Your host will be on the road for a couple days attending Nic Farey’s wedding to Jennifer AlLee on February 29. I have prepared a couple of Scrolls in advance.
(1) CAN’T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG? Roz Kaveny tills the unsatisfactory middle ground between five recent studies of “Tolkien’s English Mythology” in the Times Literary Supplement.
In a sense, of course, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are offcuts from Tolkien’s principal and in the end unfinished and unfinishable work, parts of it published after his death as The Silmarillion, others as the Unfinished Tales. Although he was a Christian who absolutely believed in the literal and metaphysical truth of that body of stories, Tolkien was impressed enough by Elias Lönnrot’s assemblage of Finnish myths and legends as the Kalevala that he wanted to assemble, even forge in both senses of the word, a specifically English mythology that owed nothing to the Celtic or Norse pantheons, or to the Arthurian cycle (he also wrote his own version of that, as he did of Lönnrot’s story of Kullervo). Tolkien wanted to reclaim elves and Faerie from mere decorative prettiness and embed them in a narrative of fall and redemption that functioned as a secondary world; this was a spiritual as well as a creative enterprise, an attempt to understand God by doing imperfectly what He had done.
The success or failure of such an enterprise is in a sense irrelevant; what he produced in the main body of his legendarium is a heap of glorious moments rather than anything entirely achieved. Along the way, however, he wrote a children’s book called The Hobbit which might have been just another light work like Farmer Giles of Ham but turned out to be his gateway into a more approachable version of the legendarium, something that included a voice of the ordinary among gods, monsters and tyrants. In due course, his publishers’s and admirers’ desire for a sequel led to something considerably more ambitious but still puny by the standards of what he intended; one of the most attractive things about Tolkien is how he coped with being famous for something less than his lifelong ambition, not least because it achieved and exemplified some of his aims on a smaller scale.
This is why some of the complaints against him are beside the point – he had planned something compared to which Paradise Lost or the Prophetic Books of Blake would look modest, but if people wanted a superior adventure story, he would give them a superior adventure story with enough of his greater intention embedded in it to make itself visible in sudden vistas down narrative corridors. Whatever Tolkien thought about the literature of his time – not much, since he regarded, or affected to regard, everything that had been written in English after the late Middle Ages as a colossal mistake – he has a lot more in common with, say, T. S. Eliot than he or Patrick Curry would have been comfortable acknowledging.
(2) CCUBED. Those interested in gathering to talk about running conventions should look into ConComCon 2016, which will be held June 10-12, 2016 in Portland, OR at the Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel.
Marah Searle-Kovacevic says, “The theme will be ‘Building Bridges’ between different types of conventions, the convention and the hotel, convention staff and members, and other bridges. There will also be the usual discussions on hotel contracts, crisis management, parties and hospitality. There will also be a time Saturday afternoon for choosing topics that you want to talk about as programming items.”
You can also buy a membership or book a hotel room at the con web site.
Also, SWOC (founded as the Seattle Westercon Organizing Committee) is offering a scholarship to each convention for one person to attend CCubed. We would like this to be for someone who has not attended a CCubed before. If your convention is interested please contact Searle-Kovacevic through firstname.lastname@example.org.
(3) CONTRASTING BLOODLINES. Doris V. Sutherland continues her comparison of non-slated with slated Hugo categories in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Related Works” at Women Write About Comics.
Sad Puppies founder Larry Correia presumably had this book in mind when he quipped that “the usual [Related Work] nominees are things like Transsexual WereSeals Love Dr. Who.” This seems unfair, as Queers Dig Time Lords has entertainment value—and that, after all, is something that the Sad Puppies are supposed to be fighting for. That said, I will have to admit that the book is closer to a fan blog than to a Hugo-worthy piece of media criticism…..
Given the book’s jack-of-all-trades approach, it is hardly surprising that Letters from Gardner is something of a mixed bag. To be honest, the fourteen-year career outlined here is simply too uneventful to make a particularly gripping biography. It is somewhat novel to see such an in-depth look at the beginning of a writer’s creative period—I can imagine Letters from Gardner inspiring many of its readers to try their hands at fiction themselves, with Antonelli making the process look easy—but too often the book gets bogged down in irrelevant details. The low point is when Antonelli spends multiple paragraphs waxing nostalgic about those Bic ballpoint pens with orange shafts, which are apparently hard to find in America these days.
(4) A NUANCED THEORY. Douglas Milewski explains “Why the Puppies Bid for the Hugos Failed”.
I’m not sure who taught Conservatives that SJWs only succeed because they browbeat everyone else. (Correct me if I’m mis-characterizing.) That’s the sort of information that sets you up to lose. SJWs win by building coalitions from the ground up, and they’ll take decades to do it. Most of this is done quietly, not because of secrecy, but because that sort of projects just takes time. This coalition building isn’t just a fanciful notion, but the cornerstone of their power. The number one weapon of the SJW is the narrative, building a story that holds the coalition together. A good narrative wins the battle. (Gay marriage is a fine example of this.) So who joined the SJW coalition when the fight got started? The best SF&F writers in the world joined, that’s who. They wrote the SJW narrative. That’s the sort of opposition that you must absolutely respond to, and the Puppies did not adapt.
One more analyst proves with geometric logic that writers, not fans, determined the outcome of their own award.
(5) TODAY IN HISTORY
- Feburary 28, 1996 – Tromeo and Juliet premieres.
(6) LIGHTS, CAMERA, MISSING-IN-ACTION. CinemaBlend says he is “The Indiana Jones Actor Who Refused To Come Back For Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull”.
John Rhys-Davies portrayed Sallah in the first and third entries of the Indiana Jones franchise. It turns out, he was asked to make an appearance in the fourth as well, but declined because they only wanted him there for a cameo. What’s worse, he tells Digital Spy that he wouldn’t even have been interacting with any of the other characters.
I was asked to be in the last one, but they wanted me to do a bit of green-screen – walk in, sit down and clap – and they were going to cut that into the wedding scene at the end. I turned it down because it seemed to me that that would be a bit of a betrayal of the audience’s expectations. Sallah is a popular character – there’s a greatness of soul about him that we all love and admire…
(7) H8TERS GONNA H8. In “How real is that Atlas robot video?”, The Guardian pooh-poohs a viral video I linked to the other day.
The Google-owned company’s most recent video shows the latest version of Atlas opening fire doors, prancing about through snow, being abused by an evil scientist wielding a hockey stick, and doing an uncanny impersonation of an Amazon warehouse worker. It looks incredibly impressive, but how much of it can we take at face value?
(8) THEY’RE TEASING. The Spaceballs 2 teaser poster has arrived….
Freaking out. pic.twitter.com/qao2YuRQSF
— Jake Baldino (@JakeBaldino) February 24, 2016
(9) BY POPULAR DEMAND. Here is bloodstone75’s take on Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s Cradle.”
Pup’s in the Manger
A man wrote some books the other day
With Monsters and Guns in the usual way
And they attained some scratch, and won some praise
New writer win? They said “Not today”
And when he didn’t nab a Hugo, his anger grew.
He said “It’s ‘cause I’m not like you, right?
I’m never gonna be like you!”
And the Pup’s in the manger, and he’s venting spleen,
Larry boy’s blue, and it’s making him mean
When you giving up, Lar’
“I won’t say ‘when’; but I’m gonna vex the Fen;
You know I’m gonna vex those Fen.”
A year went by, Larry couldn’t wait
He said “This time it’s mine, yeah, my story’s great.”
But he wanted revenge — they just had to pay!
“I got to make them cry,” he said. “Meet Vox Day
And he, he carved a slate, and his smile was so grim,
And said “They’re gonna choke on him, yeah.
They’re really gonna choke on him.”
Well, he passed his banner to another guy
So much like himself he just had to smile
And he scored a nom, but then he turned it down
He shook his head and said “I’m no clown.
All I really want now is to torment the lefties.
Won’t be happy ‘til they’re on their knees.”
So though he’d “retired”, he still mixed it up
He built a slate with the other Pups
He said “You made us do it; you rigged the vote.
I got my own cabal, now you can watch us gloat.”
But the Pox was ascendant, and the shit hit the fan.
And the backlash sign-ups began, yeah,
The fan enrollment began.
And as they read out the votes it occurred to him
Their rocket hopes were dim
His hopes were just so dim
(10) ALICE SEQUEL. Coming May 27, Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.
In Disney’s “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” an all-new spectacular adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories, Alice returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Directed by James Bobin, who brings his own unique vision to the spectacular world Tim Burton created on screen in 2010 with “Alice in Wonderland,” the film is written by Linda Woolverton based on characters created by Lewis Carroll and produced by Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd and Tim Burton with John G. Scotti serving as executive producer. “Alice Through the Looking Glass” reunites the all-star cast from the worldwide blockbuster phenomenon, including: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska and Helena Bonham Carter along with the voices of Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall. We are also introduced to several new characters: Zanik Hightopp (Rhys Ifans), the Mad Hatter’s father and Time himself (Sacha Baron Cohen), a peculiar creature who is part human, part clock.
(11) INTERFACE. Kill Command opens May 16.
Set in a near future, technology-reliant society that pits man against killing machines.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Andrew Porter, and Woodwindy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]