Paper No. 14-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM
MILANKOVITCH CYCLES AND THE PROPHECY OF ITHLINNE: CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL IN THE FICTIONAL WORLD OF ANDRZEJ SAPKOWSKI’S WITCHER SERIES
As shown by attempts by scientists and science students to propose a consistent scientific explanation for the cycle of catastrophic winters central to HBO’s Game of Thrones series, the intersections between climate science and popular culture afford educators a valuable “hook” for piquing the interests of nonscience majors. One of Netflix’s most widely-viewed ongoing series, The Witcher (based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s series of novels and short stories) has a similar climatic catastrophe at its core. Also parallel to Martin’s novel series and its HBO adaptation is a deep-rooted denial of the obvious signs of climate change in the Witcherverse, where the dichotomy between the science-literate and superstitious segments of society is stark indeed. Of particular interest is a ready-made scientific explanation openly discussed within the canon of this decidedly magic-centric fictional universe, namely the impact of cyclical changes in their world’s orbit and orbital axis: in other words, Sapkowski’s world has its own Milankovitch cycles. The tension between science, mythology, and climate change denial unfolds in complex ways within Sapkowski’s literary universe. With Netflix poised to air the second season of its multi-year, highly popular televisual adaptation in mid-2021, there exists an opportunity to integrate analysis of the portrayal of climate change within this popular culture juggernaut into our general education classes.