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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:42 pm 
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http://www.asimovs.com/discus/messages/ ... 1204181854

You can start well downthread at A.R.Yngve's link to Nick Lowe's "The Well-Tempered Plot Device"


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:33 pm 
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The thing that gets me about Asimovs message board discussions is how quick people are to cry "idiot!"

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:56 pm 
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And the other one: "if you disagree with me you are a lefty/liberal/pansy/pseudo-intellectual snob". Well count me in as all of the above, if you will, but the reasons I dislike Tolkein are pretty much those spelled out by Gardner Dozois (did he mention the turgid prose?).

Had a good chuckle reading Nick Lowe's essay though - for some reason I've never come across it before.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:31 pm 
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I'll take your word for it Mike A, but statistically its not uncommon for white, male science fiction readers to dislike Tolkien, which suggests its as much to do with your demographic as the book itself.

If Tolkien is turgid, could you give a counter example of non-turgid prose?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:56 am 
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Gosh. I don't worship Tolkien because of my demographic? So the fact that I find Lord of the Rings' first chapter almost unreadable has nothing to do with it? Or that the book has been ripped off so many times, it's lost whatever charm it once possessed? Or the mere thought of Tom Bombadil is enough to send me screaming from the room?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:42 am 
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I have to admit I'm not a big Tolkien fan, either. I think it comes down to who wrote the first "heroic fantasy" you read. If I'd not read copies first - or for that matter, the mythology he borrowed from - I might have enjoyed it more.

His story telling is just too slow for my tastes and I think other people have done it better since. Not everyone, just some of them. Even people who did no-nos like basing it on D&D campaigns, like Elizabeth Moon and Paksenarrion. That said, it is all thanks to him that people can say "elf" and we know exactly what they mean, hence not needing the amounts of detail that Tolkien went in for.

I enjoyed the films, because the story is a good one after all. I can even accept the elves at Helms Deep. Particularly as they exorcised Tom (Can't live with him, can't shoot him) Bombadil.

Am I just too in touch with my inner geek-boy?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:34 am 
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error


Last edited by Roy on Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 10:54 am 
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Hey people...just saying that being a Tolkien fan seems to score negative points in British SF land, so whether you dislike it for real reasons or not its always going to seem like a pose if you are part of that scene.

Still no nominations for non-turgid prose then?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:00 am 
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John Crowley, Paul Park, Colin Greenland, Keith Roberts, Gwyneth Jones, Lucius Shepard...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:17 am 
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damiengwalter wrote:
If Tolkien is turgid, could you give a counter example of non-turgid prose?

Well I guess Hemingway is the obvious place to start. SF-wise, Ray Bradbury, JG Ballard and William Gibson spring to mind.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:32 am 
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damiengwalter wrote:
... whether you dislike it for real reasons or not its always going to seem like a pose if you are part of that scene.


I see what you're saying, but it's as lazy a generalisation as "oh, all heavy metal fans hate jazz because it's not cool for them to like it". No one likes being stereotyped, do they? And retreating from a sweeping stereotype by saying "well, people stereotype all the time, so you can't blame me for doing it" doesn't really work as an apology. I'm not implying that you meant any deliberate offence, but perhaps treating British readers as being capable of independent thought might be a little more tactful than assuming they are some sort of "liberal" hive-mind?

Anyway, I loved Tolkien as a younger reader, but it was the first fantasy material I read. I've not read it since because, frankly, I have too much new stuff to read as it is, and I'm not that bothered about going back to a series that is so influential it acts as a blueprint. In other words, I don't hate Tolkien, but I'm not going to arrange a parade for the guy either.

I nominate Charlie Stross for non-turgidity.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:36 am 
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Roy wrote:
http://www.asimovs.com/discus/messages/2/8925.html?1204181854

You can start well downthread at A.R.Yngve's link to Nick Lowe's "The Well-Tempered Plot Device"


Wish I'd heeded that advice, Roy, I foolishly read the lot. Live and learn. :)

As to Tolkien, my first encounter was with 'The Hobbit' at age ten and I was fine with that. Glancing at the first page, I still am. I remember ploughing through LOTR later and flipping the page over when it came to yet another song.

I'll add Raymond E Feist, Mary Gentle and Jane Austen to the non-turgid list :D


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:36 am 
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I think Pratchett said it best - and I may have the phrasing slightly wrong - but he said: "If you don't think Tolkien is the greatest writer ever when you're 14, then there's something wrong with you; if you still think Tolkien is the greatest writer ever when you're 40, then there's something wrong with you..."

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:49 am 
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Vague wrote:
<snip>... Jane Austen to the non-turgid list :D

Oh, definitely seconded. I like her "subtle", sharp sense of humour, which many people lose while trying to read anything they consider "ye olde style" english. And if we're going for non-sf, can I nominate in Alexandre Dumas pere? Pretty please.

For fantasy, David Gemmell is (was) nice and lively, if a bit repetitive / generic.

I enjoy Asimov's ideas, but his writing style isn't the most gripping - except for his pop science essays. I'll bet he would have been the kind of uni lecturer that everyone would have loved to have. So my sf author is PDK, again.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 11:54 am 
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Paul Raven wrote:
but perhaps treating British readers as being capable of independent thought might be a little more tactful than assuming they are some sort of "liberal" hive-mind?

If I was trying to be tactful we wouldn't be having this exchange. If I'd discovered a thread defending Tolkien on the Interzone forum I might have questioned the existence of the hive-mind. As it is I see no reason to do so. And I'm retreating nowhere. All British hard SF fans hate Tolkien because its not cool for them to like it. Go ahead and prove me wrong.

And are you seriously nominating Ballard as non-turgid prose???!!! Ha!

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