game of thrones

Forget about season eight of Game of Thrones.
The real battle in Sydney featuring majestic flying creatures is the Game Of Bins.
And the players? The legendary “bin chickens” you see every day: on uni campuses, in public parks, on the streets of our fair city.
Only one ibis will ultimately sit on the Iron Bin.
As the Battle of the Bin Chickens heats up, we take a look at the front-running ibises that just might one day perch on the Iron Bin.
Which noble house will you support?

Lord Eddard Aark
– Stupid but honourable
– Favoured among Arts students
– On the rugby union team
– Notorious for “dad jokes”

Jon Crow
– Constantly surrounded by the hottest women on campus
– Super brave: will eat a hot chip right out of your hand
– Always watching from on top of a wall
– Went to a public school and slightly ashamed of the fact

Cersei Bannister
– Hits the “bin juice” pretty hard
– Coined the phrase “you bin or you die”
– Surrounded on all uni quads by enemies
– Her inexplicably hot brother is always hanging around

Prancer Aark
– Used to be besties with Cersei until they had a fight over a necklace
– Will have those lemon cakes or cheeky Nando’s you’re eating if you’re finished with them, ta
– Member of House Jacaranda, eternal enemy of House Flametree

Daenerys Faarkgaryen
– Queen of the Law students
– Strong sense of entitlement because she grew up on the North Shore
– First boyfriend was a “westie”
– Untrustworthy around a Webber

Littlebeak
– Creepy mature-age student who always sits up the back during lectures
– Studies economics or engineering: his answers are always cryptic
– Always running for Students’ Representative Council but never elected
– Hasn’t moved for a while

Gendry Barhoppean
– On the rowing team
– Says his dad used to be a “king” or an investment banker: “same thing”
– Never around when it’s his time to buy a round

Tyrion Bannister
– Rich dad
– The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him
– Fellow “bin juice” connoisseur
– Who you really want to sit on the Iron Bin but won’t because reasons

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

  1. In the beginning no one believes the internet is coming
  2. Old dudes like the maesters dismiss that the internet is coming because they’re too stuck in their ways (work in legacy media)
  3. Tiny, potentially disruptive start-ups (or “dragons”) aren’t regarded as a threat because they’re too small and no one believes they exist (can make money online)
  4. The people warning that the internet is coming are all millennials
  5. So naturally they’re the disruptive heroes of GOT
  6. The Night King – leader of the white walkers and its key social media influencer – is created by forest millennials
  7. Signs that the internet is still coming are dismissed as Gen X/boomer kings and queens squabble among each other, unable to present a united defence (find a way to “monetise” the net)
  8. The army of the internet grows exponentially, its users becoming mindless zombies
  9. By the time the “dragons” have grown up and ravaged the music, newspaper, entertainment and consumer industries, it’s too late to stop them
  10. The internet arrives and everyone loses their mindsMy new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

For my money, Littlefinger is the smartest man in Game of Thrones: the Sun Tzu of Westeros. I find his quotes full of applicable life wisdom.

Here are my favourite 10 (don’t forget to read them in his voice).

“Fight every battle, everywhere, always in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you.”
Critics of the latest episode found this to be nonsense, but I found it profound. Figuring out all the angles ahead of time is why Littlefinger is still alive when so many others are now lying in the dust.

“Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain of who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are likely to do next.”
Deception is vital in war.

“You know what I learnt losing that duel? I learnt that I’ll never win. Not that way. That’s their game, their rules.
Don’t fight on your opponent’s terms and rules. Sun Tzu via Littlefinger.

“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”
Perhaps his most famous quote and very true. Crisis equals opportunity.

“When the queen proclaims one king and the king’s Hand proclaims another, whose peace do the Gold Cloaks protect? Who do they follow? The man who pays them.”
Call it the Golden Rule … whoever has the gold makes the rules.

“So many men, they risk so little. They spend their whole lives avoiding danger, and then they die. I’d risk everything to get what I want.”
YOLO meets fortune favours the brave.

“There’s no justice in this world, not unless we make it.”
Evil triumphs when good men and women do nothing.

“It doesn’t matter what we want, once we get it we want something else.”
Littlefinger knows all about the headonic treadmill and the endless nature of desire.

“We only make peace with our enemies. That’s why it’s called ‘making peace’.” Littlefinger channelling Don Corleone: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

“Which is more dangerous, the dagger brandished by an enemy, or the hidden one pressed to your back by someone you never even see?”
Fear the enemy who isn’t in front of you.
Littlefinger’s talent is to defeat his enemies – Ned Stark, Joffrey – without open warfare ever being declared.
To quote Sun Tzu: “To win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

My new thriller The Spartan: Game Of Killers is out as an ebook and paperback.

  1. Sam discovers why they call it the Game Of Thrones
  2. Or is GoT secretly all about climate change?
  3. We now know where Ed Sheeran has been hiding since he quit Twitter
  4. Serial killer Arya wins the Game Of Memes
  5. Cersei continues to pioneer the bowl cut
  6. Sansa is becoming Cersei (without the binge drinking)
  7. The Hound is still calling everyone *****
  8. Are Tormund and Brienne (“Bormund?”) going to be a thing?
  9. Dany slays with a single line
  10. Secret Harry Potter reference

    My new book Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

  1. Avoiding all human contact between the hours of 9am and 5pm
  2. Leaving the terse note, “If you leak GoT spoilers today YOU’RE DEAD TO ME” on Facebook and Twitter
  3. Refusing to discuss anything online except how the new Doctor Who is a woman
  4. Compiling lists
  5. Refusing to come to the door for delivermen, policemen, firemen or holy men, even if they tell me that they have an advance proof of George R.R. Martin’s Winds Of Winter/an axe maniac is the area/my house is on fire/my immortal soul is at peril
  6. Holding my breath like a petulant child
  7. If I somehow come in contact with a human,  deploying an air horn when they say “The Game Of Thrones premiere was brutal, dude! Did you see what happened to …”
  8. If I come in contact with two humans and they tear the air horn away, put my hands on my ears and shout “la la la, I’m not listening”
  9. Put my mobile in the freezer
  10. Hiding out with the Amish like Harrison Ford in Witness 

    My new thriller is now available here and here.

We talk a lot about great shows that were prematurely cancelled – Sense8 anyone? – but one of the most tragic cancellations in my lifetime was slow-burn hit Deadwood.
This is how the real Wild West was – a violent bacchanal of sex, gunfights, fistfights and heavy drinking, its bloody, muddy streets populated by uncouth, desperate men and women seeking their fortune during the Dakota gold rush of 1876.
David Milch’s epic Western is regularly namechecked as one of the best TV shows ever, ranking 23 in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Greatest Shows Of All Time.
It is also regularly namechecked along with Firefly, Carnivale, Party Down, Arrested Development and Freaks And Geeks as a series cruelly cut short before its time, cancelled after its third season yet with rumours of a Deadwood revival movie refusing to die.
Like its superlative stablemate Rome, its prohibitive production cost contributed to its cancellation. However, the critics were and continue to be enthralled.
“After watching the pilot episode of Deadwood, I got up, lowered the blinds, dimmed the lights and burned through the rest of the DVD in a fugue of wonder and excitement,” wrote New York Times critic Allesandra Stanley.
“I didn’t leave the series until the next day, staggering limply into the harsh sunlight like Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend.”
Now here’s why YOU should love it, too.

What it’s about

When gold is discovered in the Black Hills of Dakota, thousands flock to the region to find their fortune. An illegal gold town springs up almost overnight … attracting gamblers, gunslingers, gold hunters, outlaws and businessmen. One man seeks to control it all – saloon owner Al Swearengen (Ian McShane).

Five reasons why you should watch Deadwood

  1. Ian McShane.
    We recently saw him as “Mr Wednesday” in American Gods and as a pacifist priest in Game Of Thrones, but the Lovejoy star’s true tour de force was as saloon owner, whoremaster and unofficial frontier town kingpin Al in Deadwood.
    He is the magnificent hub around which the marvel of Deadwood revolves.
  2. Al is based on a real-life person.
    So is Sheriff Bullock, Will Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and more. Even Al’s place of business the Gem really existed.
    The Bullock Hotel, built by Seth Bullock, stands to this day.
    There’s authenticity dripping out of every conversation, every scene, every card game, every set in Deadwood.
  3. Deadwood itself.
    Like Al, Bullock and Hickok, the town of Deadwood was real, shining brightly albeit briefly in Wild West history. The producers do a magnificent job of bringing Deadwood to life. It’s the unofficial star of the show.
  4. The language.
    Deadwood could just be – scratch that, IS – the sweariest show on TV. If you had a dollar for every mention of a certain C-word you’d be a rich man. (Actually, you wouldn’t. But you would have about 273 dollars.)
    The f-bomb is also dropped close to 3000 times.
    Besides that, the dialogue is a magnificent combination of high Shakespeare and low saloon talk. Al’s profanity-laden conversations with Wu (“hang dai!”) are worth the price of admission alone.
    Al’s monologues are also eminently quotable. Such as: “Pain or damage don’t end the world. Or despair, or fucking beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you’ve got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man … and give some back.”
  5. It was ahead of its time.
    Boxset bingewatching? Shows like Deadwood and The Wire virtually invented it. The 2004 series helped herald the new Golden Age Of Television, started by 1999’s The Sopranos and including The Shield, Buffy The Vampire, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and much more.

    My new thriller Game Of Thrones: The Spartan is now available here and as Print On Demand here.

“Ray is working on old software, functioning in a world that no longer appreciates men as breadwinners and warriors. And there is a lot of pain in that.”
That’s Liev Schreiber talking about his eminently watchable LA “fixer” Ray Donovan in the superlative series of the same name.
I often think about his perceptive words as I see the changing roles required of men in modern society.
Because Liev is not entirely wrong.
The golden age of the warrior is passing.
Like mutant Wolverine riding off into the sunset in swansong Logan, the era of the lone tough guy riding into town to solve everyone’s problems with fists, guns or baseball bats is increasingly threatened.
Man’s one great advantage – his physical strength – is being eroded in a world where machines can perform manual labour faster and more efficiently.
On the big screen the fantasy still exists. We are continuously deluged with movies about mighty (albeit increasingly more-than-human) heroes, the latest iterations being the Avengers and X-Men series.
Yet back in the real world, the modern-day military superstar isn’t the human soldier: it’s the drone, delivering death from above, the missiles and cannons deployed by operators thousands of kilometres away from the battlefield.
These cubicle warriors pushing buttons in airconditioned comfort are not Wolverine or Ray Donovan types: rather they are ex-air force pilots, sent in to command the machines that have made them obsolete. There are now more drone pilots being trained than those that will ever see the insides of a cockpit.
For politicians scared of the bad press of humans coming back from overseas deployments in bodybags, the increasing use of drones is a blessing: not to mention the billions saved in ongoing human medical bills and pensions.
We stand on the cusp of an explosion in autonomous weapons systems and AI. How long before enhanced tactical devices – the proper robots of science fiction lore and Terminator fever dreams, not just drones and border-guarding sentries and SWORDS weapons platforms  – will be employed en masse in combat?
When that happens – when we outsource the fighting to the machines – part of the identity of man as warrior will also disappear. One of the critical pathways man has used to prove his strength, worth and courage for millennia will disappear.
No doubt it will be an emasculating experience.
Once again The Simpsons, which predicted the Trump presidency, saw the future.
I give you this quote from The Secret War Of Lisa Simpson: “The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today, remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots.”
The tale of Sparky The Hero Army Electrician does not excite the synapses of the male mind as much as say Conan The Barbarian. How will Hollywood make these technological functionaries seem heroic?
I have seen other signs at the coming action-man obsolescence in popular culture: in particular, the anti-hero The Punisher, whose widely anticipated TV series is coming soon to Netflix.
To quote the emissary of The Hand from Punisher Max: Homeless, as he refuses to take the contract to kill Frank “Punisher” Castle: “Frank Castle is an endangered species. And one does not hunt an endangered species. One preserves it. And marvels at its beauty. And on the day it finally succumbs and dies, one mourns its passing, knowing we may never see its like again.”
My own hero The Spartan feels the same psychic pain as Frank Castle and Ray Donovan. He is also an endangered species … and he knows it.
It is our duty to marvel at his heroism, along with that of Frank and Ray.
And on the day these heroes die, we will mourn their passing, know that we may never see their kind again.

My new military thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is available as an ebook here and a paperback here.

Are your friends “raven” about your fan knowledge of Game of Thrones? Or, like Jon Snow, do you know nothing about George R.R. Martin’s fascinating world? Take our GOT challenge and find out just how well you know Westeros and its stars.

What song did they play at the “Red Wedding”?

a) The Eternal Duty of The Knights Watch
b) Wrecking Ball
c) The Rains Of Castamere
d) The Bear And The Maiden Fair

What is Tyrion Lannister the unofficial god of?

a) Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things
b) Tits and Wine
c) Dwarves, Drunkards and Unwanted Sons
d) Disco

What are the names of the Stark dire wolves?

a) Donner, Blitzen, Dasher, Prancer, Rudolph
b) Rebel, Standfast, Lady, Proudmane, Osha
c) Toto, Astro, Cujo, Benji, Lassie
d) Lady, Ghost, Summer, Nymeria, Shaggydog, Grey Wind

Why does Jon Snow “know nothing”?

a) He never knew his real mother
b) He didn’t finish high school
c) He doesn’t understand women
d) Internet connections in Westeros are spotty at best

What does the “R.R.” in Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin stand for?

a) Ronald Reagan
b) Raymond Richard
c) Ronald Reuel
d) Richard Ryan

What does “Valar Morghulis” mean?

a) Valour is its own reward
b) Do you want fries with that?
c) All men must die
d) We are the watchers on the Wall

What is Ned Stark’s sword made out of?

a) Mithril
b) Adamantium
c) Damascus iron
d) Valyrian steel

Complete this sentence: “the night is dark and full of …”

a) Candy
b) Terrors
c) Turnips
d) White walkers

What are the names of the Khaleesi’s three dragons?

a) Balerion, Vhagar, Meraxes
b) Sunfyre, Vermithrax, Ghiscar
c) Smaug, Toothless, Puff the Magic Dragon
d) Drogon, Rhaegal, Viserion

Who built The Wall?

a) Bran the Builder
b) The First Men
c) The Nights Watch
d) Pink Floyd

Answers: 1. C; 2. B; 3. D; 4. C; 5. B; 6. C; 7. D; 8. B. 9. D; 10. A.

10 right – Jon Snow
9 right – Tyrion Lannister
8 right – The Khaleesi
7 right – Cersei Lannister
6 right – Arya Stark
5 right – The Kingslayer
3-4 – Hodor
1-2 right – “Stupid” Ned
0 right – Reek

My military thriller The Spartan II is out now.