The SFFaudio Podcast #313 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa continue their journey through The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien with a discussion of Book II “The Ring Goes South” (aka the second half of The Fellowship Of The Ring).
Talked about on today’s show:
Many meetings; Elrond’s powerpoint at the council; Bilbo’s demands for lunch (after missing his first and second breakfasts); the science fiction info dump; Council of Elrond’s unfeasibility in today’s publishing world; council is a series of chained short stories; a whole bunch of new characters; the rhythm and pacing of Tolkien’s storytelling; the protracted timespan of the novel; crotchety Bilbo; Caradhras and the “jaw-cracker” Dwarven tongue; Sam as the mediating character; Bill the Pony; dreams and The Wizard of Oz; the inevitability of Frodo’s quest; the dreams of Boromir and Faramir; Boromir has something to prove; Boromir’s complex relationship with Aragorn; the one walkers set against the nine riders; Boromir is Gondor-centric and doesn’t see the big picture; nuclear weapons as a modern analogy for the ring, Mordor = Nazi Germany, Gondor = Russia, Canada = The Shire; Canada’s refusal of nuclear power; the importance of choices in the story; Saruman of Many Colors; “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom”; subverting readers’ expectations; “I will take the ring, though I do not know the way”; the ring and addiction; Galadriel’s long battle with temptation; Caradhras again, the anthropomorphic mountain; The Mirror of Galadriel and the choice to look; Teleport = teleportation + pornography; Tolkien’s letters, and Galadriel is not the Virgin Mary; Galadriel’s soul gaze–Boromir’s response: “this is bullshit!”; Frodo’s relationship with Galadriel as fellow ring bearers; more dubious analogies: Gandalf (or Isildur) as Eisenhower; the raw deal the Stewards get in Minas Tirith; Sam’s always excluded from the meetings; Rivendell and Lothlórien’s competing bed and breakfasts; Galadriel’s gifts; The Lord of the Rings as modernized Viking sagas; Babylon 5 is Lord of the Rings in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!; Jesse has seen everything; the Moria dungeon crawl; the Lovecraftian tentacle monster; how did Gollum enter Moria; Dungeons and Dragons vs. the Tolkien estate; wolves; the reappearance of “chance”; Frodo’s perilous sturgeon Amon Hen; repeated references to star- and moonlight; the strange nature of Elf magic; a digression about bears, bees, honey, and wolves; the Elven cloaks vs. Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak; the nature of the other rings; race conflicts in Middle Earth and the fairness of blindfolds; the film’s vulgarization of dwarves; the poetry of Middle Earth; the complexities of a multilingual world; “nom de traveling”; black swans on the Great River; Jesse is a “philosophically-trained Elvish dude”; white swans and symbolic logic; not many big predators in Middle Earth; Romantic ideas of nature; vegetarians and vegans in Middle Earth; the slippery slope of vegetarian logic; orcs in Lord of the Rings vs. goblins in The Hobbit; George MacDonald’s Goblin Princess; the etiology of the orcs; Sauron’s exploits in Númenor (read: Atlantis or Ultima Thule) before the ring; Robert E. Howard’s Conan is an Atlantean; multiple readings; what are the rest of the dwarves up to?; bosses and minibuses in Moria; Legolas, Gimli, and intercultural stress in Middle Earth; looking forward to The Two Towers; Maissa is still on board as a first-time reader.
The SFFaudio Podcast #309 – Jesse, Jenny, and Tamahome talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.
Talked about on today’s show: Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Magics, An Unwelcome Quest (Magic 2.0 #3) by Scott Meyer, Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson, The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble, Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia, Sad puppy Hugo campaign, Unseen (Unborn #2) by Amber Lynn Natusch, just read the first sentence, Claimed (Servants of Fate #2) by Sarah Fine, Hellbender (Fangborn #3) by Dana Cameron, Kate Rudd and Paul Rudd?, The Syndrome: The Kingdom Keepers Collection by Ridley Pearson
Alternative History, 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies (Ring of Fire #15) by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon
Virtual Reality/Cyberpunk, Mountain Of Black Glass (Otherland, Book 3) and Sea Of Silver Light (Otherland, Book 4) by Tad Williams, these are chunky books
Military Sci-Fi, Gemini Cell (Shadow Ops #4) by Myke Cole, the Jump Universe and the Vicky Peterwald seriesby Mike Shepherd, not narrated by Matthew McConaughey, Tarnished Knight (The Lost Stars #1) by Jack Campbell, pronunciations, a new #1, Time Patrol (Nightstalkers #4) by Bob Mayer, Heir to the Jedi: Star Wars by Kevin Hearne, King of Thieves (Odyssey One: Star Rogue) by Evan Currie
Epic/Traditional Fantasy, Black God’s Kiss by C. L. Moore, she’s a woman, The Black Fire Concerto (The Stormlight Symphony #1) by Mike Allen, “ensorcelled” gains popularity, A Blink of the Screen: Collected Shorter Fiction by Terry Pratchett, Hypnogoria (Jim Moon) podcast covered Terry Pratchett, Toll the Hounds (Malazan Book of the Fallen #8) by Steven Erikson, the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens and (later) the Immortals Quartet series by Tamora Pierce, Full Cast Audio is sort of audio drama, The Light Princess by George MacDonald, The Keeper (Watersmeet #3) by Ellen Jensen Abbott
Space Sci-Fi, Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov, vs I, Robot, short story highlights, The Fortress in Orion (Dead Enders #1) by Mike Resnick, Under Different Stars (The Kricket #1) and Sea of Stars (The Kricket Series #2) by Amy A. Bartol, Old Venus edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, we can pronounce “Dozois”, Venus as it should be, S.M. Stirling
Zombies, Apocalypse, Dystopia, Steampunk, Horror (Grab bag!), The Sky-Riders by Paul Dellinger and Mike Allen, Pinkerton (detective agency), Islands of Rage & Hope (Black Tide Rising #3) by John Ringo, Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson, The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant by Drew Hayes, sexy title, The Mechanical: The Alchemy Wars #1 by Ian Tregillis, clockpunk?, The Fire Sermon (Fire Sermon #1) by Francesca Haig, twins, Cheech and Chong, The Intruder and The Hunger, and Other Stories by Charles Beaumont, Untouched by Human Hands by Robert Sheckley, readalong by Sffaudio (no Tama), Fury by Henry Kuttner, old Venus is back
Related Non-fiction, Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, part of the Guardian Essential Library, apples, The Interstellar Age by Jim Bell, read by the author, Scott will review, slingshot effect, back seat drivers, The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok translated from the Old Norse by Ben Waggoner, Vikings
It’s kind of a shame that this LibriVox edition of At The Back Of The North Wind is not wholly narrated by Meredith Hughes. She only reads the first three chapters. They are wonderfully narrated.
I happened across this audiobook whilst researching a stack of old hardcovers that I inherited from my grandmother. I must have read it at some point as the story is entirely familiar. But now, looking at it with adult eyes, the ideological argument it makes seems more quaint than persuasive. See, At The Back Of The North Wind is a theodicean Fantasy. It uses the personification of the “North Wind” to explain why evil exists in the world. As such it belongs on the bookshelf between two of C.S. Lewis’ books, The Problem Of Pain and The Lion,The Witch And The Wardrobe.
If you’re looking to get into some late 19th allegorical Fantasy, you probably couldn’t do much better than this wholesome story of what is essentially a gray witch and the good little boy she takes on a series of adventures.
Here’s the color plate from my paperbook edition (it depicts the Diamond, the little boy protagonist, and the North Wind (in the guise of a little girl):
At The Back Of The North Wind
By George MacDonald; Read by various 38 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 8 Hours 57 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 24, 2007 Diamond the little boy sleeps in the hayloft above the stall of Diamond the horse. The loft is snug but drafty, and after plugging a hole in the wall one night, Diamond is scolded by the beautiful Lady North Wind for closing her “window” into his room. Thus begins their friendship. Spirited away by the North Wind, Diamond embarks on a series of adventures both near to and far from his home. His pure heart and his simple, loving spirit guide him as he journeys to the back of the North Wind and home again. Originally serialized in 1868, beginning with the first issue of “Good Words For The Young” magazine.
Focus On The Family, an “American evangelical tax-exempt non-profit organization” has been creating audio dramas that I’ve been completely ignoring (probably unjustly) for years.
It looks like they’ve got some terrific source material and some solid acting expertize for their most recent project, an audio dramatization of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. More details |HERE|.
It may be that The Screwtape Letters was written as a response to Letters From The Earth by Mark Twain – certainly the two books take the epistolary form and are set in a Bangsian Fantasy world. Twain’s take was skeptical athiesm, Lewis’s was was rational apologetic. Call and response?
“What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?”
Here was C.S. Lewis’s list:
1. Phantastes, A Faerie Romance For Men And Women by George MacDonald |GUTENBERG|
2. The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton |GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA|
3. The Aeneid by Virgil |LibriVox AUDIOBOOK|
4. The Temple: Sacred Poems And Private Ejaculations by George Herbert
5. The Prelude; Or, Growth Of A Poet’s Mind by William Wordsworth
6. The Idea Of The Holy by Rudolf Otto
7. The Consolation Of Philosophy by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius |GUTENBERG|
8. Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell |GUTENBERG (ABRIDGED VERSION)|
9. Descent Into Hell by Charles Williams |GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA|
10. Theism and Humanism by Arthur James Balfour
Given Lewis’ stuggle with both Christiainity and atheism is it not curious that The Bible doesn’t show up on that list? Probably not. It may have been #11.
Though no longer well known, his works (particularly his fairy tales and fantasy novels) have inspired admiration in such notables as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L’Engle. The Shadows is one such fairy tale. The strange Shadows spend their existence casting themselves upon the walls and forming pictures of various sorts: mimicking evil actions of those who have done wrong in the hopes of causing their repentance, playing a comic dumb-show to inspire a playwright and dancing to inspire a musician, nudging a little girl to comfort her grandfather, and playing with a sick little boy as he waits for his mother to return home. For all that their forms are black, their hearts are of the whitest.
This fantasy for younger readers/listeners has a couple of things in its favor for adults other than just the historical interest in its author. The reader here, Catherine Eastman, does an outstanding job and the story is quite imaginative. Highly recommended for younger listeners and not too bad for adults either.