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Discussion of Tolkien's early, unfinished adaptation of a story from the Finnish Kalevala, published as The Story of Kullervo, edited by Verlyn Flieger (HarperCollins, 2015).
Discussion of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather (1998) and The Shepherd's Crown (2015). The former was made into a film and we may show some clips. The latter is the fifth in the Tiffany Aching series and the last Discworld novel he completed before his death.
Discussion of the latest crop of movies with a fantasy or science-fiction background. Possible films to consider include: Alice Through the Looking Glass, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Ghostbusters, Jungle Book, Legend of Tarzan, Star Trek Beyond, Superman versus Batman, X-Men: Apocalypse, Zootopia, et al.
Discussion of the most recent crop of fantasy and science fiction movies, such as: Goosebumps, The Martian, Mockingjay Part 2, Pan, The Scorch Trials, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, any others released by this date.
Discussion of the extended edition of The Hobbit Part 3: The Battle of Five Armies.
Discussion of the works of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con 16, to be held at the Radisson on April 8-10: Brandon Sanderson, Margaret Weis, and Marjorie Liu. Read something by one or more of the authors and share your impressions. For information on the conference see http://www.odysseycon.org.
Discussion of current television series with a fantasy or science-fiction theme. Examples include Agent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, The Flash, Gotham, Grimm, I Zombie, Legends of Tomorrow, Once Upon a Time, The 100, The Originals, Sleepy Hllow, Supergirl, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Vikings, The Walking Dead. Not everyone will have seen all of them, but come talk about your favorites (or dislikes!).
Discussion of the works of one or more of the guests of honor at the 40th Wisconsin Science Fiction Con, to be held at the Concourse Hotel over Memorial Day weekend: Justine Larbalestier, Nalo Hopkinson, and Sofia Samatar. Suggested titles will be posted later. For information on the conference see http://www.wiscon.info
Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. Check "Today in the Union" for the exact room, either on one of the monitors in the building or on the website at http://www.union.wisc.edu
Discussion of Tom Shippey's lecture on "Frodo: The Reluctant Hero."
Discussion will focus on C. S. Lewis and His Circle edited by Roger White, Judith Wolfe, and Brendan N. Wolfe (Oxford University Press, 2015), which includes essays by some members of the literary discussion group called the "Inklings" (Owen Barfield, John Wain), as well as by some of Lewis's relatives and friends, and also by scholars such as Alister McGrath, Tom Shippey, and Rowan Williams.We may also look at other recent books: The Fellowship (2015) by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski and The Oxford Inklings (2015) by Colin Duriez.
IDiscussion of this 2007 novel by Junot Diaz, about someone who wishes to become the Dominican Tolkien.
Discussion of the BBC television series (2014) based on the novel (2004) by Susanna Clarke.
JUNE 7–PULLMAN, HIS DARK MATERIALS
Discussion: Inside the World of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials. The novels in this series are The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.
In the late 19th century, William S. Gilbert (writer) and Arthur O. Sullivan (composer) collaborated to produce many comic operettas that are still performed, including some that are works of fantasy: The Sorcerer (to which Isaac Asimov wrote a sequel, "The Up-to-Date Sorcerer"), Iolanthe, and Ruddigore (to which Anthony Boucher wrote a sequel, "Sriberdegibit"). We will play some selected songs and discuss the operettas and the short stories inspired by them.
Discussion of the most recent crop of fantasy and science fiction movies, such as: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina, Jurassic World, Pan, Terminator Genisys, Tomorrowland, any others released by this date.
Discussion of The Hobbit Part 3:The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). Now that we have the final movie in Peter Jackson's trilogy (at least, until the extended edition comes out) we are in a better position to see what he and his collaborators have done.
Discussion of the work of a widely popular author from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, admired by both Tolkien and C. S. Lerwis. Not all of Edith Nesbit's (1858-1924) books are fantasy, but many are. Recommended reading: Five Children and It.
Discussion of the collection of essays that won last year's Mythopoeic Scholarship Award: Tolkien and the Study of His Sources, edited by Jason Fisher.
Discussion of the work of one of the guests of honor at this year's Wisconsin Science Fiction Conference (WisCon). Recommended reading: any of his Mars books, such as Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1994), or Blue Mars (1996). For information on the conference, to be held over Memorial Day weekend at the Concourse Hotel, see http://www.wiscon.info.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring (1954). In tribute, we will have a reading of Tolkien's own smmary of The Lord of the Rings, written for publisher Milton Waldman in 1950 but omitted from the letter to Waldman as published in Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1981). This long summary shows Tolkien's thought on his story. Good points for discussion.
Richard West will reprise his Scholar Guest of Honor keynote address at this year's annual conference (the 45th) of the Mythopoeic Society, held August 8-11 at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts (see the conference website at http://www.mythsoc.org).
Kristin Thompson wlll read another section from her book in progress on The Lord of the Rings, examining Tolkien's fiction that the hobbits were the original authors, and how this works in the narrative. (Note: this meeting will begin at 7:00 rather than our usual 7:30 p.m.)
Tolkien's translation of the Old English poem Beowulf was published earlier this year, along with some related materials such as some of his lecture notes, his adaptation "Lay of Beowulf," and "Sellic Spell" (translation: "wonder tale") which was Tolkien's thought-experiment at recreating the lost folk tale that may have been the source for Beowulf. Since many people won't be able to get this hardcover volume, we will read "Sellic Spell" for those who want to hear this story. We'll also read a few select passages from Beowulf in Old English followed by Tolkien's translation. And, as part of the entertainment, we will have cake catered by the Union.
Discussion of the extended edition of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, scheduled to be released on DVD on November 4th, 2014. [Jackson's third Hobbit movie, The Battle of Five Armies, is scheduled for theatrical release on December 17th, 2014, but we will discuss that at our February meeting.]
Science fiction Grand Master, author, editor, literary agent, and member of First Fandom Frederik Pohl (1919-2013) died late last year. Discussion will focus on his classic SF novel The Space Merchants (co-authored with C. M. Lornbluth) and his memoir The Way the Future Was. Some who knew him will also share memories of Fred.
Discussion of the work of the author guest of honor at this year's annual conference (the 45th) of the Mythopoeic Society, to be held August 8-11 at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts (see the conference website at http://www.mythsoc.org). Her graphic novel Digger won both a Hugo and an Aslan award. Her illustrated Danny Dragonbreath series is also delightful.
Our annual discussion of the movies in the fantasy and science fiction genre that have been released this year. Possible titles include Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Divergent, Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, et al.
Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST), except that the May 18th meeting will begin at 8:00 p.m. The location (except for the January meeting) will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. Check "Today in the Union" for the exact room, either on one of the monitors in the building or on the website at http://www.union.wisc.edu
Discuss recent fantasy and science fiction moves, e.g., Ender’s Game, Frozen, Gravity, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Thor: The Dark World et al (but we'll save the Hobbit movie for our February meeting). NOTE: this meeting will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Board Room on the 3rd floor of Memorial Union on Langdon Street.
Discussion of the second film in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.
Discussion of the work of an author who was regarded as a mentor by Tolkien, C.. S. Lewis and others. Suggested: read one of his detective stories such as something from The Innocence of Father Brown or The Club of Queer Trades, one of his fantasies such as The Man Who Was Thursday, perhaps some of his poetry such as "Lepanto". He was a prolific writer. Many of his works are out of copyright and available online, for example at http://www.online-literature.com/chesterton or http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Gilbert_K_Chesterton.
Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con, which this year will be held at Crowne Plaza on East Washington Street in Madison from April 4-6. Both have written novels for gaming company Wizards of the Coast. Byers is perhaps best-known for the Haunted Lands tetralogy: Unclean, Undead, Unholy, and Realms of the Dead (the last in collaboration with R. A. Salvatore). He is also known for the Brotherhood of the Griffon trilogy: The Captive Flame, Whisper of Venom, and The Spectral Blaze. Denning has writtten many Star Wars novels, including Tatooine Ghost and the Legacy of the Force trilogy: Tempest, Inferno,and Invincible. The conference website is at http://www.odysseycon.org.
This meeting will begin at 8:00 p.m and run until around 10:00 p.m. Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at WisCon, the annual Wisconsin Science Fiction Conference, which will be held at the Concourse Hotel from May 23-26. This year WisCon will be held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA), with meetings at the Inn on the Park. The author guests of honor at SFRA will be Eleanor Arnason and Nisi Shawl. The conference website is at http://www.wiscon.info. Read something by one of these authors and we'll share our impressions.
Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between 9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. Check "Today in the Union" for the exact room, either on one of the monitors in the building or on the website at http://www.union.wisc.edu
In memoriam Jack Vance (1916-2013). Discuss his fantasy works, particularly The Dying Earth, The Dragon Masters, The Last Castle.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the death of C. Lewis (1898-1963) and the 75th anniversary of the publication of this novel, we will discuss Out of the Silent Planet (1938).
Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s latest posthumous work, The Fall of Arthur (2013), an unfinished narrative poem. The December meeting is also a party at which we have cake to fortify ourselves for final exams.
For the 50th anniversary of this long-running series that began in 1963, we'll have a general diiscussion of the television show, movies, novelizations, original novels, audio and comic book versions. Everyone has met the Doctor in some version, so we'll pool our knowledge.
Note: meeting will begin at 7:00. A chapter from Kristin Thompson's work in progress on Tolkien's narrative. This is a long chapter that we expect to take about two hours, which is why we are starting the meeting earlier than usual. Kristin would like feedback.
Our annual discussion of the recent crop of science fiction and fantasy-related films. This time these will include Oz the Great and Powerful, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Man of Steel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and whatever else has been released.
Discussion of another chapter from Kristin's forthcoming book. This one can be read in an hour or so. Kristin will appreciate our feedback.
Meetings will be held on Sundays (usually but not always the second Sunday of the month) beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between
9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will be in Union South on the 200 block of N. Randall Avenue. Check "Today in the Union" for the exact room, either on one of the monitors in the building or on the website at http://www.union.wisc.edu
Discussion of R. A. Lafferty’s science fiction short stories. Note: because this meeting is being held during semester break and Union South will close at 8:00 p.m, we will have the meeting from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Discussion of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) directed by Peter Jackson, the first in a planned trilogy of films suggested by Tolkien’s book.
Discussion of the work of one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con 13, to be held the weekend of April 12-14 in the Radisson Inn, Madison, WI (see http://www.odyssey.con.org). Kevin Hearne is the author of the Iron Druid Chronicles, an urban fantasy series about Atticus O'Sullivan, a centuries-old (but young-appearing) druid now based in Tempe, Arizona. The five novels in the series to date are Hounded, Hexed, Hammered, (all 2011), Tricked (2012), and Trapped (2012).
Discussion of the work of another guest of honor at Odyssey Con 13, to be held the weekend of April 12-14 in the Radisson Inn, Madison, WI. See http://www.odysseycon.org. Alex Bledsoe is the author of Blood Groove (2009), The Girls with Games of Blood (2010), The Hum and the Shiver (2011), and is perhaps best-known for the Eddie LaCrosse series about a private investigator in a supernatural world who carries a sword instead of a firearm: The Sword-Edged Blonde (2009), Burn Me Deadly (2009), Dark Jenny (2011), and Wake of the Bloody Angel (2012).
Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at WisCon 13, to be held Memorial Day weekend, May 24-27 in the Concourse Hotel, Madison, WI. We will focus on their most recent novels, Joan Slonczewski's The Highest Frontier (2011) and Jo Walton's Hugo-winning Among Others (2012). For information on the conference, see http://www.wiscon.info.
February 21—Round table discussion of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at 4:30 p.m. in Raynor Memorial Libraries, Marquette University, Milwaukee.
March 1-3—Hobbit Conference, Valparaiso University, Indiana. See http://conference.valpo.edu/tolkien.
July 12-15---44th annual Mythopoeic Conference, Michigan State University. See http://www.mythcon.org.
Discussion of The Hobbit (1938) on the 75th anniversary of its publication.
Discussion of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (1962) on the 50th anniversary of its publication.
Discussion of Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides (1988) and its movie adaptation (loose) as Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides (2011).
Discussion of the third book in George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series, A Storm of Swords (2000). Also, there will be the traditional cake to fortify us for final exams.
Conferences in Madison this fall:
Geek Kon, September 7-9, Marriott West. See http://geekkon.org/
C. S. Lewis Conference, October 18-20, Pyle Center, UW-Madison. See http://www.cslewismadison.org/
We continue our discussion George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire by taking up the second novel in the series,A Clash of Kings (1998).
Kristin Thompson will read a section from her work in progress on Tolkien's narrative, focusing on the theme of defeat versus preservation in The Lord of the Rings.
Discussion of recent fantasy and science fiction movies, e.g, Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, Brave, The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, Snow White and the Huntsman, Total Recall, and any other relevant films that people wish to brinig up.
Discussion of Tintin (December, 2011), the movie from Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and of the graphic albums by Herge (pseudonym of Georges Remy) on which the film is based: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure. Other recommended Tintin albums include: The Blue Lotus, The Red Sea Sharks, The Castafiore Emerald, Destination Moon and its sequel Explorers on the Moon, The Seven Crystal Balls and its sequel Prisoners of the Sun (about the Incas), and Tintin in Tibet. These are all available in the Madison Public Library System.
Discussion of JRRT: A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien, a 1992 BBC documentary narrated by Judi Dench, including footage of Tolkien and interviews with family members (Fr. John Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, and Priscilla Tolkien) and with scholars (Verlyn Flieger, Tom Shippey). This special showing is for new members and for people who were unable to attend last semester.
Discussion of Tolkien and the Study of His Sources, ed. Jason Fisher (2011) and of Mark T. Hooker's collections of his short articles on words and terms in Tolkien's writings, A Tolkienian Mathomium (2006) and The Hobbitonian Anthology (2009).
Discussion of the work of the author guests of honor at Odyssey Con 12 (to be held April 20-21). Each has published quite a lot individually, but we thought we might focus on their collaborations, such as: Dream Park (1981), The Barsoom Project (1989), Achilles' Choice (1991), The California Voodoo Game (1992), Saturn's Race (2000), and The Moon Maze Game (2011). For information on Odyssey Con see http://odysseycon.org.
Discussion of the work of the guests of honor at WisCon 36 (to be held May 25-28). Andrea Hairston is a dramataist and essayist who has also published two novels: Mindscape (2006) and Redwood and Wildfire (2011). Debbie Notkin is an editor and essayist . We will take up 80! Memories and Reflections on Ursula K. Le Guin (2010), which she edited. For information on WisCon see http://www.wiscon.info.
Discussion of JRRT: A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien, a 1992 BBC documentary narrated by Judi Dench, including footage of Tolkien and interviews with family members (Fr. John Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, and Priscilla Tolkien) and with scholars (Verlyn Flieger, Tom Shippey).
Discussion of Cornelia Funke's novel Inkheart (2003) along with its film adaptation (2008) starring Brendan Fraser and Helen Mirren.
Discussion of Picturing Tolkien: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy, edited by Janice M. Bogstad and Philip E. Kaveny (McFarland, 2011).
Discussion of A Game of Thrones (1996) by George R. R. Martin and of the television miniseries (2011) based on this novel. This is the beginning of the Song of Ice and Fire series. One long novel should be enough to cover in one meeting, but for those who wish to read further the series continues with: A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows (2005), and A Dance with Dragons (2011), with two more novels planned (working titles are The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring).
Discussion of Tintin (December, 2011), the movie by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and of the graphic albums by Herge (pseudonym of Georges Remy) on which the film is based: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn, and Red Rackham's Treasure.
The North American Discworld Convention will be held from July 8-11 in the Concourse Hotel in Madison; see http://www.nadwcon.org. While our meeting will not be part of that convention, it seems an appropriate time to discuss Sir Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching subseries within the Discworld novels. The most recent of these is I Shall Wear Midnight (2010), a nominee for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature (the winner will be announced at this year's Mythcon in Albuquerque the following weekend, July 15-18; see http://www/mythsoc.org.) The three earlier Tifany Aching novels are The Wee Free Men (2003), A Hat Full of Sky, (2004), and Wintersmith (2006).
Discussion of recent fantasy movies, such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (opening in July), Thor, Green Lantern, Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides, Cars 2, X-Men: First Class, Captain America, the theatrical release of the extended editions of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, et al.
Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between
9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The location will vary.
Discussion of recent fantasy movies, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One (opening November 19) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (opening December 10, 2010). Meeting held in Studio A, Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street.
This meeting will be held in room 301 Wendt Commons Library, 215 N. Randall Avenue. Discussion of the science fiction of Sir Arthur C. Clarke, e.g., Childhood's End, 2001: A Space Odyssey, et al.
This meeting will be held in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street, Studio A. Kristin Thompson, who is writing a book on Tolkien's narrative, will give a presentation on "The 'Rocking-Horse Gait' of Danger and Rescue in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings."
The new Union South is having its grand opening this weekend but will not yet be available to student groups, so we will meet next door in Wendt Commons Library, room 301, 215 N. Randall Avenue. Discussion of the work of the author guests of honor at Odyssey Con. Sarah Monette is best-known for the Doctrine of Labyrinths series comprising Melusine (2005), The Virtu (2006), The Mirador (2007) and Corambis (2009), and for her collaborations with Elizabeth Bear, such as A Companion to Wolves (2007). Julie Victoria Jones is the author of several fantasy novels such as the Sword of Shadows series, including A Cavern of Black Ice (1999), A Fortress of Grey Ice (2003), A Sword from Red Ice (2007), and Watcher of the Dead (2010). Odyssey Con will be held in the Radisson Inn on the weekend of April 8-10; see the website at http://www.oddcon.com.
To be held in the Governance Room in the new Union South, second floor. Discussion of the work of Nisi Shawl, author guest of honor at WisCon, and Elizabeth Moon, who was to have been co-guest of honor. Shawl won the 2008 Tiptree Award for her story collection, Filter House. Moon is a prolific author, perhaps best known for her Paksenarrion series. WisCon will be held at the Concourse Hotel over Labor Day weekend, May 27-30; see the website at http://www.wiscon.edu.
MAY 21--EIGHT REASONS YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT C. S. LEWIS
Sponsored by the Madison C. S. Lewis Society. Prof. Wayne Martindale (Wheaton College) will talk on C. S. Lewis beginning at 10:00 a.m. at The Crossing, 1127 University Avenue (corner of University and Charter).
To be held in the new Union South. Check "Today in the Union" for the exact room. Discussion of Eric Shanower's ongoing "Age of Bronze" comic books retelling the entire story of the siege of Troy. The first 26 issues have been collected in three graphic albums: A Thousand Ships (2001), Sacrifice (2004), and Betrayal, Part One (2007).
Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between
9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). The September through December meetings will be held in room 301 Wendt Commons Library, 215 N. Randall Ave. The January meeting will be held in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street; check "Today in the Union" for the exact room, either on the board or their website, http://www.union.wisc.edu.
This meeting will be held in room 301 Wendt Library, 215 N. Randall Avenue. Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien Companion & Guide by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006).
Discussion of recent scholarship on Tolkien. Everybody try to read at least one of the following three books and share impressions:
--Diana Pavlac Glyer, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2007), winner of the 2008 Mythopoeic Society Award for Scholarship;
-- Douglas Charles Kane, Arda Reconstructed: The Creation of the Published Silmarillion (2009);
--Steve Walker, The Power of Tolkien's Prose: Middle-earth's Magical Style (2009)
Discussion of the recent collection The Secret History of Fantasy edited by Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon, 2010). This is available in paperback, and there are three copies in the Madison public library system.
Re-scheduled from December 12 because a bad winter storm forced us to cancel that day. Discussion of E. A. Wyke-Smith, The Marvellous Land of Snergs (1927). This book was a favorite of Tolkien's children and an influence on his writing The Hobbit. It is available in a paperback reprint. The December meeting is also a party at which we have cake.
David Bordwell will talk on the European clear-line style of comic art.
Discussion of the satiric science fiction of William Tenn (pseudonym of Philip Klass). He wrote mostly short stories, collected in a number of books such as Of All Possible Worlds (1955), The Human Angle (1956), The Wooden Star (1968), and The Square Root of Man (1968). His one novel is Of Men and Monsters (1968). NESFA Press published The Complete Science Fiction of William Tenn in two volumes in 2001 (v. 1: Immodest Proposals; v. 2: Here Comes Civilization), with afterwords by the author.
Discussion of recent films that have a fantasy or science fiction or medieval aspect, such as Iron Man 2, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Robin Hood, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and others.
Meetings will be held on Sundays beginning at 7:30 p.m. and concluding between
9:30-10:00 p.m. (CST). Unless otherwise indicated, meetings will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall
Avenue, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Union South has been closed for rebuilding (expected to open in 2011).
This meeting held in the Humanities Building. Discussion of favorite current television series that have a fantasy or science fiction component. We also showed the first half hour of the adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.
Luke Annear will present a paper on "Star Spangled Grammar in Tolkien's 'Bagme Bloma' " a poem written in Gothic by Tolkien for Songs for the Philologists (privately published in 1937).
Kristin Thompson will present a paper on "Gollum Talks to Himself: Problems and Solutions in the Film Adaptation ofThe Lord of the Rings" on how Tolkien's text was adapted for the movie version by Peter Jackson and his collaborators.
Discussion of the works of the author guests of honor at Wiscon 34 in May. Mary Anne Mohanraj's books, which make use of her Sri Lankan heritage, include Silence and the Word (2004; short stories), Bodies in Motion (2005; short stories), and The Poet's Journey (illustrated by Kat Beyer). Nnedi Okorafor's books make use of her Nigerian heritage and include Zahrah the Windseeker (2005; nominated for a number of awards including the Locus Award for Best First Novel) and The Shadow Speaker (2007; set in Niger in 2070).
A number of our members have participated on panels on J. K. Rowling's books at various conventions, but we have not heretofore discussed her work at our own group's meetings. We shall repair that lack with a discussion of the Harry Potter series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997), re-titled Sorcerer's Stone for the U.S. edition (1998), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998 in the UK, 1999 in the U.S.), HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999 in both the UK and U.S., and publication was simultaneous hereafter), HP and the Goblet of Fire (2000), HP and the Order of the Phoenix (2003), HP and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007).
SEPTEMBER 13– TOLKIEN'S CHILDREN OF HURIN
To help our discussion of this posthumously published (2007) romance, Richard West will read his paper on "Lack of Counsel Not of Courage: J. R. R. Tolkien's Critique of the Heroic Ethos in The Children of Hurin". This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue.
Tolkien's Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun (2009) contains poems of power and passion (as Paul Thomas aptly describes them) written in modern English but using a traditional Old Norse verse form. They are best appreciated when read aloud, so we shall do that, taking turns to read (as medieval Icelanders did reading sagas on long winter nights), interspersing commentary and answering questions as we go along. Thus it will not be necessary that everyone have read this recent publication (only available in hardcover) before coming. However, there are 2 copies in the Madison campus libraries, 3 others elsewhere in the UW System libraries, and 11 more in the Madison Public Library system, so one has a good chance of borrowing the book. It would be helpful (though not essential) to have a general idea of the story of Sigurd (aka Siegfried) the dragon-slayer and the treasure of the Volsungs (or Nibelungs). This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue.
Discussion of the use of ghosts and the graveyard setting in Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place (1960), Terry Pratchett's Johnny and the Dead (1993), and Neil Gaiman's Newbery-award winner The Graveyard Book (2008). This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue.
Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories" is available in many places, such as Tree and Leaf (Houghton Mifflin, 1965) and The Tolkien Reader (Ballantine, 1966). Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson have edited Tolkien's longer and variant texts (Harper Collins, 2008) and we shall discuss what this adds to our understanding of this classic essay. This new edition has only a British hardcover publisher so far. It is available via amazon.co.uk or bookdepository.co.uk (the latter offers free postage including to the U.S.). If you can't find or can't afford a copy of the new book, read or re-read the essay in one of its earlier appearances. This meeting will be held in room 301 of the Kurt F. Wendt Library, 215 North Randall Avenue. It is traditional to have cake at our December meeting to celebrate the end of the semester and fortify us for final exams.
The second centenary of Edgar Allan Poe (January 18, 1809-October 7, 1849) provides a good opportunity to discuss his work. Poe's stories and poems are widely available in many editions, and naturally there have been a number of hommages published this year (e.g., In the Shadow of the Master, ed. Michael Connolly, which reprints several of Poe's classic stories with commentaries by modern authors).
Discussion of Ursula K. Le Guin's novel Lavinia (2008) and its source, Vergil's Aeneid (available in numerous translations).
Many summer movies are science fiction or fantasy, we all see one or more of them, and it has become a tradition to devote one meeting to discussing them. Possibilites this time include the new beginning of Star Trek directed by J. J. Abrams, Wolverine, Transformers 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, perhaps some films released earlier this year such as Inkheart, and probably others that people will bring up.
Discussion of the graphic novel, Watchmen (1987) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Discussion of the two author guests of honor at Odyssey Con (to be held April 24-26 in Madison). Emma Bull's novels include War for the Oaks (1987), Falcon (1989), Bone Dance (1991) and Territory (2007). She is also one of the creators of the shared fantasy world of Liavek. Tobias Buckell's novels include Crystal Rain (2006), Ragamuffin (2007), and Sly Mongoose (2008).
Discussion of the languages Tolkien loved and studied (Old and Middle English, Old Norse, Gothic, Welsh, Finnish) and their relation to his work.
This meeting will be held in Memorial Union, 800 Langdon Street. Discussion of the author guests of honor at WisCon (to be held May 22-25 in Madison). Ellen Klages' novels include The Green Glass Sea (2006) and White Sands, Red Menace (2008). Geoff Ryman's novels include Was (1992), Air (2003), Lust or No Harm Done (2003), and The King's Last Song (2008).
Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien's use of Celtic and Norse elements in his fiction. Focus on the critical study by Marjorie Burns, Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth(2005).
We will show selections from one or more DVD documentaries on fantasy author Phillip Pullman. Discussion of Once Upon a Time in the North (2008), his prequel to the "His Dark Materials" trilogy.
Discussion of an anthology of stories relating to C. S. Lewis, Tales Before Narnia (2008), edited by Douglas A. Anderson.
We will show selections from a DVD of movies by pioneering French filmmaker Georges Melies (1861-1938). You may wish to read Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), an illustrated novel in which Melies is a major character.
Discussion of the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) in our ongoing series on "Older Authors." Focus on At the Mountains of Madness and "Rats in the Walls."
AUGUST 10—RECENT FANTASY FILMS
Discussion of movies released recently that have a fantasy content. Each summer brings a goodly crop, and usually everyone has seen at least one or two of them. Possibilities include:
Iron Man (May 2 opening)
Prince Caspian (May 16 opening)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (May 22 opening)
Kung Fu Panda (animated) (June 6 opening)
The Incredible Hulk (June 13 opening)
Wall-E (animated) (June 27 opening)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (3-D) (July 11 opening)
Batman: The Dark Knight (July 18 opening)
Space Chimps (animated) (July 18 opening)
X-Files 2 (July 25 opening)
The Mummy 3: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Aug. 1 opening)
JANUARY 13– THE GOLDEN COMPASS
Discussion of the movie version (New Line, December, 2007) of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass.
FEBRUARY 10—BOTANY & OTHER SCIENCES OF MIDDLE-EARTH
Discussion of Dinah Hazell, The Plants of Middle-earth: Botany and Sub-creation (2006) and Henry Gee, The Science of Middle-earth (2004).
George R. R. Martin and Kage Baker will be the author guests of honor at Odyssey Con (to be held at the Radisson Inn in Madison from April 4-6). Perhaps read one of the very long novels in Martin's very long series he calls the Song of Ice and Fire, beginning with A Game of Thrones (1996), or, for a shorter entry in that series, his novella "The Hedge Knight" published in the anthology Legends (1998) edited by Robert Silverberg. Martin also has many other novels and short story collections. Baker is the author of the Company series, beginning with In the Garden of Iden (1997). Many of her short stories are collected in Black Projects, White Knights (2002).
Discussion of The Time Machine (1895) by H. G. Wells (1866-1946) and the subgenre of science fiction it pretty much started.
L. Timmel Duchamp and Maureen F. McHugh will be the author guests of honor at WisCon (to be held at the Concourse Hotel in Madison over the Memorial Day weekend). Read something by each, e.g., Duchamp's Renegade (2006) or McHugh's Nekropolis (2001).
Discussion of Verlyn Flieger, Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien's Mythology (Kent State University Press, 2005).
Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien’s latest posthumous (2007) novel, put together by Christopher Tolkien from the extant versions (see especially Unfinished Tales, Lays of Beleriand, and The Silmarillion) into one continuous narrative. This is not yet available in paperback but numerous book clubs have selected it. There is also an audio version forthcoming, read by Christopher Lee.
OCTOBER 14—THE LOST WORLD
Discussion of The Lost World (1912) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) and its long and lasting legacy in popular culture, from Edgar Wallace's King Kong to James Gurney's Dinotopia. There have been numerous movie adaptations, with the role of Prof. Challenger being played by such acting luminaries as Wallace Beery (1925), Claude Rains (1960), Bob Hoskins (1991), and John Rhys-Davies (1992). A television series loosely based on the novel lasted for three seasons and 66 episodes from 1999-2002. Leonard Nimoy directed an audio version in 1997 for Simon and Schuster's Alien Voices series of audiocassettes. Greg Bear wrote a sequel, Dinosaur Summer (1998). Oskar Lebeck and Gaylord DuBois borrowed heavily from the novel for The Hurricane Kids on the Lost Islands (1941), and Doyle's work was also the basis for the long-running Turok Son of Stone comic book (mostly written by DuBois and Paul S. Newman). There are many other examples, so come with some of your own.
British author William Morris (1834-1896) was notable for a great many things (political and social commentary, crafts such as the Morris chair, printing his own illuminated books, etc.). He was very influential on the Inklings, especially for his interest in the Middle Ages: e.g., his Kelmscott Press editions of Beowulf and Chaucer, his translations from Old Norse such as Volsunga Saga, poems such as "The Defence of Guenevere," and the romances he wrote late in his career, of which House of the Wolfings (1888) and Roots of the Mountains (1893) are particularly important for Tolkienists. C. S. Lewis specially admired Wood Beyond the World (1895), Well at the World's End (1896), and Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897). Many works by Morris were reprinted in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, and by publishers of classic fantasy such as Newcastle and Borgo Press. Some are available online via Project Gutenberg or NetLibrary.
Discussion of The History of The Hobbit (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), a two-volume edition and study by John Rateliff of the early manuscripts and development of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
Summer Semester, 2007
JULY 22—PETER S. BEAGLE
Discussion of Peter Beagle’s most recent collection, The Line Between (2006), which contains eleven stories, including Two Hearts (a sequel to The Last Unicorn which won the Nebula for best novelette of 2006) and Quarry (a prequel to The Innkeeper’s Song).
Possibilities include Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End, Ratatouille, Shrek 3, and Spider-Man 3, and perhaps others. Everybody see one or two and come prepared to share impressions.
JANUARY 14—RECENT FANTASY FILMS
Discussion of recent movies with a science-fictional or fantasy element, such as Charlotte’s Web, Children of Men, Eragon, Happy Feet, The Prestige, The Librarian II: Return to King Solomon’s Mines.
FEBRUARY 4 – LORD OF THE RINGS: A READER’S COMPANION
Discussion of the study by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), which recently won the Mythopoeic Society award for best work of scholarship published in 2005. Do not confuse this with J. R. R. Tolkien: Companion and Guide by the same authors, which was also published by Houghton Mifflin late in 2006, as that is a more general study (and a topic for another meeting). The earlier book we’ll be discussing focuses on The Lord of the Rings, and annotates it extensively.
MARCH 11 – JACK McDEVITT
Discussion of the science fiction of Jack McDevitt, who will be one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con (April 13-15 in Madison). Read one of the novels by this prolific author and come prepared to share your impressions.
APRIL 15 -- SAKI
Discussion of the fantasy stories of Saki (pseudonym of H. H. Munro, 1870-1916). Examples include “Sredni Vashtar” and “Tobermory”.
MAY 6 – KELLY LINK
Discussion of Magic for Beginners (2005) by Kelly Link, who will be one of the guests of honor at WisCon (Memorial Day weekend in Madison).
JUNE 10 – SNERGS
Discussion of The Marvellous Land of Snergs (1928, but reprinted a number of times, most recently by Dover), by E. A. Wyke-Smith. This was a favorite book of Tolkien’s children and influenced The Hobbit.
SEPTEMBER 17—40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
The Tolkien Society at the University of Wisconsin had its first meeting in September, 1966 and has been going strong ever since. We’ll share memories and memorabilia from our forty years. We’ll have chocolate cake with butter cream frosting! Come help us celebrate!
In August the University of Wisconsin Press published Beowulf: The Complete Story: A Drama, with Richard Ringler (Emeritus Professor of the UW Departments of English and Scandinavian Studies) narrating his translation, and actors from American Players Theatre and Wisconsin Public Radio performing various roles. This is a set of three CDs, too long to play at one meeting; we will listen to the Grendel section. For background, read Tolkien’s seminal essay, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, which is widely available in collections of Beowulf criticism and in Christopher Tolkien’s edition of his father’s scholarly work, The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays (1983). Michael D. C. Drout’s Beowulf and the Critics (2002) is an edition and study of Tolkien’s drafts of his essay. Many critics have written about the influence of Beowulf on Tolkien’s fiction, notably Bonniejean Christensen and T. A. Shippey.
Discussion of Harry Turtledove’s Sentry Peak (2000), Marching Through Peachtree (2001) and Advance and Retreat (2002), set in a fantasy world based on the American Civil War (the northern provinces in the kingdom of Detina secede rather than free their blond serfs).
Richard West will introduce and lead a discussion of Jim Butcher’s ongoing series about hard-boiled private eye and wizard, Harry Dresden: Storm Front (2000), Fool Moon (2001), Grave Peril (2001), Summer Knight (2002), Death Masks (2003), Blood Rites (2004), Dead Beat (2005), and Proven Guilty (2006). Butcher cites Tolkien and C. S. Lewis as two major influences. See the author's website at http://www.jim-butcher.com.
JUNE 4 – JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL
Discussion of Susanna Clarke’s novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2005) (about two English magicians in the time of Napoleon).
JULY 16 – JOHN HOWE
We will show a documentary on John Howe: Lord of the Brush (2005), and discuss his work and that of other illustrators of Tolkien. The documentary was written by Werner Aellen and directed by Gretchen Jordan-Bastow; it is available on DVD.
AUGUST 13 –SUMMER MOVIES
Have you seen Superman Returns? X-Men 3: The Last Stand? Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest? Over the Hedge? Others? Come discuss the fantasy and science-fiction films of summer, 2006.
Discussion of the movie released in December, 2005.
Kristin Thompson will talk on the influence of the Peter Jackson movie adaptations of The Lord of the Rings on the international film industry, part of her forthcoming book on Frodo, Fantasy, and Franchises: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood (University of California Press).
Read one of her novels and come share your impressions, prior to her being one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con VI.
Firekeeper series: Through Wolf’s Eyes (2001), Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart (2002), The Dragon of Despair (2003), Wolf Captured (2004), with Wolf Hunting due out in April, 2006
Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994)
Marks of our Brothers (1995)
The Pipes of Orpheus (1995)
When the Gods Are Silent (1997)
Donnerjack (1997) (in collaboration with Roger Zelazny)
Legends Walking (1999)
Lord Demon (1999) (in collaboration with Roger Zelazny)
The Buried Pyramid (2004)
Child of a Rainless Year (2005)
APRIL 9 – ANANSI BOYS
Discussion of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys (2005).
MAY 14 – KATE WILHELM
Wilhelm will be one of the guests of honor at WisCon. Read one of her science fiction or mystery novels, or some of her many short stories. She won a Hugo for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (1977) (about cloning).
Note this was earlier scheduled for Sept. 18 but has been moved a week ahead.
Kristin Thompson will present part of her forthcoming book on Frodo, Fantasy, and Franchises: The Lord of the Rings and Modern Hollywood (University of California Press).
Kristin will also be doing a presentation on videogames based on The Lord of the Rings movies for the Department of Communication Arts on Thursday, September 22, at 4:00 p.m. in 4070 Vilas Hall.
Focus on The Golden Key.
Focus on The Place of the Lion.
DECEMBER 11 -- TOLKIEN AND RELIGION
There have been a number of books, especially during the last few years,
on religious resonances in Tolkien's work. Examples include:
Arthur, Sarah. Walking With Frodo: A Devotional Journey Through The Lord
of the Rings (2003)
Birzer, Bradley J. J. R. R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth (2002)
Bruner, Kurt D. and Jim Ware. Finding God in The Lord of the Rings
Dalton, Russell W. Faith Journey through Fantasy Lands: A Christian
Dialogue with Harry Potter, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings (2003)
Garbowski, Christopher. Recovery and Transcendence for the Contemporary
Mythmaker: The Spiritual Dimension in the Work of J. R. R. Tolkien (1st
ed., 2000; 2nd ed., 2004)
Loy, David L. and Linda Goodhew. The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons:
Buddhist Themes in Modern Fantasy (2004)
Wood, Ralph C. The Gospel According to Tolkien (2003)
And some earlier titles include:
Begg, Ean C. M. The Lord of the Rings and the Signs of the Times (1975)
Dickerson, Matthew. Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in
The Lord of the Rings (1993)
Purtill, Richard L. J. R. R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, and Religion (1984)
Urang, Gunnar. Shadows of Heaven: Religion and Fantasy in the Writing of
C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J. R. R. Tolkien (1971)
Also, out-of-town member Matthew Fisher has given permission to read his paper on “Working at the Crossroads: Tolkien, St. Augustine, and the Beowulf Poet” originally given at the Marquette conference last fall.
Discussion of the work of Ray Bradbury with focus on his recent novel, From the Dust Returned: A Family Remembrance (William Morrow, 2001). The stories range over most of his career from the 1940’s to the present, and show his typical method of gathering a number of shorter pieces to form a novel. The “family” is a fictional one, the Elliots. The dust jacket was illustrated by his friend, Charles Addams.
Discussion of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation (1951), Foundation and Empire (1952), and Second Foundation (1953). These three books constitute what was long known as “the Foundation trilogy” and won a special Hugo Award in 1966 for best all-time science fiction series. Asimov later (1982-1993) continued the series, and other authors have added to it subsequently, but we will focus on the early books. (The term “trilogy” is as much a misnomer here as it is for Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, however. All three books are collections of earlier stories published between 1942 and 1949. There were eight stories: four in the first volume, two in the second, two in the third. The titles were all changed between their magazine and book appearance. Part 1 of the first volume was written as a prelude to the book edition and is the only part not previously published.)
Discussion of fantasy movies due for release over the course of summer, 2005: e.g., Batman Begins, Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Fantastic Four, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, George Lucas’s Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith, and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.
Discussion of illustrations of the work of J. R. R. Tolkien by the author himself and by numerous other artists.
Discussion of the Miles Vorkosigan series of Lois McMaster Bujold, with emphasis on the Hugo Award-winning novella, “The Mountains of Mourning” (in Young Miles).
Discussion of Tolkien and the Great War (2003), John Garth’s study of Tolkien’s military service during World War I and its influence on his fiction.
Discussion of Robin McKinley’s vampire novel, Sunshine.
Discussion of the differences between the presentation of Arwen, daughter of Elrond, in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Peter Jackson's movie adaptation.
Discussion of Jeff Smith’s graphic novel , Bone, complete in 55 issues, or 8 volumes (some available in the Madison Public Library system) or one mega-volume.
Noted editor James Frenkel will talk about his career working with numerous authors (e.g., Terry Goodkind, his wife Joan Vinge, et al.), in particular the amazing changes in the way we think of computers since the initial publication in 1981 of Vernor Vinge’s True Names and its most recent edition from Tor in 2001.
Kristin Thompson will talk about the numerous websites that focus on Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
Joss Whedon created a number of well-regarded television series. Angel was
unexpectedly cancelled after five seasons (October, 1999 to May, 2004). Some of our group
who followed this series will lead us in a discussion of Angel, with perhaps some hindsight
on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Whedon's earlier series on which the character of Angel, the
vampire with a conscience, was introduced. One can still see re-runs of Angel Monday through
Friday on TNT (cable channel 32 in Madison) from 4:00-5:00 p.m., and on the WB network (cable
channel 15) from 700-8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at midnight and 8:00 p.m. Tuesday.
Reruns of Buffy can be seen on FX (cable channel 55) Monday through Friday from 6:00-8:00 a.m.
(two episodes back to back), and on WB on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at noon. (All times
CST.) Many episodes are also available on VHS videocassette and DVD.
As part of our occasional series on older authors, we shall discuss the work of
Leigh Brackett (1915-1978). A prolific author, she wrote hard-boiled mysteries as well
as science fiction and fantasy. Her books are in libraries and used bookstores, and
she's been much anthologized (e.g., Pamela Sargent's Women of Wonder, Gardner Dozois's
The Good Old Stuff). She also contributed to screenplays (notably The Empire Strikes Back,
The Big Sleep, various Westerns directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne).
There is a bibliography of her work in the Reference section of Memorial Library on campus,
call number PS 374 S35 A7. Everybody try to read one or two of her books (whatever you can find)
and come share your impressions.
Ursula K. Le Guin published two more books in her Earthsea series in 2001,
Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind .
Discussion of Peter Jackson's movie version of Return of the King (released in December 2003).
Private meeting at a member’s home to watch the telecast of the Academy Awards and root for the Peter Jackson version of
Return of the King, which was nominated in eleven categories (and, in the event, won all of them), including best picture, best screenplay adapted from another medium, and best director.
David Weber will be one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con (the weekend following this meeting, April 2-4). Everybody try to read one of the books in Weber’s Honor Harrington series (the character is described as a female Hornblower in space). The series began with On Basilisk Station (1993) and includes The Honor of the Queen (1993), Field of Dishonor (1994), The Short Victorious War (1994), Flag in Exile (1995), Honor Among Enemies (1996), In Enemy Hands (1997), Echoes of Honor (1998), Ashes of Victory (2000), and War of Honor (2003). There are also a number of collections of short stories, with contributions by Weber and other authors writing about his fictional world: More Than Honor (1998), Worlds of Honor (1999), Changer of Worlds (2000), and Service of the Sword (2003).
Patricia McKillip will be one of the guests of honor at WisCon (Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31). It has been some time since we discussed one of her novels. Suggested reading: Song for the Basilisk (1998).
Discussion of Lyra’s Oxford (2003) by Philip Pullman, ancillary to the His Dark Materials trilogy.
Focus on her diversity (following an essay in the forthcoming
anthology Dark Matters II which discusses her use of many ethnicities and cultures
throughout her career, from the fifties--when this was not common--up to the
present day). Major critical studies of Norton include Sandra Miesel's excellent introductions
to the Gregg Press editions of Witch World and Sargasso of Space, Carl Yoke's Roger
Zelazny and Andre Norton: Proponents of Individualism (State Library of Ohio, 1979), and
Andre Norton: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography by Roger Schlobin and Irene R.
Harrison (NESFA Press, 2nd ed., 1994).
Focus on Snow Crash (1992). His other novels include Zodiac (1988),
Diamond Age (1995), and Cryptonomicon (1999), while with the just-released
Quicksilver (2003) he is beginning a massive new series.
Discussion of the stories in Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy,
ed. Douglas A. Anderson. This collection has just been published in trade paperback by
People recommended these books from among those they have read recently:
Michael Chabon, ed. McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (Vintage Books, 2003)
Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book (Viking, 2003)
Gregory Maguire, Mirror Mirror (Regan Books, 2003)
Garth Nix, Mister Monday (Scholastic, 2003)
Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment (Harper Collins, 2003)
Discussion of the graphic novel League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill, and the comic books published so far in the second series. See also Jess Nevins, Heroes and Monsters: The Unofficial Companion to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Monkey Brain, Inc., 2003). See also the current movie based on the graphic novel, starring Sean Connery as Alan Quatermain and Peta Wilson as Mina Harker. There is also a novelization of the movie, written by K. J. Anderson (Pocket Star Books, 2003).
Discussion of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay (Random House, 2000), a novel by Michael Chabon.
Discussion of the movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings: The Two
Towers, directed by Peter Jackson. There have been numerous reviews, articles,
and comments on the movie in newspapers, magazines, and websites. See, for
example, the January issue of Mythprint for pithy comments pro and con from many
Tolkien fans. Michael Wilmington's review in the Chicago Tribune called the film "A
Towering Triumph"; other reviewers have also been enthusiastic, but far from
everyone. Just about every magazine that could find an excuse to do so has published
an article (e.g., the current issue of Blade has a cover article on commercial replicas
of the swords used in the movie). Jude Fisher's The Two Towers Visual Companion
is now out. The first book-length study of the director we know of has been published:
it's in Italian: Peter Jackson by Andrea Bordoni and Matteo Marino (Il Castoro
Cinema, 2002) (ISBN 88-8033-225-2) (yes, it has a chapter on The Fellowship of the
Kristin Thompson has started work on a book on Tolkien and would like our
group to help by brainstorming about some textual questions she has. For example:
what the heck is Tom Bombadil doing in this book? why does Gandalf wait so long to
reveal who he is when he returns as the White? Kristin is preparing a list of such
questions, which we'll send out soon. Feel free to e-mail replies if you can't come in
Our 2nd Oscar party at Kristin's, assuming (as seems likely enough) that
The Two Towers or other F&SF films are among the nominees.
Some of us will have met SF author Cathering Asaro the week before
at Odyssey Con, where she will be one of the guests of honor. Perhaps by then we'll
have picked a book or two of hers on which to focus (does anyone have any
recommendations?), but meanwhile just each read whatever we can find. Her
major books include:
Primary Inversion (1995)
Catch the Lightning (1996)
The Last Hawk (1997)
The Radiant Seas (1998)
The Veiled Web (1999)
The Phoenix Code (2000)
Ascendant Sun (2000)
Spherical Harmonic (2001)
The Quantum Rose (2002)
Moon Shadow (scheduled for 2003)
Skyfall (forthcoming, per Books in Print)
Noted SF author Carol Emshwiller will be one of the guests of honor two
weeks later at WisCon. Our advice on reading is the same as for Catherine Asaro. Her
major books include:
Joy in Our Cause (1974) (short stories)
Verging on the Pertinent (1989) (short stories)
The Start of the End Of It All (1990) (short stories)
Carmen Dog (1990)
Leaping Man Hill (1998)
The Mount (2002)
Report to the Men's Club & Other Stories (2002)
Gwyneth Jones has a review-essay on the last two titles in the January issue of The
New York Review of Science Fiction.
Marvel Comics' X-Men has a long and very chequered history, and is
the series against which sales of other comic books are measured. Does anyone know
all of the complicated storyline(s)? Has the franchise been so successful because of
A paper by Richard C. West on "Setting the Rocket Off in Story: Tolkien and
The Kalevala". At an early age, J. R. R. Tolkien was deeply impressed by the
Finnish language and by Elias Lonnrot's compilation of the folklore and myths of his
country in The Kalavala. Tolkien set out to retell the story of Kullervo from the
Finnish epic, but this grew enormously in the telling, and became radically transformed
into the tale of Turin Turambar. He said later that it was this experience that "set thje
rocket off in story." This paper examines the influence of the Finnish Kalevala on
the stories (such as those of Turin and of Beren & Luthien) that became the
centerpieces of Tolkien's legendarium and shaped the development of his own
"mythology for England." [This essay was later published in Tolkien and the Invention
of Myth, ed. Jane Chance, University Press of Kentucky, 2004.]
Kristin Thompson will lead a memorial discussion of the great cartoonist and
filmmaker, who died earlier this year. He wrote two autobiographies, Chuck Amuck
(1989; this is also the title of a documentary on his career, available on video) and
Chuck Reducks (1996). His cartoons include numerous Warner Bros. shorts
(featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, et al.), How the Grinch Stole
Christmas, The Phantom Tollbooth, and adaptations of Rudyard Kipling (such as
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The White Seal). PBS stations will be televising Chuck
Jones: Extremes and In-Betweens: A Life in Animation this fall. Madison's PBS
station is scheduled to show this on Wednesday, September 25, 9:30 to 11:00 p.m.,
repeated on Saturday, September 28, 11:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Discussion of Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods (2001).
Discussion of Douglas A. Anderson's revised and expanded edition of The
Annotated Hobbit (2002).
This topic was postponed from the March 24th meeting. As part of our ongoing
series on older authors, we will discuss the work of pulp author and editor Abraham
Merritt (1882-1943). BURN, WITCH, BURN (1933) was made into THE DEVIL DOLL
(1936), a movie directed by Tod Browning. Other major works include THE MOON
POOL (1919) [an electronic version is available in NetLibrary; this can be accessed
from MadCat, the online catalogue of the campus libraries], SHIP OF ISHTAR (1926),
SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO SATAN (1928), THE FACE IN THE ABYSS (1931),
DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE (1932), and CREEP, SHADOW, CREEP (1943). There
is a collection of shorter works in FOX WOMAN AND OTHER STORIES (1949).
Starmont published a guide on A. MERRITT (1989) by Ronald Foust. Sam Moskowitz
devotes chapter 12 of his book EXPLORERS OF THE INFINITE: SHAPERS OF
SCIENCE FICTION (World, 1963) to "The Marvellous A. Merritt" and also wrote a
longer study, A. MERRITT: REFLECTIONS IN THE MOON POOL: A BIOGRAPHY
(Oswald Train, 1985).
Discussion of the work of James Gurney, including DINOTOPIA: A LAND
APART FROM TIME (1992), DINOTOPIA: THE WORLD BENEATH (1995), and
DINOTOPIA: FIRST FLIGHT (1999). Donald Dale Jackson has a profile of Gurney in
the September, 1995 issue of Smithsonaian Magazine.
Gurney has allowed a number of other writers to set novels in Dinotopia. Alan
Dean Foster has two novels for adult readers, DINOTOPIA LOST (1996) and HAND
OF DINOTOPIA (1999). There are also several shorter works for children: Scott
Ciencin's LOST CITY (1995), WINDCHASER (1995), THUNDER FALLS (1996), SKY
DANCE (1999), and THE EXPLORERS (2001); Peter David's THE MAZE (1999);
FIRESTORM (1997) by Wisconsin's own Gene DeWeese; RESCUE PARTY (1999) by
Mark A. Garland; CHOMPER (2000) by Donald F. Glut; HATCHLING (1995) by Midori
Snyder; SURVIVE (2001) by Brad Strickland; and John Vornholt's RIVER QUEST
(1996), SABERTOOTH MOUNTAIN (1996), and DOLPHIN WATCH (2002). None of
these are illustrated by Gurney.
A 6-hour mini-series (or "mega-series" as it was advertised) set in present-day
Dinotopia was broadcast last May 12-14, the pilot for a television series to debut this
fall. There are numerous magazine articles relating to this, including three in
Starlog no. 299 (June, 2002) (one is an interview with Gurney).
There is a website at http://www.dinotopia.com
This meeting will be at the home of Kristin Thompson. Consult a member for
Discussion of the movie directed by Peter Jackson, which
opened nationwide on Dec. 19, 2001. Consider also Jude Fisher,
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
VISUAL COMPANION and Brian Sibley, THE LORD OF THE
RINGS OFFICIAL MOVIE GUIDE, both published by Houghton
Mifflin in late 2001.
We may be able to get a room in Vilas Hall for this, or meet in
the home of a member. Discussion of THE MAGIC NEVER ENDS;
THE LIFE AND WORK OF C. S. LEWIS, narrated by Ben
Kingsley. This hour-long documentary is to be shown nationwide
on PBS stations beginning in January, but has already been
televised in some places (e.g., Chicago). It is available
commercially on videotape.
We had scheduled a discussion of A. Merritt, but postponed that
To June 16 so that we could gather at Kristin Thompson’s house and watch the
Oscar telecast. THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
was nominated in 14 categories and won four.
Discussion of Walt Disney's movies on the occasion of his
centenary, focusing on his studio's adaptations of fairy tales and
other fantasy-related films. Tolkien very much disliked the Disney
touch: why, and do you think he was justified or not?
Discussion of the first novel by Nalo Hopkinson, BROWN GIRL
IN THE RING (1998). She is one of the guests of honor at WisCon
on May 24-27. Her fiction makes use of Caribbean folklore.
Reading (by gracious permission of the author) of a preprint of
Douglas A. Anderson's essay on "Tolkien After All These Years,"
to be published in MEDITATIONS ON MIDDLE-EARTH, ed. Karen
Haber (St. Martin's Press, November, 2001).
Discussion of the works of fantasy of the late author, rather
than of his science fiction, including: THE BROKEN SWORD
(1954, 1971), THREE HEARTS & THREE LIONS (1961), A
MIDSUMMER TEMPEST (1975), WAR OF THE GODS (1997),
OPERATION CHAOS (1971) and OPERATION LUNA (1999), et al.
Discussion of MY FAVORITE FANTASY STORY (DAW, 2000),
ed. Martin H. Greenberg, in which a number of fantasists choose a
favorite story and explain why.
Discussion of Guy Gavriel Kay's SAILING TO SARANTIUM
(1998) and LORD OF EMPERORS (2000).
Sir Henry Rider Haggard is best-known for his novels KING
SOLOMON'S MINES (1885) and SHE (1886). He wrote many
sequels to both, such as ALLAN QUARTERMAIN (1887) and
WISDOM'S DAUGHTER (1923), even bringing these two major
characters together in SHE AND ALLAN (1920). Another novel of
interest to fans of fantasy is one dealing with Odysseus and Helen
after the fall of Troy: THE WORLD'S DESIRE (1890), written in
collaboration with Andrew Lang (reissued in the Ballantine Adult
Fantasy series in 1972).
For background, consult Morton Cohen, RIDER HAGGARD:
HIS LIFE AND WORKS (Hutchinson, 1960) or Norman Etherington,
RIDER HAGGARD (Twayne, 1984). C. S. Lewis wrote a review-
essay on Cohen's book called "Haggard Rides Again" for TIME
AND TIDE, most easily found reprinted (under the title "The
Mythopoeic Gift of Rider Haggard") in his collection ON STORIES
AND OTHER ESSAYS ON LITERATURE, ed. Walter Hooper
(Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1982) pp. 97-100.
Jared Lobdell argues for Haggard's influence on Tolkien in his
book ENGLAND AND ALWAYS: TOLKIEN'S WORLD OF THE
RINGS (Eerdmans, 1981), and William H. Green does so even
more forcefully in his essay "King Thorin's Mines: THE HOBBIT as
Victorian Adventure Novel," EXTRAPOLATION v. 42, no. 1 (Spring,
2001), pp. 57-64. Check them out and see if they persuade you!
There has been an immense amount written about Verne, both
in French and English. See Edward Gallagher, JULES VERNE: A
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY BIBLIOGRAPHY (G. K. Hall, 1980).
A good introduction is JULES VERNE AND HIS WORK by I. O.
Evans (Arco, 1965). His grandson, Jean Jules-Verne, wrote JULES
VERNE: A BIOGRAPHY (English translation, Taplinger, 1976).
See also THE JULES VERNE ENCYCLOPEDIA by Brian Taves
and Stephen Michaluk, Jr., with Edward Baxter (Scarecrow Press,
1996). Arthur B. Evans has written many informative essays, such
as "The Illustrators of Jules Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires,"
SCIENCE FICTION STUDIES v. 25, no. 2, whole no. 75 (July,
1998), pp. 291-270.
There have been numerous adaptations in movies and on
television. See Thomas C. Renzi, JULES VERNE ON FILM: A
FILMOGRAPHY OF THE CINEMATIC ADAPTATIONS OF HIS
WORKS, 1902 THROUGH 1997 (McFarland, 1998). We might
also consider THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF JULES VERNE, a
series on the Sci-Fi channel (which perhaps owes more to THE
AVENGERS and THE WILD, WILD WEST than to Verne!).
Kristin Thompson will lead the discussion. We'll use the new
movie SHREK as our focus, so everyone should try to see
Discussion of the DUNE mini-series on the Sci Fi Channel (2000), the David Lynch DUNE movie (1984), and the novel by Frank Herbert (1965).
Vinge will be one of the guests of honor at Odyssey Con in Madison (March 30-April 1). Discussion will focus on his novel, A FIRE UPON THE DEEP.
We will use as our focus the book by Tom Shippey, J. R. R. TOLKIEN: AUTHOR OF THE CENTURY, to be published by Houghton Mifflin in April. The British edition was published last year.
Nancy Kress will be guest of honor at WisCon in Madison on Memorial Day weekend. We plan to concentrate on PRINCE OF MORNING BELLS, but any of her books may be discussed.
Discussion of no. 131 in Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, in which
Tolkien expounded on his artistic intentions to Milton Waldman of
Discussion of the fantasy novels of Edward Eager, which have
recently been reissued in a matched set. These include HALF
MAGIC (1954), KNIGHT'S CASTLE (1956), THE TIME GARDEN
(1958), MAGIC OR NOT? (1959), THE WELL-WISHERS (1960),
MAGIC BY THE LAKE (1962), and SEVEN-DAY MAGIC (1962).
Discussion of this 1971 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin and of the
1982 telefilm based on it (recently issued on videotape).
Discussion of this final novel in Philip Pullman's His Dark
Materials trilogy. It is scheduled to be published on October 10.
Discussion of the short stories of this prolific author. There is a
checklist of his work at
This year is the 50th anniversary of the first of the Chronicles of
Narnia to be published. Discussion will focus on The Lion, the
Witch, and the Wardrobe and its various adaptations.
Discussion of the new Nick Parks film, soon to be in general
release. For all us fans of Wallace & Grommit.
Discussion of this Japanese animated film (English dialogue by
Neil Gaiman). For background, see Hayao Miyazaki: Master of
Japanese Animation by Helen McCarthy (Stone Bridge Press, 1999)
and The Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan's Most Popular
Film of All Time (Talk Miramax Books, 1999). There are also numerous
Discussion of the 50th anniversary edition by Wayne Hammond
and Christina Scull, recently published by Houghton Mifflin.
This includes the earliest extant text, what exists of an unfinished sequel,
and much other fascinating material.
Discussion of Wells's seminal 1898 novel of interplanetary war,
its various radio and film adaptations (such as Howard Koch's script
performed by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre and by John
De Lancie and what subsequently became Alien Voices), and its continuing
Discussion of the recent (1999) fantasy novel by Peter S. Beagle.
Discussion of the work of this year's guest of honor at
WisCon (to be held on Memorial Day weekend, May 26-29)
Discussion of the 13 episodes of Babylon 5: Crusade
televised on TNT from June 9 through September 1. It had been
planned to have a full season of 22 episodes but TNT cancelled the
series before anything had been broadcast. Should this series be
continued? Episode guides can be found on the Babylon 5
Dorothea Salo will reprise her talk from Bree Moot 4 /
Mythcon 30 on the use of invented languages in fantasy fiction,
with special attention to Tolkien, Lord Dunsany, and Ursula K. Le
Prof. Verlyn Flieger has given us permission to read her
paper (not yet published) on "Fantasy and Reality: Tolkien's World
and the Fairy Stories Essay." See Tolkien's essay "On Fairy-
Stories," which has been reprinted frequently but is perhaps most
easily accessible in Tree and Leaf or The Tolkien Reader.
Discussion of Stardust, written by Neil Gaiman with
illustrations by Charles Vess. This won the Mythopoeic Society
Award for best fantasy novel of 1998.
Discussion of Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn (Ace, 1999).
Reports on WisCon (May 28-31) from those who attended.
Retrospective on the seven seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, concentrating on the concluding episodes.
In Madison (and probably in other places), the final, 2-hour show, "What You Leave Behind," will be broadcast on channel 3 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 3. This will also be shown in two parts from 10:30-11:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 5 and 12.
Houghton Mifflin has scheduled for publication in November a 50th anniversary edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), edited by Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, which will include previously unpublished material from the earlier drafts. We probably won't be able to read and discuss this before the spring semester, 2000. Meanwhile, in honor of the 50th anniversary and to prepare for the special edition, we will discuss the published version of this wonderful story.
Discussion of the sword-and-sorcery series by Fritz Leiber recounting the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The first story, "Adept's Gambit", appeared in 1947. The first collection was Two Sought Adventure (Gnome Press, 1957). The whole series was collected by Ace Books:
1) Swords and Deviltry (1970)
2) Swords Against Death (1970)
3) Swords in the Mist (1968)
4) Swords Against Wizardry (1968)
5) The Swords of Lankhmar (1968)
6) Swords and Ice Magic (1977)
7) Knight and Knave of Swords (1988)
Gregg Press reprinted 1-6 in hardcover in 1977. White Wolf has recently reprinted 1-2 as Ill Met in Lankhmar (1995), 3- 4 as Lean Times in Lankhmar (1996), 5-6 as Return to Lankhmar (1997) and 7 as Farewell to Lankhmar (1998). We will focus in particular on the 2nd volume, Swords Against Death (included in Ill Met in Lankhmar). You might also want to read the title essay in Leiber's Fafhrd and Me: A Collection of Essays (Wildside Press, 1990), and Bruce Byfield's supplement to this called "Fafhrd and Fritz," published in The New York Review of Science Fiction no. 104 (April, 1997), pp. 1, 8-14. Two studies, both called Fritz Leiber, by Jeff Frane (Starmont, 1980) and by Tom Staicar (Ungar, 1983), include sections on the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series.
Tolkien co-edited (with E. V. Gordon) what is still the standard scholarly edition of the 14th-century Middle English poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and throughout his life it remained one of his favorite medieval works. Richard West will read a paper by Roger Schlobin on "The Monsters Are Talismans and Transgressions: Tolkien and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". Dr. Schlobin (Purdue University, English Dept) originally presented this paper at the 1998 International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, and has given permission for it to be read to our group. [It is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming anthology of essays on Tolkien, date not set.]
We will focus on Harry Turtledove's novel, How Few Remain (1997), about a second War Between the States after the South won the first one. (This is available in paperback from Del Rey.)
Phil Kaveny will talk about his work-in-progress researching how C. S. Lewis was marked by his service during World War I, affecting his frequent choices of military metaphors in his writing.
Mary Doria Russell will be author guest of honor at this year's WisCon. We will prepare by discussing her novel, The Sparrow (1996).
This is a paper Richard West presented to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. A quick summary:
J. R. R. Tolkien both studied and taught the stories of gods and heroes of world mythology, legend, and folklore, and naturally his own private mythos grew from this fertile soil. The story of Beren and Lúthien is one of the central ones of the legendarium of the Silmarils or Jewels of Power, and that the names of these star-crossed lovers are carved on the tombstone he shares with his wife suggests that this tale was one of the dearest to Tolkien's heart. The several recensions of the story, though no single version was completed to the author's satisfaction, all share a wide ranging over mythic motifs. At times the story recalls aspects of Volsunga saga or the Calydonian Boar Hunt, at others Robin Hood or Rapunzel, Orpheus or Ishtar. There are the common themes of the disapproving father, the rival lover, the quest, the bride-price, the magical animal ally, the tragic victory of death over love and the triumph of love over death. Yet the story is not a mere patchwork of mythological borrowings but a carefully wrought and self-consistent tale that is deeply moving and has great aesthetic power.
While many have read and studied the deservedly famous Chinese writings of Wu Ch'eng En regarding Sun the Enlightened One, also known as the Monkey King, few have examined the work under the aegis of fantasy. Is Journey to the West fantasy? What connects it with the modern genre? What is there in modern fantasy that is like this work?
Arthur Waley's translation/abridgement of Journey to the West can be found in the Memorial Library and in College Library, call number PL2697 H75 E5 (or E59), or PZ3 W948. If you care to tackle the entire work (it's long!), try Anthony C. Yu's translation, available in Memorial Library, call number PL2697 H75 E596.
Websites of interest:
· http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Towers/8153/ This is a wonderful set of book descriptions and Web links regarding the Monkey King legend. Start here!
· http://www.wsu.edu:8000/~dee/MING/LIT.HTM Contains a brief but helpful description of the outlines of the Monkey King story.
On the anniversary of the death of Clive Staples Lewis, we will be discussing two of his lesser-known works. One, Pilgrim's Regress, is a reaction to the well-known allegory Pilgrim's Progress. The other, Till We Have Faces, is a reworking of the Cupid/Psyche legend.
Pilgrim's Regress is available in Memorial and College Libraries, call number BV4515 L37. Several copies of Till We Have Faces are available in both locations, call number PZ3 L58534.
Memorial Library has a couple of scholarly studies of these books: Reason and imagination in C.S. Lewis : a study of Till we have faces by Peter J. Schakel, call number PR6023 E926 T5437, and Finding the landlord : a guidebook to C.S. Lewis's Pilgrim's regress by Kathryn Lindskoog, call number PR6023 E926 P535.
The five-year arc of Babylon 5 was a genuine novelty in science-fiction television. Now that the arc has finally reached its close, we will examine the plot twists, character development, and thematic complexity of Babylon 5. Several Tolkien Society regulars are huge B5 fans, so this should be a great discussion!
Discussion of J. R. R. Tolkien's children's story,
edited by Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond.
Discussion of Neil Gaiman's novel, Neverwhere.
This was originally a television serial in the U.K. Neil Gaiman will
be one of the guests at Mad Media Con 5 in Madison (September 25-27).
Discussion of The Truman Show. Kristin
Thompson will provide background on the career of director Peter Weir
(Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, Witness, et al.)
Discussion of the second novel in Philip Pullman’s fantasy series, His Dark Materials.
Discussion focusing on two recent collections of short fiction by Peter S. Beagle: Giant Bones (set in the world of his novel, The Innkeeper’s Song) and The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and Other Odd Acquaintances (a miscellany of essays and stories, some previously published and some new).
Discussion of Tolkien’s unfinished novel (published in Sauron Defeated, vol. 9 in the History of Middle-earth series edited by Christopher Tolkien) that may have begun as a pastiche of the meetings of the Inklings but evolved into something much grander.
Discussion of the oeuvre of Sheri Tepper, who will be guest of honor at WisCon in May.
Barfield’s book, Poetic Diction (1928) had great influence on Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.
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