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ASOIAF/GoT Tech Upgrade Stories - Can they be good?

Discussion in 'Other Fandoms Discussion' started by Andrela, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. chaosattractor

    chaosattractor Groundskeeper

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    "Fast food" has existed since Rome. A lot of food's appeal is *cultural* and not inherent to its taste. No-one is going to fall at your feet for giving them freaking burgers and chips, there's little guarantee they'd even find them all that palatable in the first place.

    Sent from my D5803 using Tapatalk
     
  2. Andrela

    Andrela Plot Bunny DLP Supporter

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    Maybe not, but then again Westeros isn't exactly like Earth so the mention of Rome doesn't exactly fit.
     
  3. chaosattractor

    chaosattractor Groundskeeper

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    So we're just going to ignore the blatant parallels to Eurasian culture and history in Westeros-Essos? As well as the fact that "X has been a thing since Rome" means "Any society similar in advancement to Rome and its successors can reasonably be expected to have developed X, unless there are mitigating factors", not "Rome literally had to exist in that society for us to draw conclusions about X"?
     
  4. ray243

    ray243 Seventh Year

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    We should not forget just how dogmatic "scientists" in the ancient world could be. People had huge issues accepting the idea that the heavens could be anything other than a perfect circle in the past.

    Even if the protagonist managed to guide alchemist in creating a good gunpowder formula, it's still going to be difficult to convince them to do anything effective with it.

    The Romans knew about steam engines but that doesn't necessary made them able to kick-start an industrial revolution. How many people today even know how to design and build a Newcomen engine?
     
  5. Hachi

    Hachi Death Eater

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    But that has absolutely nothing to do with marketing techniques and ad fatigue, which was yak 's point, I believe.

    Of course most marketing techniques nowadays rely on modern forms of communication, but the principles are the same.
     
  6. chaosattractor

    chaosattractor Groundskeeper

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    Ah. "It's the same, just completely different."

    Just like food's appeal is mostly cultural and not about taste, marketing and advertising principles work because of the prevailing zeitgeist. They're not universal, as the many, many marketing campaigns that have flopped because they're designed for the wrong target would attest.

    Sure you have a world without ad fatigue. But you also have a world that doesn't recognize the cues and tropes that marketers and consumers alike take for granted, and where they might work against you for all you know. And to top it all off, you don't have the ease of mass media to ease your way, or even the printing press.

    Unless you mean "marketing principles" as in extremely basic things like "know your market before you try to sell things to them"
     
  7. Puzzled

    Puzzled Professor

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    Well to defend myself, in A Song of Ice and Fires that Weren't My Fault Dresden doesn't invent the steam engine, he just demonstrates the basic physics and a bunch of rich dilettantes throw their money behind it because a real live wizard is telling them that it works. We've debated upthread about how easy technological progress would be with the basic principles and the certain knowledge of success would be, but I don't think it was particularly unrealistic to go from concept to a working steam engine in a few years. Well meaning people can disagree.

    Maybe a story about the detailed design process of building a steam engine using Renaissance technology would be fun, I'd probably read it, but in mine the uplift isn't the primary story. As for the printing press, I think it's a simple enough invention that once the idea of movable type exists it requires little justification.

    As to the second point, most SIs are into kings or other movers and shakers, because who wants to be random peasant number 5493? It's a necessity of the genre. With dictatorial powers a lot can be done.
     
  8. Hachi

    Hachi Death Eater

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    That's obvious.

    Which is why it's the job of any decent marketer to know this...

    And ^this is exactly why brand-building is difficult in a verse like ASOIAF.
    But it's also a reason for conflict, struggle, which make a story engaging.
    I don't want to read about some dude who becomes a successful merchant in 3 days flat. :sherlock:
     
  9. ray243

    ray243 Seventh Year

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    The Romans were well aware of the concept of a steam engine, that doesn't necessary mean they were able to build a bigger or better steam engine. If you were sent back in time or to Westeros, could you even design a Newcomen engine without access to google or any books?

    There's a level of arrogance in assuming almost every modern educated person could do so.

    The impact would be fairly minor, considering how many people in a medieval world were educated enough to read. The printing press did not take off overnight in real life. It took a number of decades before mass production of books start to change society. Most fanfic tries to depict the entire society changing within a few years.

    I disagree. Most leadership relies and appeals heavily to tradition as a source of legitimacy. Dictatorial powers don't exist in a vacuum as if this is a video game, where peasants will never be upset with their leaders for introducing radical change.

    You will end up offending many others, especially other rival lords and minor nobles who can't adapt to changes fast enough. It is not even an issue about showing them how much profit they could make by adopting change. There remain many people in society that would rather have things stay the same than to increase productivity.

    There are many people who will remain stubborn no matter how good your arguments are. Look at Imperial China as a perfect example. It took the Western powers to occupy the Imperial Palace itself before the conservative elements of the Qing court agreed to reform their society.
     
    Hal
  10. Puzzled

    Puzzled Professor

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    The Romans had the aeolipile, which while technically a steam engine was really nothing of the sort. As for myself, for my sins I graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering and trudged through thermo, so I feel pretty good about my theoretical steam engine building capabilities. That's hardly average, but I don't really think we want stories about average people. If you want an emphasis on straight historical accuracy check out AH.com, a board I enjoy but the consensus here is they focus on minutia at the expense of plot and general literary merit.

    I don't want to make my thread about my story, so I won't address the printing press thing, but as for the powers of a King? If nothing else they have funds and authority, enough to kickstart developments. Westeros is somewhat odd in that the King doesn't really have lands directly under him, a legacy of dragons, but the Lords Paramount and others could certainly implement reforms on their own lands at will.

    I think I've made my position clear that having the basic idea is enough to dramatically accelerate innovation and unless someone here has a time machine and lets us know that's unfalsifiable. I admit that isn't a huge endorsement, but I think the opposite position is just as weak. At the end of the day the story has to be interesting, so that's up to the author.
     
  11. Spanks

    Spanks Minister of Magic

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    You know what this calls for? A one shot from the point of view of another character telling Aerys or Robert about a new drink from one of the other kingdoms. It's taking the small folk by storm and has started to appear in the castles of Lords. It fizzles and tastes like nothing ever conceived, it's called Coca-Cola (or Pepsi if that's your thing)
     
  12. ray243

    ray243 Seventh Year

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    Yet we rarely get to explore those aspects of it in the actual story. You can craft a good story where the character's scientific or engineering background forms a major part of the story. However, most of the time, that information are either left out of the story.

    The Martian is an excellent example of a novel/film where you can tell an engaging story from the perspective of a scientist.

    I would not consider AH.com to be the bastion of historical accuracy. There tends to be a massive amount of assumptions, especially when it comes to technology. Most of those stories can't be taken seriously as something that could happen. Sure someone might have a good working knowledge about some scientific and engineering principles...but for someone to retain a near encyclopedic memory of everything he learned?

    But technological change isn't merely an issue of funding and authority. Peasants no matter how you think about them, and noble lords aren't machines or programs that would blindly follow everything their lord/kings tell them to. People will resist change.

    Would new ideas accelerate change? I do not dispute that. We know from our own history how challenging it was for an undeveloped state to change. It's been nearly two centuries since China was opened up to technological change and we still have peasants that barely use much modern technology.

    History is full of examples how challenging and difficult it was to implement new change. We are living in a world which typewriters continues to be used today.
     
  13. Jarik

    Jarik Chief Warlock

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    I guess the main point I wanted to emphasize in my post is that in the end the realism factor really doesn't matter as much as people think it does. There are plenty of realistic stories that are dry and boring, and alternatively plenty of stories with gaping holes in the world that end up being absolutely engrossing. Coming up with the most interesting, imaginative or interesting ways one could change Westerosi society isn't going to necessarily make for an interesting story.

    An analogy would be stories with complex magic systems. The author probably had a lot more fun coming up with their system than the reader actually cared about in the end. If it's a bland story then no amount of interesting magic systems can make it better than a story with a simple magic system of "fireballs" and "lightning".

    Not saying that A Song of Ice and Fires That Weren't my Fault was bland or anything. The only reason I actually enjoyed it was that it had a plot which was reasonably fun. I enjoyed most of your story (up to a point), but that the steamboats and printing press was a bit off putting. Perhaps I'm an exception and other people really enjoyed that sort of stuff, but in every fic that has ever tried this, I feel like it added nothing at best and made it less enjoyable at worst.

    And I'd completely disagree with that. I have zero interest in reading about "a lot being done", because that's just the author wanking over their own ideas on how they could improve society using their own opinions.

    An SI being put into random peasant 5493 would make for a whole lot more engaging, emotional story about the SI trying to overcome various obstacles to get to a position where they can start enacting those changes. The changes shouldn't be the focus at all, the journey should be.
     
  14. Longsword

    Longsword Second Year

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    Well, tech upgrade is the sticking point here. A person sent into the body of an average man would make for an extremely tedious story. Making ends meet would take nearly all of the character's time. Assuming such a story has a certain amount of realism in it the peasant remains a peasant and we get to see relatively little change because of his actions.
    At the best the person can be a narrator of the plot.
     
  15. Jarik

    Jarik Chief Warlock

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    Here's a couple of ideas. I've tried to take a fair effort at both of them. Tell me what you find more interesting.

    Plot 1

    Our SI, let's call him Mike, wakes up in the body of Joffrey Baratheon. Mike soon realizes to his dismay where he is and more importantly, who he is. In the early chapters you have him struggling with trying to come to terms with the fact his new family goes against everything he believes him morally. Over time he does come to start actually accepting Cersei as his mother and embraces learning more about how the Red Keep politics work (think In Bad Faith, the Malfoy SI story).

    Now as Mike grows up, people start to recognize he's quite intelligent. Most people think he's wasting time on silly ideas when he should be learning how to be King, but Tyrion, his open minded Uncle, humors his nephew and helps support his various ideas.

    It starts small, but we start seeing Mike enacting technological changes, economic changes and eventually, cultural changes. The story focuses on his various endeavors, and how he politics his way to sell his idea to the various men of power in the land, while carefully trying to hold the delicate balance of power knowing everything that happened in the ASOIAF books. The story will follow Mike as he discusses his ideas with various men of trades, sells his ideas to various Lords, implements it and wows people with its success. Underlying that will be a long term cultural change he's trying to enact, which he keeps secret. Perhaps there's a romance story in there too, Margaery is pushing for a marriage, but at some point suddenly realizes Mike is aiming at something higher than merely playing the Game of Thrones.

    Finally, all his plans come to fruition and his army equipped with his technology marches North to wipe out the Others.

    Plot 2

    Mike is reborn as the son of some random farmer. He has no idea what is going on and just assumes somehow he has ended up back in time. He's put to work from a young age, his intelligence is scoffed at as a bad attitude. His mother dies of sickness, partially due to religious based quack medicine practices, but no one will listen to his advice. Perhaps he sees his childhood friend pressured into being the mistress of the local Lord. Sees people he knows killed for stupid reasons by noble born. Overall, he becomes jaded by the world, realizing peasants are nothing and all he needs to do is survive.

    A traveler merchant comes through the village. They are amused at his imagination, but accept peasants don't get an education. What does impress the merchant is the boys ability with numbers and general business sense, even if some of his ideas are farfetched.

    Mike starts traveling with the merchant. He helps the merchant make a lot of money, and soon starts to develop some sort of respect from the merchant. The merchant begins to humour him, allowing him to spend his pay on his crazy ideas. And hey, some of them work! The merchant is now making a lot of money through Mike's ideas.

    Mike has at some point realized he's in Westeros, but that doesn't really change his outlook on life - survive. He's impotent to really even be thinking about the large scale conflict that's about to his the world, but amongst the circles he moves with, no one even really cares about the Game of Thrones. But at some point, their growing fame from their products lead to them meeting a plot centric character. To tie in with the Lannister theme from Plot 1, let's go with Tyrion.

    Tyrion finds all these ideas really interesting. Afterall, he designed Bran's harness, so has some interest in this sort of stuff. Tyrion starts sponsoring this. As more ideas become succesful, Mike captures the attention of Tywin, who elevates Mike's position. But to Mike's dismay, he suddenly realizes he's fallen in with the bad guys.

    He struggles morally, as the war ramps up. He now realizes he has affected the plot. But not in a good way. His technology is being used by characters like the Mountain to slaughter and pillage. His ideas are bringing the Lannisters victory after victory.

    But he suddenly realizes something. He's no longer impotent. No longer should he only be focusing on trying to survive. No, he's in the position where he can change things. Where his knowledge of the future, along with his knowledge of technology, could actually make a difference to the whole world.

    And the story goes from there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2016
  16. Halt

    Halt 1/3 of the Note Bros.

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    I'd prefer to read the second if only for the sheer novelty of the idea. Plus, rooting for an underdog is usually fun
     
  17. Nemrut

    Nemrut The Black Mage Prestige

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    There is of course some interesting stuff one could do with Mike the peasant but honestly I would find the Tyrion discoverers the Mike and Merchant duo already as too cheesy.

    Like, he's being trapped in there, in that village. He cares for his new family, despite them having medieval opinions and outlooks. They are backwards as hell, but still, they are the people who raised him. They tried to do what's best for him, but just had very limited views on that due to their extreme lack of education.

    Don't want to give him a sister, because I'd find it a bit cheap if we throw in threat to her being raped in there, which would hover over their heads all the time like the Sword of Damocles.

    So, he kinda sticks around in the village, trying to get a better life for him and his family, but doesn't succeed because no one really gives him a chance, partly because they can't believe he could succeed and because they are afraid that the resident Lord will crack down on them for "having ideas".

    So, that's his first 16-20 years, until war breaks out and he gets forced into the levies. And now, he gets a pike pressed into his hands, alongside his father, brother and some friend from the village and has to go to medieval war.

    And no, he didn't memorize the Art of War or anything, he isn't a military genius but I could imagine him making something modern that would increase his chances, not sure what that would be, though.

    No gunpowder or anything like that, or penicillin, obviously. Something like, weren't stirrups, for example, relatively new?

    That would be doable, that's something a normal person could make and explain to others. It would increase effectiveness of cavalry. Like, it got to Europe in the 7th century and had a big impact. Well, Westeros probably already has that but something like that, you know. Some invention like that, which is very common now. Something basic that just no one had considered until then. Toilet paper? Is that doable? Probably not, would most likely be considered wasteful.

    Maybe even boiling water and killing germs, even if he couldn't explain germs.

    Anyway, him being forced into the levies, participating in the War of the 5 Kings. Only, he isn't really able to do anything. Yeah, he might know what happens, but he can't fight for shit, no one would listen. So, he has to get creative.

    I do prefer female SIs but you can't really have the levy story line with a woman unless you have her disguise herself as a man and join the army but why someone from the 21th century would want to join a medieval army is beyond me. Even if you meticulously wash your hands and shit there, which you probably wouldn't be able to, you most likely couldn't defend yourself from the inevitable diseases or being killed by some knight because your crappy pike, i.e a sharp, wooden stick, can't do anything against his shitty armour and horse combination.

    Think with a girl, you could go the route of her being the lady in waiting/handmaiden to a noblewoman of canon, and the story would focus on her trying to keep herself out of the attention of the nobleman, the lords and knights, but trying to manipulate her lady into all sorts of things.

    Maybe even some innovations. Again, no steam machines or new irrigation techniques, just some very basic, simple stuff that just make life a lot easier. Tampons or pads, maybe? I mean, there have been cotton tampons and similar stuff for ages, but maybe Westeros never got to those or they just used cloth bandages or something more inconvenient.

    Not exactly military stuff but something that would make her life personally a lot easier and I would think something one would try to recreate if found lacking in this new world.

    I guess the printing press is doable, actually. Not that complex of a mechanism and certainly explainable.

    Westeros already has water and windmills, right? If not, those seem possible for a normal person to recreate with trial and error. Certainly explainable.

    Hourglass or the more modern concept of time, I guess, but that's more abstract and I'm not sure if the required glassblowing techniques for that exist in Westeros and if the SI is capable of explaining that process.

    Back to the female SI, the Lady would, of course, be suspicious over time. Wouldn't go for Cersei or a Stark or Tyrell. Maybe Lady Dustin? Or Lady Genna? Or Arianna?

    Anyway, those are the directions I would probably go for, if I were to drop modern people in there.
     
  18. Puzzled

    Puzzled Professor

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    When I started it I didn't really plan for the uplift to be as prominent as it seems to be in people's minds, Harry spends far more time enchanting than on discussing the details of the various inventions. That said I feel like uplift is the fundamentally decent thing to do, and Harry would give it a shot to the extent his abilities and background allow.

    There was a fairly large argument in Steelbadger's Harry Potter/LoTR crossover about it, but what makes sense in his story doesn't follow for everyone. A story doesn't have to focus on uplifts, but I think if a SI or crossover character has the ability they should at least throw in an offhand mention of boiling water or whatever.

    TL;DR Good characters should do things that they view as good as far as they are reasonably able as long as it doesn't detract from the story.
     
  19. bobodoll131

    bobodoll131 Squib

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    Don't know if anyone recced it, but Greyjoy Alla Breve over on Spacebattles takes it to the logical extreme, wanking the Starks into the industrial age by the time of Wot5K. Personally, I thought the reactions of the Westerosi inhabitants to be very muted, with the degree of change going on.
     
  20. yak

    yak Moderator Moderator DLP Supporter

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    Every time I see it on SB, I also see the words "Andrew J Talon" underneath the thread title and can't bring myself to click on it. Based on your comments, he hasn't improved.