Pixel Scroll 7/29/18 Winter Comes To Pixels, As Well As To Scrolls.

(1) BRONYCON TO END. Next year’s BronyCon is the last, it was announced at this weekend’s event in Baltimore.

BronyCon is the world’s largest family-friendly convention for and by fans of the animated TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

(2) HELP HUGO AND CAMPBELL FINALISTS ATTEND WORLDCON. Mary Robinette Kowal is running a GoFundMe appeal to help get more award finalists to Worldcon 76.

Kowal says, “We’ve managed to get six finalists to the Hugos who otherwise would not have been able to attend.”

At this writing, “Worldcon Finalist Assistance” has raised $2,335 of its $10,000 goal.

Earlier this year we raised money to bring one of our Campbell Nominees to the Hugos and were met with astounding support! Now, we want to offer that same opportunity to the other WorldCon Awards Finalists so that they can participate in the celebration of their work.

Much like the previous fundraiser, we want to raise money for:

    • Plane tickets
    • Hotel stays
    • WorldCon memberships
    • Per diem
    • Ceremony attire rental
  • Other potential costs, based on individual needs

Thankfully, we have a strong community that is dedicated to celebrating authors, their work, and these awards. We want to hear from the folks we’re voting for, and they should be able to attend their own party!

What happens if we raise more?

That money will go towards an ongoing  fund dedicated to defraying the costs for future WorldCon Finalists.

(3) RINGBEARERS. David Doering is ecstatic, because of the LTUE connection:

BIG, BIG News here for Utah–INCREDIBLE NEWS in fact! Our own LTUE alumnus JD Payne and his writing cohort Patrick McKay will pen Amazon’s new The Lord of the Rings series. WOW! Those who met him last year know he’s one of the most approachable people and an inspired writer.

Deadline has the story: “‘The Lord Of the Rings’ Hires Writers JD Payne & Patrick McKay As Amazon Series Moves To Next Development Phase – TCA”.

As Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke previously has suggested, creating the big-scope fantasy drama will involve a writers room. Payne and McKay were selected from a shortlist of scribes considered for the job, most of them from features, in the talent search, overseen by Amazon’s head of genre Sharon Tal Yguado.

Payne and McKay are rising feature writers who recently worked on Star Trek 4 for producer J.J. Abrams. I hear Abrams was one of a number of high-profile filmmakers and producers who  recommended the duo for the LOTR job.

With the search for lead writers completed, the development of the series is moving to the next stage with the set up of . writers room to collaborate on Payne and McKay’s vision. It is unclear yet — but possible — that any of the other writers who made it to the short list for the gig would be invited and that the project would bring in a showrunner.

(4) STEP RIGHT UP. Nicholas Whyte has “Two small Hugo reforms looking for co-sponsors”. Full text at the link.

A couple of minor amendments to the rules that I’d like to put to this year’s WSFS business meeting, but I need at least one co-sponsor. I won’t be there myself, but I think that these are technical and uncontroversial, and encode existing best practice in order to remove ambiguity. Please let me know, in comments here or by other channels, if you are a Worldcon 76 member willing to add your name to the list of sponsors. The deadline is 2 August.

(5) TOY STORY LAND. In the Washington Post, Steve Hendrix visits Toy Story Land at Disney World, which opened in late June, where  Baby Boomer favorites (Etch-a-Sketch, Yahtzee, Barrel of Monkeys) illustrate the rides and you can get snacks in a food station shaped as “Andy’s lunchbox propped open by Andy’s Thermos.” — “Larger-than-life charm at Walt Disney World’s Toy Story Land”.

You only have to go a few steps into Toy Story Land to sense that big thinkers have made huge efforts to make you feel small. The pieces used to assemble this toy-dimensional universe are agreeably supersize, from the Tinker Toy fences the size of satellite dishes and water mains to the life-size (because they’re alive) green army men marching to and fro in this 11-acre Pixarian play yard.

Specifically, it’s a backyard. In Walt Disney World’s newest major addition, which opened in late June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in the Florida resort, the Imagineers are trying to place you between the very blades (in this case, soaring shoots of bamboo) of a grassy lot filled with the daily detritus of a child at play.

(6) ABU DHABI DOO! John King Tarpinian says he wants to visit Bedrock — LAist reports “Warner Bros. Just Opened A Billion-Dollar Theme Park! And It’s Air-Conditioned! (But It’s In Abu Dhabi)”.

…It’s part of the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to become a world tourist destination. Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island (yaaaaas!) already features Ferrari World, which includes the world’s fastest rollercoaster, and Waterworld. (No, not that Waterworld.) You also have Dubai as a major travel center, with other local parks including Legoland, IMG Worlds of Adventure, and Motiongate.

Excited yet? Look, you can book a flight here! We’ve seen prices as low as $800 round-trip (though it’ll be around $2,500 if you want to leave, like, NOW).

You enter the park through Warner Bros. Plaza, which features old-school Hollywood style in an art deco setting. Like Disney’s Main Street U.S.A., it’s the portal to the rest of what this park offers. Then you can venture into the bright superhero world of Superman’s Metropolis or the darker realm of Batman’s Gotham City, as well as checking out the other cartoon-themed realms.

 

(7) PRESIDENTIAL MOMENT. Horror Writers Association President Lisa Morton is interviewed by The Witch Haunt.

WH: So many wonderful accomplishments so far! What other career would you have if not writing/publishing?

I actually have another career that I love: I’m a bookseller. I work for a used and rare bookstore, where I get to catalogue some truly magnificent rarities.

WH: How awesome that you get to go through daily life surrounded by stories. Which of your written works are you most proud of?

I think my novel Malediction, which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award (but lost to Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep).

WH: Malediction, about curses, psychic powers, ghosts and such sounds like my perfect cup of horror. If you could have coffee with any horror author, gone or alive, who would it be?

He’s not primarily a horror author, but I have to say Philip K. Dick.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • Born July 29, 1958 — The U.S. Congress passes legislation establishing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

  • July 29, 2002 — M. Night Shyamalan premieres SIGNS

(9) COMICS SECTION.

(10) RIVER’S END. Paul Weimer at Nerds of a Feather: “Microreview [book]: The Black God’s Drums by P Djelli Clark”.

The real richness of the novella is it is delight in invention, with an eye for creating a world that is rich for the potential for story and adventure. From the palpable existence of very active orishas, to an alternate history with a Confederacy, Haiti as a Caribbean power, and, naturally, airships, the world that Clark has created is a fascinating one that we only get a small short-novella taste of, but I want to read more of. The vision of New Orleans as a freeport where the Union, the Confederacy, Haiti and other powers all meet and trade, complete with extensive airship facilities is a compelling and fascinating one. There are hints that the world beyond what we see is similarly not the one we know, either, but really, Clark could tell many stories just in the North America and Caribbean around New Orleans. There is just simply a lot of canvas here for the author to unleash her protagonist and other characters upon.

(11) MIXED BAG. Adri Joy finds good and bad in this Fforde outing: Microreview [Book]: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde at Nerds of a Feather.

…while Early Riser is another magnificent entry in Fforde’s bibliography, it didn’t wow me to the same extent as The Eyre Affair or Shades of Grey did; I’m quite happy that it’s intended to be a standalone, and don’t feel a great need to explore any more of this particular world beyond what this volume offers. Everything just feels more constrained than Fforde’s other work, and while part of this is just the claustrophobic hibernal setting, I suspect it’s also just built on a smaller scale. The weird details and tangents are just interesting enough to carry the story they are in, without leaving much additional food for thought. It’s highly obnoxious to judge a work based on the timelines of the author’s unfinished series, but I suspect for a lot of long-time fans, Early Riser might be a mixed experience: great fun, a promising sign of more to come, and yet not quite what we were waiting for. That said, being a standalone at least means it doesn’t end with more tension, wrapping up Charlie’s story and its world-changing implications in a swift but ultimately satisfying conclusion.

(12) WHEN BEST MEANS BEST. Joe Sherry is on his way to a flying finish – “Reading the Hugos: Series” at Nerds of a Feather.

It’s time for another installment of Reading the Hugos and it’s time to either go big or go home. Since I’m already sitting at home while I write this, I think I’m going to go big and cover the abundance of excellence up for Best Series.

There is so much goodness here that it isn’t even fair.

Best Series last year was a trial run, a special one time category (pending the ratification at the WSFS business meeting at last year’s Worldcon) – which makes this the first full year of the category. I’m probably the only person who is going to think of things like this.

If last year was a proof of concept and this year represents the very high bar we should expect from the Best Series quality, we’re looking at one of the strongest categories on the ballot year after year. The series I ranked lowest on my ballot is exceptional. The only challenge here is that there is a lot of reading to do to at least get a brief overview of each series, let alone do a deep dive.

(13) SIODMAK’S BRAIN. Eric Leif Davin’s interview with Curt Siodmak, a chapter in his book Pioneers of Wonder (1999) has been posted at SF Magazines: “From Print to the Screen: A Conversation with Curt Siodmak by Eric Leif Davin”.

Upon graduation from the University of Zurich, Curt joined his brother in Berlin. There, the vagaries of the financial situation made it impossible to pursue his engineering career. Instead, he drifted into his brother’s film circle and wrote scripts for several of Robert’s films. Both brothers fled the Nazis in the early thir­ties and eventually ended up in Hollywood. Curt was quickly given a job writing a sarong picture for Dorothy Lamour and a succession of such assignments followed for the next two decades. A number of his assignments for Universal Pictures— The Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Son of Dracula, and others—have since become horror classics. This, as he makes clear in the following conver­sation, was entirely accidental. He had no particular affection for or interest in either horror or science fiction—indeed, he never read the stuff. It was merely a job….

I see. Did you always think science fiction was gibberish?

Of course, it was always gibberish. You know, the human mind is so limited. We write about societies on other worlds, and they resemble us so much. You look at the paintings of Brueghel or Bosch10 and all those demons look like men with two eyes and two arms—hard to think of a new shape. The same with societies. You go into outer space and you find fascism or communism or the Roman Empire or feudal Europe. We don’t have much in our brains.
I wrote a few books about space, Skyport and City in the Sky.11 A friend took me to visit engineers at Lockheed because he thought talking with them would help give me ideas. They got their ideas from reading my books!
For instance, instead of launching rockets from the ground to reach orbit, why not have a huge elevator into space, miles high? Launch things from the top and they save so much on fuel!

Didn’t Arthur C. Clarke already write about that in The Fountains of Paradise?12

Who? I don’t know. I never read that.

(14) DRAGONS. Coming to the Worldcon 76 art show.

(15) FAMILY OKAYS CARRIE FISHER APPEARANCE. Members of Carrie Fisher’s family are expressing support for her appearance in the next main-line Star Wars movie (SYFY Wire: ”Carrie Fisher’s brother, Todd, couldn’t be happier for Leia’s return in Star Wars: Episode IX”). It had already been reported that Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, approved the plan to recycle unused footage shot for Episode VII in Episode IX. Now Fisher’s brother, Todd Fisher, has given has given his blessing, also.

“I couldn’t be more personally thrilled and happy that our Carrie will reprise her role as Princess Leia in the new and final Star Wars Episode IX, using previously unreleased footage of her shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” he said. “As we, her family, as well as her extended family of fans around the world so believe, Carrie’s Princess Leia is forever entrenched in the franchise and her indelible presence is fundamental to the film. J.J. Abrams understood Carrie’s iconic role, and he has masterfully re-crafted this final entry to include this unused and very last footage of Carrie ever taken, without resorting to CGI or animatronics. Our family and her fans will look forward with great anticipation for this one! Her force will forever be with us!”

(16) AN ORVILLE TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Two Star Trek: TNG stars will unite on an episode of The Orville, albeit with only one of them in front of the camera (ComicBook.com: “‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ Alum Marina Sirtis to Guest Star in ‘The Orville’ Season 2“).

It was previously announced that Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander William Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation and directed several episodes of Star Trek television and two movies, will direct an episode of The Orville Season Two. It seems Frakes is bringing his Imzadi with him, as Marina Sirtis, who played Counselor Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation, recently shared a photo of herself with Frakes and [Seth] MacFarlane asking, “Where am I?”

Frakes seemingly confirmed that Sirtis is on The Orville set in the photo by responding to the tweet, saying “Cat’s out of the bag now…”

Trek Movie has since also confirmed that Sirtis will guest star in an episode of The Orville

(17) FALL TV SCHEDULES. Did you know you can find these on the Wikipedia? Grids for the larger networks in each country, except for PBS in the USA.

(18) PLAGUE PRACTICE. The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security created a simulation of a “moderately contagious and moderately lethal” emergent virus that could decimate the world population—in the literal sense of killing 10% of humans (Business Insider: “Pandemic virus simulation from Johns Hopkins shows our vulnerability”). The “Clade X” simulation concerned a bioengineered virus, but a novel emergent natural virus could have the same effect. The fictional situation is described as killing 150 million in 20 months of simulated time, expected to rise to 900 million eventually if no vaccine could be created. At that 20-month mark of simulated time, researches paused for a real-time day:

On May 15th, when the  “Clade X” simulation  was played out real-time, the people acting out the scenario were the sorts of individuals who’d be responding to this situation in real life. The  players included  former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Indiana Representative Susan Brooks (R), former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, and others with extensive experience….

“I think we learned that even very knowledgeable, experienced, devoted senior public officials who have lived through many crises still have trouble dealing with something like this,” Dr. Eric Toner, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health Security and the designer of the Clade X simulation, told Business Insider. “And it’s not because they are not good or smart or dedicated, it’s because we don’t have the systems we need to enable the kind of response we’d want to see.”

(19) HEAVENLY ABODES. Business Insider has posted some 1970’s vintage NASA concept drawings for three variants of space habitats, designed to hold between 10,000 and 1,000,000 people each (“NASA once envisioned life after Earth in these fantastical floating cities”). They credit NASA Ames Research Center for the photos, making them public domain and fair game if you want an aspirational image for your computer or smart phone wallpaper. The ships range from a simple toroid to a massive cylinder.

In the 1970s, physicists from Princeton University, the NASA Ames Research Center, and Stanford University created fantastical illustrations of massive orbiting cities for life after Earth. The scientists imagined a worse-case scenario in which our planet would be destroyed, and humankind would move to space.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, ULTRAGOTHA, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, David Doering, Carl Slaughter, Nicholas Whyte, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day vondimpleheimer.]

62 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/29/18 Winter Comes To Pixels, As Well As To Scrolls.

  1. So I’m now back from two weeks in Europe. I’m pleased to report an opportunity not missed.

    A couple of days ago, Katie and I were heading towards an art museum’s café for some refreshment. (Paris was having Houston-like temperatures. Paris doesn’t do AC as well as Houston does.) Our route took us down a staircase.

    “Look!” I cried. “It’s the Winged Victory of Samothrace!”

    How could I not, there in the Louvre?

  2. 4) Counting Comics: He, I have been wondering of how Hugo administrators would value comics and this seems to be a good answer. Has there been any more discussion around this, trying to find flaws in the thinking or is this the first post of the proposed amendment?

    It seems like a good idea, but I’m a bit worried about only having two weeks of discussion.

  3. Sort of astonished to find myself on Twitter debating someone decrying the awful message fiction that i took over the Hugo awards like If You Were A Dinosaur My Love.

  4. Hi Hampus,

    This was discussed by the Hugo category revision committee, but it is clearly ultra vires for that group, so I am proposing it separately. It’s not a change anyway, just codification of best practice.

  5. Nicolas Whyte:

    ” It’s not a change anyway, just codification of best practice.”

    I guess you have discussed all this before in detail, but humour me. Lets say we have this lineup:

    Volume 1 (issue 1-12): 15 votes
    Volume 2 (issue 13-24): 14 votes
    Volume 1-2: 8 votes
    Issue 1-5: 3 votes
    Issue 20-24: 7 votes

    Now, volume 1 has the highest votes. So that would be used as the winner and get 26 (15 + 8 + 3) votes. Is that correct?

    However, the case could be made for Volume 2 getting 29 votes (14 + 8 + 7). And the case could also be made for Volume 1-2 getting 47 votes. I’m not really sure of what would be best practice here.

    Has everyone used the same way of calculating votes before as you say the proposal doesn’t make any change?

  6. (17) I knew most of this, but having premiere dates is a good thing. Looks like I’m going to have very light schedules between Wednesday and Saturday (one show per night), with Tuesday hosting my only “collision” slot (Flash vs. The Gifted) until at least midseason.

  7. (18) PLAGUE PRACTICE
    You’d think the article would describe the infrastructure changes needed to provide better outcomes.

  8. (6) I spent about a week on Yas Island back in April 2017. Ferrari World was easy to find (though I wasn’t interested in going in there) but there was no sign of a Bedrock themed park anywhere that I could see.

    One thing that I did notice, very quickly, was that it was hot outdoors. But, as I described in my extended essay about the trip, it’s a *dry* heat…
    http://efanzines.com/MBP/MyBackPages-20.pdf

  9. If you wish to save money, I believe it is possible to be mailed to Abu Dhabi.

  10. Not sure if this qualifies as a Meredith moment, but MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS by Emil Ferris is reasonably inexpensive in digital format on Amazon UK & Comixology (£5.99). Previously it cost nearly £20 in digital and it’s currently £36 in dead tree format.

    I read it over the weekend and thought it was great. Really distinctive art and denser storytelling than I’ve gotten used to reading in the comic book side of the graphic novel market.

  11. 18: Hey, we’re working on it! (Well, not me personally, but the business I work for has some interest in pandemic prevention and processes.)

  12. @ Lisa Goldstein

    I am as well. Only if Tolkien wrote the scripts (or at least consulted with final approval) would I be good with this.

  13. (4) As one if the committee members who helped oringinate the Graphic Story category, I volunteered to co-sponsor this amendment because I’m only too happy to help clean up the problems it has caused over the past few years.

  14. (3) Anyone besides me feeling apprehensive about a Lord of the Rings series?

    Nah. It’s not as though the movies didn’t already do plenty of violence to the story.

  15. I’m dubious about the series as well. Willing to be persuaded, but definitely dubious.

  16. Kathryn Sullivan on July 30, 2018 at 11:57 am said:
    (3) I’m not looking forward to a Lord of the Rings series, either. But then I gave up on the Shannara tv series after a few episodes.

    Well, the Shannara series is actually dreadful.

  17. (3) It seems like they’ll need to find a decent space to tell stories in — the main description we’ve got so far is that it’ll be set before The Fellowship of the Ring, but that appears to mean a closer prequel than the Silmarillion material. That’s besides needing to be good in general, of course.

  18. (3) The smart money seems to be on the series telling the story of Aragorn’s adventures as a young man in the decades before the War of the Ring. There’s actually a fair amount of material in the Appendices to indicate what he was up to throughout that period: meeting Arwen, striking up a life-long friendship with Gandalf, learning to lead the Rangers, serving under an assumed name with the armies of Rohan and Gondor, visiting distant lands in the East and South, and so on.

    I have no doubt that the right writers could make a very compelling narrative out of that material, and there are certainly people whose names aren’t Tolkien that I would trust to do an interesting job of it. Still, I’ll believe it’s worth watching when I see it.

  19. I wasn’t all that excited about a LotR RPG set between The Hobbit and the rest of the trilogy, either, but The One Ring is actually really good.

    So I’m willing to give the TV series a shot.

    And I know: it’s a bit like saying “I was skeptical of apples, so I’ll give that cherry pie a chance to win me over.”

  20. 18) And why do we not have the systems we need to handle something like this? Because the Republican Party has spent 30 years dismantling what we had and road-blocking anything new! They don’t get to whine about the utterly predictable results of their own actions. But they will, nonetheless, and try to turn that into an argument that government doesn’t work and we should hand everything over to private companies.

    @ rob_matic: Well, consider the source.

  21. (2) I donated to the Hugo Finalist Go Fund Me. I hope all the finalists who want to go can go. It’s such an honor.

  22. @David Goldfarb

    So I’m now back from two weeks in Europe. I’m pleased to report an opportunity not missed.

    A couple of days ago, Katie and I were heading towards an art museum’s café for some refreshment. (Paris was having Houston-like temperatures. Paris doesn’t do AC as well as Houston does.) Our route took us down a staircase.

    “Look!” I cried. “It’s the Winged Victory of Samothrace!”

    How could I not, there in the Louvre?

    People always seem to come across the Nike of Samothrace by accident, because of this strange placement on the landing of a staircase. At any rate, I also stumbled upon her, while using the stairs to get from one level of the Louvre to another.

    3.
    I have to admit that I have zero interest in a Lord of the Rings TV series. We already have an excellent movie version of the trilogy that’s not quite 20 years old and a not so excellent, but entertaining Hobbit trilogy. Why not give Tolkien a rest for another couple of years and adapt something that has never yet had an adaptation?

  23. There’s a Guy Works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvish
    Don’t come the cowboy with me, Pixel Scroll
    You Just Haven’t Scrolled it Yet, Pixel
    Miss Pixel Regrets She’s Unable to Scroll Today (I’ve done this one, yes?)

  24. I, too, am very dubious about a Lord of the Rings tv series. I’m also surprised the Tolkien estate approved it.

  25. @Cora

    Because if there is one thing Hollywood loves it is “sure money”. So just having 6 successful movies and a fandom that has lasted for decades is the reason they want the property. And it is Tolkien whose work still warps the fantasy genre around it as if it were a black-hole.

    So there are lots of reasons why they would pick Lord of the Rings over an “unknown” work. Of course “sure money” often turn out not to be and the best money often comes from surprise hits. But surprise hits are hard work and “sure money” looks better on paper for investors and board members looking over your shoulder.

  26. (19) It’s possible that among those physicists at Princeton U. was the late Gerard K. O’Neill, author of The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space. I could swear that he had at least one of those illustrations on his office’s wall in Jadwin Hall (though I would have assumed someone outside the physics faculty created them).

  27. I saw a werewolf drinking a pixel colada at Trader Mike’s, and his scroll was perfect.

  28. 15) I’m glad her family and brother are okay with it.
    I’ll be happy to see her again.

    And 16) Always nice to see Marina Sirtis too.

    My ballots are finally in, though I will almost certainly fiddle with them again before they lock me out tomorrow.
    One good thing with all this is that even if my final first choices don’t win, maybe my penultimate choices will.
    Or my antepenultimate ones….
    Anyway, lots of people to cheer for and that makes me happy,

  29. There should be a LOTR sitcom. With a wacky gay neighbor.
    Or the Fellowship of the Ring hangs out at a bar with a sarcastic waitress.
    Or a Very Special episode where Frodo confronts Sam about his drinking.
    Or a Christmas episode in which the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future show Saruman how he should change his ways.
    Or Aragon’s psycho ex-girlfriend (who has a very annoying laugh) shows up.
    Or Gimli realizes that housework is just too much, and hires a spicy Latina maid.

  30. I liked the episode where we found out Daleks could float down the steps of Moria best.

  31. @13: sounds like I haven’t missed anything by never getting to meet Siodmak.

    @David Goldfarb: I pulled that one in front of the replica Nike in Las Vegas (outside Circus Circus IIRC), but it’s better with the original.

    @Hampus: I am not immediately comfortable with the comics proposal; novels in a series (for a comparison) do not get to shuffle votes even if two are in the same year. Granted that many comics have no true boundaries; e.g., I see announcements periodically of another volume of Girl Genius, but it’s not clear these are based on any degree of plot division rather than simple page count (although I do see some degree of separation in stories). I would like to see more of the original arguments that Whyte summarizes to know more of the thinking behind this. I’m also uncomfortable with asking administrators to decide what is serial (and hence eligible for nomination merging) and what is not; should comics be assumed to be serial?

  32. Opening shot of a Man striding across the wilderness of Arnor, stern of face, grim of purpose. The title music suggests sorrow, shot through with determination and a noble humility. A bit like the theme to The Incredible Hulk or, for that matter, Kung Fu from the 70s. It is Aragon, son of Arathorn, of the line of Isuldur and Elendil and probably Earendil and, I’m pretty certain, Beren. Questing, ever questing (oh Illuvatar, when will it end!) for those who took and tormented his mother.

    The innocent play of boys and girls on a village’s common is rudely interrupted by a band of raiding orcs. The children run away screaming while the orcs make off with the livestock.

    Into the village come Strider and Snarkriel, an elf of Elrond’s house sent to aid Strider and to remind him there’s no need to keep reciting his lineage. Snarkriel is a latecomer, not having joined Strider until after the shooting of the opening credits. Speaking with the elders, they learn that orcs have been harrying the village for some time, and their supplies are low.

    Upbeat music, a bit like from that movie The Magnificent Seven, while our heroes teach the locals how to build defences and to use swords. A young maiden eyes Strider dreamily, but he is pledged to another. Snarkriel, being something of a lady’s elf, finds time to exchange a few words, but is comically rebuffed. It is a pattern with which we the viewers are all too familiar.

    Next time the orcs come, they are roundly defeated. Their work here done, after a quip from Snarkriel and a chaste glance between Strider and the maiden, our heroes march off into the wilderness, accompanied by the familiar music of sorrow and determination and verily with nobility.

    Epilogue. Cut to a dark – too dark, frankly – throne room in the mountain of Angmar. On the iron throne (and yes, it can be a bit cold to the cheeks first thing in the morning) sits the fell Witch King. We search for his face, but it’s not quite visible, yet the sense of dread is all-pervading. An orc trembles before him. “My Big Badness, a band of orcs was defeated at the village of Osmosian.” “Really?” muses the Morgul Lord, “could this, I wonder, be the work of that wretched Dunadan.” “The man of the west, my liege? Impossible! All of those who fled the fall of Numenor and settled in Middle Earth have long fled the north.” “We shall see. We. Shall. See.”

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