HBO’s Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper

June 3, 2014 Pop Culture, Reviews, Science Fiction & Fantasy Comments (0) 462

Oberyn Martell in the ring

I just have a couple of quick thoughts on this week’s episode. I know I haven’t been posting on GOT much recently; I’m back in novel-writing mode (elbow-deep in revisions) and putting most of my energies there.

First, a customary warning: As always I play fast and loose with the spoilers, book and show. Read at your own risk.

Like many viewers, I was taken aback by the ending of this episode. The teeth, the eyes, the screaming. The exploded brains. Even for a show that has been brutal throughout, this episode took it further. (How about that flayed man earlier in the show, too?)

It was so traumatic, my initial reaction was “that’s not how it happens in the book!” Then I went back and re-read what happened in the book, and realized this was almost exact. The teeth, the eyeballs, it happens slightly differently, but it’s all there.

And after I got over my initial reaction, horror at what I thought was exploitative, ratings-seeking violence, I decided I liked this ending–and I’ll tell you why. Continue Reading

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The Graveyard Slot (an excerpt)

May 29, 2014 Science Fiction & Fantasy, Writing Comments (0) 278

A few days remain to pre-order Black Chaos, the new zombie anthology from Big Pulp! Black Chaos includes 25 new zombie tales from indie and small-press authors, including my brand-new story The Graveyard Slot.

As an incentive, I’m sharing the first few pages below. If you’d like to read the whole story, pre-order Black Chaos from Big Pulp. Note that the pre-order page is an Indigogo campaign, but the book is not contingent on reaching any financial goal. You’ll get whatever you order, no matter who else signs up.

Also note that my usual policies apply: I’m happy to sign anything you want me to sign, as long as you find a way to get it in front of me, and if you buy the book and tweet a photo of it (with or without you) at me, @keeltyc, I’ll reward you with some yet-to-be-determined prize. I’ve been thinking a drawing of your choice, but no one has yet taken me up on this offer so who really knows?

So that’s it for now. Enjoy!

The Graveyard Slot

By Christopher Keelty

Richie’s TV was on the fritz, and Mom was parked in the living room watching her American Idol or The Apprentice or So You Think You Can Castrate a Dachshund or some other bullshit. He had to pull the old Magnavox from the back closet of the basement, its plastic belly bulging with tubes and capacitors. It was hidden behind three dusty boxes of old magazines that Richie relocated, swearing under his breath. When he wrapped his arms around the Magnavox, strands of sticky spider web clung to his hands like a mummy’s wrappings. They tore free with a sound like Velcro, and Richie swore he felt hairy legs scramble across the backs of his fingers. Continue Reading

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HBO’s Game of Thrones: Oathkeeper

April 29, 2014 In The News, Pop Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy Comments (0) 251

Spoiler Warning: I’m playing fast and loose with this one, so if you haven’t read all the published novels, through A Dance With Dragons, be warned that you may want to sit this one out.

GoT Margaery Tommen

Gee, where even to begin with Oathkeeper?  An ironic title, for starters, for an episode that so boldly abandoned the novels the series has thus-far followed so faithfully. Last week I raised hell over a deviation in the relationship between Jaime and Cersei that now seems minor by comparison. It also never occurred to me that the television series would start dropping book spoilers quite so soon, but we’ll get to that.

Going into this season, I wondered how the show would deal with Bran and his companions and their travels. At the end of Season Three they were already north of the Wall, and in the novels there just isn’t much between that point and Book Five. Unlike the novels, the HBO series can’t just ignore Bran for two seasons (actors age, after all, and they tend to find other jobs when they aren’t used) so unless the show intended to introduce Bran to the Three-Eyed Crow in the second half of A Storm of Swords, the show-runners had to come up with something else. Continue Reading

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Game of Thrones: Further Thoughts on “That Scene”

April 22, 2014 In The News, Pop Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy Comments (0) 277

cersei-lannister

* MAJOR spoilers here. If you aren’t caught up reading the Song of Ice and Fire novels, you probably want to skip this one. Seriously.

Since I wrote up my brief thoughts on the most recent episode, Breaker of Chains, there have been many more words written about “that scene,” in which the show runners changed a disturbing-but-depicted-as-consensual sex scene between Jaime and Cersei Lannister into Jaime raping his sister beside her son’s corpse. It’s pretty resoundingly an unpopular choice, not least because Westeros is already a place with troublesome gender politics, and this isn’t the first time Benioff and Weiss have adapted consensual sex into rape on the way from book to screen.

A few have argued that Jaime might have raped Cersei in the novels as well, since the encounter is told from his point of view on the page and he may not be a reliable viewpoint. I don’t think this is true—there’s nothing following the encounter in the books to say so, and none of the fallout between Jaime and Cersei one would expect to follow a rape—but even if it is true, what’s the point of the change?

As Alyssa Rosenberg points outat the Washington Post, it’s not that Jaime raping his sister is the most shocking act of violence, sexual or otherwise, that we’ve seen on Game of Thrones, and anyone who is really disgusted by that scene will probably find dozens of others to be equally appalled at. Part of the point of Martin’s world is to showcase the reality of a medieval society, including the way people are sexually traded, exploited, and abused. The show, with its over the top sexuality, reflects that pattern back at the modern society that watches it, suggesting that maybe we haven’t moved as far as we’d like to believe toward a liberated, just world. Continue Reading

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HBO’s Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains

April 21, 2014 Pop Culture, Reviews, Science Fiction & Fantasy Comments (0) 267

GOT_Meereen** Warning: Game of Thrones Spoilers through Season 4 Episode 3; also a few very minor spoilers from the book series to this point.

After George R. R. Martin took his time last week laying out the Purple Wedding, the show runners had to work to catch us up on what’s happening with everyone else, and this week we saw a lot of plot points moving. It strikes me that if there were a similar arrangement on the novels, we might see a book more often than every five years.

Without Martin in control, however, it’s too easy for the show to stray off that knife’s edge it walks on gender and the role of women. The first two episodes of this latest season had me wondering about changes made to the dynamic between Jaime and Cersei from the novels, and I’m outright baffled as to why they thought Jaime needed to rape his sister. Others have pointed out how problematic this scene is, even in the Westerosi context, and I don’t have much to add except to add my objection. Continue Reading

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HBO’s Game of Thrones and the Purple Wedding

April 16, 2014 Pop Culture, Science Fiction & Fantasy Comments (0) 262

** Game of Thrones spoilers follow. If you’re caught up on the HBO series then you’re safe.

Olenna Tyrell, the Queen of Thorns

I watched Game of Thrones on Sunday night with a mix of delight and disappointment. Delight because since the debut of the HBO series I’d awaited the Purple Wedding almost as eagerly as I’d dreaded the Red Wedding; disappointment because, as the episode drew to a close, I was sure they show had cut out the most interesting part of the Purple Wedding. Specifically, the clues as to who really murdered the Mad Mini-King, Joffrey Baratheon.

In the books, you see (and this is not a spoiler because, well… keep reading) considerable time is given to the Queen of Thorns, Olenna Tyrell (one of my favorite characters, incidentally) and a jeweled hair-net she gives Sansa Stark to wear. After the wedding, Sansa notices one of the black stones missing, and it’s heavily implied–if not outright stated–that the jewel was in fact a fake, containing a deadly poison called The Strangler that someone snuck into Joffrey’s mug.

The book never outright says whose hand places the jewel in Joff’s wine; the plan may include one or more other Tyrells, or perhaps all of them. Olenna, however, is certainly the architect.

As Liz and I went to bed Sunday night, I laid out the whole scenario for her so she’d know what she was missing. I felt a little resentful, betrayed even, that the show runners had decided to present such a flat and unsubtle version of the Purple Wedding.

Then, on Monday, the Internet showed me the error of my ways.  Continue Reading

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