Dragons, Nuclear Weapons, and Game of Thrones

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Slashdot reader Dan Drollette shared this article from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists where a specialist in nuclear security analyzes Game of Thones, citing dragons “as living, fire-breathing metaphors for nuclear weapons.”

Despite the fantasy setting, the story teaches a great deal about the inherent dangers that come with managing these game-changing agents, their propensity for accidents, the relative benefits they grant their masters, and the strain these weapons impose upon those wielding them. “Dragons are the nuclear deterrent, and only [Daenerys Targaryen, one of the series’ heroines] has them, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the world,” George R. R. Martin said in 2011. “But is that sufficient? These are the kind of issues I’m trying to explore.

“The United States right now has the ability to destroy the world with our nuclear arsenal, but that doesn’t mean we can achieve specific geopolitical goals. Power is more subtle than that. You can have the power to destroy, but it doesn’t give you the power to reform, or improve, or build.”

It makes for a bleak outlook. Or, as a character repeatedly warns in the first episode: “Winter is coming.”


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