A Storm of Pork Swords

The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, ‘The Battle of the Bastards’ (aka Bastardbowl) was aired a few days ago, and last night I got around to watching it. Episode nine was this season’s equivalent to ‘Hardhome’ from season four and ‘The Watchers on the Wall’ from season three (a pattern emerges) – the big budget battle sequence designed to make viewers gasp and squeal with excited delight.

But, I wasn’t so keen. Again, the script was rife with plotholes, and the battle itself was a shambles. It would’ve been far more interesting to watch a tactically thought-out battle unfold on the outskirts of Winterfell, with Jon using cunning to make up for his inferior forces. Nope, that was too much to ask.

What I wonder is: when will Sansa realise that she is responsible for the death of her brother Rickon and thousands of men from both forces? Why did she keep the Vale army a secret? It makes no sense. Instead of trying to negotiate Rickon’s return and/or advising Jon to hold back and wait for reinforcements, she says nothing, leaving both bastards to believe that Ramsay has the superior force. So Rickon dies, Jon leads thousands of men to slaughter, and the Vale army arrives half an hour after the fight has begun but just in time to save the surrounded remnants of Jon’s shattered army… was this planned? Those still searching for depth in Game of Thrones might speculate that Littlefinger held back, allowing both forces to suffer heavy casualties, swooping in at the last minute to save the day and therefore winning Jon’s gratitude with minimum risk. But, if I’ve learnt anything from the last two seasons it is this – nothing happens for a reason.

Seasons five and six have been an absolute mess. Of course, there were issues with the first four seasons – some wooden acting, bad casting decisions and poor screenwriting & directing – but the source material is so good and the show followed the books so closely that these things seemed petty to pick up on. In other words, Game of Thrones had to be good – it was based on A Song of Ice and Fire.

Since Game of Thrones veered away from the source material, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have shown a complete disregard for storytelling, right down to the barebones. Plot, narrative and character are overlooked as secondary to dick jokes, violence, tits and feeble attempts at humour. All the scheming and tension and complexity that courses through the books –and the early seasons – has ceased, and the series stumbles on, dead, like a decaying wight, the reanimated corpse of A Song of Ice and Fire, a skeleton with some vague similarities to its former living self, corrupted and stinking, sans soul.

Season five was all plot no story – each scene purely a plot point, there to push planned events forward in a forced and unentertaining way. The characters were puppets and we could all see the strings. Season six is even worse. The plot has ground to a halt, presumably waiting for The Winds of Winter, and now for every scene that actually has some bearing on the ‘story’ there a four or five irrelevant, throwaway filler scenes, like discussing who would fuck Brienne, putting fingers in bumholes, and telling terrible jokes (a dwarf, a eunuch and a translator walk into a bar). Game of Thrones has become trash TV.

Take Jon Snow’s death and resurrection, for instance. Without the books to guide them, D & D turn Jon Snow’s stabbing into a cheap trick. After a cliffhanger season finale, which is rather lacklustre compared to the scene in the book, Jon returns from the dead after two episodes and nothing changes. Jon stays the same, no one seems to care, and after a few episodes it’s as if he never died. Compare this to Lord Beric Dondarrion’s resurrection, which results in the Brotherhood Without Banners converting to the religion of R’hllor and following Beric as a kind of Jesus figure. Or Catelyn turning into Lady Stoneheart, a violent and vengeful monster. Or the wights coming back as mindless zombies. Death changes people.

‘It’s easy to do things that are shocking or unexpected, but they have to grow out of characters. They have to grow out of situations. Otherwise, it’s just being shocking for being shocking’, said George RR Martin, and I would add they would have to not only grow out of situations but create situations as well. In stories, as in life, events happen which produce effects which cause other events to happen, and so on. This is storytelling 101, yet D & D seem to either have forgotten this or are willingly ignoring it. Furthermore, almost everything that happens this season is mechanical, nothing occurs organically. D & D are neither gardeners nor architects – they don’t let things grow naturally and they certainly don’t plan meticulously – one has to wonder if they are even ‘writers’.

Jon Snow is just one example. I could go on and on about everything that’s wrong with the current series – the glaring inconsistencies, the sloppy writing, the ruined plot lines, the lack of depth – but I’d pretty much have to recount the entirety of the last two series word for word, and if you’ve watched them, you’ve probably identified all the problems yourself. Also, a youtuber by the name of Preston Jacobs does a far more detailed and entertaining analysis of why season six is so bad, as well as plenty of videos illustrating and arguing his own intricate fan theories about the books, so check out his channel.

What I want to move onto is: Why? Why do I, and millions of others, still watch Game of Thrones? Perhaps because we’re so invested that we can’t just cut our losses: all those hours of viewing would be for nothing, we might as well stick it out until the end. Or perhaps we see more in the series than there actually is – the world of Ice and Fire is so rich, and so is the original story, that perhaps we gobble up the shit they shovel us with eyes shut tight imagining, and therefore tricking ourselves into tasting, some of the flavours of the first few seasons. Or maybe (exclusively us book readers) we’re simply trying to get our Game of Thrones fix while we’re waiting for The Winds of Winter, but over time the series has been diluted, and watered-down rotgut is no substitute for a fine glass of Arbor gold.

Whatever the reason, I still tune in week after week, to watch what has quickly become the TV version of Star Wars episodes I, II & III or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

To end on an up, seasons six is nearly over, and the sixth instalment in A Song of Ice and Fire, the Winds of Winter, is on its way. One thing to look forward to is that the books are almost back. Hopefully TWoW will be published in time to shape the script of season seven, and maybe George RR Martin will be more involved in the making of Game of Thrones once the sixth book is finished, returning it to its former (relative) glory. Perhaps our patience will pay off, and after sticking with it for two bum seasons we’ll be rewarded with a smashing seventh. Who knows? We can only hope.


Review: Sun Kil Moon, St. George’s Church

The Soliloquies He Sings

sun kil moonMark Kozelek muttered and mumbled about how bright it was in St. George’s Church, looking out at five hundred fully visible faces. The sun had not yet set and soft evening light poured in through the round-headed windows suffusing the church with feathery shadows and illuminating the audience.

When Kozelek asked us how we were doing, our response was silence, closely followed by a breath of shy laughter. Without the cover of darkness, we were unsettlingly self-conscious.

‘Fuck, now you know how I feel,’ said Kozelek.

The laughter grew confident. After that, we all felt a little more at ease.

He sat himself down at the church organ and began playing a droning three-note bass line, and just like that the gig kicked off with ‘Hey You Bastards I’m Still Here’.

The intimate and informal atmosphere continued throughout the concert. Between songs, he spoke to the audience, offering unscripted observations full of understated wit and self-depreciating comments about his own weight and age. Underneath it all was a melancholy tiredness that mirrored his music and lyrics, particularly those on his most recent albums, Benji and Universal Themes.

Kozelek’s musical career has been one of constant growth and movement ever since his slowcore band Red House Painters were signed to 4AD in 1992, through his solo experimentation with genres, sounds and styles – both under his Sun Kil Moon moniker and as Mark Kozelek – and collaborative efforts, most notably the electro-melancholic Perils from the Sea with Jimmy LaValle of the band The Album Leaf.

His lyrical style has changed over the years as well, from the poetic and metaphorical lyrics of his early work towards the gracefully frank soliloquies he sings on Benji. It is as though the youthful romanticism of his earlier song-writing has grown into something else: something older and wiser but no less beautiful. With a keen eye for detail, he finds beauty and meaning in the mundane and everyday. His lyrics unrestrainedly recount his thoughts and feelings, and this is precisely how he performs, both during and between songs. Always moving forward, Kozelek is developing his confessionalism further and beginning to experiment with spoken-word poetry, and he brought this new style to old songs that night in St. George’s Church.

Despite the development and variation in Sun Kil Moon material, Kozelek and the band managed to pull together a set from across previous LPs, along with a handful of covers, and play them as if they were all from the same album, forming one contingent whole, punctuated by the off-beat, strangely-paced spoken-word techniques and occasional punk shouts that characterise Sun Kil Moon’s most recent album, Universal Themes. At times, it was as though Kozelek was covering himself – the songs were so different from the studio versions. Instrumentally minimalist, softer and slower and sombre. Six string bass, guitar and gently-brushed drums set the background while tinkling piano lines complimented Kozelek’s Midwest American drawl.

It was a performance full of variation and improvisation, something separate from the recorded albums, just as live music should be. The downside was that he rarely picked up his guitar and chose rather to wander the stage or sit down behind the organ. When he did play guitar, as he did for ‘I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same’, which for me was the best song in the set, his playing was impeccable. I closed my eyes and rocked back and forth, drowning in that dreamy guitar.

After the fourth song of the set, he requested a moment of silence for Arthur Cave, the son of singer Nick Cave, who fell to his death from a cliff here in Brighton, aged fifteen, less than three weeks before. The sun had set by this point and the church was dark and the band and crowd all bowed their heads in the dusty silence as if each of us was deep in prayer.

‘This next song is dedicated to Nick Cave, in memory of his son,’ said Kozelek. They played a cover of ‘The Weeping Song’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Kozelek displayed the mastery of his voice, which cracked and faltered and moaned, haunting and elegiac, in what has to be one of my favourite covers of all time.

Since then, a new Sun Kil Moon album has been announced: a collaboration with the experimental post-metal band Jesu, simply titled Jesu / Sun Kil Moon. The album is set for release on Caldo Verde Records, Kozelek’s own label, and Rough Trade on the 21st of January this year.

It seems that the Nick Cave cover was a prelude to ‘Exodus’, the first single from the new album, which is available to listen to online. In the track he speaks of Cave and his son and sends his love to all parents who have gone through the unimaginable pain of losing a child. The instrumentation sounds like that of Perils from the Sea. For most of the ten-minute track there is only a gentle electro drum loop and a simple piano line that floats in dark reverb. Kozelek’s loosely melodious monologue is another step towards spoken-word poetry: a simple, straight-forward stream of consciousness, listing events, thoughts and feelings with little rhyme. Towards the end, a vocal chorus comes in, against which Kozelek sings slightly out of sync, reminiscent of the songs of Nick Cave to whom he is paying tribute.

Mark Kozelek is moving ever further from the old poetic lyricism of albums such as April, my personal favourite Sun Kil Moon LP, towards long spoken-word performance pieces. From the sound of ‘Exodus’, Jesu / Sun Kil Moon certainly won’t be as listenable as his earlier work, and won’t get near as many plays on my mp3 player, but I will be getting tickets to see him when he comes to London this summer. He is a performance artist, and the pleasure of his new music comes from the sense of in-the-moment open honesty, a feeling as though you’re getting a glimpse into his mind, that can only be fully experienced when he is there in front of you, muttering and mumbling and wandering the stage, pouring his thoughts out into the microphone.

Review: ‘Nicholas Hawksmoor, His Churches’ by Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair’s psychogeographic poem-essay on the churches of eighteenth century architect Nicholas Hawksmoor is a well-researched rambling, like a map drawn by a madman, a dot-to-dot that spans time, space, religion and reason. Sinclair offers an alternate reading of Hawksmoor’s six churches, superimposing the symbol of Set, tracing the invisible lines of influence, ineffable rods of force, imperceptible poles of vigour? something like that; it’s all a bit phallic.

‘The web is printed on the city and disguised with multiple superimpositions’ writes self-aware Sinclair. It is a difficult piece to read, layer upon layer of histories – ancient, local, criminal – mythologies, literature, fanciful fictions and personal impressions. Imagine twenty articles, on the aforementioned subjects – quotes from De Quincey and Blake, historical and cultural accounts, all written on pieces of tracing paper, laid one atop the other. And imagine now trying to read that chaos. That is the way in which ‘His Churches’ is difficult to read.

Pyschogeography is concerned with overlap: a place (and the reception of that place) is an amalgamation, a sum of all parts and perceptions. This is true to how we experience the world in which we live. But Sinclair’s poem is so densely overlapped that it becomes a chore to pick apart; there seems to be no purpose or point. It’s like mixing all of the paints on the pallet until there is nothing but a brown mess. Density would not be an issue were in not paired with length – it becomes indigestible.

That said, the poem does have its merits. Occasionally, amid the grey overlay of information, colourful imagery emerges: ‘the setting sun and the molten light’, and ‘the dust of wooden voices.’ These moments are welcome respites from the writer’s tortuous weaving, which makes for torturous reading.

One of the most interesting aspects of this piece is its exploration of intertextuality. As I mentioned previously, Sinclair overlays histories, literatures and myths, quoting writers and historians and drawing an intertextual map of London around the six churches of Hawksmoor. This obvious or surface intertextuality is layered (again) over the idea of the city as text(s), as ‘[t]he buildings… yield a further word’, and the mendicants ‘study and inscribe the graffiti with prophetic seriousness.’ The city is there to be read. A parallel is drawn between the intertextuality of reading and the intertextuality of place, specifically place in psychogeography. A place is a text: we read it as a signifier (e.g. church = God, the gothic, death), we refer to its written histories and its oral myths, our memories and associations, and we piece together a fragmented image of the whole, a superimposition of reference after reference, tied together with invisible lines.

Sinclair situates his poem in the genre of psychogeography from the start, beginning with quotes from Thomas De Quincey and W. B. Yeats, two writers who’s works are considered to be early precursors of psychogeography. Sinclair also writes often of William Blake, fever-poet, and towards the end directly alludes to Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Blake’s book of original mythology was clearly a huge influence on Sinclair. The unusual thing is that as Blake influenced Sinclair, so has Sinclair influenced others: the novel Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd, the graphic novel From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, and, probably, the Da Vinci Code, all influenced by this poem. William Gibson called Iain Sinclair his favourite author. I must be missing something here.

Saying that, over the course of writing this review, I have come to almost appreciate ‘His Churches’. It is a fun rewriting of history, an imaginative mythologising of London, with beautiful imagery and quirky grains of information scattered throughout. As a poem, a dense and lengthy poem at that, it requires patience and a little picking apart to find the hidden meaning. A more tolerant or attentive reader might find this this piece rich and rewarding. Unfortunately, despite its merits, I found it very dull. Perhaps a prior knowledge of Hawksmoor or the area of London in question would help one to navigate the piece. But ultimately the whole thing caves in on itself, burying meaning deep beneath the layers. As Sinclair writes, ‘it is there, but you have to dig for it.’ The question is: Is the excavation worth the effort?

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

gotgWriter-director James Gunn of the cult horror-comedy Slither (2006) and the Kick-Ass-esque dark-comedy Super (2010) maintains his edgy, irreverent tone in his transition to the Hollywood blockbuster.[i]

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) follows a rag-tag gang of interplanetary outlaws as they scrape by, skirmish to skirmish.[ii] Gunn says that he took more inspiration from the stylised 2008 reboot of the comic than the original series, and diehard comic fans will notice the changes made.[iii] Though it can’t be described as witty or laugh-out-loud funny, its flippant humour playfully subverts the more grandiose aspects of its genres in a way that almost satirises itself.

The opening scene and ’70s soundtrack harken back to what Christine Cornea calls, in Science Fiction Cinema (2007) the second Golden Age of sci-fi, from the late 1970s into the ’80s.[iv] It begins on Earth, 1988, with a young Peter Quill at his mother’s hospital bedside, bathed in ghostly green light. She reaches out for him, he recoils momentarily, and she passes away before he can summon the courage to take her hand. It’s a powerful opening scene, the kind of alchemising pain and loss that every superhero backstory needs. As he runs away across a moonlit, misty field, his silhouette brings to mind the classic scene from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) as Elliott and E.T. cycle past the moon.[v] A light hits him, and out of the fog a spaceship appears, beaming him up from Earth. The whole scene is a nod back to the ’80s, science-fiction’s second Golden Age, when a renewed interest in the 1947 Roswell incident inspired imaginings of UFOs and alien abductions.[vi] The soundtrack works incredibly well with the film: in the opening scene it creates an eerie, uncanny juxtaposition, like the child abduction scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) when Johnny Mathis’s Chances Are plays off an old jukebox, or in the Fallout video game series which marries ’50s music and aesthetics to a future post-apocalyptic America.[vii] However, for the rest of the film the soundtrack serves to normalise and familiarise the audience to the fantastic galaxy of the Guardians. Plus, it’s a very good soundtrack.

Though classed as a superhero film, it sets itself apart from the other superhero films set in the Marvel universe, namely The Avengers (2012).[viii] In the after-credit scene of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), there is a hint at an Avengers-Guardians crossover, but I can’t see this working too well – the Guardians belong in their galaxy, the Avengers belong on Earth.[ix] Guardians of the Galaxy has more in common with the space opera genre; Gunn says himself, ‘[i]t’s one thousand [sic] per cent space opera.’[x] With dead planets, plenty of sword-and-sorcery style combat and a mining colony on the severed head of an ancient Celestial being, it’s dripping with the fantasy elements that help define the space opera genre.[xi] The Star Wars (1977) influence is impossible to miss, with the rakish Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) aka Star-Lord as Han Solo, leather-bound sassy assassin Gamora (Zoë Saldana) as Princess Leia, Tolkienesque tree-man Groot (Vin Diesel) as Chewy and the dark, dramatic Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) as Darth Vader.[xii] The Guardians are rather morally ambiguous characters, thieves, murderers, assassins. As Gunn says, ‘I also find characters with shades of grey more interesting than characters who are just black and white, good and bad.’[xiii]

But while the Guardians, and the outlaw band the Ravagers, may inhabit the ambiguous grey space, the black-and-white still exist – and I mean that in the most binary-oppositional, deconstructionist sense of the term – and this is where the film fails, spectacularly. On the one hand we have the Nova Empire, characterised by the bright, modern metropolis of Xandar, a utopian New York City, introduced for familiarity alongside Rocket Raccoon’s (Bradley Cooper) New Jersey accent and Stan Lee’s cliché cameo as he harasses some poor young woman. On the other we have the blue-skinned Kree, a dark and mysterious empire who have just signed a peace treaty with the Nova Empire, ending a thousand years of war. But the fanatic Ronan the Acuser does not recognise the treaty and plots to destroy Xandar. ‘They call me terrorist. Radical. Zealot. Because I obey the ancient laws of my people, the Kree… and punish those who do not,’ announces Ronan, in a dark and ancient temple, before brutally and ritually killing a white, Xandarian (American) Nova corpsman.[xiv] In an American post 9/11 film, the word ‘terrorist’ has clear connotations. Racial and ethnic tensions are commonly covered in science fiction, established through a binary opposition of the Self and the Other, often through alien species.[xv] Here, the Self and the Other are clearly defined as the civilised, white West against an exotic and savage East. Edward Said has written extensively on this, most notably in his book Orientalism (1978).[xvi] In an article titled ‘Islam Through Western Eyes’ (1980), Said writes of the Western fear of Islam and the crude, dehumanising caricatures of Muslims and Arabs in Western culture.[xvii] Guardians of the Galaxy presents an Orientalist view of Muslims, crude and dehumanising, depicting them as exotic, savage terrorists in the case of Ronan and his fanatic followers. The official Kree Empire refuse to act against Ronan, responding to Nova’s plea for help with cold indifference, completing Gunn’s racist portrayal of the Middle East. It’s impossible that Gunn could be ignorant to this reading of his film. Other recent films, including Hollywood blockbusters, have handled concepts of the Self and Other and of colonialism without this anti-Other ideology, such as James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), or Niell Blomkamp’s District 9 (2009) which is in fact a brilliant critique of Otherness.[xviii]

It’s unusual that a xenophobic message should come in the form of a space opera, as Nicholas Barber in ‘Out of This World’ (2014) speculates that since the decline of the space opera in the late ’90s and early noughties, after its post-Star Wars heyday, the 9/11 attack and subsequent ‘war on terror’ have made the space opera seem inappropriate as ‘no Hollywood producer wanted to suggest that it was exhilarating to zoom away to an alien domain, nor that the natives there could become your friends.’[xix] However, there is a precedent for racist undertones in space operas: Star Wars draws heavily on the Christian crusades, creating a binary opposition between the dark side of the Sith and the light, white side of the Jedi knights. The Star Wars (1999) prequel trilogy took this further with overtly racist caricatures.[xx] It’s a crying shame, as Guardians of the Galaxy was an enjoyable film, ruined by its Islamaphobic undertones. I recommend that if you watch it, do so from what Stuart Hall has termed a ‘negotiated position’: that is, be aware of the potentially insidious ideologies and reject them, but enjoy the action, awe and comedy that Guardians of the Galaxy has to offer.[xxi]

To end on a high note, the success of Guardians of the Galaxy could signify a return of the fantastic space opera genre. With the upcoming release of the new Star Wars trilogy, directed by JJ Abrams, including Star Wars spin-offs now in preproduction, and rumours of a new Netflix Star Trek series, the genre could be making a comeback.[xxii] The huge popularity of the television series Game of Thrones (2011) is also a factor, as the space opera and fantasy genres have much in common, as Gunn says himself, ‘we have more in common with Game of Thrones as we do with 2001.’[xxiii] As Damien Walter writes in ‘Space Opera Strikes Up Again for a New Era’ (2014), ‘[a]fter years condemned to the outer darkness of secondhand bookshops, Space Opera is once again exciting the imagination of sci-fi fans.’[xxiv] Guardians of the Galaxy may be at the forefront for a new era of space opera – let’s hope they get it right next time.

[i] Slither. Dir. James Gunn. Universal Pictures. 2006; Super. Dir. James Gunn. IFC Films. 2012.

[ii] Guardians of the Galaxy. Dir. James Gunn. Marvel Studios. 2014.

[iii] Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Comics, 2008; James Gunn, The Badass Interview: James Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy, Devin Faraci, http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2014/07/29/the-badass-interview-james-gunn-on-guardians-of-the-galaxy, [accessed 19 May 2015]

[iv] Christine Cornea, Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality, (Edinburgh University Press, 2007), [on-line] available at https://www.dawsonera.com/readonline/9780748628704 [accessed 19 May 2015], p. 82.

[v] E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Universal Pictures. 1982.

[vi] Kal A. Korf, ‘What Really Happened at Roswell’, in Skeptical Inquirer, (1997), http://www.csicop.org/si/show/what_really_happened_at_roswell [accessed 19 May 2015]

[vii] Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Columbia Picture. 1977; Robert Allen and Al Stillman. Chances Are. Johnny Mathis. 1957; Fallout 3. Bethesda Softworks. 2008.

[viii] The Avengers. Dir. Joss Whedon. Marvel Studios. 2012.

[ix] Avengers: Age of Ultron. Dir. Joss Whedon. Marvel Studios. 2015.

[x] Gunn, The Badass Interview

[xi] Nicholas Barber, ‘Out of this world: are space operas making a comeback?’, The Guardian, June 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/jun/12/are-space-operas-making-comeback-guardians-of-the-galaxy [accessed 19 May 2015]

[xii] Star Wars. Dir. George Lucas. 20th Century Fox. 1977.

[xiii] Gunn, The Badass Interview

[xiv] Guardians of the Galaxy. Gunn.

[xv] Cornea, p. 176, p. 179.

[xvi] Edward Said, Orientalism, (New York: Pantheon, 1978)

[xvii] Edward Said, ‘Islam Through Western Eyes’, in The Nation, April 1980, [on-line] available at http://www.thenation.com/article/islam-through-western-eyes [accessed 19 May 2015]

[xviii] Avatar. Dir. James Cameron. 20th Century Fox. 2009; District 9. Dir. Niell Blomkamp. TriStar Pictures. 2009.

[xix] Barber.

[xx] Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Dir. George Lucas. 20th Century Fox. 1999.

[xxi] Stuart Hall, ‘Encoding, Decoding’, in The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. by Simon During, (London: Routledge, 1993) pp.507-517, (p. 515).

[xxii] Barber; Jessica Toomer, ‘A New ‘Star Trek’ Series Might Be In the Works at Netflix’, The Huffington Post, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/20/star-trek-reboot-netflix_n_5516042.html [accessed 19 May 2015]

[xxiii] Game of Thrones. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. HBO. 2011; Gunn, The Badass Interview

[xxiv] Damien Walter, ‘Space Opera strikes up again for a new era’, The Guardian, August 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/aug/29/space-opera-new-guardians-of-the-galaxy-ancillary-justice [accessed 19 May 2015]