Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and George R.R. Martin.
Brandon Royal’s photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson and George R.R. Martin.

Playing the Game of Thrones, with George RR Martin

Neil deGrasse Tyson and George R.R. Martin. Photo Credit: Brandon Royal.

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About This Episode

Who will sit atop the Iron Throne? On this episode of StarTalk Radio, Neil deGrasse Tyson investigates everything you need to know about Game of Thrones with the man himself, George R. R. Martin. Neil is joined in-studio by comic co-host Matt Kirshen, Harvard medieval expert Racha Kirakosian, paleontologist Mark Norrell, Dr. Steven Schlozman, aka Dr. Zombie, astrophysicist and StarTalk geek-in-chief Charles Liu, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

We start at the beginning – you’ll learn about George’s early fantasy and science fiction inspirations. We discuss the creation of A Song of Ice and Fire, the books that inspired the Game of Thrones series. Discover how and why George likes to blend fantasy with real life in his writing. Racha takes us through a history of the Dark Ages: what defines a period as the Dark Ages, why the time of the Dark Ages varies depending on where you are in the world, and if we still might be in the Dark Ages in some respect.

Explore the “science” behind fire-breathing dragons. You’ll learn about dragons and their prominent myths and connection to the world of heraldry, including a legend about a splash of dragon’s blood creating the English flag. Investigate the anatomy of a dragon and how Game of Thrones got it right. Mark explains what fossils contribute to our love of fantasy creatures.

Dr. Zombie breaks down the “science” of the undead. George tells us how he used re-animation to create the army of Wights. You’ll also learn if re-animation is possible in the real world. We debate if re-animation is at the center of some of the world’s most popular religions. We ponder skinchangers: If you transfer your consciousness from one host to another, is it still you?

We also dive into the portrayal of violence and war in Game of Thrones. Racha gives us some powerful real-life female figures from history. All that, plus, you’ll hear about the astronomical connections found in Game of Thrones and why magic is just science we haven’t yet discovered. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Playing the Game of Thrones, with George RR Martin.

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