CBC Radio One: Writers And Company – Sir Arthur C. Clarke

SFFaudio Online Audio

CBC Radio One - Writers And CompanyOn March 31st CBC Radio One’s Writers And Company aired an interview, conducted in November 2000, with Arthur C. Clarke. I somehow missed this episode in the podcast feed (sorry folks). Unfortunately it is no longer in the podcast feed either. Fortunately it is still online. Have a listen |MP3|!

This may be the very best of the many Arthur C. Clarke interviews out there. Clarke talks his youth, Science Fiction, science, Astounding magazine, Meccano, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Eric Frank Russel, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and tons more. Kudos to the CBC and Eleanor Wachtel, as other people have noted, she’ truly is “the best arts interviewer in the business.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

NRO Between The Covers: The History of The Hobbit interview

SFFaudio Online Audio

National Review Online - Between The CoversThe National Review Online‘s Between The Covers program has a fascinating interview with John D. Rateliff who has authored The History of the Hobbit

“the first time that Tolkien had written a whole book-length work of fiction; his earlier pieces were much shorter than The Hobbit. So it was a sort of ambitious undertaking for him. He got ideas, and then as the story went along, he would reject them. Originally, Bilbo would kill the dragon. . . . ”

Have a listen online, the file is in the Flash audio format (SWF) |LISTEN|.

[via The Cimmerian]
Posted by Jesse Willis

Lecture: Joe Haldeman on "The Craft of Science Fiction"

SFFaudio Online Audio

iTunes U iTunes U, is a new section in the iTunes store offering the content of higher education institutions. Lectures and seminars dominate, some video, some audio. A few of the cooler ones that have caught our eyes are up already. The last set is a collection from Seattle Pacific University (a “Christian university of the liberal arts, sciences and professions”) as such these are lectures that look at their subject decidedly Christian POV. For those of you who don’t use iTunes we’ve also tracked down the original sources when we could find them. Either way, listen online or pop into the iTunes store and get U some education!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology “The Craft of Science Fiction”
By Joe Haldeman
iTunes U download or 1 RealAudio file – 1 Hour 47 Minutes – [LECTURE]
University: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Released: Nov. 2006
A lecture by MIT professor (and Science Fiction legend) Joe Haldeman.
Arizona State University “Nano-Ethics through the writing of Science Fiction”
By Rosalyn W. Berne PhD.
iTunes U download or 1 MP3 – 54 Minutes – [LECTURE]
University: Arizona State University
Released: May 2007
Berne is Associate Professor at the University of Virginia.
Seattle Pacific University 4 Tolkien Lectures
By John G. West, Janet Blumberg, Peter Kreeft & Joseph Pearce
iTunes U downloads & 1 Mp3 – Approx. 3 Hours 16 Minutes [LECTURES]
University: Seattle Pacific University
Released: 2001
Lectures included:
Tolkien 1 of 4: “The Lord Of The Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization” by John G. West
Tolkien 2 of 4: “Literary Background of The Lord Of The Rings” by Janet Blumberg
Tolkien 3 of 4: “Wartime Wisdom: Ten Uncommon Insights from The Lord Of The Rings about Evil” by Peter Kreeft |MP3|
Tolkien 4 of 4: “Tolkein, Man and Myth”* by Joseph Pearce

* Please note, Tolkien’s name is spelled wrong in the 4th lecture’s title, be sure to enter the title as it appear above in the iTunes search.

Review of Rings, Swords, And Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature by Michael D.C. Drout

SFFaudio Review

Modern Scholar - Rings, Sword, Monsters Rings, Swords, And Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature
Lectures by Professor Michael D.C. Drout
7 CDs & Book – 7 Hours 51 Minutes [LECTURES]
Publisher: Recorded Books LLC / The Modern Scholar
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1419386956
Themes: / Non-Fiction / Lectures / Fantasy / J.R.R. Tolkien / Middle Earth / Beowulf / Children’s Fantasy / Arthurian Legend / Magic Realism / World Building /

“It used to be that fantasy was a boy’s genre and that was clear even back through the 80s and 90s, that 90% of your audience for fantasy literature, 90% of your audience for Tolkien was male. That is no longer the case. When I give lecturings [sic] at gatherings of Tolkien enthusiasts the crowd is easily 50-50 male female and often times more female than male – though I will have to say that many of the women in the crowd are wearing elf-princess costumes – I’m not really sure what that means.”
-Lecture 13: Arthurian Fantasy (on the ‘Marion Zimmer Bradley effect’)

Most of this lecture series is concerned with Tolkien. Drout explains what influenced Tolkien’s fiction, how his work impacted Fantasy and how later writers reacted to and imitated him. A full five of the 14 lectures are on Tolkien’s books proper, with another four on what influenced him, and who he influenced. The scholarship here is absolutely engrossing, hearing Drout tease out details from names, the structure and the philosophy of Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion will delight any Tolkien fan. At one point in Lecture 4 Drout explains the sources for the names of both the 13 dwarves of The Hobbit and Gandalf too. According to Drout, Gandalf was originally named “Bladderthin.” But this isn’t just scholarship here, Drout is very much a critic, a fan of the works he studies. He gives a critical examination of plots, themes and the worlds of each of the Fantasy novels he talks about. Drout dissects Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, calling them possibly the best Fantasy since Tolkien, on the one hand and also shows what doesn’t quite work in them. Drout, like Tolkien is an scholar of Anglo-Saxon so there is also plenty of talk about Beowulf and the impact it had on Tolkien. In fact, central to many of his arguments is the linguistic background each work of Fantasy makes use of. Tolkien works so well, argues Drout, in part, because it all hangs linguistically together. Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, which Drout thinks immensely prominent in post-Tolkien Fantasy, doesn’t have a cohesive linguistic bedrock, and that hurts the series – which he thinks is otherwise one of the best realized “secondary worlds” created. Whatever it is Drout talks about, he backs up his critical opinion. Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he’s read them, and has dissected the plots to show how as time has gone by and Brooks has written more, he’s come to have something of his own voice, and not just stayed the pale Tolkien imitator he started as.

The lectures on Tolkien inevitably lead to the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Drout gives them their due, and shows why some of it works and some of it doesn’t. Arthurian Fantasy, which predates Tolkien, seems to have run a parallel course to “secondary world” fantasy literature. After hearing Lecture 13 you’ll come away with a desire to find a copy of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and Mary Stewart’s Merlin series. My own opinion is that Drout gives too much credit to J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter novels, he talks about her writing for about 8 minutes. In fairness it would probably not be possible to talk about Children’s Fantasy literature without mentioning her popular series. But on the other hand there are many different kinds of Fantasy that Drout doesn’t talk about at all. I wonder why Neil Gaiman isn’t mentioned. What of Robert E. Howard? And why almost no talk about short stories? James Powell’s A Dirge For Clowntown needs some attention! The only solution is for Recorded Books to go back and ask for more from this professor. Call it Gods, Barbarians, and Clowns: Further Explorations Of Fantasy Literature or something. Until then I’ll be working on my Cimmerian-clown costume.

Posted by Jesse Willis

J.R.R. Tolkien Reading and Singing From The Lord Of The Rings

SFSignal.com has found a tasty Tolkien treat on the Record Brother Blog: “J.R.R. Tolkien reading and Singing his Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers/The Return of the King” This was originally released by Caedmon on LP in 1975 but was actually recorded by George Sayer, Tolkien’s good friend, in 1952, prior to the trilogy’s publication.

J.R.R. Tolkien Reading And Singing His Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Return Of The KingJ.R.R. Tolkien Reading And Singing His Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, The Return Of The King
By J.R.R. Tolkien; Read and sung by J.R.R. Tolkien
2 Mp3 Files (from an original 33 ? LP Record) – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Caedmon
Published: 1975
Product #: TC-1478

Record Brother has asked that syndicators only point to his blog post rather than link to the files directly, so GO HERE, to get the goodness.

Side 1: The Two Towers excerpts
Side 2: The Return of the King

“On side one we have Sam and Gollum discussing stewed rabbit (and fish and chips!). Tolkien is better by far reading the tales and songs of Treebeard and the Ents and expressing his (Tolkien’s no less than Fangorn’s) love of trees and sorrow at their destruction. But for me side two is the stronger, with a powerful and moving account of the Muster and Ride of the Rohirrim. Close your eyes and you are there with Merry amongst Théoden’s host on the long ride to Mundburg.”

posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Pearl and Sir Orfeo by J.R.R. Tolkien

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audio - Pearl and Sir Orfeo by J.R.R.TolkienPearl and Sir Orfeo
By J.R.R. Tolkien; Read by Terry Jones
2 cassettes – 2 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0001053744
Themes: / Fantasy / Mythology /

Pearl, the longer of the two stories in this collection, is an elegy for the poet’s baby daughter, told in alliterative verse. It tells the story of a man who goes into a graveyard to mourn the death of his baby daughter, whom he has lost like a pearl that slipped through his fingers into the grass. Worn out by his grief, he falls asleep and has a glorious vision of another, symbolically bejeweled, world, in which he meets his daughter again and discovers what has happened to her.

Sir Orfeo, a Celtic version of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, complete with a twist happy ending. The moving story of a love so strong it was
able to overcome death itself.

*ALSO INCLUDED* ~Two Essays by J.R.R. Tolkien
Two introduction and background essays by the master himself, J.R.R. Tolkien regarding the translation and preservation of the anonymous fourteenth-century poems upon which these stories are based.

Best known for his work with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Terry Jones lends his signature voice and style to these two wonderful translations by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jones, is well equipped to flesh out the characters and voices of Tolkien’s texts. The combination of the lilting verse and the audio medium bringing the absolutely right feel to the presentation. This audiobook makes it quite clear that heroic tales were meant to be heard rather than read. Jones uses his knowledge, he’s actually a scholar of medieval literature himself, for a particularly effective reading, he sets just the right tone to the musical quality of the verse. Also of interest to
Tolkien fanatics are the unmentioned (on the packaging) essays and introductions by Tolkien for both these tales, a fantastic resource for teachers and students studying Toklien and comparative mythology. One caveat – the accessibility of this audiobook’s text is high school or above and not at all suitable for young children.

Posted by Jesse Willis