Is Game of Thrones A Science Fiction Story? 

Is Game of Thrones A Science Fiction Story?


Well, this happened a few days ago, one of my friends tweeted, "Is Game of Thrones a science fiction show?" And it turned out, I had opinions. I'd just like to say that I'm referring in this whole talk to both Game of Thrones, the TV show, and a Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the TV show is based. 


So, let's sort it out once and for all. Let's establish a definitive answer. Is Game of Thrones a science fiction story? No. No, it is not. Okay, let's break down exactly why the Game of Thrones is not science fiction. It just isn't. 


The best argument FOR Game of Thrones being a science fiction story is that a bunch of stuff in the show doesn't make sense and doesn't seem to be physically possible, but could have a scientific explanation if you try hard enough. 


A primary example is the seasons. much longer than a season, you know, the three months that seasons take on Earth. Summers and winters can last for years, or even in some extreme cases, entire lifetimes. And the length of the seasons varies from season to season. 


And you could explain this with a weird axial tilt on the planet that Game of Thrones takes place on. Like, not only is the tilt different from how it is on Earth but that the tilt wobbles a little bit so that if it wobbles in just the right way, you get a winter that lasts for longer than a human lifetime. 


Then you could say things like, "Well the dragons are genetically engineered bio-weapons that were designed to only be controllable by the Targaryens, who were genetically modified to have some sort of special psychic link to the dragons, and the last vestige of that is their silver hair." These are cool headcanons, there's no doubt about it. Like, the implications of that and the idea that that COULD be true is really cool. 


Is Game of Thrones A Science Fiction Story?


It just ... isn't in the books or the show. Science fiction has to have science fiction to be part of the fiction. If there is no hope or promise within the canon itself that these things are or can be explained by science ... then it's not science fiction. 


And granted, not every science fiction story delves into the mechanics of how these things could be possible. Like, lots of science fiction stories have lightspeed travel, and they don't explain how it works, they just say that it exists. 


But that is still presented as a new, unique, and interesting thing specifically because it relates to what we think we already know about science, which is that lightspeed travel is essentially impossible. And Game of Thrones specifically says that all of these weird phenomena, including the walking dead and creating fire out of nowhere, are magical in nature. 


The canon says that it is a fantasy story because it is based on magic. And all of these ideas about how it could actually be science fiction are just fans coming up with headcanons. And to be clear, there's nothing wrong with that. 


There's nothing wrong with alternate universe fanfiction that puts a story into an entirely different genre. That's one of the most transformative things you can do as a fanfiction creator. 


But that does not mean that Game of Thrones itself is science fiction. And George R.R. Martin has made some comments about ways that these things could work scientifically, but again, if it's not in the work, it doesn't change the genre. 


Because if a couple of comments by GeorgeR.R. Martin make his story science fiction despite the fact that those comments are not represented in the books at all, then the Harry Potter series is a great queer representation because of J.K. Rowling's comments. 


And it's not. If it's not in the story, the story itself, it doesn't count. To which the counterargument could be made, "Well, these things aren't explicitly in the book, but they can be inferred from what we do know to be happening in the story." And if you want to go with that explanation, then yes. Yes, Game of Thrones can be placed within the science fiction genre, as long as the word "genre" just doesn't mean anything anymore. In which case, I would love to make some literary recommendations to you. 


First of all, I think that you should check out the excellent epic fantasy story, 'I, Robot,' by Isaac Asimov. And yes, I know a lot of the uneducated think that 'I, Robot' is a science fiction story, but we have no scientific explanation for the creation of artificial intelligence in an artificial construct, so obviously magic is at play here. It's actually an epic fantasy. 


I would also love to recommend to you one of my favorite science fiction stories, the Jack Reacher books by Lee Childs. Oh, sure, plebians might categorize the JackReacher books as thrillers, but there is no physical way that a human body can withstand as much punishment as Jack Reacher does. Clearly, some genetic experimentation has been going on with this guy. Obviously, it's the only possible explanation. 


Is Game of Thrones A Science Fiction Story?


Jack Reacher is definitely science fiction. Ridiculous examples aside, and they are ridiculous, actually the best explanation of why Game of Thrones does not fall in the genre of science fiction whatsoever has to do with why genres were invented in the first place. Because people forget that genre have not existed as long as stories have existed. 


Genres are a relatively recent human construct. And the purpose of genre and some people are gonna hate me for saying this, is marketing. A genre is a marketing tool. It is a way that you can hopefully attract readers to stories published in the form of books, films, or whatever, by promising that your story is somewhat like these other stories that they may enjoy. 


You know how on Amazon they have that little bar on every page that says, "Customers who bought this item also bought this other thing?" The invention of the idea of genres is the earliest version of Amazon's "also bought" bar. 


When you walk into a bookstore, Barnes & Noble, or your local indie book shop–please shop local indies–and you see all those bookshelves laid out, and they have little signs on top of each bookshelf saying what genre those books are in, those signs are ads. 


They are a little signpost saying, "Hey, you're the kind of person who likes dragons in your stories. And if you come over into this section of the store, we've got a bunch of books that probably have dragons in them." And if someone came up to you, some total stranger whom you had no previous idea or contact with, and said, "I want to read or watch ascience story," you would never recommend Game of Thrones. 


And if you did recommend it, that person would look at the cover of the book or the trailer of the show and say, "That is not at all what I asked for." And if you somehow gave them the book without the cover or the show without the trailer, and they read it or watched it, they would be very upset with you, because they asked for something very specific and you did not give it to them. 


Genre is invented and mostly arbitrary division of things into categories by which people can find other similar things. It was created for marketing. 


It was created to sell more products. That's what it is. And by that definition and by basically any other way that you could think about it, I'm sorry, but no. Game of Thrones is not science fiction. 

Finally, I just want to say that GOT does not need any genre, it is a masterpiece in itself. That's all I've got for you today, hope you enjoyed the article.

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.