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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:03 pm 
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That reminds me, time to go change the cat litter ...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:14 pm 
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damiengwalter wrote:
And are you seriously nominating Ballard as non-turgid prose???!!! Ha!

Er, yes.

BTW it isn't just British hard SF fans that don't like Tolkien. The BBC did a poll a few years back called 'The Big Read', to find the nation's favourite book. 'Lord of the Rings' won (beating 'Pride and Prejudice' to second place) - but boy did it divide people on the messageboard. People seem to either love it or hate it. There were not many SF fans on that messageboard, but there were certainly plenty of people with no time for Tolkien!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:22 pm 
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Lord of the Rings is a seminal work. So is Ralph 124C 41+. That doesn't mean we have to worship them uncritically, or deny that people have produced, you know, better work in a similar vein since they were published.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:41 pm 
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damiengwalter wrote:
.... 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.


Why does Tolkien need defending? He was an author; some people love his books, some people don't. It's called subjectivity.

I'm a British hard sf fan and I don't hate Tolkien; nor do I worship him as an idol, but funnily enough there are shades of grey between the two polar points. Consider yourself proved wrong ... or, alternatively, find another fallacious polar opposition to stir up an argument with - as that's plainly what you've come for.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:52 pm 
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Well I actually like LOTR and then found the Hobbit, supposedly a YA book, disturbingly bloodthirsty but then I didn't live though WW1. I finished the appendices to LOTR and decided his later books were not for me.

I started this thread to highlight the responses to Nick Lowe's piece not for the Tolkien viewpoints. That's why I suggested you start downthread.

My own feeling is that LOTR suffers because many readers come to it after reading Terry Brooks etc now but if LOTR was/is your first experience of heroic fantasy (and you are at the right age) then its brilliant.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:58 pm 
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I'm not suggesting either Ian. Quite the opposite, I really think people should make up their own minds. Its just that my experience of Hard SF fans is that their minds are made for them on this issue. Much like the reaction of many literary critics to Tolkien, it always seems like a pose based on snobbery.

Ballard has a few strengths but fine flowing prose is not one of them, but I absolutely knew the name would get mentioned. Funny that.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:10 pm 
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Roy, I commented because of the threads title:

Two countries separated by an ocean of misunderstanding?

And the following comments about the Asimovs forum which were...let me see...sweeping generalisations!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:13 pm 
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Paul raven wrote:
Why does Tolkien need defending?

Why do people need to debate differences of opinion, ever? Or is literature so much less important than politics, or religion, or ethics that its should not even be discussed? Life is subjective, discussing it is still fun.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:22 pm 
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damiengwalter wrote:
I'm not suggesting either Ian.


Sorry, I was generalising...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:26 pm 
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damiengwalter wrote:
Life is subjective, discussing it is still fun.


It is fun, yes, as long as it doesn't get personal. And as long as you're willing to listen to the opposite side of the discussion. So, to return to the core of the discussion, I'd reiterate that though it may appear to you that British hard sf fans hate Tolkien because that is what is expected of them, I can say with certainty that I have significant personal experiences that show that appearance to be false.

What might be a more interesting avenue of enquiry would be to ask how such an appearance came about; the notion of people's dislike of Tolkien being a 'pose' interests me, because it implies that there would be some social ostracism attached to 'stepping out of line' and admitting to liking Tolkien. I don't know if this is the case in literary circles or academia, because I frequent neither, but I've never noticed it first-hand in the ranks of British fandom.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:26 pm 
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damiengwalter wrote:
Ballard has a few strengths but fine flowing prose is not one of them...

You must be reading a different Ballard from me then. Ballard's prose style is the thing I like best about his writing.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:37 pm 
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Hmmm...the Guardian just published my artcicle slating BBC's new series about fantasy, so as we are discussing Tolkien and its vaguely relted I'll take the opportunity to shamelessly plug it here...

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/ ... about.html

As to within the genre, if you heard M John Harrison speak about his reaction away from SF, you'll know it was partly driven by the incredible strictures imposed upon the genre from within. I don't think its as bad as the New Worlds days, but I think there are still defite styles within the genre that people cross at their peril.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:44 pm 
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If by 'peril' you mean poor sales and low likelihoods of publication, you may have a point. But how much of that imperative is economic - writers want to be published, after all, and the work of writers uninterested in publication who write for the fun are (for better or for worse) removed from the equation in question by their own choice, as we can't read their work to compare. But this is no different to any other sphere of artistic endeavour, surely?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:16 pm 
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There are certainly economic and commercial pressures, but they aren't aligned with the genres internal prejudices. Most writers have to choose one or the other. In that situation, given Tolkiens unmatched commercial success, you could say that being 'anti-Tolkien' is a way to declare yourself as part of the hard core within the genre. An no, its a apttern you'll find repeated in every creative sphere, but that only make sit more relevant.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:20 pm 
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Yes I hoped the thread title would produce a reaction, and it did well, but it also has a grain of truth.

The thing is being 'anti' to anything popular tends to produce more headlines or comment than being pro so is the 'anti Tolkien scene' is more an artifact of media coverage than actual reality?

There is also the Brit effect of denigrating success/popularity as soon as news media/comedy returns show that the 'anti' stance has more pulling power than the previous sycophantic stance. Beckham, McCartney, Heather M, Fergie; why should authors or their works be immune?


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