These days it seems that every popular franchise will spawn a collection of spin-off books that have little or no bearing on the actual franchise. These include colouring-in and dot-to-dot books, as well as behind the scenes insights and artwork books. One of the odder types of these ilk look at the franchise through the eyes of a serious discipline. In The Science of Game of Thrones, comedian Helen Keen uses plot points and scenes from the TV show to explain interesting science facts in simple terms. Helen Keen is funny, clever and highly knowledgeable.
The book doesn’t really have a narrative; author Helen Keen makes no attempt to tell a story here. Instead various elements of the TV shows’ story are held up and examined with a light-hearted scientific eye. Keen is one of the growing number of entertainers who combine science with stand-up comedy and much of the book feels like an extended stand-up routine. It also helps that Keen is clearly a massive fan of both the Song of Ice and Fire books and the Game of Thrones TV series (though mostly the book concentrates on the TV show).
This rambling but fun style bounces from topic to topic. Dragons and giants are used to explain the inverse cube law, and from there it’s a short leap to talking about the Giant’s Causeway and geology. Calculations on how hot a dragon’s flame would be are included, but Keen’s style means this information feels like a punchline, rather than a lesson. The approach to Game of Thrones is pretty comprehensive; every technology and magical trick is questioned, and then science facts are applied.
The science, of course, isn’t complete. This is popular science at its best. If you like shows such as Mythbusters and like your science accurate but light and frothy, then the book’s approach is spot on. If you’re expecting an ornithological essay on how a Raven-based communication network would work, then you’ll be disappointed (instead we get a good look at pigeons, owls, ravens and how smart they all are, before bouncing on the next joke). Overall, it is a good read for fans of fantasy and science.
THE SCIENCE OF GAME OF THRONES: A MYTH-BUSTING, MIND-BLOWING, JAW-DROPPING AND FUN-FILLED EXPEDITION THROUGH THE WORLD OF GAME OF THRONES / AUTHOR: HELEN KEEN / PUBLISHER: CORONET / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW