Monday, May 16, 2011

The Klieg Lights of Imaginative Failure Edition

There has always been something unidentifiable about The Lord of the Rings that I found less and less as I read other fantasy novels. It was something that Ursula LeGuin's novels maintained but I did not feel in David Eddings The Belgariad series or The Sword of Shanara (forgive me, honey!) .

I abandoned fantasy and science fiction when I sensed that the author's were trying to impress me with the little world they had created. Long monologues on the origins of this or that feature choke the narratives and expose all to the harsh klieg lights of imaginative failure. RingWorld seems just too impressed with itself. Ender's Game is so contrived that I could never place higher than the lesser original Star Trek episodes. To me these genres, if they could anymore be considered separate, had played themselves out.

Expressing the depth of my feelings on the subject has been difficult. Certainly in J R R Tolkien, one never loses the sense that there is so much more than you are being shown. In LOTR, he resists explaining every little detail of, say, the origins of the barrow downs or Tom Bombadil. Middle Earth keeps her secrets. Each wondrous revelation carries within it further mysteries that we can smell but will never be allowed to taste.

Now, in a wonderful piece in Slate relating the stages of grief for a Star Wars Fan,
Star Wars, in its heyday, seemed like more than just a bunch of movies. As Mike Leigh would have said, the characters really did go around corners: When a bit-player like Admiral Ackbar left the screen, you could believe that he was going off to have his own adventure. Only the original series could do that for me.

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