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Lord of the Rings

When I was a young'un, I read and loved "The Hobbit." At some point after that, I discovered that Tolkien had written a lot of other things, and went looking for them. Someone told me that I had to read "The Silmarillion" before starting "The Lord of the Rings," and I dutifully did as told, getting perhaps 50 pages into that 1000-page expositionary lump. As you can imagine, I never did read "The Lord of the Rings," though I loved the movies.

Flash forward to last week, when I'm coming home from Seattle and my grading for class is done... nothing to do on the plane. Kij offered several books to read en route, and I picked "The Fellowhip of the Ring." OMG is that a great book! I'm loving it! I got about 140 pages into it just on the airplane, and did a bit more reading last night after the parents left for Omaha.

(Yes, it was another weekend of carport-building: Now almost done! All the structure is in place, the construction is reinforced to withstand anything short of a North Korean nuke, and the roof is tar-papered... just needs shingling to be complete. Was a great visit with them, too, including dinner out at La Familia, outside of which we listened for a minute to a live band taking up the street; Saturday afternoon at the RenFaire with lunch there - largest crowd I've ever seen there - and "dinner" at The Smoker [go next week if you haven't yet]; Sunday breakfast at the Slow Ride Saloon to entertain my Harley-lovin' 'rents; then building all day Sunday after the brief Saturday-morning building stint.)

A thought occurred to me recently: If I'd read "The Lord of the Rings" when I was a kid, I suspect I might have written a lot of fantasy rather than mostly hard-SF. Interesting, the things that make us who we are, and the things that could have made us different people.

Best,
Chris

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
jaylake
Oct. 9th, 2006 03:37 pm (UTC)
The first two works of full length general interest spec fic I read (ie, not YA or juvenile) were Lord of the Rings and Dhalgren, in about 5th grade. If that doesn't tell you everything you need to know about me...
mckitterick
Oct. 9th, 2006 03:44 pm (UTC)
That's great! Hmmm, my first adult SF... I think that would have been the first four "Dune" books, then perhaps the "Foundation" series? Hard to say, really, because mostly I read short fiction anthos back then. Which is how I came to become a fan of Jim Gunn's "Road to SF" collections.
jaylake
Oct. 9th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)
Dune and Foundation (etc.) were early reads for me, too, by 8th grade or so as I recall...still love Dune so much.

But the book for me was and always will be Shadow of the Torturer (etc.), by Gene Wolfe.
mckitterick
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:09 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I started with "The Urth of the New Sun," thinking it was a stand-alone, and only after finishing it did I discover it was the 4th (5th?) in the series. LOVED it, and that's how I got hooked on Wolfe. Made me wish I'd written it, and inspired some science-fantasy writing in me.
kijjohnson
Oct. 9th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
This is a great question. Now I'm trying to figure out why I enbded up writing fantasy instead of SF. I certainly read them both as a child, and enjoyed them about equally. And properly crafted fantasy settings/ideas are as rigorous as SF, so it's not that it was easier.

So it probably was a book or a series that tipped me toward fantasy. I do know that I write the fantasy I do write because of two books, Watership Down and The Silk Road, but they both came out after I was inclined toward fantasy anyway. LotR? I did read it every year for years, but my memories of reading the Sylvia Louise Engdahl books or Perilous Gard are much more vivid.

A really good question.

Yay on the carport! This must be pretty cool. And really nice to see Linda and Mel so much.
stefbester
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
I LOVED Watership Down. One of my favorite books. One of the animated movies that freaked me out and fascinated me as a child.
mckitterick
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC)
Yes! "Watership Down" is also one of my favorites, and something I read before I read much "general interest spec fic," as Jay said.
arian1
Oct. 9th, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC)
You never read "Lord of the Rings"??!?

Give me that Geek Membership card. You're on double secret probation mister.

mckitterick
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
Hey, I never claimed to be a knower of fantasy! It's a recent discovery for me that fantasy can be as satisfying as SF.
stefbester
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:00 pm (UTC)
huh?
What?! Even I've read LotR! And I consider myself very poorly read. Maybe it was because my brother read them, so I read them too. I'm glad you're reading at least the first book. I'm guessing that you'll end up reading the rest if you like this one so much. They're great.
mckitterick
Oct. 9th, 2006 07:13 pm (UTC)
Re: huh?
Yeah, as I said to Arian, I just was never exposed to good fantasy (except, of course, "Watership Down") at an impressionable age, whereas I found a lot of great SF in anthologies and magazines.
(Deleted comment)
nous_athanatos
Oct. 9th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
My older brother read the Hobbit to me when I was 10 and I read the rest of LotR soon after and re-read it several times before high school. I didn't manage the conquer the Silmarillion until college.

I think I discovered SF about the same time, though mostly in YA format -- I especially remember Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky, the Tom Swift Jr. books, and Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet series.

I think my first adult SF read must have been Philip K. Dick's Counter-Clock World or Van Vogt's The Weapon Shops of Isher, both of which were slimmer volumes than the copy of Dune on my brother's bookshelf.

I've alternated between SF and Fantasy all along. Which I guess explains why I'm always looking to combine my interests in science and technology with my interest in medievalism, which makes for some very strange papers.
justaqt
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:24 am (UTC)
scrap the flimsy plastic idea boys, we need some REAL roofing
lol
just needs shingling to be complete

how did I know it'd end up being built ford tough?
mckitterick
Oct. 10th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
Re: scrap the flimsy plastic idea boys, we need some REAL roofing
Aw, yeah: More Power!
emessar
Oct. 10th, 2006 04:42 am (UTC)
Who the hell told you you had to read the Silmarilian first? My god, I'm not convinced that anyone has ever completely read that book. I know I haven't and I'm a Tolkien fan ...
chronovore
Oct. 10th, 2006 08:25 am (UTC)
Wow, someone really hosed you on the Simarllionion tip. Those books are... not really even books, except in the same sense that the phone book is a book.

Even so, I can't agree that Fellowship is good. The Hobbit is fabulous, but LotR is all about walking around and eating, and sometimes some unfortunate singing, strewn with copious amounts of running away.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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