Many a Maester have tried to play the Game of Weather Patterns
April 5, 2013 7:52 AM   Subscribe

"...here we attempt to explain the apparently erratic seasonal changes in the world of [Georege R.R. Martin]. A natural explanation for such phenomena is the unique behavior of a circumbinary planet."
posted by Midnight Rambler (38 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
1.4 Magic: Yep, this should work.

Here I was thinking that they'd blame it all on dragons.
posted by arcticseal at 8:05 AM on April 5, 2013


We must abandon Keplerian monogamy and explore multiple bodies.
posted by echo target at 8:08 AM on April 5, 2013


GRRM on the weather: In the case of fantasy, of course, it’s a little different. The most conspicuous aspect of the world of Westeros in The Song of Ice and Fire is the nature of the seasons, the long and random nature of the seasons. I have gotten a number of fan letters over the years from readers who are trying to figure out the reason for why the seasons are the way they are. They develop lengthy theories: perhaps it’s a multiple-star system, and what the axial tilt is, but I have to say, “Nice try, guys, but you’re thinking in the wrong direction.” This is a fantasy series. I am going to explain it all eventually, but it’s going to be a fantasy explanation. It’s not going to be a science-fiction explanation.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:09 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was under the impression that "winter" refers to an ice age.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:11 AM on April 5, 2013


I wish the paper would have a visualization of what such an orbit would look like.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:14 AM on April 5, 2013


*cough* it's inside a sphere *cough*
posted by humboldt32 at 8:16 AM on April 5, 2013


How Magic Works In Game Of Thrones (original)
But I do think that the long seasons in the franchise tend to reinforce some of the larger themes of forgetting and discounting powerful forces that are assumed to no longer be a factor in geopolitics or internal conflicts.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:18 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Perhaps some people reading this thread might enjoy Dianna Wynne Jones's Tough Guide To Fantasyland.
posted by Frowner at 8:21 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aton, somewhere, was crying, whimpering horribly like a terribly
frightened child. 'Stars -- all the Stars -- we didn't know at all. We
didn't know anything. We thought six stars in a universe is something
the Stars didn't notice is Darkness forever and ever and ever and the
walls are breaking in and we didn't know we couldn't know and anything
-- '

Someone clawed at the torch, and it fell and snuffed out. In the
instant, the awful splendor of the indifferent Stars leaped nearer to
them. On the horizon outside the window, in the direction of Saro
City, a crimson glow began growing, strengthening in brightness, that
was not the glow of a sun.

The long night had come again.
posted by DU at 8:22 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was under the impression that "winter" refers to an ice age.

I wondered, as I read A Game of Thrones, how the harvest worked and whether the animals hibernated or not.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:23 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


wait a minute. is there evidence of two suns in the books?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:36 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


ctrl-F "it is known"
0 of 0 results

:(
posted by Rock Steady at 8:40 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


850 days of winter is still far too short for the longer winters referenced in the books, up to 7-10 years I believe, not to mention the apocryphal Long Night that lasted a generation. Littlefinger says in Game of Thrones that Kingslanding has enough grain for 3 years, seemingly referring to a typical winter length already well in excess of the upper range of ~850 days in the paper.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:42 AM on April 5, 2013


I think the eventual explanation will be that every single character in game of thrones is exaggerating like hell.
posted by skewed at 8:47 AM on April 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


...how the harvest worked...

From the man himself:
A lot of food is stored. Smoked, salted, packed away in granaries, and so on. The populations along the coast depend on fishing a great deal, and even inland, there is ice fishing on the rivers and on Long Lake. And some of the great lords try and maintain greenhouses to provide for their own castles... the "glass gardens" of Winterfell are referred to several times.

...There are "false springs" and "spirit summers." The maesters try and monitor temperature grade closely, to advise on when to plant and when to harvest and how much food to store.
And the northern lands import a massive amount of grain from the south. The Reach and Dorne have climates roughly equivalent to California and Mexico, respectively, and so can support agriculture in winter.
posted by Iridic at 8:50 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but what about the animals?
posted by skewed at 8:54 AM on April 5, 2013


They root in the snow for acorns and handwavium.
posted by Iridic at 8:54 AM on April 5, 2013 [19 favorites]


Previously (a similar look at the different possibilities.)
posted by quin at 8:55 AM on April 5, 2013


Perhaps some people reading this thread might enjoy Diana Wynne Jones's Tough Guide To Fantasyland.

Diana Wynne Jones = the best.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:09 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Probably has something to do with the Others. Just speculatin' is all.
posted by Lizard at 9:13 AM on April 5, 2013


Probably has something to do with the Others. Just speculatin' is all.

I've always felt that Wights came back because of the winter returning, not the other way around. Speculation abounds :)

Though now that you say that, it gets me thinking.

posted by Twain Device at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2013


*cough* it's inside a sphere *cough*

The map in the opening credits of the TV show is pretty clearly concave and I've wondered if this was a broad hint about the nature of the world. I'm looking forward with gleeful anticipation to the howls of fannish protest when Bran (or Jon?) reaches the Lands of Always Winter and finds the Others guarding the control room of a generation starship which is approaching its final destination. Unfortunately, their first attempts to maneuver it into orbit and avert disaster lead to all sorts of disruption inside the ship: the seas automatically draining to prevent sloshing, the "sun" reversing direction and rising in the west...
posted by The Tensor at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Probably has something to do with the Others.

I parsed this as Otters and wondered if I'd missed something.
posted by arcticseal at 10:29 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lizard: Probably has something to do with the Others. Just speculatin' is all.

I've always figured there is some sort of "generator" in the far polar reaches that creates magic and winter and Others (perhaps one or more of those three are mere side effects), but it doesn't operate consistently for some reason, but waxes and wanes due to some outside influence, either intentionally or unintentionally.

The Tensor: The map in the opening credits of the TV show is pretty clearly concave and I've wondered if this was a broad hint about the nature of the world. I'm looking forward with gleeful anticipation to the howls of fannish protest when Bran (or Jon?) reaches the Lands of Always Winter and finds the Others guarding the control room of a generation starship which is approaching its final destination.

I'm loving that idea, but I don't really think that GRRM would let HBO get the scoop on such a major reveal, do you? I think the concave world in the credits is just artistic license.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:30 AM on April 5, 2013


I think the concave world in the credits is just artistic license.

It is, yeah. They were working on the opening sequence and originally it was going to be a tabletop or something and then they realized that if they show the game board, as it were, perspective will make them show the room the game board is in, which just didn't really work in terms of presentation so they made it inside a hollow globe.

the more you know!
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:38 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm loving that idea, but I don't really think that GRRM would let HBO get the scoop on such a major reveal, do you?

He has apparently revealed, at least in broad outline, the ending of the series to the producers.

They were working on the opening sequence and originally it was going to be a tabletop or something and then they realized that if they show the game board, as it were, perspective will make them show the room the game board is in, which just didn't really work in terms of presentation so they made it inside a hollow globe.

Tissue-thin lies. Why not just show the sky? Because there is no sky. Remember, you heard it here first: generation starship.
posted by The Tensor at 10:45 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tissue-thin lies. Why not just show the sky? Because there is no sky. Remember, you heard it here first: generation starship.

For sake of argument, then, how do magic and dragons fit into the world, if we're on a generation ship?
posted by killdevil at 10:52 AM on April 5, 2013


Where have all the wildlings gone?
posted by homunculus at 10:56 AM on April 5, 2013


For sake of argument, then, how do magic and dragons fit into the world, if we're on a generation ship?

Why can't there be magic and dragons on a generation starship? It's called "suspension of disbelief".

If you insist on a "scienctific" explanation, then nanotechnology. Or possibly the Matrix. Yeah, that's the ticket: Jon will wake up on a metal bed with Lawrence Fishburn standing over him, explaining that he can't say what year it is because they don't know.
posted by The Tensor at 10:58 AM on April 5, 2013


But I do think that the long seasons in the franchise tend to reinforce some of the larger themes of forgetting and discounting powerful forces that are assumed to no longer be a factor in geopolitics or internal conflicts.

I like this explanation because the books seem to constantly imply that Winter is the result of the cumulative decadence of the world, and only ends once they have suffered enough, but that people in general never learn.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:08 PM on April 5, 2013


Georege R.R. Martin?
posted by Going To Maine at 12:13 PM on April 5, 2013


I like this explanation because the books seem to constantly imply that Winter is the result of the cumulative decadence of the world, and only ends once they have suffered enough, but that people in general never learn.

Yeah, even in the beginning it's obvious that winter is more of an allegorical state than an actual season.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:22 PM on April 5, 2013


Where have all the wildlings gone?

I'm alternating between having this stuck in my head to the tune of "Where have all the flowers gone?" and "Where have all the cowboys gone?"
posted by threeants at 2:37 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my head it's "Where have all the rude boys gone?"
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:40 PM on April 5, 2013


The Reach and Dorne have climates roughly equivalent to California and Mexico...

I couldn't help developing this further.
posted by Iridic at 2:41 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've always felt that Wights came back because of the winter returning, not the other way around.

The Others (AKA White Walkers*) are accompanied by severe cold, although it's an unanswered question in the books as to whether they bring it or follow it. This is apparently distinct from the seasons, which have been variable for thousands of years without any sightings of the Others.

*The exclusive term in the show, which is confusing because their undead thralls are called Wights.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:12 AM on April 6, 2013


I couldn't help developing this further.

Er, the Stormlands are Florida? I always pictured them more... well... stormy. I guess we haven't been to them much in the books yet, though, apart from Storm's End. But as far as North American analogues go, the image in my head is closer to Colorado than Florida.
posted by whir at 12:01 PM on April 6, 2013


whir: "Er, the Stormlands are Florida? I always pictured them more... well... stormy."

So, New Orleans, then?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:49 PM on April 6, 2013


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