Fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series had been approaching this current season of HBO’s adaptation Game of Thrones with at least some apprehension.
The show was running out of books to adapt.
The season already has had characters following the road not traveled in the books, and for the storylines that are being faithfully adapted, by the time the season concludes its tenth episode, most if not all of those stories will have gotten to the end of the published materials (I assume.) Season Six will be setting off into unknown territory unless George RR Martin gets the next book out.
Although GRRM has sworn off some convention appearances in the hopes of getting The Winds of Winter out before Season Six, you don’t have to be Matt Murdock to recognize reasonable doubt. And I’ve given up any hope of the dream that A Dream of Spring will be out before the spring premiere of the show’s seventh season.
So, is this cause to panic? Maybe? Is it likely that the revelation of the overall story from the television show will make the final books less relevant? Will people avoid reading the seventh book, once the show is done?
I don’t think so. This isn’t the end of the world.
Like it would be if the Vogon Constructor Fleet demolished the Earth to make room for a hyperspace bypass.
What? Vogon Constructor Fleet?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should stop reading this and check out The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You just need to decide which version of the story you want to consume.
A Song of Ice and Fire, or Game of Thrones as it is also called, boasts novels, comic book adaptations, computer games set in the world of Westeros, and the television show.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has all that and more: a radio show, novels, stage productions, television, a computer game, comics adaptation, and a cinematic release.
Most of these versions have significant differences in the actual plot, but all share the same Douglas Adams DNA. (The 2005 movie included new material from Adams, pulled from script drafts that he had been working on before he died in 2001.)
Although I assume most people would agree that the novels are the canonical version of the story, the novels version wasn’t the first. The radio play kicked things off, and was quite successful.
Adams, who was primarily the creator but hadn’t written everything on the radio show, adapted the story for the novels from the radio show, but he discarded any plot points and material that he had not written.
The books were still being written when the BBC produced the televised adaptation of HHGTTG (please don’t make me expand that acronym. I’m using it to avoid typing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy over and over. Not that I’ve saved any typing with this disclaimer…)
1980 must have been a crazy year for someone keeping track of the various productions, since the radio show was having a second series, there was a stage play, the second book was being published, and the television show was in development. Imagine if the Internet existed then as it does now, with fans going at it…
My wife had heard the radio play first, and had read the initial books before seeing the BBC show. She did not like the television adaptation. It just wasn’t the execution she wanted.
I discovered the series by way of the TV show, and I loved it. I thought it was amazing. It spurred me on to pick up the trilogy. (This was before the trilogy included a fourth, fifth, and ultimately a sixth book.)
Is there a point to this? Even Slartibartfast’s threats make more sense.
The point I’m trying to make is that the multi-media scheduling conflicts we’re seeing between A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones isn’t brand new. HHGTTG’s multiple versions kind of covered that territory. Sort of.
But (I hear you think) Game of Thrones and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy aren’t the same.
Yes, yes. I’d even go so far as to say that Game of Thrones is “almost, but not quite, entirely unlike”* Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Even when HHGTTG is dealing with planetary genocide, death, disease, death, the end of the universe, death, being dead to avoid taxes, death, eating something that wants to be eaten, death, and bureaucracy, there’s a whimsical, light-hearted touch.
Game of Thrones has some whimsical moments, some humorous moments, but overall it’s seriously grim.
Someone might make the argument that because the story of A Song of Ice and Fire is so grounded and dark, that the fidelity of the story is more important. That the Hitchhiker’s Guide story is so easily re-adapted to various media is because of its whimsical nature. Maybe. I don’t know if I have a good argument against that. But in particular, it’s hard to say how well Game of Thrones is suited for various adaptation because at the moment, we don’t have anything concretely done.
This might be something that I’ll have to return to when George RR Martin finishes the seventh book of his A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy. (You are aware that he expected to finish the story in three books? Boom. There might be a closer similarity between the two properties that we first realize.)
Hitchhiker’s Guide to Westeros
Okay, if you came to this page thinking that I would have some humorous parallels between the Hitchhiker’s milieu and Westeros, similar to what you might find in the Arrested Westeros meme-space where dialogue from Arrested Development is applied to Game of Thrones scenes, then I am truly sorry. I wish I was that clever.
I can make a half-hearted attempt at trying…
Hmmm. That wasn’t so hard. I might do some more of this at some point.
So Long and Thanks for All the Lemoncakes
Thanks for checking out my opinion on the multi-media aspect of Game of Thrones, and how we’ve seen things like this, just not exactly like this, before.
I’m not panicking about the show outpacing the books, but I understand that some people might be.
To them, I’ll just say that as long as they don’t get caught without their towel, they’ll be okay. (Look, if you don’t understand that reference, you really need to experience Hitchhiker’s Guide. Be a hoopy frood!)
I haven’t had a poll in awhile! Select all that apply! Leave thoughts not covered in the list!
(Comments are always welcome. Super welcome! But if you want to talk spoilery Game of Thrones talk with me (also welcome) I’d invite you to visit my Safe Spoilers page on my backup blog. That way my non-book-reading friends won’t be shocked with foreknowledge.)
Most images from HBO’s Game of Thrones (obviously) as well as from the 2005 theatrical version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The picture of Adam Pope as Zaphod Beeblebrox came from the Hitcher’s Guide to the Galaxy page on Wikipedia. (Which was an invaluable reference for my research for this article. Wikipedia might be the closest thing that exists to the fictional Hitchhiker’s Guide.)
I make no claims to the artwork, but some claims to the text. So there. Well, obviously not the dialog from HHGTTG that I was using as captions.
* This phrasing comes from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, from the master of wildly-turning phrases Douglas Adams.
If you liked this article, thank you! I have all of my Game of Thrones related articles on my handy-dandy Game of Thrones page should you want to read more but don’t want to navigate around my site.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2015 Some Rights Reserved