For now, George R.R. Martin can sit back and relax. Why, exactly? An engineer has set up a neural network using all of the books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series in order to write part of the next installment, The Winds of Winter. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense, which is why I wonder if this kind of technology is even possible? Or if we will always need actual people to write novels for us? This isn’t a post about robots taking over human jobs, but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Technology has changed so much over the last 10 years, and many things have become automated. So, it is just the next logical step, isn’t it?
As a literary fan, this is something that I honestly don’t like. But maybe Zack Thoutt is onto something. Thoutt is a full-stack software engineer who created a recurrent neural network to write The Winds of Winter. It’s based on words, phrases and characters from the rest of the series. How it works is that it remembers information stored in the text, like character deaths. But it’s not overly accurate, as it has brought some deceased characters back from the grave.
This is kind of an accomplishment, of sorts. Martin hasn’t even been able to pen this book yet. But in Martin’s defense, writing is kind of hard. Especially since there has been so much fandom built around this series. Thoutt uploaded the first five books in the series, into this network that he developed. Which was almost 5,400 pages worth of data. What it gave him was the latest twists, turns and deaths in the iconic series. Have a read for yourself. This is a small sample from Chapter One as narrated by Tyrion:
The Hound found Jeyne Poole. Ser Meryn Trant had sent King Yoren through the harbor, to summon the black brothers who had donned his horned veins. The fools he’d wed with him, had all been reborn. “Why, I know? He was bleeding, covered his whole legs on shoulders of the snow. He will stand on deck for the fish a fortnight, and never kill one. A blade is no longer, yes, she thought, but he couldn’t take much food.
He could not help himself at first rush. Ghost came by, in a camp when Asha hunted to the night’s watch. Now the torches beneath them and the rose in his head or we’ve brought them out of the world. He is stubborn and stupid, but his council never saved my brother as most. “There must be five choices,” he pointed out.
It is an effort. Mine uncle had do the same color. She could hardly count by death.
It made Ned better stop until the fire was falling, standing beneath the arch of a shattered still distant field where the shadow tower paid the camp behind. The elder brother had known no sun and chunks of broken buildings and ash wailing towns; four hundred thousand ravens, his own torsos. Behind them wore their black cloaks like their own yellow fish heroes wearing a rough-hewn figurehead, a black trout slashed on a huge chest, with colors crossed inside and forth their heads. Lords and nuts and mussels, cloaks of the shore, several hundred riders down beneath the honeywine, and at the foot of the five southron Kings of captured sit and fewer stepped toward the Kingslayer. He will not return yet at the ford, with above his first black band.
“Only a hundred northmen will remain with them. They’ll teach you Lord Rickard’s brother Joffrey. Tell me true, Cersei is known. No one’s wasting your interest, you remember. Dead steel and sour cat and two times as well.”
While most of this is all over the map, it does predict a couple of things that fans expect to happen in the final season of Game of Thrones. Specifically that Jon Snow will ride a dragon and Jaime Lannister will kill his twin sister Cersei. And while that is great to know, all of that pales in comparison to the best part – there will be a new character. Well, according to the neural network, at least. The latest addition to Westeros will be a man called Greenbeard. You can read the rest of The Winds of Winter according to Thoutt. This might give fans something to cut their teeth on until the actual Martin book is finished. Is this something you would read? Or would you rather wait for the real thing?