So, I’ve got over 1,500 words about season one of The Rings of Power, but it wasn’t gonna be wrestled into shape for this morning. So, I’ll work on tidying that up by next Monday. And I’m working on a basic Reader’s Guide to The Silmarillion: which, while my favorite Tolkien book, is, admittedly, not an easy read. But that’s not ready. So, I decided to write about a few Tolkien-related topics today. And awaaaay we go:
Lord of the Rings Online
I mentioned in last week’s article that Elder Scrolls Online replaced Age of Conan as my favorite MMO. Over the last year, I made my first dive into Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO). I’m not a fan of the Turbine engine, which LotRO uses. As does the original Dungeons and Dragons Online game, and Asheron’s Call. I find the Neverwinter Nights MMO engine much better for my D&D fix.
I played a dwarf up to halfway through the Mines of Moria expansion. ESO and Age of Conan – and even Neverwinter Nights – are better MMOs. That Turbine engine is dated, and clunky. The graphics are okay, but definitely inferior to Age of Conan and Elder Scrolls Online. It’s not even remotely close.
But for a Tolkien fan, the lore in LotRO is simply fantastic! From The Shire, to Moria, to the North Downs: it is literally a chance to live in Middle Earth. The game is worth playing alone for the depth of setting, and the capturing of the lore. If I weren’t enjoying ESO so much, I would be continuing on in LotRO. It’s very easy to solo, which is how I play MMOs. If you’re a gamer, and you want to experience Tolkien, this is the game for you. How much you actually like the Turbine engine will probably determine if you stick with it or not.
The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library has launched the largest exhibition on J.R.R. Tolkien in a generation.
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth showcases the library’s extensive collection of Tolkien’s papers, manuscripts, letters, and artwork, the largest of its kind in the world. The exhibition, which includes some 200 items, also brings together items from private collections and Marquette University’s Tolkien Collection.
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973) spent most of his adult life in Oxford. He came to Oxford University in 1911, aged nineteen, to study Classics at Exeter College, but later switched to English. After serving in France during World War One, he returned to Oxford to work on the New English Dictionary (later the Oxford English Dictionary), while tutoring in English. After five years at Leeds University as Reader and then Professor of English Language, he returned to Oxford in 1925 and remained there for the rest of his working life, first as Professor of Anglo-Saxon from 1925 to 1945, and later as Professor of English Language and Literature from 1945 to 1959. He is buried with his wife, Edith, in Wolvercote Cemetery in Oxford.
Hi, folks! Mike Allen here. When I last came through, I bloggedaboutmonsters. I want to thankBlack Gateoverlord John O’Neill for granting me leave to return to this space and shill my new project.
Among the many things I do, I’m the editor of a series of fantasy anthologies called Clockwork Phoenix. At least, the first three books were marketed as fantasy by my previous publisher, even though I included some strange science fiction in their pages as well. (Though I’m someone who sees science fiction as a subset of fantasy rather than a whole separate thing, one of the reasons I’ll use them if they’re odd enough.)
And I’m going to be editing and publishing a fourth volume in the series, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that’s still underway. As of this writing I’m closing in on an $8,000 goal that will let me for the first time pay five cents a word for fiction – we’re going pro. If we keep going past that, I hope to launch a webzine that will be a companion to Clockwork Phoenix and the poetry journal I also edit and publish, Mythic Delirium, creating even more space for the kind of writing I love to thrive.But we’ll blow up that bridge when we come to it, eh?
John suggested I talk to you folks about how Clockwork Phoenix functions as a fantasy market, and I think that’s a fair question, given what Black Gate is all about.
Put bluntly, Clockwork Phoenix is a market for those who want to push the boundaries of what fantasy can be. I encourage stylistic experiments but insist the stories should also be compelling.
I want to point out that this gives me also sorts of freedom to include material that can’t be easily classified, I wouldn’t call it a break with long standing tradition in our field, at least as I’ve experienced said traditions.
I want to tell you how I was first introduced to short fiction that carries the fantasy label. I’m pretty sure then you’ll see what I mean.
The Hobbit (NBC TV, 1977) Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. Featuring the Voices of John Huston, Orson Bean, Hans Conried, Richard Boone, Theodore Gottlieb, Otto Preminger, Cyril Ritchard, Paul Frees, Don Messick.
A few years ago, in my early posting days on Black Gate, I wrote a lengthy overview of Rankin/Bass’s strange but oddly likable animated television movie of The Return of the King. I intended to review Rankin/Bass’s other Tolkien TV movie, The Hobbit, some time later. “Later” took the form of two years, give or take a day, but has become “now,” thanks to Peter Jackson.
With The Hobbit back in the front lines of entertainment news because of the start — finally! — of production on Peter Jackson’s two-movie adaptation of the book, it’s the appropriate time to re-visit the first film version of the story. A Long Expected Party for an old friend.
Full disclosure: I have an enormous nostalgic fondness for the 1977 animated Hobbit, since it introduced me to one of my favorite authors at a young age. This movie was my first exposure to anything related to J. R. R. Tolkien when I saw it at age five on its second network broadcast. I already adored monsters of any kind, branching off from a natural adoration of dinosaurs, and my mother told me that The Hobbit was a book chock-a-block full of strange beasts: goblins, trolls, dragons, giant spiders, giant eagles. Since I was still too young to read the book, I took up the movie as my Middle Earth introduction and loved every minute of it. When I read the book myself for the first time three years later, it was in a coffee table edition that used stills and production art from the Rankin/Bass production to illustrate Tolkien’s text. The combination of the TV broadcast and this edition of the book have made the Rankin/Bass movie an inseparable part of my Tolkien experience.
Directed by Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. Featuring the Voices of John Huston, Roddy McDowall, Orson Bean, William Conrad, Casey Casem, Theodore Gottlieb, Theodore Bikel, Glenn Yarbrough, Paul Frees
“Listen as we speak of the fall of the Lord of Darkness, and the return of a King of Light.”
The novel The Lord of the Rings has had an important place in my life even before I actually read it in ninth grade. As a young child, I already loved monsters and tales of fantasy, and my parents were glad to feed my monster obsession. They both knew about the books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (although neither had read them) and told me their pages were filled with dragons and trolls and all sorts of wonderful beasties; they showed me the Greg and Tim Hildebrandt calendars to whet my appetite. At age five, I had my first “Tolkien” experience with the television broadcast of the animated movie The Hobbit from Rankin/Bass. My mother then read the book to me. The moment I was old enough, I read it for myself. The enormity of The Lord of the Rings was still too far off, but there were movie versions to fill the gap. I was confused but somewhat dazzled by the odd, unfinished The Lord of the Rings film by Ralph Bakshi when it premiered on cable, but it was the 1980 animated television movie The Return of the King that really gave me a sense of what the epic novel was about.