Tolkien is too big, and too well-known for a simple review. For me, he is the god of the genre, chief of the pantheon, and I don’t accept dissent here. What irks me the most, is any criticism of LotR as not being realistic. It’s not Stendhal, people… But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
Tolkien mythos is way more than Hobbit and The Trilogy, published before his death in 1973. They were finished and polished (almost) to their creator’s satisfaction, but there was so much more. And Christopher Tolkien might not be a giant of his father’s calibre, not even Guy Gavriel Kay, who helped to prepare The Silmarillion for publication, is, but we would be poorer if they didn’t prepare and publish it. And the rest of it, it’s actually quite interesting when we get all the unfinished and lost stories. Children of Húrin might have been a step too far, but even of that I’m not sure. It’s not Tolkien at his best, it’s only partially J.R.R. Tolkien at all, but it might be a nice supplementary reading for someone who’d shy away from The Silmarillion.
Happy International Women’s Day everybody 🙂 It was not my plan to prepare a special post, but I’ve come upon something very good recently and since it combines the women question with genre literature… a link to one of the most interesting analysis of women in Middle Earth I’ve read. Women in Middle-Earth, and how bad being one would be by Barbara from Fandom Following .
I don’t care much about the amount of feminism in the culture I consume. Politically, I’m pretty liberal, at least on cultural and societal issues. Although I generally support most of the aerial bombings going on around the world… Still, art that offers painfully stereotypical vision of women is becoming harder and harder for me to enjoy – as is often the case with otherwise cool anime. Sigh. Boobs the size of one’s head and brains the size of a peanut… why? The problem of sexism in genre media was explored by Ola in one of our early posts, but it’s in Polish.
The idea for today was to write a post about webcomics. And it stands, but that’s not all. It’s more. Thus the title, silva rerum.
Fantasy TV shows.
Two trailers were released recently, for very different TV shows. MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles is one, the other – The Magicians. Both are adaptations of acknowledged books, and it happens that I’ve read both Shannara (two books, but no the one that inspired this show) and The Magicians Trilogy. Shannara I’ve seen as a kind of a failed Tolkien fanfic, Magicians I consider great, despite certain flows, but both shows are highly anticipated by me. Why? See the trailers, they are both good. Shannara seems to aim for a cheaper, lighter version of GoT, and if that is the standard for cheaper fantasy tv, I’m al excited (if the show will keep the quality of the trailer). What made a boring book might be condensed into fine tv, I’ll give it a try.
The Magicians is a very ambitious, sophisticated work. If done right – and trailer promises good times – it might be great on tv. Harry Potter in college, Narnia grim and dark, lost love, betrayal, redemption and more. I like the actors, I like what we’ve been shown of the sets and cgi… Production quality looks great, if the screenplay is good – wow.
Both shows will start in January 2016, and maybe GoT and Jonathan Strange won’t be the only good fantasy out there anymore 🙂 Before that, Jessica Jones arrives, not fantasy, yet another Marvel show, but based on great, unique comic.
Food for thought for all those who dream of a writer’s career – if you’re in it for the money, think again 😉
A Writer's Path
It is a frequent occurrence in the news to hear about authors cutting multi-million (or even billion) dollar book or movie deals. Famous examples of ridiculously successful authors, such as J.K. Rowling, E. L. James, and Stephen King, often lead people to think that becoming an author will undoubtedly lead to an equally as lucrative outcome. However, it turns out that the average author makes much, much less.
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Ola’s out of town and we’re behind the schedule… so a filler from me 😉
There is a s/f series well worth reading, one heavily indebted to its predecessors. Heinlein and Haldeman were not reviewed here, but favourably mentioned. Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” is a great book, slightly problematic in its glorification of the citizen-soldier ethos, Haldeman’s “Forever War” reflects its author’s Vietnam experience and is one of the great anti-war novels. John Scalzi wrote “Old Man’s War”, and following novels (there are 6 so far), a great space opera where attitude towards war is much more balanced. Inspired by masters of the genre, he managed to retain his own voice, somewhere between their idealisms.
Is fantasy proper literature? That topic was already analysed here, inspired by discussion around Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant”. The answer was, of course, yes. Original post is in Polish, but a very interesting debate featuring Gaiman and Ishiguro – was hosted by the BBC. Personally I find efforts to exclude genre literature from “proper literature” laughable. As with modern art – some snobs believe that if you enjoy something, it can’t be “real art”.
Recommended reading for today is another author’s attempt to prove that real art it is. A successful one. Stephen R. Donaldson writes about his works, and Erikson’s series, in a text in “The New York Review of Science Fiction”. Go and read him, I’ll just make some introductions.
RPG, tabletop RPG (we’re not talking about video games here, this is serious stuff 😉 ). Short introductory text is available here. I’ve tried to sell the idea of RPG to many people, many times, sometimes with some success. To me – it’s the highest form of social entertainment. Board games, fun as they are, are only a substitute 😛 Other lesser activities, aren’t worth mentioning here…
But, I don’t want to drone about my favourite pastime. It’s not a big post, there will be another, proper one, soon. I just want to recommend a new youtube series, by an actor and geek celebrity, Will Wheaton (Star Trek, Big Bang T.), from the great Geek & Sundry channel.
See, how great an RPG session can be, and do try it yourself, at home. There are games for everyone out there, fantasy, s/f, history, present times, any genre imaginable. It’s fun you share with friends.