Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Targaryen Infestation

There are spoilers on the Internet.  I hear rumors.  But I've avoided them, and what you get here are a few quick writerly thoughts on the eve of GOT's second episode:

Euron needs a gift for the Queen, and more importantly, he needs credentials as a potent dramatic device.  My first instinct was that he would nab Tyrion, but that would be hard to work and premature for the story arc, and no sensible animal would take on the three dragons this early in the season.  No, he's off to Dorne to be cruel to women, bringing back those guilty of killing Cersei's daughter.

Likewise, if Jaime could conquer the high castle with Crazy Mom and Spectrum-Disorder Boy, then two of their enemies are killed.  Less salary, fewer characters.  Always good when your money machine is nearing its last days.

Little Arya looked awfully sweet, eating rabbit and shopping for good manly faces.  (But I wish they had a little more budget to show the full transformation of a body when the face goes on, and off.  Walter F. was much bigger than her, and she doesn't dress in old-man hands either.) 

I have no good idea how to bring Bran and his ultimate knowledge into the story line.  The boy can go everywhere and everywhen, which makes him into the ultimate Google Photos app.  A ten minute monologue could pretty much put everyone in their place.  So yeah, I think he's intriguing, but a far more dangerous weapon than dragons for the writers to deploy.

The Targaryen of the North meets the Targaryen with dragons.  A thousand years of waiting for that moment may be surprised by the outcome.  Which won't be love, I suspect.

Cersei talks of a thousand-year dynasty for her and her brother.  I think we should take her at her word.  She has a very competent physician on staff who can animate poisoned, mostly dead warriors.  Why not make the twins immortal?  Because that would be the final push that would make Jaime kill her?

Who are Targaryen's themselves, I suspect.

The Ice King has to become more compelling than a blizzard with spears.  He needs a voice and a culture and the purest of agendas.  If he is to become a suitable nemesis for the final season.

Daenerys won't win, but that's why we spent so much time at Slaver's Bay.  That's where she should rule out her lifetime.

Jon won't win.  He's too good/weak to be the king, and he doesn't have the hunger, and besides, he's fighting the more important war in the north.  If he survives, he'll live out his days doing infrastructure work on the Wall.

The Hound kills the Ice King.

Jamie sits on the throne.

No, Tyrion.

No, Tyrion is at Dragon Bay.  Littlefinger sits on the revamped throne.  Although he should be on Arya's list.  Which, by the way, Bran's time-tripping could point that girl at a lot of worthy targets.

So who rules?


Unless of course the unthinkable happens.  An election with a Prime Minister named Lord Varys.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

How to write the next civil war

Our household subscribes to the Wall Street Journal.  That's because my wife is a lifelong journalist and works in Communications, and if those aren't reasons enough, I enjoy reading newsprint at the breakfast table.  The NY Times and Washington Post live on my phone.  But the Journal not only has a distinct point of view, there's also the rich selection of articles on subjects that I didn't know I wanted to know about, until I turn the next page.

The above article is an interview with Allen Guelzo, director of the Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College.  Our nation today is divided.  That much is a given.  But the 1850s and 60s were worse, and according to at least one historian, we aren't on the brink of civil war.  Read it if you can get past the barricades.  And keep in mind that I found the historian's professorial calm to be reassuring.

But you aren't a genuine SF writer unless you can see the wrong inside a learned, well-reasoned argument.

There is a regional quality to today's pain, but no, it's not nearly as distinct as it was in 1860.  Trump and the Right have their neighborhoods and districts, and in some cases, full control of certain states.  For instance, Nebraska is decidedly Republican, save for parts of Omaha and Lincoln.  But it's difficult to imagine organized armies forming at any mutually agreed-upon border, wearing uniforms punched out--I assume--by Vietnamese garment makers.  No, the civil war that I'd write about is much more chaotic and silly, arbitrary and hard to control.

The succession of most of our slave states triggered the first civil war, and just as important, Lincoln's determination to stop this bullshit.

What would be a comparable ignition event for the 21st century?  If I was writing the novel, my guiding guess would involve the Federal Government being "captured" by the other side.  Left or Right, that choke hold would inflame passions and cause those on the outside to organize and arm themselves.  (If they don't have munition caches already.)

Actually, this sounds rather like the last ten years, doesn't it?

In that atmosphere, the next war might start with small sparks.

In the 1850s, congressmen battled with congressmen on the chamber floors.  That was something read about in newspapers, I assume.  But not seen by the nation.  What if we saw live feeds where Ted Cruz and Chuck Schumer traded body blows?  Think of the noise on Facebook.  Imagine a million family gatherings where the same caustic feelings were happy to bloom.

That story might be served best as bleak and small-scale black comedy.

Or the spark and subsequent firestorm might be enormous.  The Left is eager for the 2018 mid-terms.  But what if their opponents cooked the books, retaining control over every branch of government?  Even better, what if our ties with Putin became official and obvious?  There's a notion worth a full scenario.  The United States leaves NATO and signs a mutual-protection pact with Russia.  Ludicrous to imagine, sure.  But jump back twenty years and look at today.  What about our world doesn't look deeply peculiar?

So that's how the nation finally splits.  Cities against the farms.  The coasts against the interior.  Not armies marching, no.  But terrorists and malware and shutting down power plants and water, and chaos, and nobody holding any genuine authority.

Novels never write themselves.  A fact that has slowed down my production by a factor of a thousand.

But history does write itself, every moment, and let's hope our futures don't flow the easy route into anarchy.