A few years ago someone encouraged me to write a “South African Harry Potter”.
I didn’t, partly because I didn’t want to get sued and partly because I didn’t think anybody would want to read about a school where young witches and wizards need to get only 30% of their spells right.
The gigantic success of Game of Thrones, however, has got me thinking. Would it really be plagiarism if I banged out my own fantasy TV series about competing factions battling to sit upon the Iron Riempie-Stoel? Wouldn’t I just be paraphrasing our reality?
After all, our little fantasy kingdom also saw a made king deposed, although, to be fair, ours wasn’t killed: he was merely recalled, and spends most of his time writing letters and subtweeting the new king.
For the rest, though, my screenplay would basically be non-fiction. Who needs House Lannister when you’ve got House Luthuli? The same oligarchs, terrified of a popular uprising. The same oversized armchairs and pointy shoes. There’s even the same incestuous romance. (“Why are you being so coy, SACP? Don’t you want me any more? Remember when we used to lie under the stars and talk about controlling the means of production and you would make saucy innuendos about controlling the means of reproduction?” “That was you! True communists are not allowed to have a sense of humour. It’s part of the oath we take, when we vow to spend forever trapped in 1972.”)
In fact the only difference between House Lannister and House Luthuli is that the former always pays its debts. (It was better a few years back, but relations with the Iron Bank of Uttar Pradesh and House Gupta are a little frosty right now.)
At this point you might assume I’m setting up Jacob Zuma to stand in for the gloriously awful King Joffrey, the watery-eyed tyrant with a face made for slapping. I’m not. Firstly, I don’t wish Mr Zuma dead, and secondly the parallels don’t work: Joffrey was poisoned on his wedding day whereas Mr Zuma has survived at least six wedding days, so it’s really not the same thing.
Meanwhile, far to the south, a white queen is pushing her own claim to the throne. (Well, sort of: technically it’s Lord Mmusi of Twang who’s running for office but everybody fixates on the queen.)
it is gatvol and that the blex are ruining the country
She is feared, mostly by her media handlers, who beseech her to stay off Twitter. But even more frightening than her Twitter zingers is her dragon, a leathery thing called Former NP Voters. Former NP Voters is a constant headache for Lord Twang’s campaign because it keeps popping up saying that it is gatvol and that the blex are ruining the country. Not surprisingly, the queen tried to lock him up in a dungeon last season but the damned thing keeps wriggling free and rampaging around the countryside in a Range Rover, burning piles of cash and roaring about how oppressed it is.
The queen’s real power, however, is her army of Unsullied, a robotic host of loyal drones. When they see their queen or Lord Twang under attack, they move as one, locking shields, lowering spears, and marching onto Facebook to hammer out variations on “Cry the beloved country” – weep our beloved nation, love the becrying country, etc – and to fire volleys of angry-face emoticons …
House Luthuli is reviled. The white queen is feared. But now there is a new terror growing in the north.
The White Monopoly Capital Walkers are coming.
Their touch is death. Kind of. If they touch you, you live forever and you never feel the cold, so technically their touch is eternal weatherproofing. But it comes at a terrible cost. Your friends shun you, saying that you’ve become a slave to global capital. Also, you’re rotting and they don’t dig it when bits of your face plop onto the pizza you’re all sharing. And then there’s the endless grooming. Have you ever tried to tidy up a mostly dead calf muscle with an emery board? It takes for-fricken-ever.
But there is hope.
One man has vowed to lead the free peoples against the White Monopoly Capital Walkers.
He is a leader. He is a fighter. He does not want you to watch porn using free municipal Wi-Fi.
He is Julius Snow.
His critics used to believe that he knows nothing. Now they think he is merely a hypocritical opportunist (he was once a knight in shining polyester, fighting for House Luthuli) and that his only true loyalty is to House Breitling.
But the fact remains, as this season begins, Julius Snow is the character drawing the biggest audiences.
So is this a tale that will make me rich? Probably not. But I do know that it’s going to make Julius richer than all the lords of the Seven Kingdoms. This story is going to get very interesting indeed.