Patterico's Pontifications

1/17/2020

Christopher Tolkien, 1924 – 2020

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:17 pm



Christopher John Ruel Tolkien, youngest son of the legendary British phiologist and writer John Ronald Ruel Tolkien and guardian of his father’s literary legacy, died Wednesday in his adopted country of France at the age of 95.

Though not a renowned academic or famous author achieving the stature of his father, Christopher Tolkien spent the latter half of his life keeping J.R.R. Tolkien’s work alive in the public imagination after his father’s death in 1973. He helped finish and prepare for publication the manuscript to The Silmarillion, which sought to provide a comprehensive history of Middle Earth, the magical forgotten realm in which The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were both set. To complete the task, Christopher Tolkien scoured thorough decades and decades of his fathers notes, drafts, and annotations, as explained in the obituary:

Much of it was handwritten; often an earlier draft would be discernible, half-erased, under a later one, and names of characters frequently changed between the beginning and end of the same draft. Christopher Tolkien, with the help of Guy Gavriel Kay (later a respected fantasy author in his own right), took on the task of editing this disparate mass of legends with an appropriate degree of trepidation.

Tolkien’s task was far from straightforward; as he described it, his father had “tended to work on a story by starting again at the beginning, so one might find a complete version of a very early date, and then another version in which part of that was re-written, and then another, layer upon layer. Some parts were so worked over that the styles didn’t match.”

Later, Christopher Tolkien would add to the lore of Middle Earth by compiling his father’s unpublished short stories into a collection titled Unfinished Tales, and he would publish the twelve-volume set The History of Middle Earth which would include his own notes on his father’s work as well as some encyclopedic information about the amazing fantasy world Tolkien père had constructed.

This ability to compile material from notes and then add helpful background analysis served Tolkien fils well when he turned to his father’s academic writing. Though the elder Tolkien had published a lengthy academic article on Beowulf in 1936, at the time of his death he was sitting on several unpublished translations of famous Old English, Norse, and Germanic tales. In 1975 came the posthumous publication of his translation of “Sir Gawain and the Green Night” along with its contemporary poems “Pearl” and “Sir Orfeo,” followed eventually by The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009), The Fall of Arthur (2013), and, at long last, Beowulf (2014), some 88 years after Tolkien had first started the translation. Each one of these volumes, like The Silmarillion before it, was lovingly and meticulously compiled by his faithful son. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work should indeed be grateful that Christopher Tolkien did so much to introduce us to the scholarly side of his father, whose lectures at Pembroke College and Exeter College in Oxford had been the stuff of legend.

Like his father, Christopher Tolkien served The Crown during a world war, spending 1943-45 as an RAF pilot. He too taught at Oxford, but only for a relatively brief spell from 1964 to 1975. He created the first map of Middle Earth which was published in a 1970 edition of The Lord of the Rings, so all of us who have read the book since then have Christopher Tolkien to thank for helping us understand the general layout of the Shire relative to Isengard, Minas Tirth, Mount Doom, and all of the other exotic locations therein. He was skeptical of Peter Jackson’s ability to make movies of his father’s magnum opus (J.R.R. Tolkien had sold the movie rights in 1969, so the decision was out of the hands of his estate), and reportedly later dismissed them as action films devoid of the deep meaning which his father had imbued in the books. By all accounts he was a friendly and convivial neighbor. As with so many children of the brilliant and renown he never matched the public greatness of his father, but at his own death Christopher Tolkien deserves an appreciative salute for keeping the flame alight.

– JVW

105 Responses to “Christopher Tolkien, 1924 – 2020”

  1. I wonder how much unpublished J.R.R. Tolkien material is left, and what might become of it now.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  2. May he rest in peace and may we all attain his age.

    I wonder how much unpublished J.R.R. Tolkien material is left, and what might become of it now.

    Sell it to a rich collector and give the money to the poor. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about Tolkien’s Ring tetralogy is that you understand Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about Tolkien’s Ring tetralogy is that you understand Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings.

    Oh yeah? Well, uh — Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides all suck! So there.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  4. May he rest in peace and may we all attain his age.

    I don’t want to make it to 95. I doubt that it’s going to be a very pretty picture with me after about 82 or so, if my mind doesn’t go before then.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  5. “As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about Tolkien’s Ring tetralogy is that you understand Harvard Lampoon’s Bored of the Rings.”
    nk (dbc370) — 1/17/2020 @ 4:33 pm

    … and some Led Zep songs.

    Munroe (dd6b64)

  6. In a way, without Christopher there might have never been a Lord of the Rings in the first place

    Tolkien abandoned The Lord of the Rings during most of 1943 and only restarted it in April 1944,[14] as a serial for his son Christopher Tolkien, who was sent chapters as they were written while he was serving in South Africa with the Royal Air Force. Tolkien made another concerted effort in 1946, and showed the manuscript to his publishers in 1947.[14]

    [From Wikipedia]

    And simply for getting the Silmarillion to publication, so everyone could start to understand the full complexity of Tolkien’s Sub-Creation, we owe a debt to Christopher.

    Kishnevi (e931a3)

  7. There is btw one more book to add to the list of Tolkien’s Germanic/Scandinavian poetic tales, an incomplete version of the Kullervo episode from the Finnish Kalevala. Christopher seems to have no hand in its publication.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Kullervo

    Although, honestly, I think you’d be better off getting a recording of Sibelius’s Kullervo and reading the liner notes and the translation of the Finnish text Sibelius ser to music, taken directly from the Kalevala.

    Kishnevi (e931a3)

  8. rip ct
    Is this the star wars guy?

    mg (8cbc69)

  9. ‘I don’t want to make it to 95.’

    When you achieve 94, you might have a wholly different perspective. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  10. RIP. I’ve read LotR more than 3 times, and the Hobbit twice. Excellent books, if a bit dated in language. But I could never get into the Silmarillion or the rest of Chrisopher’s work as it was too dry and pedantic. Loved the LotR movies, hated the first Hobbit movie and never saw the last two.

    The Lord of the Rings, though, is such a seminal work in fantasy that either you have read it, or you hate fantasy.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  11. My mom died at 96 and the last years were pretty terrible. But up to 90 she was enjoying life. It’s hard to say when to quit.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  12. “This ring, no other, is made by the Elves
    Who’d pawn their own mother to get it themselves.
    Ruler of creeper, mortal and scallop,
    This is a sleeper that packs quite a wallop.
    If broken or busted it cannot be remade.
    If found, send to Sorhed. (The postage is prepaid.)”

    nk (dbc370)

  13. The Lord of the Rings, though, is such a seminal work in fantasy that either you have read it, or you hate fantasy.

    Not so, although I did read it in the early ’70s when my high school classmates were reading Stranger In A Strange Land (not me), Jonathan Livingston Seagull (not me), and Slaughterhouse Five (bleech!). Then I discovered Kroch’s and Brentano’s (a bookstore) and Roger Zelazny and Jack Vance (authors). Anybody here read Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy?

    nk (dbc370)

  14. RIP CT

    Someone lent me The Hobbit in the late sixties when I was about ten.

    LOVED it.

    Never knew the stories were continued until a few years later and devoured them over a few days. Middle Earth and the setting of a saga in a place where the story is but a small part of the ground they walk really struck me and IMO is equal in the books’ quality with character and action.

    One of the greatest reading experiences of my life. The movies were excrement.

    harkin (d6cfee)

  15. The Tolkien fantasy cultists are akin to Trekkies, Harry Potter and the Star Wars obsessed. You’re either into it– or not. It’s lot like Monty Python–you get it or you don’t. The fantasy genres never really registered w/me though we did enjoy Star Trek back in the late 60’s when it was first aired on NBC as it fit w/t era. The young niece, now in her early 20s, is diehard Star Wars which is amusing to me as she wasn’t alive for the original releases of the core flicks and the nephew in his late 20s devoured the Potter films and books and treasures his early print first editions of same. Neither the books nor film interest me in the least. These days I find the old Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers serials enjoyable camp to revisit if only to see the kind of fare which sparked the young minds of the 1930’s who made space travel a reality. No denying the popularity of those dark ‘dungeon-and-dragon’ fantasies but they seem overly cloaked with mystical trivialities, overly long– and just boring. Kinda like my post. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  16. “I will not say ‘do not weep,’ for not all tears are an evil.” – Gandalf

    I really disliked most of the Silmarillion the first time I read it as a teenager – too many characters and a plot that seemed disorganized and hard to follow compared to the white-knuckle, roller-coaster excitement of the Lord of the Rings (the exception was the beautiful first book on the creation of the world out of music, which I’ve always adored).

    I’ve read it three or four more times since then and liked it better each time, as the characters became familiar to me and the narrative arcs started making sense.

    If you can’t make it through the whole thing, two of the stories were broken out into their own books and elaborated in some of Christopher Tolkien’s last efforts on his father’s behalf: The Children of Hurin and Beren and Luthien. The former is a tragic novel, while the latter is study of several versions and styles in which JRR Tolkien imagined and re- imagined the most personal subplot of his epic (Tolkien and his wife are buried under a headstone bearing the names of the two lovers). Both of these shorter works are very readable.

    Thanks for the nice post JVW.

    Dave (d08084)

  17. SL5 and the 1961 publisher’s version of Stranger (hard to come by now) are quite good. The “uncut” version of Stranger only demonstrates why everyone needs an editor.

    Seagull is for the birds. I was reading things like Stand on Zanzibar, Up the Line and The Left Hand of Darkness at the time. Haven’t read much by Vance — I find him a bit baroque, but I have read my Zelazney (Amber, Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness to name a few).

    Kevin M (19357e)

  18. DCSCA

    Have you actually read any books? Seeing the movie version doesn’t count. Since you admit you don’t like fantasy (and call Star Trek that), your opinion is meaningless. A lot like mine is of Etruscan poetry.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  19. Dave,

    My problem with the Silmarillion was just that — the inability of CT to just tell the story. No, it had to be 7 versions with footnotes. I would have loved to read the story of Beren and Luthien, but it was buried in the pedantry.

    Or so my 20yo self recalls.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  20. One of the greatest reading experiences of my life. The movies were excrement.

    The Hobbit movies were indeed excrement — Hollywood writer crap. I enjoyed the LotR movies immensely though.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  21. Question: Who are the 3 best SF or fantasy writers currently working, and what are their best books?

    Kevin M (19357e)

  22. Interesting post. I agree that he made eminently worthy use of his position in the shadow of a famous father.

    Radegunda (39c35f)

  23. My problem with the Silmarillion was just that — the inability of CT to just tell the story.

    Well, I’ve always thought the Silmarillion is comparable to the Old Testament in scope (cast of thousands, multiple narrative styles, spans millenia, etc), while the Lord of the Rings is more like the New Testament (smaller number of characters, straight-forward plot, focuses on only a year or so of time).

    I think CT had a very delicate line to walk, because his father’s work was in a very disorganized state and written in a variety of styles that didn’t fit together smoothly, but adding too much of his own (CT’s) material and style to smooth the rough spots would have defeated the purpose.

    Dave (1bb933)

  24. I think CT had a very delicate line to walk, because his father’s work was in a very disorganized state and written in a variety of styles that didn’t fit together smoothly, but adding too much of his own (CT’s) material and style to smooth the rough spots would have defeated the purpose.

    I agree, Dave. It’s kind of hard to slog through all of CT’s author notes at the end of Arthur and Beowulf, but I can completely understand his feeling that he needed to justify to the more hardcore Tolkien fans how he organized his father’s material. So I have no real problem with 100+ pages of notes at the end.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  25. @21 Depends on what you mean by best. 😛

    I tend to read series, and I tend to like like adventure and intrigue more than philosophical meanderings and I love good world building, so taking that into account, I like:

    LE Modesitt Jr. and IMO his Imager series is very good. His Recluse series is his biggest one and has some really standout books, but the first few books are him trying to work out his writing process and the second book always irritates me. The imager books aren’t classic sword and sorcery type fantasy though and can be a little bit quiet in some places. My favorite of his is actually one of his sci-fi, Octagonal Raven.

    Michelle West is one I really enjoy as well. She writes pretty classic doorstop s&s fantasy. I like the sunsword series. Main characters are mostly women, so if that bothers you, this is not the series for you and you might try her Hunt Brothers Duology instead.

    If you like alt-history with a lot of sexy sexy, Jacqueline Carey is a good way to go. Her main series is the Kushiel one. The main character is a woman, but most of the significant side characters are men.

    Given the particular audience of this website, I’d guess Modesitt would most probably fit best.

    Nic (896fdf)

  26. I tend to read series, and I tend to like like adventure and intrigue more than philosophical meanderings and I love good world building, so taking that into account […]

    Winter is coming.

    Dave (1bb933)

  27. @26 Unfortunately I just can’t get into Martin’s writing. Something in his style throws me out of the story all the time.

    Nic (896fdf)

  28. Question: Who are the 3 best SF or fantasy writers currently working, and what are their best books?

    Tim Powers, Jonathan L. Howard, I can’t think of a third that I would have put on a par with Resnick, Wolfe, or Saberhagen when they were around. They’re consistently good. On Stranger Tides is probably my favorite from Powers, and Johannes Cabal: The Detective by Howard.

    nk (dbc370)

  29. He did a fantastic job building upon his father’s legacy and helping with his works.

    Job well done. Rest in peace.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  30. Question: Who are the 3 best SF or fantasy writers currently working, and what are their best books?

    Kevin M (19357e) — 1/17/2020 @ 8:57 pm

    That’s a really tough call.

    For me Brandon Sanderson is #1 just because he’s made multiple series that are good reads with their own systems and universes.

    Jim Butcher might actually be #2 because he’s done 2 series that are enjoyable even if he’s lost his gift to complete his Dresden Files works. (The Codex series was excellent and ended in a timely fashion.)

    #3 is tough. Really want to say Joe Abercrombie because his First Law trilogy was fantastic, but his works since have descended into mediocrity. Rothfuss would’ve been there, but he never finished his works. Same with GRRM. He’s retired and no matter when the next book finally comes out, it’ll be a collaboration, not what it would’ve once been.
    I might just go with Larry Correia even though his works aren’t much high fantasy. For fantasy, his Son of the Black Sword was fantastic, and the followup, House of Assassins was decent. His Monster Hunter books are good for pulp fiction and the Grimnoir Chronicles were fun if not overly deep.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  31. I’m completely biased to Sanderson as I’ve enjoyed all of his works. Loved the Mistborn trilogy as I’ve read them all and listened to them as well. His take on the superhero world with the young adult Reckoners series was well done and I love the Stormlight Archive as well as it reminds me of the high fantasy I enjoyed from Eddings and others. Reread those books whenever he comes out with a new one.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  32. @18. ‘Meaningless,’ Kevin?

    Will leave your interest in the tales of elves, pixies and fairies all to you.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  33. @18. Postscript- BTW, Kevin, Roddenberry considered his ‘Star Trek’ TeeVee program less a ‘fantasy’ and more a ‘western:’ a la ‘Wagon Train’ set in space. But then, I’m no fan of the ‘horse-and-buggy’ genre, either.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  34. Will leave your interest in the tales of elves, pixies and fairies all to you.

    Isn’t there an episode of Oprah you could be watching, instead of regaling us with your ignorance?

    Dave (1bb933)

  35. @18. Postscript- BTW, Kevin, Roddenberry considered his ‘Star Trek’ TeeVee program less a ‘fantasy’ and more a ‘western:’ a la ‘Wagon Train’ set in space.

    Absolutely. So is Star Wars. So are the comic-book derivatives. From horse opera to space opera; from spaghetti western to spaceghetti western. Just made with 28% more estrogen and 14% more pederasty in the recipe. But that’s Hollywood. You can’t compare it to even fair-to-middlin sci-fi/fantasy literature. Arnold “Muscle Beach Fruit Bait” Schwarzenegger as Conan? In the books, Robert E. Howard would have had him as Queen Zenobia’s harem boy.

    But then, I’m no fan of the ‘horse-and-buggy’ genre, either.

    I am. Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West gets my vote for Favorite Movie Ever. And by and large, the western movies have improved (if you ignore Tarantinos’s garbage) (even Kevin Kostner was good in Open Range) while the books are mostly “blah”, when they’re not “bleech” with gratuitous sex and violence. I’m reading “Lucky Luke” comics right now. Thankfully, the worst thing those Belgian Gen-X sissies managed to do to that series is replace Lucky Luke’s cigarette with a hay straw.

    nk (dbc370)

  36. But then, I’m no fan of the ‘horse-and-buggy’ genre, either.
    DCSCA (797bc0) — 1/18/2020 @ 1:29 am

    No doubt because of your first-hand experience with it. [baboom-tish!];-)

    felipe (023cc9)

  37. 33. Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train to the Stars” comment was marketing BS and Roddenberry knew it. He had to find some way to relate the show to network brass, and even with that, it was a tough sell. Without Lucille Ball, there probably would have never been Star Trek at all.

    Gryph (08c844)

  38. I am. Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West gets my vote for Favorite Movie Ever.

    Unlike the beloved nk, I prefer my westerns to have a goodly* amount of comedy. I like the saloon girl’s acting – no lines, but a good part. Aaaaand she rocks that hair-do better than Captain Janeway.

    *Throw a few more yucks into Unforgiven, and it will be perfect. I kid, I kid.

    felipe (023cc9)

  39. 38. Fair enough. I’m somewhat of a Leone fanboy myself, but my personal favorites are the Dollars trilogy. They practically defined the “Spaghetti Western.”

    Gryph (08c844)

  40. “The Searchers”

    mg (8cbc69)

  41. I have seen every Terence Hill and Bud Spencer western, together or alone, felipe.

    A gift for you:
    The eight-episode Lucky Luke series with Terence Hill and saloon girl Lotta Legs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh2QBqBi9I0&list=PLahKLy8pQdCOke63GxbOjf_QPGtlVy8Ox

    Bud Spencer with Jack Palance and four saloon girls in It Can Be Done, Amigo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuSdhZBWASE

    nk (dbc370)

  42. Thanks, man! I’m on it.

    felipe (023cc9)

  43. Really. Check out the Lucky Luke series. It has a lot of guest actors you’ll recognize and be glad to see again, ranging from Barney Miller to Blazing Sadddles to Support Your Local Sheriff, and more.

    nk (dbc370)

  44. I am watching it. I immediately thought of Quickdraw for some reason. I guess It was the sheriff fixing everything, maybe. I am looking forward to the guest actors.

    felipe (023cc9)

  45. If you’re watching the first episode, you already saw the actor from the drinking contest you linked. In the first scene. He’ll remain as a regular. But wait … there’s more!

    Okay, okay, I’m shutting up and letting you enjoy it.

    nk (dbc370)

  46. I’ve not seen a bad Eastwood western. My only problem with “A Fistful of Dollars” is that it’s a remake of a Kurosawa movie. “Unforgiven” is a masterpiece.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  47. Unlike the beloved nk, I prefer my westerns to have a goodly amount of comedy

    I am partial to Silverado or, less broad, Lonesome Dove.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  48. My only problem with “A Fistful of Dollars” is that it’s a remake of a Kurosawa movie.

    Which is from Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (plot) and Corkscrew (setting), done more faithfully to Hammett in Walter Hill’s Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis, and butchered in the Coen Bros homage to the Hollywood gay mafia, Miller’s Crossing.

    The one thing movies and television cannot be accused of is originality.

    nk (dbc370)

  49. Question: Who are the 3 best SF or fantasy writers currently working, and what are their best books?
    Kevin M (19357e) — 1/17/2020 @ 8:57 pm

    Not a big fantasy fan, actually. I liked Rothfuss’ first book and I’ll continue if he finishes it, but not until. I much prefer SF.

    There are a lot of good writers in SF today: David Weber, Bujold, Jo Walton, Robert Charles Wilson, Connie Wills, Varley, SM Stirling, Dan Simmons, either Robinson, Ian McDonald, Ken MacLeod, Nancy Kress, Gibson, Stephenson, Cory Doctorow, Cherryh, Orson Scott Card, David Brin, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear and Stephen Baxter.

    But I have to go with Alastair Reynolds, Peter F Hamilton and Charles Stross as writers whose books I am sure to buy.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  50. 48. What I’ve always liked about Leone’s spaghetti westerns is the fact that they were presented to a generation that grew up on Roy Rogers and unrealistically romantic notions about the Earp brothers. Disabusing Americans of the notion of the romantic western frontier is something I don’t think Kurosawa ever tried to do, let alone did. 😛

    Gryph (08c844)

  51. Hammett’s Nameless Detective reflected the cynicism of the Depression era, while Kurosawa’s nameless samurai reflected the post-Commodore Perry breakdown of the Japanese feudal system. Leone took the cynicism and the lawlessness and combined them in his masterpieces.

    But although we know Kurosawa best, c. 1840 Zatoichi and Lone Wolf and Cub, reflecting the last gasps of a senescent and corrupt Shogunate, were far more prolific in Japan.

    nk (dbc370)

  52. 35. There are exceptions. But a little Bonanza or Gunsmoke goes a long way– too long; like decades. And horses stink.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  53. @34. ‘Ignorance,’ Dave? Tales of elves, pixies and fairies– so glad you’ve found an entertaining comfort zone to escape to. You either get it– or you don’t; ‘The Ministry of Silly Posts.’

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  54. 53. JRR Tolkien was Catholic. His tales reflected his very Catholic Christian upbringing, right down to the allegory of God, heavenly host, and angelic men. It is definitely high fantasy (indeed, Tolkien practically defined the term in the 20th century), but to write it off as nothing more than “tales of elves, pixies, and fairies” kind of misses the point. If it’s not your thing, more power to you. But don’t stand on your soapbox and pretend that your tastes are somehow more sophisticated because you don’t dig that stuff. It’s not necessarily so.

    Gryph (08c844)

  55. @53. ‘But don’t stand on your soapbox and pretend that your tastes are somehow more sophisticated because you don’t dig that stuff.’

    You’re projecting; never posted such a comment. ‘…tales of elves, pixies, and fairies” kind of misses the point.’ Except it is the point: you either get it– or you don’t; you’re either into it– or you’re not. Live your fantasies; costume for Comicon; enjoy yourself.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  56. But I have to go with Alastair Reynolds, Peter F Hamilton and Charles Stross as writers whose books I am sure to buy.

    Kevin M (19357e) — 1/18/2020 @ 8:47 am

    What would you say are the best books from each author respectively??

    NJRob (4d595c)

  57. 55. I get it. You don’t. And here we are. FYI, I have never cosplayed. At all. Ever. So there’s that.

    Gryph (08c844)

  58. Anyone else here a Frank Herbert fan? 😉

    Gryph (08c844)

  59. Anyone else here a Frank Herbert fan? 😉

    I kind of liked the movie. Don’t anybody tell NJRob that Joe Abercrombie stole The Voice for one of his First Law witches. 😉

    nk (dbc370)

  60. Clarke seasoned w/a little Bradbury. That’s enuf 4 me.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  61. 59. If you liked the movie, you simply *must* read the books. Even the 2000 miniseries (superior in every way to Lynch’s 1984 version) didn’t do the “Dune” novel justice.

    Gryph (08c844)

  62. I kind of liked the movie. Don’t anybody tell NJRob that Joe Abercrombie stole The Voice for one of his First Law witches. 😉

    nk (dbc370) — 1/18/2020 @ 10:14 am

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    NJRob (4d595c)

  63. I read very little fiction, science or otherwise.

    I couldn’t put down Asimov’s Foundation series, though.

    Dave (1bb933)

  64. 53. JRR Tolkien was Catholic. His tales reflected his very Catholic Christian upbringing, right down to the allegory of God, heavenly host, and angelic men. It is definitely high fantasy (indeed, Tolkien practically defined the term in the 20th century), but to write it off as nothing more than “tales of elves, pixies, and fairies” kind of misses the point. If it’s not your thing, more power to you. But don’t stand on your soapbox and pretend that your tastes are somehow more sophisticated because you don’t dig that stuff. It’s not necessarily so.

    This is an outstanding comment.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  65. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Heh! And let’s not tell Gryph that Atreidis was the family name of kings Agamemnon and Menelaus from The Iliad.

    Thank you, Gryph. I think I will give Dune a peek. As you may have guessed, I read few of the young’uns and I’m running out of the old ones.

    nk (dbc370)

  66. Frank Herbert

    Way back when I read gobs of SF I really liked Whipping Star.

    Liked Dune too. Saw the movie opening day in Newport Beach – gosh what a pile.

    I’m still waiting for someone to make a film of ◼️ Press ENTER by John Varley – especially since it was so prescient on computers, the web and privacy/Deep State.

    And I sure wish someone could give a good treatment to the brilliant The Sentinal By AC Clarke. That ending was much more compelling than what Clarke/Kubrick did with it.

    harkin (d6cfee)

  67. @64. Except the last line, which projects the commenters own insecurities.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  68. @66. Re- Clarke/Kubrick. The short story and later extrapolated book, 2001, was better–and clearer. For starters, they voyage to Saturn, not Jupiter– and the location of the monolith on Iapetus [pre Voyager days BTW] is quite clever and fits smoothly w/t tale.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  69. @64. Pagans!!!! 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  70. 65. Actually, I already knew that. The word “Atreides” refers to a descendant of the House of Atreus. Herbert used that name precisely because of its tragic and heroic connotations in Greek literature.

    Gryph (08c844)

  71. 67. Insecurities? I prefer science fiction (particularly of the hard variety) to high fantasy any day. And if I have to read fantasy, my favorite author actually happens to be Robert E. Howard. Before you call me insecure, you’d better take the time to get to know me. Or at least know my literary tastes. I can acknowledge Tolkien as the genius he was without being a total fanboy.

    Gryph (08c844)

  72. 68. On that, you and I will once again disagree. Kubrick had a very particular vision in mind for his 2001 movie that Arthur Clark did not share. The book was a vehicle for getting funding for what was a very experimental form of painfully hard science fiction. The short story you’re referring to is, I’m guessing, “The Sentinel,” since 2001 was only ever written in novel form. Clark submitted The Sentinel to a Science Fiction contest years before he came to know Stanley Kubrick.

    Gryph (08c844)

  73. @71. As noted in #15, no denying the popularity w/t ‘dungeons and dragons’ set. Have family into it beyond a passing phase and an old flame who is totally steampunked. Hate the junk. Popularity of the characters in ‘Big Bang Theory’ speaks volumes– especially when the grounded one is the dumb blonde. 😉 You’re either into it– or your not. I’m not. No mint condition action figure around here. Though my late father had entire room full of literally thousands of old Britain’s lead soldiers; his fantasy. 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  74. @72. My copy of Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, [which I read in 2 days and still have] purchased in Britain in 1968, has them going to Saturn.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  75. 74. Yes, it does. And that’s not where the differences end. It really wasn’t a movie based on a novel, nor was it a novel based on a movie. Clarke and Kubrick were friends, but they had completely different visions for their respective works.

    73. Dungeons and Dragons actually got its start as a middle-ages military simulation called “Chain Mail.” The addition of fantasy elements didn’t come until some years later. TSR co-founder Gary Gygax was actually not the biggest Tolkien fanboy of the bunch. That honor(?) went to Dave Arneson.

    Gryph (08c844)

  76. @75. ROFLMAO ‘D&D’- you keep proving my point; are your mint action figures from the Made in Taiwan series or the Made In Korea run? 😉

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  77. 76. I haven’t played D&D in over 20 years. The group I played with back in the day was never so gauche as to use figures. We used our imagination. As for your “point,” such as it is, I don’t know exactly what it is other than that you seem to feel superior to me precisely because you’re not into high fantasy. I’m sure you’ll point out that I’m wrong, but it looks like a reasonable assumption to me.

    Gryph (08c844)

  78. Gotta love the Bee…….

    Peter Jackson To Honor Christopher Tolkien With 578-Film Adaptation Of ‘The Silmarillion’

    https://babylonbee.com/news/peter-jackson-to-honor-christopher-tolkien-with-578-film-adaptation-of-the-silmarillion
    _

    harkin (d6cfee)

  79. Heh, the Bee nails it.

    CT did stand in the way of any movies or games based on the Silmarillion.

    It will be interesting to see whether the Tolkien estate is now any more willing to license this part of his work.

    Dave (1bb933)

  80. @77. Beat’cha at your own game: haven’t played it at all. Ever. And never will.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  81. 80. There’s that snobbish “I’m not a D&D geek” superiority again. You beat me at precisely jack-s**t, you pompous ass.

    Gryph (08c844)

  82. 79. I am also of the opinion that the Silmarillion should not be made into a movie or any kind of video game.

    Gryph (08c844)

  83. @81. Odd. Your personal attack betrays that insecurity again; you’re either into it or you’re not. If you feel lowly for having played D&D, uncloak your burden on someone else.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  84. 83. I’m personally attacking you on account of pointing out that you are a smug, superior jerk? I thought I was past that period in my life when I graduated from high school. I guess not.

    Gryph (08c844)

  85. Fellas, let’s put an end to the personal back-and-forth. This entire post has reached the end of its usefulness.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  86. . There’s that snobbish “I’m not a D&D geek” superiority again. You beat me at precisely jack-s**t, you pompous ass.

    Gryph (08c844) — 1/18/2020 @ 7:59 pm

    You’re talking to the guy that is obsessed with Hollywood and constantly references it. Why bother?

    NJRob (4d595c)

  87. Kevin,

    Any chance you’ll answer my earlier question?

    NJRob (4d595c)

  88. Fellas, let’s put an end to the personal back-and-forth.

    JVW casts Silence, 15′ radius

    Dave (1bb933)

  89. JVW casts Silence, 15′ radius

    Gotta roll a 17 to undo it.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  90. @85. Agreed. It’s just… odd.
    _______

    @86.Obsessed? Have you seen on the TeeVee who Americans elected CiC?? Suggest you reassess who is obsessed. Hint: he was in Home Alone 2 [except in Canada ;-)]. And FWIW, the ‘Hollywood’ product is among America’s biggest exports.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  91. DCSCA, you didn’t roll a 17 (prove otherwise), so please, let’s all of us stop with the personal bickering. Argue ideas, not personalities.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  92. Everybody rock out to Dr. Hook to reset our moods.

    There, feel better now?

    JVW (54fd0b)

  93. @91/92 LOL Don’t even know what that means– my dice only count up to 12, but Dr. Hook is perfect for a Keep-On-Truckin’ Saturday Night. Excellent selection.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  94. #4
    My dad will be 95 this year and gets around fine. Mom will be 91. My great Aunt on my moms side will be 107 and she is still bright enough to play cards and cheat.

    Dad organizes a lunch once a month for WWII vets in town at his church. He still drives OK, so he goes and picks up as many of the non driving vets as he can. They have a WWII Spitfire pilot that comes as well.

    My personal back up was garage, duct tape, garden hose… (for me, not my parents) but with my luck it’ll be all electric cars and illegal to own a garden hose… IF I can even find the damn garage

    steveg (354706)

  95. My great Aunt on my moms side will be 107 and she is still bright enough to play cards and cheat.

    Born before the outbreak of World War I.

    That would mean she remembers a time before there was radio (broadcasting)

    And although she was probably too young to notice, or not interested, when Babe Ruth was a pitcher.

    And the price of a stamp went down from 3 cents to 2 cents. If she was too young for that she might remember the Great Deflation of 1920.

    This was also a time when Herbert Hoover was thought to be a Democrat. She probably doesn’t remember that, but she should remember when Eisenhower was thought to be a Democrat (1948)

    Sammy Finkelman (2cb3c3)

  96. What would you say are the best books from each author respectively??

    Hamilton: The original Commonwealth duology: Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained.

    Stross: The “Laundry” books, starting with “The Atrocity Archives” and telling about the agency fighting the intrusions of Lovecraftian horrors into the present-day world.

    Reynolds: Best single book: “House of Suns”; best series, the original “Revelation” trilogy.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  97. Anyone else here a Frank Herbert fan?

    It’s been a while.

    Dune, of course. Absolute wonder of a book. Worth reading and re-reading. The rest of the series? Meh.

    Some of his other works is memorable: The White Plague and Under Pressure (aka The Dragon in the Sea) come to mind.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  98. Dave, I think you would like Dune. It’s about politics, freedom, ecology, economic forces and the human mind. There are no rayguns or spaceship battles.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  99. Peter Jackson To Honor Christopher Tolkien With 578-Film Adaptation Of ‘The Silmarillion’

    The last 563 of them are footnotes.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  100. It will be interesting to see whether the Tolkien estate is now any more willing to license this part of his work.

    There were rumors that the story of Beren and Luthien was going to be the basis of the Amazon series.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  101. Any chance you’ll answer my earlier question?

    Sorry it took so long.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  102. Don’t even know what that means– my dice only count up to 12

    Advantage, fantasy dice.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  103. BTW: I assert the best SF book I’ve ever read (out of thousands of pretty good ones) is Vernor Vinge’s “A Deepness in the Sky”. Re-read it recently and was completely blown away. Again.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  104. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Dick, and Heinlein were all great 20th Century writers of Sf and/or fantasy. I’d throw in the guy who wrote Dune George RR Martin, Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury. Never been a fan of Asimov or Ursula K. Le Guin

    rcocean (1a839e)

  105. I can skip most of LeGuin, but The Left Hand of Darkness deserved its Hugo. The Dispossessed did not.

    Ray Bradbury is like a Chinese lunch. Taste great, but in the end not very filling. Mostly tone and style when you get down to it.

    Asimov: Read “The Naked Sun”

    Kevin M (19357e)


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