fantasy

Toxic Narratives and ASOIAF: From Within and Without

That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling (Dance, Bran III)

A specter is haunting ASOIAF – the specter of the past. Our characters are haunted by the great things that came before them, from myth and song to parents and grandparents. In this essay, I’m going to talk about some of the toxic nostalgia our characters participate in…and then talk about how some in-real-life toxic nostalgia may be informing some of the storytelling choices GRRM makes.

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Fantastic Transmissions E007 – Bloodchild by Octavia E Butler

Episode 7 of Fantastic Transmissions is about Bloodchild by Octavia E Butler. Bloodchild is a multiple-award-winning story by a multiple-award-winning author about the symbiotic (or parasitic?) relationship between a human colony and their insectoid overlords. We discuss the idea of male pregnancy, and attempt to answer the big question about Bloodchild: is it about slavery?

Podbean: https://bookshelfstudios.podbean.com/e/episode-007-bloodchild/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fantastic-transmissions/id1341102133?mt=2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/I3zr6oajxcx3unkxb6o5pwpwoqe?t=Fantastic_Transmissions

The intro music is sampled from Clyde Borly and His Percussions, off the album “Music in Five Dimensions.” The rest of the music in the podcast was created by Blue Dot Sessions. Their work can be found on the Free Music Archive under a Non-Commercial Attribution License. You can also find all their tracks at www.sessions.blue.

Links and references can be found at the bottom of the post!

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Fantastic Transmissions E006 – Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien

Episode 6 of Fantastic Transmissions is about Farmer Giles of Ham by J. R. R. Tolkien. Ham is one of Tolkien’s forays into fable and comedy, a little-read work with big ideas. I discuss some of the linguistics jokes and historical references in the work, and then talk more broadly about Tolkien’s own opinions on language, nationality, and identity.

Podbean: https://bookshelfstudios.podbean.com/e/episode-006-farmer-giles-of-ham/

iTunes:

Google Play:

The intro music is sampled from Clyde Borly and His Percussions, off the album “Music in Five Dimensions.” The rest of the music in the podcast was created by Blue Dot Sessions. Their work can be found on the Free Music Archive under a Non-Commercial Attribution License. You can also find all their tracks at http://www.sessions.blue.

Links and references can be found at the bottom of the post!

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Fantastic Transmissions E001 – It’s A Good Life by Jerome Bixby

Episode 1 of Fantastic Transmissions is about Jerome Bixby’s 1953 short story, It’s A Good Life. It’s A Good Life is the story of a young boy with horrific psychic powers who holds an entire town under his sway. We examine how Bixby’s style complements his narrative, compare the story to its Twilight Zone adaptation, and talk about the themes of totalitarianism and narcissism.

Podbean: https://bookshelfstudios.podbean.com/e/episode-001-its-a-good-life-by-jerome-bixby/

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fantastic-transmissions/id1341102133#

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/Dwv7eiu7klgkfhdae5cnhjtbeai?t=Episode_001_-_Its_a_Good_Life_by_Jerome_Bixby-Fantastic_Transmissions

The intro music is sampled from Clyde Borly and His Percussions, off the album “Music in Five Dimensions.” The rest of the musc in the podcast was created by Blue Dot Sessions. Their work can be found on the Free Music Archive under a Non-Commercial Attribution License. You can also find all their tracks at http://www.sessions.blue. Audio from episode 73 of The Twilight Zone is the property of CBS.

Fantastic Transmissions is a non-commercial project.

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The Others as Shoggoths: Lovecraft & Martin

As much as GRRM likes to draw on traditional high fantasy tropes, A Song of Ice and Fire is very much a sword-and-sorcery world, akin to something written by Robert E Howard. Howard himself was a contemporary and collaborator with H.P. Lovecraft himself, the father of eldritch weirdness. A lot of people have pointed out the many Lovecraftian elements to the world of ice and fire – from Leng to the Five Forts to Asshai to Toad Isle to the Seastone Chair to Battle Isle to the mazemakers to the squishers.

But there’s one big element that needs to be addressed: the Others.

One common theory is that the Others are, essentially “misunderstood snow elves.” They’re a race whose goals and aims run contrary to human life…but they aren’t necessarily evil. This is a popular theory. Some think there’ll be a pact with the Others, that humans need to resolve their Other-ing of a different race. That to end with a big battle would be disingenuous to the messages of ASOIAF, about hard peace etc.

I disagree. And I promise I’ll explain! But first,

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