Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Blogger Panel #2

SFM16_7

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

It’s time for the second blogger panel, where I pose a science fiction related question to a selection of book bloggers! If you want to answer the question as well, let us know your response in the comment section below. 🙂 The question for this panel was:

If you had a time machine, where/when would you go, and why?

Anna @ There’s Always Room For One More

imyril avatar

Anna (@imyril) has been reading for nearly as long as she’s been walking, and arguably with greater success – or at least fewer bruises. She has a lot of very heavy books about archaeology and/or King Arthur on her shelves, most of which she has read, along with a glorious amount of more portable speculative fiction that she can read on the Tube. Favourite things beyond books include movies, cats, whisky and getting lost. Her musings can be found on her blog and on Twitter.

If I had a time machine…

As Rinn knew when she posed it, this is one of the most difficult questions you can pose an archaeologist. Even a recovered archaeologist (who am I kidding? You never recover). I studied archaeology because of all the things we don’t know, and I am fascinated by the gaps. The chance to examine one – just one – historical or mythical moment is a choice that makes my heart explode. My blood pressure has gone up just considering it.

But in some ways, it’s easy. I can get agitated and rattle off so many places and times (Justinian’s Constantinople; Troy VI; Crete after the eruption of Thera; Akhenaten’s Egypt), but I specialised in Dark Age economics (an academically acceptable option for an undergrad fascinated by Arthurian lore) so there can only ever really be one outcome. We know more than we ever have done about Anglo-Saxon ’invaders’ and the enduring links between post-Roman Britain and the Mediterranean, etched in broken amphorae and plague-carrying ship rats, but we still don’t know what to believe about Arthur.

If I set my time machine for Camelot, I have to assume it would draw a blank. The myth is just that – a beautifully illustrated body of stories concocted across Europe over centuries. But if there’s one thing the Doctor has taught me about having access to a time machine, it’s that you get to cheat a little. The transformation of post-Roman Europe is fascinating in its own right: I’d like to take a journey through the 5th through 8th centuries looking for the truth behind the myths and the realities of life in the ‘Dark Ages’. And maybe – just maybe – find a war leader who united the British and led them to victory against their enemies… even if it’s Vortigern, not Arthur.

There’s still a bit of me that’s shouting GO TO THE FUTURE. But at the moment, I’m not sure whether spoilers would really make me feel any better, so I’ll stick with my ancient past.

Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story

jorie avatar

Jorie is a book blogger and passionate reader at Jorie Loves A Story. She says that her blog was ‘inspired into creation due to a reader’s love and passion for the written word’.

She can be reached either through her blog or via Twitter (@JorieStory).

Such a curious question to be asked as this is something I have personally contemplated for such a long time – especially moreso now that I’ve become a book blogger and have regularly sought out stories which either travel through time or bend time within the narrative arc where the journey of the character has an equal foothold in both the present and the past; sometimes even within the future or an alternative variant of said future. Through my readings, I have garnished a healthy appetite of questioning my own opinion on the matter – would I travel through time if the opportunity presented itself? Or would I yield to understanding it’s best to live our lives forward rather than disappear back inside the past?

It’s a multi-layered question – as if you go by popular commentary found in fiction, television and motion pictures – you’ll find the discourse is not only actively commentated about but it’s a working thesis that has a variety of avenues to explore. One particular TV series comes to mind – it wasn’t inherently about ‘time travel’ but you knew going in something was ‘amiss’ on the time spectrum if the facts within the newspaper were meant to be found by one particular person who could impart his perception of those facts and events by making the best possible choice regarding what to do with the information. The series was called Early Edition and on a similar vein of Dr Beckett travelling through the quantum leap of time itself – both men strived to right wrongs and put people’s lives back on track. They did this from a genuine belief that they were given an ability to do good and it was their personal mission to fulfill that purpose.

When you approach it from a singular point-of-view, of personally travelling through time you have to re-consider the affect this is going to have on the continuum of time itself and how one individual person could effectively alter something that was originally non-existent in their timeline – either lived or unknown from their ancestral past as expertly explored in the new TV series Timeless, which embarks on exploring how individuals who are propelling themselves backwards through time’s arrow for a distinct purpose of stopping someone from aggressively altering history itself. Yet, as foreseen early into the series, each ‘step back’ leads to a ‘new tomorrow’ for their own timelines and histories – wells, technically in the beginning it only affected one character’s life, but evenso! It begged the question – are we meant to travel back or are we meant to continue to learn from the past without personally travelling there ourselves?

During Sci Fi Month 2014, I read A Stitch in Time by Amanda James wherein I revealed this:

A theory on time, the traveller who knits it back together, and the reality of time travel:

James reveals the basis of her running theory on the full dimension of being a time traveller and one who intends to not only travel along the meridians of time but on fusing time as a broken structure of record back together again; with a propensity of precision generally relegated to knitters or sewers. I, personally, loved what the time traveller’s mentor and guide is called inside the story (as a Time Needle sounds ever so posh) as ‘needling with time’ simply made a heap of sense to me! Time travellers by definition can either muck up an alignment of the continuum itself OR they can create positive contributions by causing a deviant of order as they re-distribute a level of calm within the chaos. I even liked how she parlayed her theory within the title of the novel itself, by using a Stitch in such a clever execution of a person’s job rather than rely solely on prior knowledge the reader may or may not have had as far as vetting information on the subject for themselves.

And, this is exactly my point. If a time traveller can effectively cause a positive outcome from their meddlings in time, then I think there is validity to time travel. However, it begs the question – how many who’d travel in time honestly consider the consequence of leaving a light footprint and not interfering when it’s unnecessary to do so? How many would have that kind of self-restraint?

Since 2014, I have also consumed the duology of Eruption and Reclamation by Adrienne Quintana, The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack and an alternative timeline of history in Kate Johnson’s The Untied Kingdom. In each of the stories, you are given valid arguments where time travel is a valid method of resolving something that has been left unresolved. Even in Doctor Who we are constantly reminded of the consequences of ‘spoilers’ a la River Song and of the key reasons why travelling in time is so very dangerous to one’s soul (i.e. the main reason the Doctor is older rather than younger is due to personal anguish for what he couldn’t change nor resolve the memories of those he had lost); yet where does that leave any of us to understand our own personal desire to re-visit the past?!

For me, I used to think having conversations with historical persons I had admired was the best way to chart a course into the past – my admirations for these women and gentlemen have never diminished, however, as I have started to journey into my own ancestral past as an Ancestry Sleuth inside my own family, I must lament there is a strong curiosity to re-visit my own ancestral roots through walking alongside my own ancestors at moments where they made key life decisions or lived moments of their ordinary hours where they were simply themselves caught up in the moment of living their lives.

To re-step through their footsteps – as I am only two or three generations away from the patriarchs of my family who immigrated to America, to see how they braved the ocean and conquered their fears to re-settle so far from their homes whilst uncertain of what they’d find once they were here is quite compelling. Even to go back to the late 1800s and walk through the hours with my great-grandmother of whom was my first best friend and watch as she took in the dawning of the 20th Century and how it shaped her thoughts and experiences from a Victorian upbringing would be incredible. To even go back further, to when the Fortune sailed from England to Plymouth and how my ancestors had to work off seven years of debt in order to stay in New England as the Fortune came without supplies would be incredible.

The only concern I still have – as a time traveller of stories and of an ancestral sleuth of memories – it is hard to turn-off the knowledge I have gained about how even one breath spent in the past can affect the future of tomorrow. Is it right to have the curiosity lead us into uncharted territories where our conjoined living histories could be altered like they are becoming in “Timeless” or is there a way to broker a foothold into the past without erasing the moments which already were lived yet give us a gain of entrance to observe? Perhaps the truer answer is meant to be left unknown. As how would any of us know exactly how we’d react if the choice was presented to us tomorrow? Would we lean on our foreknowledge or would we impulsively act on the hope of what we’d dare to find as seen in the film Midnight in Paris?

Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy

I think most people would probably choose a time from the past to visit, but me? I would most certainly want to visit the future. Even though things are looking pretty bleak on Earth, I think I’m enough of an optimist to envision a future filled with marvelous technology, alien visitors (the nice kind, of course) and a better quality of living for all. I’d like to think that scientists would have figured out the global warming problem and Earth would still be habitable in the next several hundred years or so.

I’m also very curious to see what my future ancestors (wait, is that a thing?) would be like, will my kids grow up to have kids of their own? And will they grow up to have kids? I’d love to visit my future relatives and see where everyone ends up. And wouldn’t it be cool to jump ahead in time and be able to see your present life as the past? What cool technology do we have today that will most certainly become obsolete in the future?

Plus, I really really want to visit some of the science fiction worlds I’ve read about in books, and who’s to say those worlds won’t become reality someday? Of course, I could jump ahead to the far future and wind up in a swirling mass of volcanic fire, but like I said, I’m an optimist…

tammy avatar

Tammy Sparks blogs at Books, Bones & Buffy, and tries to read and review as much speculative fiction as she possibly can, while working full time, raising two teens, and volunteering for her kids’ various school activities. You can also find her on Twitter: @tammy_sparks.

Claire @ Bitches With Books

claire avatar

Claire blogs at Bitches with Books. She can be reached via her blog or Twitter (@BWithBooks).

Ok, so my magical time machine is even better than that, it can move back between worlds (fictional or real) and throughout time!

So on first instinct, I think I’d go to The Shire and visit Hobbiton or even Lothlórien at its founding, before the Ring of Power was made. It just seems like a peaceful time in the stories and I’m imagining such lush, beautiful nature and good food. I’d basically just hit up a bunch of pubs or sort of convince hobbits, men and elves that I’m an awesome guest and that we should all have a massive feast! Is it bad that all I want to do is eat a good meal like I was at Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party? On second instinct, I’m not sure that’s a terribly good idea because I imagine that my appearance and dress and loud manner would be quite shocking and unappealing for some?

My third instinct is to go to the world of magic (like in Harry Potter) and visit Hogwarts when it was first founded by the great four, to travel to my home country in the Caribbean and see the magic that happened there with the melting pot of cultures, to go throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa to see how magic was explored and transformed with culture and time. I think that would be the best, to see that kind of awesome magic!

Let me know your own response to the panel question in the comments below! 🙂

Advertisements
Misc.

March into Middle-earth: The One Where Rinn and Claire Fangirl, Part Two

March Into Middle-earth

Time for Part Two of Rinn and Claire’s Mega Tolkien Fangirl Session! If you missed Part One, you can check it out here. This is part of a series of posts of the two of us discussing Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. Although we are asking each other the questions, we’d love to know your answers to them too – leave your responses in the comments! Claire ended the last post with the following question for me:

Claire: Do you see yourself in a character or especially fond of one? Also, do you have a fave. magical “creature” in that series?

Rinn: I actually get a little sad whenever I go past The Eagle and Child… it’s now owned by a chain and it’s not the same! 😦 It still looks awesome inside and out though, there’s loads of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis inspired art, but it doesn’t have that cosy pub feel to it that it would have had for them. Not that you could get away with smoking a Gandalf-style pipe in there anyway…

Okay, so I heartily agree here with #TeamSamwiseGamgee. He was the unsung hero of the whole thing, and I love how The Return of the King closed with him. Sam is just adorable, a typical Hobbit and not at all the kind of person you would expect for such a mission.

But at the same time, even though people go on about him whining, Frodo Baggins was damn brave. He didn’t have to do anything. He volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor, not even knowing where Mordor was or what it meant. Despite the Ring warping him and turning him against his friends, he still completed his quest – although of course, not without his Sam. You really can’t have one without the other. Frodo started it off, began the quest to get to Mount Doom, and Sam finished it by carrying Frodo up the mountain.

I pretty much have a soft spot for every member of the Fellowship, for various reasons. The dynamic between Gimli and Legolas is just something wonderful, the Hobbits add fantastic comic relief and ‘ground’ the story a little more, Aragorn is so noble without even trying and Boromir… oh, Boromir. My heart absolutely breaks when, after trying to take the Ring from Frodo, he realises what he has done. Sean Bean caught that moment so beautifully – the crack in his voice, the look on his face – and the fact that he dies less than a chapter later hurts so much.

THIS SCENE KILLS ME EVERYTIME. But not as much as Boromir. Hahaha- *sobs uncontrollably*
THIS SCENE KILLS ME EVERYTIME. But not as much as Boromir. Hahaha- *sobs uncontrollably*

As for a magical creature… the Eagles kind of felt a bit like a deus ex machina, plus they’re like super snobby in the book. Can I say my favourite creature is Bill the Pony? He may not be magical, but he was loyal and helped out the Fellowship – until he probably became a snack for the Watcher after being released just in front of the Mines of Moria. *sobs again*

What about locations – is there a place you’d love to visit? Or even live?

Claire:TEAM BILL THE PONY! TEAM BILL! YES! I totally agree with that! I actually like Smaug in all of his haughty dragon-ness. Trolls are funny because they are complete… well they’re absolute idiots.

I luff you, Bill.
I luff you, Bill.

I agree with you about Frodo actually, he won’t come to mind immediately me for a hero because it is so obvious that he is one. He did so much and wasn’t asked to do it, he had no obligation to take the ring and he did it out of pure love for his people and the Shire. I think that is amazing as well, and like you said Samwise and Frodo are the dynamic duo. They needed each other- Samwise needed to be prodded I think, he is a bit of a settler and Frodo needed someone to remind him of the light of the world. They worked well.

And don’t start me with Boromir, he was absolutely brilliant. When I read his chapter in the book I cried and cried, of all the characters to do I wish it hadn’t been him! I guess that there is some purpose to it, that it means something deeper and metaphorical but Boromir was the epitome of human: terrified, pressured and remorseful. In the end he died brave and he died repenting for his “sins” but ugh, all the feels.

But to answer your question about living: Shire hands down. Always the Shire. It’s near a forest which would be nice to pop into every now and then, I’m totally obsessed with Tom Bombadil and his darn yellow creme, honey and fresh white bread. Dammit, every time I read that passage I get so hungry. I think maybe that instead of living in Hobbiton in the shire, I’d also like to live closer to the Brandywine, with the Tooks and Brandybucks. It sounded like fertile land but also beautiful and being near the water, there is always fish/swimming to be had. Yes.

I would never, ever, ever live in a mountain. I dislike stone and dark and not being able to see the sun quickly. It is for that same reason I’d want to avoid being in a forest as well, as so many of the Elves seem fond of. Trees can choke out light and I’d rather be by them and not in them. No Bree, no Gondor. Nope, nope! No city of men, Dwarf or Elf for me. I’d visit the cities of Elves but never stay long.

This is a bit of a philosophical question, but with The Lord of the Rings, it seems a bit of a mythic or origin style story for the UK, again it just seems it in my eyes, but say Middle Earth was real but that our current present and lifestyles were also real, how would magic survive in your opinion? Where would it show? Or would it fade completely? Would any Elves be left? Dwarves? Would there be the Wizards? Hobbits? Would anything of that magic and fantasy exist?

Rinn: #AlwaysTheShire too. I just read the first chapter of FotR last night and it makes me so happy. All those jolly Hobbits in their beautiful Shire, with their cosy lifestyles. Gimme! So you’d be one of those unusual Hobbits that swims, eh? 😉

Actually I’d pretty much give exactly the same answer as you. No no NO to a mountain or cave, no dark enclosed spaces, thank you. And I’d like to be by a forest, but not constantly inside it. Although Lothlorien’s flets are pretty awesome. HOWEVER my second choice of a place to live would be Rohan, because of that Viking-inspired architecture, and the whole society built around horsemanship. Edoras is gorgeous, rising up out of the flat plains with Meduseld at the very top. Love love love it.

As for your question – the thing is, the magic is Middle-earth is not always obvious. We don’t actually see that much of it. Sure, there’s the One Ring. But the only other obvious sources are Gandalf and Saruman, who we don’t actually see using it very much, and perhaps Galadriel. I guess it’s more about the magic within objects than people.

If it were in our world, I think we wouldn’t see it in built up areas and cities – just like the lack of obvious magic in somewhere like Bree or Rohan. Or maybe there’d be an underground following – a secret magical London or whatever. I could see it definitely surviving in the countryside. My home county is actually one of the ones that inspired Tolkien when creating the Shire, and to me it is a truly magical place. That’s why I could definitely see magic surviving in the countryside, where it could be hidden away, where all these beautiful places are just around the corner and you don’t even know.

As for all the different races, I love the idea of them all living in our world. I’m not sure all of them would cope but… imagine a business meeting with a variety of besuited Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves! Elves as park rangers, Dwarves as miners or caving instructors, Hobbits as chefs or pub owners… Or if the story took place in our world, something like this…

image01

Or, you know, this every day scenario…

lotr

Now my next question for you: the musical score for the films, composed by Howard Shore, was such an important part of creating the right atmosphere. To me, it is perfect and completely sets the mood. Are there any other songs or pieces of music that remind you of Middle-earth or The Lord of the Rings?

Claire will answer the next question and continue our chat in the next part of the post, same time next week! 🙂 Let us know your responses to any of the questions in the comments.

Buddy Read

March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part Two

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the second part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! I discussed Chapters I – V last week. The buddy read is also taking place on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks if you’re interested in joining over there.

This discussion will cover Chapters VI – XI of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • OH GOD NOT THE OLD FOREST. It brings back horrible memories of trying to navigate that place on Lord of the Rings Online. It’s a horrible, horrible maze that you get lost it and can never leave.
  • That eternal question – who is Tom Bombadil, really? He knows EVERYTHING, he says he was there long before the elves, the Ring has absolutely no effect on him when worn and he does not seem to be tempted by it. I know there is a theory that he is one of the gods of Middle-earth, and the Lord of the Rings Wiki has other theories too, but whatever he is, he’s certainly interesting. If he is a god, I’m glad he doesn’t interfere with the quest any further than making sure the Hobbits manage to get past the Old Forest and Barrow Downs. It’s interesting to note that his Sindarin name was Iarwain Ben-adar, which means ‘Oldest and Fatherless’.
  • I was actually considering the fact that there is something odd about Tom Bombadil, and not necessarily a good kind of odd. Then I found this theory that says he could in fact be the most evil force in Middle-earth. What do you think?
  • The Barrow Downs would have been pretty wonderful to see in the films, and ever so creepy, but they would have required the character of Tom Bombadil to be included. I think the reason he was left out is because no-one knows who he truly is, and those who just watched the films and had not read the books might not have understood this, and thought it was something to exclude those who had skipped reading the books. In addition to some of those scenes perhaps not being entirely necessary, and the need to cut down a large book into a 2 1/2 hour film.
  • prancing pony gif

  • It takes the Hobbits around three chapters, or fifty pages, to reach Bree from the Shire. This feels slow when you consider how much the film condensed this time down. But it also makes a lot of sense, because the journey needed to feel urgent and perilous. The book gives us more time to ‘explore’ Middle-earth through the hobbits’ eyes, and hear some of their travelling songs. I love it, but I understand why it was reduced.
  • Oh, Barliman Butterbur. You lovable idiot.
  • We don’t even meet Strider/Aragorn until Chapter IX. And of course, the rest of the Fellowship later on.
  • ‘No, I don’t think any harm of old Butterbur. Only he does not altogether like mysterious vagabonds of my sort.’ Frodo gave him a puzzled look. ‘Well, I have a rather rascally look, have I not?’ said Strider with a curl of his lip and a queer gleam in his eye.

  • Look at the quote above, AKA Aragorn knowing that he rocks the scruffy look. What a man.
  • Alright, no need to get cocky.
    Alright, no need to get cocky.
  • All the geography of Middle-earth is so familiar from playing Lord of the Rings Online. All of these areas that are mentioned perhaps once in the books, are ones that you can actually visit in the game. It’s so wonderful reading about them and being able to picture them in my head.

How are you enjoying the book so far? Are there any parts within these chapters that you really loved?

Buddy Read

March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part One

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the first part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! This series of posts will most likely consist of four parts, split into two posts covering five chapters, and two posts covering six. The buddy read is also taking place on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks if you’re interested in joining over there.

This discussion will cover Chapters I – V of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • Words cannot describe just how happy I was to re-read this book. From the very first chapter, I felt like I was at home. I have re-read the series almost every year since the age of 10, so it is so familiar – but I never get bored.
  • The opening with the Shire is just so perfect, instantly setting Hobbits up as country bumpkin folk, with a comfy, cosy lifestyle. A lifestyle that I WANT PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
  • One thing that got me thinking, and that I discussed a little with Claire over Facebook, is how do Hobbits make money? Obviously there are richer families, such as the Bagginses and the Brandybucks who seem to be the known, wealthy families of the Shire. But there are others like the Gamgees, who are clearly poorer. Sam and his father, the Gaffer, are both gardeners. In the first chapter we also see that there are Hobbit farmers, millers, barmen/maids, postmen and, later on, a mayor. I get the impression that a lot of Hobbits sustain themselves through farming and gardening, but they must have other sources of income.
  • I never really thought about the Mathom-house, as mentioned in the first chapter, but apparently it’s basically a museum of old and unwanted Hobbit gifts and items. Now that is one museum I’d definitely like to visit, just to learn more about Hobbit history and culture.
  • Some dwarves turn up before Bilbo’s party. Are they previous members of the Company? Obviously not those who died in The Hobbit, and perhaps not Balin, whose tomb the Fellowship visits later on in Moria (although there is quite a gap between the party and the Fellowship entering Moria, so he could be there), but are they old friends visiting? Or just delivering the dwarven-made birthday gifts?
  • Hobbits are in their ‘tweens’ between their 20s and the age of 33. That would make me a Hobbit tween!
  • One of the many reasons I'd be happy with a Hobbit lifestyle.
    One of the many reasons I’d be happy with a Hobbit lifestyle.
  • I forgot how beautiful the songs and poems that Tolkien added to the story are. I’m so glad they incorporated some of them into the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, even if they’re not always used in the same context.
  • This is something I picked up just by circumstance: the other day, I was walking between campuses at work, and went down Northmoor Road. I noticed a blue plaque on one of the houses, took a closer look – and it was Tolkien’s house! I was pretty excited to find that, maybe I’ll go back one day and take a picture. But it made me wonder if he named the North Moors, which only appear once or maybe a few times in passing, after the street he lived on.
  • The fact that Tolkien made up so many different languages, and went into so much detail about each one, always astounds me. His grasp of linguistics was seriously impressive.
  • I did notice that Tolkien often ignores that literary device of ‘showing, not telling’, and frequently has his characters narrate stories for the benefit of the reader and the other characters. I guess the problem here is that there is so much back story, that if he kept breaking off to narrate the history of Middle-earth and the One Ring, it might not work so well.
  • And another reason: SO GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL!
    And another reason: SO GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL!
  • With every line that was taken directly from the book and used in the film, I read in the voice of that character in my head, which was pretty fun!
  • This is hard to describe but LotR feels so easy to understand – I don’t know if it’s because it’s super familiar and I’ve read it so many times, or I’ve just read more ‘complicated’ fantasies lately. By complicated, I mean those with difficult names and an alternate word for EVERYTHING, where you basically need a glossary so you can double-check everything.
  • One thing I noticed was that, within the first few chapters, Sam said ‘Lor bless me!’ twice. This sounds like a very Christian saying, and kind of stood out in a book that is set in a world with its own, non-Christian deities.
  • If you’ve seen the film of The Return of the King, you might remember Pippin singing to Denethor as Faramir gallops into battle. The haunting song, called ‘Edge of Night’, is beautiful, but actually comes from Chapter IV of the book, and is in fact part of a walking song that the Hobbits sing as they make their way to Bucklebury Ferry.
  • I’m actually pretty glad that the Nazgul don’t speak in the same way in the film that they do in the book. They’re somehow scarier when they just utter a few words…

Phew! That feels like a lot of notes for just five chapters! What do you think of the beginning of the book?

Prose & Pixels

Prose & Pixels #13: Following the Fellowship, Part 2

prosenpixels16

Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.

This particular topic is going to become a sort of sub-feature of Prose & Pixels. It is based on a Tumblr account I ran a few years ago, which is now closed. I want to show just how detailed The Lord of the Rings Online is, by illustrating excerpts from the book with screenshots from the game. I’ve previously spoken about how much detail the developers have added, including so many tiny features that you wouldn’t notice unless you looked closely, or other things that may only be familiar to the biggest fans. You can view Part 1 here.

The Party Tree

ScreenShot00015 ScreenShot00016 ScreenShot00018 ScreenShot00022

“One morning the hobbits woke to find the large field, south of Bilbo’s front door, covered with ropes and poles for tents and pavilions…There was a specially large pavilion, so big that the tree that grew in the field was right inside it, and stood proudly near one end, at the head of the chief table. Lanterns were hung on all its branches.” — Chapter I: A Long Expected Party, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Party Tree is, as Tolkien wrote, just south of Bag End. Although there is no giant tent, the tree is decorated with lanterns and ribbons, as well as many smaller tents around it. And plenty of benches, food and drink, as well as hobbits eating, drinking, dancing and completely passed out from the excess… There’s even a small stage for players to use, as you can see in the last screenshot – with my hobbit Isolde dancing for the crowd. 😉

The Green Dragon

ScreenShot00026 ScreenShot00029 ScreenShot00030 ScreenShot00031

“One summer’s evening an astonishing piece of news reached the Ivy Bush and the Green Dragon. Giants and other portents on the borders of the Shire were forgotten for more important matters: Mr. Frodo was selling Bag End, indeed he had already sold it – to the Sackville-Bagginses!”

The Green Dragon is the popular inn at Bywater that is mentioned several times in the book – it is clearly a popular place amongst hobbits. It is shown and mentioned in the films too – Pippin and Merry sing a song about the ale from the Green Dragon whilst dancing on a table. Players can sample the Green Dragon ale for themselves, although it can muddle your wits!

Have you ever played Lord of the Rings Online? Are there any particular locations you’d like me to find in the game?

Misc.

March into Middle-earth: A Month to Celebrate Tolkien

March Into Middle-earth

As many of you probably know, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of my absolute favourite books – I even wrote a post about how much I love it. I normally read it once a year, and have done since the age of 10, but have missed the past few years. I’ve been planning a buddy read of the books with my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and thought I’d use the occasion to create an event on the blog.

Therefore, the month of March will be dedicated to celebrating Tolkien and his works set in Middle-earth!

I’m not planning on the event being quite as intense or huge as Sci-Fi Month, but I’d love for others to join in! Also unlike Sci-Fi Month, my blog won’t be filled with only content relating to this – I’ll still be posting other things. Right now the only post I know I will have for sure is my The Fellowship of the Ring read-along/discussion, but here are some ideas for posts (as much as for myself as for those who want to take part!):

  • Read-alongs of Tolkien’s work set in Middle-earth (or join in with my Buddy Read!)
  • Reviews of Tolkien’s works, or works of those who have listed him as an inspiration
  • Discussions of film adaptations
  • A look at the various video games based in Middle-earth
  • Discussions of Tolkien’s influence on the fantasy genre or other authors, or what he himself was influenced by
  • Discussions of the inhabitants of Middle-earth

If you’re interested in joining, please leave a comment on this post and add your name to the Linky below!

document.write(”);

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #12: Why The Lord Of The Rings Is ‘My Precious…’

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my love for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

When I was ten years old, I picked up this huge fantasy book that I’d never read before. I was (and still am… obviously) an avid devourer of fantasy fiction, and here was one I hadn’t yet read! It was written by the same author who wrote The Hobbit – I’d read that a few years before and loved it. I’d also heard there was a film version of it coming out next year, and it’s always more fun to read the book first. That book was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and it changed my life.

It wasn’t long before I’d finished all three books, and I was obsessed. It didn’t really help that the films were coming out soon, which meant there was merchandise EVERYWHERE. I bought countless movie guides, guides to Tolkien, books about Tolkien himself, art books, the video games, posters, trading cards, figures… I even had one of those huge cardboard promotional cutouts. Seriously. My local video shop sold off cutouts and posters so I ended up coming home with a Two Towers one, which took up the majority of my tiny bedroom at the time. Totally worth it. I did tons of fanart (a lot of which I still have), I learnt to write ‘like a hobbit’, I tried (and failed) to learn Sindarin, I ran several different Lord of the Rings websites and fanlistings. I didn’t hide my love for it either, everyone at school knew my obsession. Sometimes I felt that it alienated me from others and that they looked down on me for being so passionate, but eh.

Pretty much how I felt when being judged by my peers. (image source)

It’s difficult to give a toss about how people perceive you for liking something, when that something is so important to you. Reading, particularly the fantasy genre, has always been a HUGE part of my life. From a young age I was encouraged to read: to my parents, by myself, before bed, whenever I could. The Lord of the Rings only made me delve deeper into the fantasy genre, and I have so much to thank it for.

I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tolkien’s language is old-fashioned, but that’s what I LOVE about it. I love the archaic words, the feeling that somehow this could have been our past in an alternate universe, the hobbits and their country bumpkin lifestyle – it sounds pretty idyllic. It’s a tale with unlikely heroes: within the Fellowship we’ve got an heir to the throne of Gondor, the Gondorian Steward’s son, an Elven prince, an Istari (or wizard), a Dwarven warrior (who is of the royal line, however distant) – and four hobbits. Two of which prove to be the strongest of them all, and we can’t forget what Merry and Pippin went through either.

Growing up is tough, guys. (image source)

Tolkien turned the traditional ‘epic quest’ tale on its head when he made his bumbling country folk – who’d normally rather spend the day fishing or farming, followed by an evening with a mug of ale – the true heroes. Despite the fact that Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom will most likely kill them and their chances of ever seeing the Shire again are slim, they carry on. That very thought of their beautiful home pushes them through. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. You don’t need to be the long lost heir to the throne, a rich prince or a grizzled warrior to have an impact. It’s essentially, when stripped to the bare bones, a story of good overcoming evil and how even the littlest person can change the future. To me, it also speaks of overcoming prejudices: it’s well known that elves and dwarves do not get along. But Legolas and Gimli end up forging a strong friendship, although they were distrusting of each other at first. There’s so much more within the books than a tale of nine people going on a long and arduous journey.

But you know what impresses me even more than the positive message Tolkien sends out through The Lord of the Rings? His sheer and utter dedication to thoroughly creating the world of Middle-earth. He invented entire languages, and not just the words and sentences he used in the books, but an entire new vocabulary and syntax. A whole history of Middle-earth was written, cultures and peoples that the reader barely catches a glimpse or even mention of were created. Inspired by myths and legends of other cultures, Tolkien sculpted this beautiful world that feels so real to me. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t just move to Middle-earth, to be honest.

To round it all up, The Lord of the Rings is a series that breaks my heart – in the very best way – yet simultaneously every time I read the books I feel like I’m at home. There just isn’t another like it.

(image source)

If you didn’t see it last month, I was also interviewed at Pages Unbound as part of Tolkien Week.