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Guest Other-in-Law

"Non-canon sources"

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Guest Other-in-Law

So I've noticed this term being used regarding GRRM's character descriptions for Amoka, blazon information for Ran, and general comments in the SSMs. While technically correct in that these things are susceptible to change (I recall House Borell originally having a fishbone blazon, before GRRM changed it to the current spider crab), somehow "non-canon" seems a strong term to use.

I mean, they are GRRM's own words, not fan cruft or theories or anything. It seems like "semi-canon" might be better, or simply "according to GRRM's comments". Non-canon sounds like we should disregard it entirely, which really isn't appropriate for the author's own words. Oddly, I've even seen people claim that the Dunk and Egg stories are non-canon (in board posts, not on the wiki), which just seems really strange to me.

Does that make sense, or am I overreacting?

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So I've noticed this term being used regarding GRRM's character descriptions for Amoka, blazon information for Ran, and general comments in the SSMs. While technically correct in that these things are susceptible to change (I recall House Borell originally having a fishbone blazon, before GRRM changed it to the current spider crab), somehow "non-canon" seems a strong term to use.

I mean, they are GRRM's own words, not fan cruft or theories or anything. It seems like "semi-canon" might be better, or simply "according to GRRM's comments". Non-canon sounds like we should disregard it entirely, which really isn't appropriate for the author's own words. Oddly, I've even seen people claim that the Dunk and Egg stories are non-canon (in board posts, not on the wiki), which just seems really strange to me.

Does that make sense, or am I overreacting?

I generally think the Star Wars team have gotten this right.

Anything written by the creator in the primary medium is automatically fully canon. In the case of A Song of Ice and Fire I would suggest that A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows and the prose versions of The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight should all be considered 100% canon.

Anything written by the creator which is still subject to change should be considered canonical until we are told it isn't. This would include spoiler chapters from A Dance with Dragons. However, IIRC the wiki has a ban on ADWD spoilers, so you can't use the details from GRRM's ADWD readings to write a description of Volantis (or maybe you could with some kind of warning that information is tentative; I'd ask Ran about that).

Anything written or created by other people but approved by the creator should be considered semi-canon, or canon until the creator overrules it. In this case I would include GRRM's descriptions supplied to Amoka and the GRRM-created exclusive material in the roleplaying games (such as the various descriptions of the Free Cities and the history of the War of the Ninepenny Kings and the unpleasent description of Maelys the Monstrous). It may be stretching it a little, but also information in the comics that aren't in the short stories (the list of attendees of the Ashford tournament in the back of The Hedge Knight graphic novel, for example) would fall under this umbrella. This would be the equivalent of the Star Wars 'Expanded Universe' idea: canon until Word of God squashes it and says it isn't.

I'd put the SSM under the same bracket, although GRRM did say something interesting about that in Belfast. He basically said that sometimes we pay way too much attention to something he idly muses over as an idea, and we specifically talked about the suggested future She-Wolves/Winterfell-set Dunk 'n' Egg story, which he said might use the ideas he previously talked about or might not or he might drop the whole idea and do something else, in which case it would presumably no longer be canon.

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Guest Other-in-Law

All of that seems reasonable to me, except this:

Anything written or created by other people but approved by the creator should be considered semi-canon, or canon until the creator overrules it. In this case I would include GRRM's descriptions supplied to Amoka and the GRRM-created exclusive material in the roleplaying games (such as the various descriptions of the Free Cities and the history of the War of the Ninepenny Kings and the unpleasent description of Maelys the Monstrous).

As I understood it, any email correspondence isn't "written or created by other people", it's written by Martin himself, isn't it? Which puts it in a higher level of canonicity than someone remembering a conversation with him (since they probably wouldn't have his exact words, and there's a possibility of shift in meaning. Of course, the SSM can come from either, so that could be tricky to disentangle.

I'd put the SSM under the same bracket, although GRRM did say something interesting about that in Belfast. He basically said that sometimes we pay way too much attention to something he idly muses over as an idea, and we specifically talked about the suggested future She-Wolves/Winterfell-set Dunk 'n' Egg story, which he said might use the ideas he previously talked about or might not or he might drop the whole idea and do something else, in which case it would presumably no longer be canon.

Heh, that's interesting in how fluid his backstory fleshing out can be!

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As I understood it, any email correspondence isn't "written or created by other people", it's written by Martin himself, isn't it? Which puts it in a higher level of canonicity than someone remembering a conversation with him (since they probably wouldn't have his exact words, and there's a possibility of shift in meaning. Of course, the SSM can come from either, so that could be tricky to disentangle.

Sorry, I meant to extrapolate that whilst this material might be be written by Martin directly in the case of his Amoka emails or SSM entries (or information given to Guardians of Order/Green Ronin/Fantasy Flight and filtered through their writers in that case), none of this should be considered 'proper' canon until it appears in the novels or novellas.

I belive this is even commented on directly in the GoO RPG. At the start is a sidebar that says until any information appears in the novels themselves, it is not 100% confirmed and thus not 100% canon. On that basis Martin could decide to rename the eastern continent as Biggerus Maximus Landmassus with no problem as 'Essos' has not once appeared in any of the novels or novellas so far.

This is similar to the Star Wars situation where they have different levels of canon, with the highest reserved for the six movies, then the TV and cartoon series coming after that, then the computer games, then the novels and so on, with Lucas able to rule something non-canon at any point (such as his sudden ruling of vibro-blades as non-canon after several years of them appearing in computer games, RPG materials and novels, or completely revoking the Mandalorian backstory developed in the novels in favour of his newer ideas for the CGI series). The 'lesser' material is basically canon until Word of God is that it isn't. I think that's the best approach there can be with this material, not that there's a huge amount of it in ASoIaF's case.

Maybe Ran could comment on if the World book will be 100% canon or will fall into this same ground of being canon unless contradicted by the novels?

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GRRM says the same about SSM e-mails -- it's not really canon until it's in the books. Canon-until-he-says-otherwise is probably the best approach.

As far as the world book goes, since the idea is that the history part is written by a maester, I think it's 100% canon in the sense that "This is what a maester may write about historic events." But I've got some sections where the text basically says, "This is what the singers say, the ponces, but this is what the Citadel knows -- but wait, see Archmaester so-and-so's book, because he thinks that's hogwash and makes certain arguments." ;)

I would say the nearer to present the world book gets, the more canon it will have to be. I don't think it works as a world book if details about, say, Highgarden change radically between this book and the series. George'll have to lock some details in. Not that I expect this to be an issue, but it's something we've thought about.

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Guest Other-in-Law

So for clarification purposes, should I remove all the `non-canon` references? Or should I keep them?

Sorry for not getting back sooner. My preference is to substitute something else..semi-canon, provisionally canon, according to the author, something like that. But I wouldn't want to impose my view on everyone else, thus the thread to ask what others thought.

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