From dragons and dire wolves to the arid Red Waste and the frozen lands beyond the Wall, Game of Thrones is teeming with exotic creatures and habitats. It’s also teeming with violence, disease and cultural practices that often swing from pseudo-historical to utterly bizarre.
And, in an impressive collection of blog posts, there are scientists and science writers who want to talk about Game of Thrones and the world in which it takes place.
Westeros and its environs were created in great detail by George R.R. Martin and first presented to readers in the 1996 novel A Game of Thrones. That world has only become more complex over the course of four subsequent novels (and counting). Additional detail came in 2011, when Game of Thrones was brought to (televised) life by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.
But, as lifelike as that world may be, it is – of course – entirely imaginary.
Science, on the other hand, is a nonfiction medium. It’s a system for helping us understand the world around us. The real world.
So why have a collection of scientists and science writers decided to write a collection of posts focused on a fictional world?
Because stories are important.
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: in science writing, as with all writing, it’s easier to capture an audience’s attention if you have a good story to tell. And many people love the story of Game of Thrones. More than 10 million viewers (possibly far more) watched the season six premiere, and it’s virtually impossible to avoid discussion of the show (or the books) on social media. Simply put, this is a story that people want to talk about.
In this collection of blog posts, science writers have used the Game of Thrones universe to explore and explain issues ranging from ecology and epidemiology to astronomy and physics.
The goal of these posts is not to nitpick the scientific likelihood of imaginary lands. Instead, the goal is to use a popular story as a focal point for discussing scientific ideas that help us understand our own universe, and to have fun while doing it. If anyone has erred on a point of fact with regard to plot points or the Game of Thrones mythology, please forgive us – almost all of the contributors are Game of Thrones fans themselves.
We hope you enjoy your scientific excursion to Westeros and beyond.
Here are all of the other entries for the Game of Thrones Science Blog Carnival:
- Dire Wolves Were Real by Brian Switek
- Winter is Coming: climate change and biodiversity beyond the Wall by Jacquelyn Gill
- White Walkers: a warning letter from north of The Wall by Michelle LaRue
- Biology Would Leave the Game of Thrones Dragons Grounded by David Hone
- The Epidemiology of Greyscale by Tara C. Smith
- Tales from a Westeros Geologist by Miles Traer
- A Storm of Chemistry by Raychelle Burks
- The Heating Engineers of Winterfell by Jesse Emspak