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The weirwood tree is one of the key features of the A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones universes, being the Gods of the North.

In Dan Simmon's Hyperion, weirwood is also an often mentioned tree, it's wood being used for expensive furnishings. Hyperion also has a couple of forms of "tree gods"; i.e. Templars have tree ships and worship trees (as well as preserving and cultivating nature), and Shrike cultists worship tree of thorns.

Is there any deliberate connection between these, or is it likely just coincidence?

  • Seems like likely coincidence, though RR does write sci-fi. – Mark Rogers Dec 12 '14 at 20:26
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    I'd like to see some tesla trees show up in Westeros. There have already been some weird resurrections, so the cross-starfish things wouldn't be too out of place, either. – KSmarts Dec 12 '14 at 22:06
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    R'hllor is the human empathy god, because he's so warm and fuzzy. Source: a rumor that I'm starting right now. – Liesmith Dec 12 '14 at 23:00
  • There is a theory floating on the internet that the whole ASOIAF universe is actually scifi universe, with magic being sufficiently advanced technology centuries after crash landing. sffchronicles.com/threads/547468 – jo1storm Sep 11 '19 at 7:20
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Coincidence

There are plenty of examples in history of humans engaging in nature worship or framing a belief system around nature, whether it be trees, the sun, or something more abstract like "Mother Nature". There is no reason to think that GRRM and Simmons aren't simply drawing upon such examples for inspiration in their separate works. The inspiration may be the same, but the result is not. The comparisons you cited aren't even that similar in my opinion.

For what it's worth, there is a place in Sussex, England called Weir Wood which has a local nature reserve. And the word weirwood brings together two separate words "weir" (meaning barrier which obstructs or channels the flow of a river) and "wood". Although "weir" is phonetically similar to "were" as in "werewolf" ("were" means man) and that might also have been an inspiration.

There's really no reason to think these authors did not come up with the word and their stories independently. It's not like both feature the god R'hllor and the Faith of the Seven - I'd be more suspicious if that was the case.

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  • To be fair, it would be strange if GRRM had never read Hyperion. My assumption would be that Hyperion may well have had some inadvertent influence on GRRM's choice of tree, but not anything he seems to have made an explicit point of. – Misha R Sep 11 '19 at 23:31
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Unable to prove at this time and thus will be mostly speculation, due to lack of source material from either author on this subject. I speculate coincidence.

Firstly, Mr. Martin has stated the he read Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert A. Heinlein, Eric Frank Russell, and Andre Norton "pretty much interchangeably" and that he has always loved science fiction, horror, and fantasy and moved between them "pretty freely." So while George was influenced by Sci-Fi works, they are more the classical ones, not ones from the late 80s early 90s.

Next, the phonetic similarity between Weir and the German word Wehr are about exact. In German, Wehr is a word that means "defense" or is often used to refer to the particular defenses of a village or town, such as a trench or a wall. As such, a werhwood would be a group of trees that defend a people, which seems almost too coincidental to not be intentional in the case of Martin's novels. There are no George R.R. Martin sources located to back this speculation at this time.

As for Hyperion, I can find no reason for weirwood as a name for trees used to create support ribs on a treeship, or various expensive funitures. Though the name itself does sound good and fitting for a non-Earth tree, which is all that the author really needed in his novel.

In either case the word is certainly a neologism, and it is entirely possible for 2 separate authors to independently develop their own identical one. However, Martin would certainly be responsible for the common usage of this word, and not Simmon.

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    The German pronunciation of "Wehr" does not sound remotely like the English pronunciation of "weir". "Wehr" sounds a bit like the English word "very" minus the "y" (but has an aspiration before the "r"), while "weir" sounds quite like the English word "weird" minus the "d". – Lexible Jun 17 '19 at 1:02

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