IT IS an epic story of warring factions in a strange and changing landscape, a tale of incursions and sieges, of plots and betrayals, of battlefield brilliance and of cunning with coin.
The sequence of doorstop fantasy novels that George R.R. Martin began with « A Game of Thrones », and which HBO has now turned into a hit television show, provides the sort of immersive experience of an alien world that has always been popular among techies. But these days the escapism they offer may be tinged with an eldritch sense of recognition. Silicon Valley offers few dragons or direwolves, but Mr Martin’s tales of a world that has lost its king echoes the reality of today’s technology industry, where the battle lines between the four large companies seen as dominating the consumer internet–Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon–are in furious flux. The death last year of Steve Jobs, Apple’s monarch, robbed the technology world of the nearest thing that it had to royalty. But even before Jobs’s passing, tension was growing between the great powers of the web generation as the onset of mobile computing upset the previous balance of power.