonsense". People who say things like that deserve a public fall from grace. So even though I'm expecting another insulting tirade in response, I'll proceed with my opinion regarding Aes Sedai, sidhe, and George's sidhe made of ice, and pray that after Winds is published I can return to this thread, see that you've been forced to eat your words, and hope that at least you had the grace to post your mea culpas.

And with that, my last post here:

"Aes Sedai" is nearly the same spelling as the Irish "Aes Sídhe" even if the pronunciation is different. GRRM said his white walkers "are strange, beautiful… think, oh… the Sidhe made of ice, something like thata different sort of life… inhuman, elegant, dangerous". This wasn't a commentary strictly about their appearance. He was trying to describe what they are as well as what they look like. George brought up the sidhe comparison, so I don't understand your dismissal of the Aes Sedai of WOT when they are obviously another author's variation of them - an author who GRRM took inspiration from (of which I have no doubt) considering the number of WOT themes found in ASOIAF such as:

1) The characters play the Game of Houses aka Daes Dae'mar also "the Great Game". It involves the use of misdirection, hidden meanings and motives in word and deed, in order to gain power and status. This is nearly replicated by George with his inclusion of the game of thrones as well as Cyvasse. Great value is placed on subtlety, to appear to be aiming at one thing while in actuality aiming at something else, and to achieve ends with the least visible effort. We see these skills manifested in three major characters: Tywin, Varys, and Littlefinger. The Game of Houses was developed by Cairhienin nobility, adapted from Aes Sedai intrigue, and spread throughout the southern nations just as the Andal Game of Thrones is more of a southron practice.

2) There are human connections to wolves and having wolf dreams. This is a huge part of GRRM's series with House Stark and the direwolves  Two characters, Perrin Aybara and Elyas Machera are "wolf-brothers" and communicate telepathically with wolves - an obvious inspiration for warging. Wolf-brothers also have the ability to "dreamwalk" although they are not capable of entering into the dreams of other people. Bran entered Jon's dream when Jon was dreaming he was Ghost, not to mention Bloodraven's appearance as the three-eyed crown in Bran's dreams. The place where everyone dreams is called Tel'aran'rhiod. Aes Sedai can enter Tel'aran'rhiod at will with the help of special rings and view other people's dreams as well as view rooms and details of actual occurrences. As far as we know, all Bran needs to enter peoples dreams is a connection to the weirwoods, or perhaps its a shared connection with the direwolves. Any wolf-brother that goes to sleep and finds themselves in this dream-world calls it a "wolf dream" - it's called the same thing in ASOIAF. Sometimes wolf-brothers lose their human identity, which is something that Jojen also warns Bran against. While in Tel'aran'rhiod they dream as if they are a wolf and will sometimes see other wolves. This is also how Bran saw Rickon - he saw himself as Summer and Rickon as Shaggydog - he also saw Jon as Ghost. GRRM has also expanded wolf dreams and warging to having the added benefit of being inside the wolf during real time.

3) There are a number of characters said to be "reborn", and much of the story is based upon identifying the "dragon reborn". Rand al'Thor is Lews Therin Telamon reborn. Lews was "the dragon" during the War of Power. Another nickname for Lews is the Kinslayer (vs Jaime's Kingslayer). He was the leader of the forces of Light and respected worldwide. Lews was reincarnated in the Third Age as Rand al'Thor, so Rand is "the dragon reborn". 

Throughout various ages there were other men that claimed to be the dragon reborn, but while they had some evidence, they didn't fulfill all of the prophecies. George has replicated this idea as the prince that was promised prophecy. In WOT the prophecy included signs such as the scarlet and gold metallic dragon tattoos that magically appeared on Rand's forearms and heron brands on the palms of his hands. Later on in the series he loses his left hand to the top of his wrist (like Jaime) from a fireball (a connection to Cersei and wildfyre perhaps?) thrown by one of the Forsaken, which is actually the name of one of the titled chapters featuring Euron and Damphair. Rand frequently time travels using invisible passages into the woven threads of the world which seems to be the inspiration for seeing the past, present, and future through the weirwood trees. 

There are additional parallels between the two series that I have not listed so as to limit your frustrations since you have stated your familiarity. If you know both George and Wheel of Time so well you should know that GRRM thought very highly of Robert Jordan and his series. Not only did he incorporated many of his ideas into ASOIAF, he included Jordan as an in-world author called "Archmaester Rigney". 

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Archmaester Rigney once wrote that history is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again.” 

I shouldn't have to remind you, but I'm going to anyway, of the many obvious references to Robert Jordan:

1) Archmaester Rigney is mentioned as theorising that time is a wheel. IMO ASOIAF has its own wheel of time at play. Whether the characters know about it or not, historical events replay in a continuous cycle according to season. 

2) James Oliver Rigney, Jr. was Robert Jordan's real name. Martin and Jordan were friends, with Martin citing Jordan's positive cover blurb for A Game of Thrones as helping drive sales of the paperback edition of the novel. 

3) The Citadel of Oldtown is named after Robert Jordan's alma mater.

4) Lord Trebor Jordayne of the Tor is mentioned by Tyrion Lannister as being one of the great lords of Dorne. Trebor is Robert backwards, and Jordan's books were published by Tor Books for most of his career. Their blazon is a golden quill on checkered dark and light green. Their words do not appear in the books, but in a semi-canon source they are stated to be "Let it be Written".

5) Lady Rohanne Webber of Coldmoat has her hair tied in a long braid and tugs on it in moments of high stress, similar to the character of Nynaeve al'Meara in Jordan's Wheel of Time novels.

6) The Coat of Arms of House Toland is a dragon eating its own tail, and is meant to represent the unending and cyclic nature of time, same as the Great Serpent in Jordan's the Wheel of Time.

And that's all I care to share on this subject within your thread. 

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Posted (edited)

@Feather Crystal, sorry to butt in, but I don't see any of the examples you list above as confirmation that there are so many paralles between the actual stories in ASoIaF and WoT. It just feels more like that stuffl is very ordinary and seen time and again in the fantasy genre: characters being reborn, princes, prophecies, etc. As to the rest, yes, Martin obviously pays homage to Jordan. And so many others as well, let's not forget. That doesn't in any way, shape or form mean that there are paralles between the two stories. 

ETA: IMO

Edited by kissdbyfire

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Reading some of George's commentaries and introductions of his collection of short stories in Dreamsongs is a goldmine on how his writing mind works. Posting a transcript here, though I should incorporate it somewhere as a preface on my blog, as a "go-to" reference.

This one is an excerpt from the introduction of the "heart in conflict" section of part 2 of Dreamsongs

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[...] I got my share of rejections as well. No writer likes being rejected, though it comes with the territory, and you need to get used to it. A few of mine were especially galling, though. Those were the ones where the editors had no problems with my plot or characterization or style, and even went out of their way to say they'd enjoyed reading the stories. They rejected them nonetheless ... because they weren' real science fiction.

He expands on several examples and basically came down to George telling a good story that George wrote in a SF setting, but could just as well have taken place in a non-SF setting as well.

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But so what? When I wrote the stories I moved them to other planets, and put aliens in them, and spaceships. How much more bloody science-fictional could they get? All those years when I'd been growing up and reading fantasy and horror and science fiction, I'd never once worried about which was what and what was which or where the boundaries were drawn or whether this was real science fiction and real fantasy and real horror. [...] As a kid I did not even know the proper names for all the genres and subgenres. To me they were monster stories and space stuff and sword & sorcery. Or 'weird stuff'. That was my father's term for all of it. He liked westerns, you see, but his son liked 'weird stuff'.

Nevertheless, he decided to find out what 'real' sci-fi was. So he reread sci-fi books, and handbooks, followed the debates between Old Wave hard line sci-fi and New Wave, and paid particular attention to the definitions they gave. And pretty much everybody had their definition.

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I absorbed all of this as best as I could, and finally discerned the shape of a real science fiction story, as opposed to the stuff that I was writing. The ultimate template for the True Science Fiction Story was Isaac Asimov's first sale, 'Marooned Off Vesta,' published in Amazing in 1939. [...] [It] was sure-enough pure-quill science fiction, in which everything hinges on the fact that water boils at a lower temperature in vacuum. This was a sobering realization for me. For although I had pages of scribbled notes for the stories I wanted to tell next year and the year after and the year after that, none of them had anything to do with the boiling point of water. If truth be told, it seemed to me that Asimov had said just about all there was to say on that particular subject, leaving nothing for the rest of us except, well ... Bat Durston [space western].

The thing is, though, the more I considered old Bat, and Asimov, and Heinlein and Campbell, and Wells and Verne, and Vance and Anderson and Le Guin and Brackett and Williammson and deCamp and Kuttner and Moore and Cordwainer Smith and Doc Smith and George O. Smith and Northwest Smith, and all the rest of the Smiths and Joneses too, the more I realized something that H.L. Gold did not. Boys and girls, they're all Bat Durston stories. All of mine, and all of yours, and all of his, and all of hers. The Space Merchants [...] is about Madison Avenue in the 50s, the Forever War is about Vietnam, Neuromancer is a caper novel tricked up in fancy prose, and Asimov's Galactic Empire bears a suspicious likeness to one the Romans had a while back. [...] And when you look really really hard at 'Marooned Off Vesta,' it turns out that it's not about the boiling point of water after all. It's about some desperate men trying to survive. [...] So, I will see your Bat Durston, Mr Gold. And I'll raise you William Faulkner, Casablanca and the Bard.

George gives several examples of how stage directors used to be purists on Shakespearean plays, but by the late 90s you had Romeo and Juliet as street gangs with a drag queen African American Mercutio, set in LA, and Richard III set in the 30s fascism, which were lauded by critics 20 years ago.

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But how could this be? How could critics and theatre-goers and Shakespeareans possibly applaud these Bat Durston productions, ripp'd untimely as they are from their natural and proper settings? The answer is simple. Motor cars or horses, tricorns or togas, ray-guns or six-shooters, none of it matters, so long as the people remain. Sometimes we get so busy drawing boundaries and making labels that we lose track of that truth.

Casablanca put it most succinctly. 'It's till the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die.'

He continues to produce the William Faulkner quote about the "human heart in conflict with itself."

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We can make up all the definitions of science fuction and fantasy and horror that we want. We can draw our boundaries and make our labels, but in the end it's still the same old story, the one about the human heart in conflict with itself. The rest, my friends, is furniture.

The House of Fantasy is built of stone and wood and furnished in High Medieval. Its people travel by horse and galley, fight with sword and spell and battleaxe, communicate by palantir or raven, and break bread with elves and dragons.

He gives similar examples for Sci-Fi and Horror.

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The Furniture Rule, I call it. Forget the definitions. Furniture Rules.

He gives examples:

Phyllis Eisenstein's hero Alaric travels around with a lute, sleeps in castles and has lords with swords around him, so 99% of the readers and publishers think it's fantasy. Except Phyllis may whisper the name of her far kingdom: Germany. The sole fantastic element is teleportation, which is generally considered a SF trope.

Walter Jon Williams' secondary world is powered entirely by magic, which he calls 'plasm', but the setting is a huge decaying city where sorcerers live in high buildings and plasm is metered by an authority, so people call it SF.

And eventually he argues that by the Furniture Rules a short story of his including time-travel would make it a Sci-Fi, but well time-travel is 'unscientific fantasy' according to George (and as a physicist I'd agree).

The point is that horror, sci-fi ideas and the fantastical have all fused in George's minds, and to him it's all 'weird stuff'. He has read and written all of these stories with that type of furniture. But they eventually all fuse in some way. His space stories involve horror (veiled such as in This Tower of Ashes where you have to reread it a couple of times before you realize the poor guy is dilusional and thinking he's petting the cat in his lap, while it's a dreamspider eating him ; or straightforward). His fantasy is grounded and riddled with suggestion of interbreeding and alien stuff and maesters studying the high iron content of dragon bones.  But the horror as part of the story is always present, as fear is one damn good human emotion.

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