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  • #16
    I've always argued that King Kong is a viable modern myth.
    That essentially ends with the death of the hero -- brought low by
    love.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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    • #17
      lol arent we all :lol:

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Bill
        Just once I would like to read a story, get into it, really see the story through the eyes of the main character, empathise with them, and then, halfway through, WHAM, character dies. I don't mean the main character's love interest, I mean the main character, the hero.
        Bill: If that's what you're looking for, read the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R.R. Martin. Without completely spoiling it for you (which will be hard to avoid at this point) that's pretty much exactly what Martin does in the first book: A Game of Thrones. After that, you know that NO ONE is safe.

        As far as I'm concerned, Martin is the only one doing "high" fantasy right now who is worth reading. But he's not just "worth reading." At this point, I'm pretty much convinced the man's a genius. A Storm of Swords (the third book in the series) is simply one of the best novels I've ever read.

        Now I'm making my way through a massive "retrospective" of his short stories, and discovering he was always this brilliant even before he started this series.

        Can't recommend it highly enough. And strangely, he's enormously influenced by Tolkien. For me, it's loathe the teacher, love the student, I guess.

        Best, Nick.

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        • #19
          I know exactly what you mean with Tad Williams, I thought MS&T was great until... the ending where the Prince (Forget his name) with his kids and wife goesoff and nearly everyone of the main charcters lives. After seeing the climax building for so long, I expected something immense, but it petered out for me as opposed to exploding.
          On A song of Fire and Ice, though I enjoyed the first book, I wasn't overawed by it. I believe it's extremely overrated. My favourite books of the fantasy genre are (aside from Moorcock, obviously) David Gemmell, who despite painting in an easel consisting entirely of Black and White still creates the best plots and situations. Pace, excitement and entertainment, without too much thinking, and Steven Erikson, who is the best Fantasy writer of the last 20 yearsd, full stop. Charcters are always dying, rules are broken, it's bloody, realistic and unbelievaby readable (Unheard of in a series where each book exceeds 700 pages). Also, every book is stand alone (Or near enough) so you can pick one up without having any prior knowledge and still enjoy a rollicking good read. And the 5th one is out in 10 days. Yeah!!! (Start with the first one though, otherwise you may still get confused)

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          • #20
            For the most part I like The Lord of the Rings and find it more intelligent then most fantasy books or movies. For example Conan. Now saying that I must admit that the elephants and southern men annoy me. I also get annoy by some of the little things that Tolkiens writes. Moving on, I must say that after reading the books and seeing the films I do pity Gollum. However, the point that Gollum shows his true character by trying to kill Sam and Frodo I slowly began to hate him. Anyways Frodo does die, but is only after he completes his task. Getting on the ship to sail West symbolizes the character's death. In a way that makes sense since the Vikings sometimes buried their dead in a ship.

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            • #21
              Galadriel: I can handle Frodo's "symbolic" death at the end, I suppose. I guess my problem actually isn't specifically that none of the main characters die so much as the fact that none of them does die just reinforces the "casual" feeling I got throughout the entire sequence. Basically, I never felt they were in any real danger whatsoever. And the fact that none of them die and there is no real sacrifice for their victory just tells me I was right for feeling that way - they were never in any real danger to begin with. Through much of RotK, it seemed like the only danger was a whole lot of bad weather! I mean, "The sky is getting dark, we have to destroy the ring!" That's how it seemed to me. When I have a problem believing the characters are in any real peril, and then none of them dies or sacrifices anything, then, as I said in another post, they may as well have ended it with "And it was all just Frodo's bad dream." Completely unsatisfying as far as I was concerned.

              I'll give you a very small nitpicky example. Remember the scene where Merry (or Pippin, I forget) grabs that glorified bowling ball (the eye of Sauron?) and is rolling around on the floor with it? Well, Gandalf makes a big deal about telling them how evil and powerful the Eye is, and that they shouldn't touch it. So, Merry grabs it anyway, he looks into the eye of evil (and I assume "the abyss also looks into him") and he gets "electrocuted" and he's out cold for a few seconds and... what happens? Gandalf comes over and brings him back to life and we NEVER see that "looking into the heart of evil" actually had any effect on him at all! Of course he survives like everyone else, but he also apparently isn't affected in the least! I wasn't quite kidding about the bowling ball thing. When I saw that there was (again) no consequence for the hobbit messing with something he shouldn't have messed with, I fluffed off the scene as an actor ridiculously rolling around on the floor with a bowling ball!

              That's what the whole series ended up being for me. Actors playing dress up, playing with props, whispering 90% of their dialogue ot make it sound important... sound and fury signifying very little.

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              • #22
                I think that mythology passes on the wisdom that there are no free lunches. There are far too many free lunches for me in Tolkien. :)

                Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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                • #23
                  Free lunch. That's a perfect way to put it.

                  I mean, Tolkein was inspired largly by the Norse saga's and the Anglo-Saxon legends (a la Beowulf). But in those the central protagonist almost always dies, and some times it is not even in the end. In the AS tale of the Battle of Maldon, for example, the "hero" of the tale, an Anlgo-Saxon earl named Brythnoth, is killed by the invading vikings about half way through the tale. Even in the great Beowulf the protagonist is mortally injured by the dragon even while he slays it. It is the sacrifice for the sake of fame, riches, and the good of the people that is central in most of the old sagas. But if he was so inspired by these, why didn't he at least try to capture the mood and tone of the tales with LotR?
                  "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                  --Thomas a Kempis

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                  • #24
                    Not unsympathetically, it's something I call 'Trench Denial'.
                    It wasn't until the 1960s that we really began to understand, as a culture, the full horror of the Holocaust and the full horror of the trenches, with thousands of wounded men calling out from No-Man's-Land, with no hope of being saved, was never fully described -- or at least very rarely.
                    Tolkien, in common with so many of those who experienced the terrors of the trenches, adopted the sentimental avoidances of the time -- which included a very odd myth of sacrifice, which did its best to make some good out of what was realistically a total waste of men and an appalling cruelty practised by our rulers on both sides -- more and more human beings being flung into battles where a few inches of ground were won or lost. The tank helped break that stalemate, just as the H-Bomb essentially preserved us from major wars through most of my lifetime.
                    The conventional attitudes of the day, anyway, were Tolkien's. I don't blame him for grasping at the avoidances offered, but it did mean that the grim horror of what he had endured was somehow avoided. I don't know if that sounds too convoluted, but I grew up in a very different culture, which was confronting those realities, issuing books, documentaries and so on which more or less demonstrated the evil we were capable of, rather than emphasising the 'good' which came out of 'sacrifice'. The Holocaust made it almost impossible to continue with that sort of myth. Tolkien's generation did their best to deny (and I don't mean this in the usual perjorative sense) the Holocaust as they managed to deny the horrors of the trenches, but my generation was the one which refused to do that. I don't take any individual virtue from the fact. I was part of that particular zeitgeist, just as Tolkien was part of his. Tolkien consciously set out to offer happy endings. Whoever wrote Beowulf didn't feel obliged to do that, they felt obliged to tell the truth as they understood it. And, like Tolkien or Lewis, put a Christian spin on the story. I'm a Christian only by accident, in that I was raised in a predominantly Christian culture but am not otherwise a 'believer' but that said I think Christ's sacrifice can be interpreted either sentimentally or robustly, for instance. I think Beowulf offers a robust example, probably in keeping with the times in which the poem was written. Much as I distrust Mel Gibson, what I've seen of the 'Passion' film seems at least willing to show what that suffering actually involved and that makes the movie attractive to me.
                    I think Gibson's loopy, by the way. Maybe that will be his own particular salvation as an artist. He was pretty dull when he was sane... :lol:

                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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                    • #25
                      As a bit of a tolkien fan, I am happy to accept them as fairy tales for all ages, it would be boring if all fantasy writings were the same.

                      I also think that when you consider Tolkien wrote first for children in the hobbit, LOTR has quite a lot of death in it.

                      I notice it does seem rather fasionable to knock his books at the moment as they have burst into the spotlight via the films.

                      I loved the books as a kid and its kind of nostalga for me to see the films, I only read Mr Moorcock's books when I got to college, my choice of grown up fantasy.

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                      • #26
                        Don't get me wrong, Calhoun, I enjoy Tolkein as well. I think the man had an amazing mind to develop a world of such intracite detail and history alone. Now, that is all a matter of course for most modern fantasy authors, but Tolkein's work was original on some level. As I said elsewhere regarding my views of Tolkein, being a lover of history and language much as he was I have boundless respect for his work in those areas especially where Middle Earth is concerned. I've done alot of the same, going back ten or twelve years to before I even discovered our friend Mr. Moorcock (eight years ago...wow, has it really been that long?). I simply have a few complaints and don't much like the fact that he has become a household name whereas far superior authors--like Mike--are known only within certain circles. Hopefully the Elric movies will change that!

                        I don't really hold his writting style againt Tolkein, nor do I hold his personal beliefs against him. It would be wrong to do as in doing so I would be deyning him the reality in which he existed. I hold his style against the works it produced. I still enjoy LotR, but I feel the story could've been much better treated with a few changes in perception and presentation.

                        Of course, I'm a tad biased...Moorcock is my drug. When I first discovered his writting when I was 14 I couldn't get enough and to this day I go through periods where nothing other than his can satisfy my hunger for good books. I had read the Hobbit around the same time (about 13 or 14), and needless to say I was completely turned off to Tolkein. Then I read an introduction Mike wrote for one of the White Wolf EC Omnibuses concerning Tolkein (can't remember which one...possibly the first Elric?) and that convinced me not to bother. It wasn't until about a year ago I finally sat down and read LotR. I don't have the nostalgia for it that many do...and many of my opinions of it have been influenced by my love of Mr. Moorcock's writting.

                        Mike: I understand what you say about being creatures of our respective generations. I guess my generation just has far more in common with your than with Tolkein's. Or at least my personal views are more in line with yours than with his. As I said, I don't hold that against him, and maybe I should have worded my previous post differently if it appeared that way. I just enjoy a little of the nitty-gritty reality with my fantasy (Williams is good with this, imho). Personal preference, y'know. All said though, I do feel that LotR is not the great book of the 20th century by any means. It is a good story, but it did not have realistic moral examples...which I think a text needs to even be considered a great book. It oversimplified the so-called human condition, negating the gray in favour of a clear cut black and white. I guess I prefer characters with some inner-struggle. It's easier for me to relate to. I fight against depression and darkness every day and am prone to periods of melancholia. I face moral and ethical choices often regarding friendship, love, and life. I think most of us do...it's just part of life.

                        I suppose you can boil down my problems with LotR simply enough: it is a world-driven tale as opposed to a character-driven tale. Somewhere in between are story-driven tales, in which most modern fantasy falls, I belive. Your books are predominantly (to me) character-driven, even with the Multiverse playing such a prominant role, I feel you use it more as a catalyst for the characters...to create the situations needed to explore how that character will behave. This may be how you intend it, but it is how I percieve it and is one of the things that make your works so much more attractive than Tolkein's.
                        "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                        --Thomas a Kempis

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                        • #27
                          Well, that's kind of you to say so. It's how I conceive stories. And, of course, the multiverse is there to provide different contexts for different characters, to see how they will behave. Although I do a bit of 'world building', this really isn't my main interest when working out a story.
                          As long as I have a basic map, some consistent cultures and so on, I'm
                          happy. This could be why it's so easy for me to move from fantasy to 'realism' (which is also character driven). I remember my characters, though not always my plots, which might also be why I almost never reread my stories, even when I'm doing sequels. I tend to remember what the characters remember, if that makes sense. I think that's also why I like Peake so much more than I like Tolkien -- his stories are also character driven, from Titus Groan to Mister Pye.
                          Anyway, thanks for your interesting remarks. Very perceptive.

                          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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                          • #28
                            'I simply have a few complaints and don't much like the fact that he has become a household name whereas far superior authors--like Mike--are known only within certain circles.'

                            I agree with you there Everking, but unfortunatly that always seems to be the way of things. People with influence in holywood seem to aim for all markets and hit nobody. 'A lot of people like happy endings so lets not upset them'.

                            It is true that some people will not enjoy a well made Elric film, many do not like any fantasy element, others will not like the tragic elements to the film; but if aimed at the fans of the books and indeed the genre itself then it will hit that target and will draw others to the books.

                            I just don't know if my wife will like it, she has read over my shoulder as I read the Count brass omnibus and said 'What funny names' she enjoyed the LOTR but I don't know if she is yet ready for the multiverse.

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                            • #29
                              Jumping back in the conversation about a mile and a half....

                              Someone said something about Gollum not being able to get any kind of redemption and that being a bit of a cop-out... That's a very perceptive point and hints at more than was actually said. Because it takes a writer of real humanity and skill to do what Tolkien didn't with Gollum; to take someone who embodies some of the worst things about humanity, such as a junky like Gollum (well, he's basically that, isn't he? I doubt Tolkien ever met a junky but my point's the same) and show how, for all his faults, he might be redeemable.

                              To my mind, that takes more love of humanity than Tolkien was capable of. Now, obviously if Tolkien had had Gollum see the error of his ways and retire to Hobbiton it would have made for a pretty revolting, sugary story, but I don't think that that detracts from my argument - ye see, it strikes me that Tolkien's world is sharply divided between the nice people (hobbits and white people in general) and nasty people. There is no place for the flawed ones (which I think a pretty lage majority of us are, or is that only me?) like Gollum. Tolkien has a nice knack of killling them off; there is no room (oh dear, I almost said lebensraum) for the flawed types, which seems a pretty shitty moral universe (abeit an imaginary one) to construct.

                              Which brings me neatly to another point (and another thing, he burbles...) what happens to all those Orcs? Are they all exterminated? Tolkien makes it pretty clear that they have no place in the new world order, and that their viciousness is irreversible... Well, if that's the case, surely there's no alternative but to wipe them out. Are there gas chambers in Gondor big enough? I know it's all just made-up fantasy etc., but isn't it a rather rum world-view that dreams up an entire race that would best benefit the world by getting exterminated?

                              er... By the hoo, I don't say that Tolkien was necesarily an anti-Semite or a racist let alone an advocator of genocide (in the real world anyway), but I most certainly do say that the worldview of his books leaves it pretty tight for those not of the requisite moral or genetic fibre. And I also say that that kind of intolerance is less than we should expect from our writers. It's certainly a good deal less than what we get from yer man MM.

                              Hope that clears things up. Anyone else sticking up for Tolkien is to see me in my office after assembly.

                              Can I suggest a new topic thread on old-school mythic literature such as Beowulf? That way you won't have to hear timothy titmouse wading in on writers that some of you like and won't be impressed by me slagging them off.

                              How about Mervyn Peake? No-one's mentioned him yet. Now there's a writer.

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                              • #30
                                Well I began my Fantasy with being forced to play D&D at 5 by my brother and his friends and read King Arthur in grade three.
                                I really got started reading fasty at 12 where I found by accident Knight of the swords. So off I went and read every Moorcock book my father had and then got into Tolkien.

                                What I love about fatansy writting is that the author can write about what ever he whats and yet he gets all his information and back ground from a peice of real life that someone can relate too.

                                Which is why I think Terry Goodkind is a brilliant Fantasy writter who I might add was compared to Tolkien and Mr Moorcock.

                                Andrew

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