JUST about everyone seems to be talking about the HBO smash hit series Game of Thrones and the unfinished novels on which it is based (five published, two more promised by author George R R Martin).

For a couple of years I have found strangers in bars and in offices talking about the latest happenings in Westeros.

Indeed, I have encouraged friends, co –workers, acquaintances and people I have just met to buy the box sets or pick up the books.

Theories abound on who the rightful monarch of Westeros is: Daenerys, Stannis, Joffrey, Renly, Jon Snow, take your pick.

But the more I watch, read and re-read the more I am bugged by something seemingly trivial in the grand scheme of all these theories.

The seasons.

Not as in television seasons, I mean winter and summer which can each last for years at a time. There is no set length of a season and no pattern to the span of seasons.

This is referred to often in the narrative, but it is all a matter of fact. No character questions why, it is just accepted.

What I know about seasons is to do with the tilt of the earth as it spins around the sun. Predictable.

How can a planet as we understand it have unpredictable seasons, wouldn’t an unpredictable spin have made it difficult for life to evolve? I don’t know tonnes on this subject, but from what I remember, it just doesn’t add up.

But then I saw the series and it all made sense, to me at least.

I have read many times the author has told the series producers names the secrets of the books. It is assumed this covers the fate of the characters and who will sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the series.

Perhaps, he has also revealed what the deal is with those odd seasons.

Certainly I watched the credits for the show roll a few times, each time thinking there was something I was missing in them.

Then it struck me.

The maps show curvature, as you would expect from what we know of planets, but it is the wrong way.

Let me say this again: the world containing Westeros and Sothoryos curves the wrong way.

With the attention to detail in the show and the books, something like this cannot be by mistake. And it seems like just the sort of trickery which would appeal to Martin – hiding such a thing in plain sight.

This celestial body is not a planet, but a Dyson sphere – this is where the habitable surface is inside the sphere not outside.

See Babylon Five, which was itself a Dyson cylinder, on a small-scale. Or Relics the episode of Star Trek the Next Generation where a full-scale Dyson sphere featured.

Another telling clue about the seasons is also in the credits, the sun is shown, not that far above the ground and tiny in comparison to how large a sun should be relative to a planet.

Ian M Banks has a variation on the idea of how “planets” function in one of his Culture novels, where there are tiny suns called roll stars which follow irregular paths across the “sky” creating uneven seasons – although in these books the seasons are predictable, due to the superior knowledge of how they work.

The star in the GoT credits reminds me of those little stars in that Banks book and if one understood the route it was following, the seasons would be wholly predictable.

The Kepler data keeps giving us more data about potential earth-like planets in other solar systems.

This latest batch discusses planets nearly 500 light years away from our solar system.

With the galaxy (and one assumes universe) teeming with planets in the zone we recognise as habitable, the statistics of us being the only planet with life forms seems remote (and bearing in mind we know little about the possibility of life developing outside the zones we view as habitable, we shouldn’t discount the possibility of life by completely different rules to those we know).

But our own planet is the only guide we have to the evolutionary process required for life to develop. The bad news to be found here lays in the logic of the reptile being the most likely creature to develop to the top of the food chain in any ecosystem.

Dinosaurs ruled the earth for many. many millions of years. Only knocked down from their dominance by what scientists believe is a freak extinction event of an asteroid crashing into the planet and wiping them out. The likelihood of this kind of event being replicated on other planets with such lifeforms seems relatively low.

And in all those millions of years pre extinction event, no intelligent dominant reptile species evolved on earth.

Even if it did, again looking at the history of our own planet for guidance, the rate of development of humans was different in locations across the world  A relatively advanced civilization such as the Mayans was developing at the same time as Europeans were much further down the line of technology. The Mayans from my understanding were similar to civilizations like the Egyptians of 2,000 years BC. And while the Mayans were at their height, in North America and Australia the aboriginals living in both places were not too far beyond the stone age level (if my understanding of their civilisations is accurate).

So when we eventually get out into the galaxy, I suspect the odds tell us the planets with life will quite likely have reptiles. possibly of dinosaur scale, or if there are intelligent life they may well be far less advanced than us. Which probably means we need a Star Trek style Prime Directive.

There is the possibility any intelligent species could have wiped itself out (we have been pretty close ourselves with nuclear weapons). Or overtaken by robots (another interest of mine) or be much more intelligent than us and view us how we would view a Bronze age society.

So, while I am excited about Kepler finding these planets and I expect them to be teeming with life of one sort or another, I am quite sceptical about finding intelligent life.

Did you ever watch Blake’s Seven – either when it was first broadcast or on video / DVD / download/ whatever.

I  was quite young when it was broadcast in the late 70s / early 80s, but one of my earliest memories is of my older sister loving / talking about / drawing images from the show Blake’s Seven.

I remember watching parts of the last series in the 80s and especially the shock ending of the show.

During the late 90s I watched most of the show on video (my sister owned them) and it was then I really GOT it.

Terry Nation (inventor of the Daleks) created the show and one of the key ideas what that these people were more real than anyone else in TV sci fi ever had been before. These characters had faults, were sometimes morally ambiguous and would not always make the right decision based on doing something which was right, but didn’t benefit them. They were pragmatic.

TV sci fi before then had been very black and white in terms of you were either completely good or completely bad. Star Trek so far was all about that – as was Dr Who (altho interestingly, Dr Who has had a slight edge at certain periods since then – Sylvester McCoy‘s Doctor always had a very dark side).

If you look at TV sci fi since then – Farscape, re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, Firefly – or many others, they have that edge. And in my opinion this is down to Blake’s Seven.

If you haven’t seen it before take a look (but please forgive the 1970s BBC special effects).

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