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Well, let me begin by making two points.

First, I am traveling right now and have very limited access to the Internet. My responses to any particular discussions will be few and far between.

Secondly, I was misquoted (inexcusably, in my opinion, since the misquoting occurred in the same thread where I posted the following remark):

Quote:While I am all for Tolkien banner waving, I think anyone who has read the older fantasy/pulp authors from Circa 1890 - 1940 understands that Tolkien was only one of several major influences on modern fantasy. His chief contribution to today's flood of fantasy novels seems to be the establishment of the principle of always including a cute and cuddly character in the story -- and, of course, that was something children's authors had been doing for many years before Tolkien was published.

It doesn't matter to me who agrees or disagrees with my statement. I have, unfortunately, been misquoted (and flamed/blamed/claimed for such misquotations) many times through the years.

This time, someone misread or misrepresented "his chief contribution....seems to be...." as "his ONLY contribution".

Misreading and misquoting (by accident) are not sins, they are forgiveable and generally correctible mistakes, unless there is true animosity/hostility behind the misquoting. I'm not going to form any opinions about what happened or why. The forum moderators have taken action and what's done is done.

Anyway, I don't mind if people express some sort of disagreement with me in THIS thread. Just keep your ideas of my preferences to yourselves. Don't try to analyze me. Don't argue about who is the most well-known or best qualified fan of LoTR or Tolkien. Don't worry about who thinks they know the books best.

Just share your opinions of Tolkien's contributions to fantasy. I have read a great deal of Tolkien criticism through the years. The impression of his contribution to modern fantasy seems to have grown in magnitude as the years have moved on. Perhaps that is because fewer people are familiar with Tolkien's acknowledged sources (such as for the Orcs/Goblins he borrowed from an older children's author), or perhaps that is because his impact on modern fantasy writers has grown through the years, or perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between the extremes.

Certainly anyone who has a first edition of TSR's Advanced Dungeons and Dragons can look up all THEIR acknowledged sources (and that includes Tolkien and Fritz Leiber, whose trademarked/copyrighted properties were excised from TSR's books after legal action was taken). In my opinion, TSR has had a far greater impact on the majority of American fantasy over the past 20 years, both through its influence in forming gamer and reader impressions of what constitutes fantasy and through its cultivation of a large group of (sometimes very talented) writers, than J.R.R. Tolkien.

The "cute and cuddly" influence is not something I dreamed up. It's a concept I have discussed with a number of people who have longtime professional experience in the science fiction and fantasy genres. That was actually THEIR opinion, and they persuaded me that it was probably Tolkien's chief contribution to "today's flood of fantasy novels".

What constitutes "modern fantasy" is, in itself, an interesting topic. It may not be wholly appropriate for this forum, but at least two of the Inklings (Tolkien and Lewis) probably had a considerable influence on many of today's English-language writers. My opinion of what constitutes "modern fantasy" probably differs from many other peoples' opinions. I originally only asked for clarification before I could respond with an opinion on a remark someone else had made.
The thread has been removed, but I doubt that anyone misquoted anyone else intentionally.
Why don't we continue to enjoy discussing the works of Tolkien and the Inklings and let bygones be bygones?
Just a suggestion...
I also posted on that thread, and said that cute and cuddly creatures scarce abounded in the "modern fantasy" I was familiar with. Further research has revealed two such fantasies (the Redwall series is one) that purport to be about animals, but these are scarcely indicative of the whole, and seem to be for children. A friend mentioned Rumblebelly the Halfling in Salvatore's Drizzt novels, but I find him more selfish and a butt for jokes than cuddly. In all of G.R.R. Martin's work, there is scarcely a likeable character, much less cuddly, and the same goes for Michael Moorcock, Stephen Donaldson, and the guy that wrote The New Sun series. Fritz Lieber's characters are likeable rogues, oozing charisma, but, cuddly, no. Nor even cute. Roger Zelazny has that dog in A Night in the Lonesome October, but that was a late, aberrant work, which I for one like a great deal. Awaiting examples.
Sir Attalus, are you a long-lost brother, perhaps? Again, I find myself in agreement with you.

Cute? Cuddly? I also am at a loss to remember anything cute or cuddly in Tolkien or any of the other fantasy authors I have read. Of course, everyone has their own imagination which subjects input to interpretation. Others may find things "cute" or "cuddly" which I do not: Dragons, for example? Although, perhaps my own imagination and perspective is somewhat darker than that of others'?

Okay, okay, maybe the Old Thrush was cute. I like birds!

Re: Dungeons and Dragons. It seemed to me at the time it first appeared (in the '70s, I seem to remember?), that it was the generation just a wee bit younger than mine that had embraced that phenomenon. And, as far as I knew, its invention was somewhat based on the popularity of Tolkien's works! But I can certainly accept that its inventors also borrowed somewhat from Leiber.
LOL, Ann, I have a sister, but she is very uninterested in Tolkien. As Michael said, TSR is very indebted both to Fritz Lieber's Grey Mouser and the inimitable thieves of Lord Dunsany (*raises a reluctant glass to Nuth*) for their Thief class. To me, "cuddly" is the opposite of what Fantasy is all about. When I think of the Elves, I think of Galadriel, beautiful and perilous. Wizards, any number, with Gandalf and Saruman leading the pack. "Meddle not in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." Warriors: Fafhrd, Conan, and Elric of Melibone: good, neutral, and evil. The alleged "cuddliness" of the Hobits seems to me to rest on their "diminutive stature," bare feet, and fondness for good food, ale, and smoke. I feel this is an accident of how LOTR grew, as a sequel of The Hobbit. JRRT had already made Bilbo fit to be the subject of a children's book, but I feel that he shed many of his child-friendly characteristics, by his cruel jokes, his self-centeredness, and, above all, that scene at Rivendale when he felt again the lust of the Ring. Frodo is not the only one who felt an impulse to strike him. To me, the genius of placing Hobbits in LOTR is their ability to serve as a "fish out of water," to be the Everyman observer and reporter of these strange and frightening events. If we had been there, with our 21st century bodies and lack of martial skills, wouldn't we felt like Hobbits? I know I would.
And, in reference to The Hobbit, that gawdawful animated rendering of it (in the '60s?) could, I guess, have given that "cuddly" impression to one who had not read the book. (I really really HATED that artwork, but do not know who the cartoon artist was.)
Some examples of "cute and cuddly":

Fire Lizards (Dragonrider books).

Rabbits (Watership Down).

Any critter in a Disney movie.

Pugboos (Arthur H. Landis' Camelot books).

TSR Gnomes.

Pretty much any talking/thinking animal (such as the riding beasts in The Circle Weave online comic strip).

Any short "underdog" creature/being.

The phrase "cute and cuddly" may be a bit condescending, but it refers to anything which may be a caricature or parody or contra-archetype for the typical action/adventure hero stereotypes. "Cute and cuddly" refers to just about anything which is not "big and beefy".
All right, Michael, I will grant you that the Fire-Lizards of Anne McCaffrey's Pern are "cuddly," but they were not present in the first two novels, and they continue as peripheral creatures to the Dragons. I will further argue that Fiver and Hazel are only "cuddly" from the point of view of the nine-year old who has them in her hutch, to be caressed and coddled at will. From their own point of view, they are as endangered and threatening as any of Arthur's Knights. I challenge you to cite an example from Watership Down where they are anything but hunted fugitives. Indeed, one of Adams' primary purposes seems to me to be to remove rabbits from the "cute and cuddly" character and place them into the endangered and heroic.
It is not how the author presents them, but the fact that the story includes them. I must admit to having dredged up that reference (about Tolkien's chief contribution -- in the opinion of some) from memory, and the old conversations are slowly coming back to me.

It makes sense, from a certain point of view (as Jedi Master Ghan-Buri-Jinn might say).
Pern's fire lizards are supposed to be cute and cuddly; they are pets and most people out, prefer that their childrens' pets possess these qualities. As Attalus points out, the fire lizards belong to children and they are in no way central to the Pern series. Were the dragons cute or cuddly, I would concede the point.
I also fail to to see any overt LOTR influence in McCaffrey's work. For on thing, Pern is a cross-genre novel and is technically sci-fi; the human inhabitants arrive via spaceship and the dragons are Pern's native sentient inhabitants and the two species form a symbiotic relationship. One of McCaffrey's great skills is in combining genres to create books which are satifying and enjoyable to readers of both.
The Pern series in no way resembles LOTR in regards to the beings which inhabit Pern, the plot is in no way reminiscent of LOTR and both the structure and style of the series differ.
It wouldn't surprise me to know that Ms. McCaffrey read LOTR, deeply enjoyed it and that the activity inspired her to combine fantasy with sci-fi. On the other hand, her publishers or her agent, noticing the growing popularity of fantasy, may simply have said to her, "Hey, Ann. Why don't you add some fantasy to your sci-fi-romances? A novel like that would sell like gangbusters!" and she said, "Well, okay; that sounds like a good idea. I'll see what I can do with it! When do you need the first fifty pages and the outline?"
Until I can find a quote from Ms. McCaffrey on the subject, I'm inclined to favor the second explanation, which would explain why I had to wait ten years to discover how Dinosaur Planet turned out.
The works of Stephen King show far more obvious LOTR influence than do the works of Ann McCaffrey and he is primarily a dark fantasy author.
Actually, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger,, and Dragondrums are primarily about Fire Lizards; but their focus is different, aimed at teenagers, IMHO. You are correct that they are properly Sci-Fi, to the grave defect of the latter novels in the series. Patricia McKillip seems more directly affected by JRRT, as her Riddle-Master novels involve a world with its own history and esoteric lore, with the sense that there is A Lot More that the author does not touch on. David Eddings is obviously influenced by JRRT, but unfortunately carried on beyond the poit where his invention obviously failed.
Tolkien's influence on authors of the 1960s/1970s generation need not be as blatant as the use of trolls, orcs, and sword-wielding warriors. Writers like McCaffrey are correctly deemed contemporaries of Tolkien's. But one must ask if they would have been as successful with their stories if Tolkien had not forged the way. The same question is equally true for authors like Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Heinlein, and a few others who were publishing before the 1960s.

Each of the authors who today would be considered Grand Masters or classic SF pioneers contributed something in some way to "modern fantasy". What, though, is "modern fantasy"? Are we talking only about fantasy written since 1980? Fantasy written since 1960? Fantasy written since 1990?

The decades are marked with "styles". Dark Fantasy emerged as something different from the "dark" fantasy stories which were published in the early- to mid-1970s (I am thinking of books by writers such as Lin Carter and John Jakes, where the heroes were more like anto-heroes and the worlds they moved in were contrived more like science fiction worlds, and the stories often led to the heroes suffering major setbacks, such as losing loved ones, being defeated by great evil beings, etc.).

Pop Fantasy is a good name for the TSR-inspired adventure gaming novels. TSR created that genre (or, more properly, Gary Gygax did -- I think his Gord the Rogue books were the first such series).

Tolkien had a lot of influences on various aspects of Fantasy writing. But the point made to me some years ago is that he paved the way for stories where some diminutive critter or person, who is well-received by the readers (that is, the character is upbeat and readers become emotionally attached to it/supportive of it), becomes directly involved in the main storyline.

McCaffrey's White Dragon offers an example of a "cute and cuddly" character in the dragon Ruth (introduced in the previous Dragonrider novel, if I recall correctly). But even the first book, Dragonriders of Pern, had the old Watchwher (hope I am using the right term) and the book's chief protagonist (or one of the two) was the diminutive Lessa, a relatively small woman who became F'Lar's mate/companion and co-leader of Pern.

Contrast the sympathetic way McCaffrey portrays Lessa, Ruth, even the old Watchwher (whose death is an extremely touching scene, in my opinion) with, say, one of the secondary characters in a Michael Moorcock book -- especially the Elric books (which are the Moorcock stories with which I am most familiar). There ain't nothing cute and cuddly in a Moorcock story.

"Cute and cuddly" doesn't mean the character is a hairy little teddy bear type of thing. It's something which appeals to a reader's inner sympathetic instincts. The character evokes some sort of resonance in the reader (or, most readers) and is generally warmly portrayed.

Professional educators might associate this type of character with a "warm fuzzy", a sort of reward handed out to students who do the right thing. Readers who sympathize with the cute and cuddly characters (whether people or animals) are "rewarded" for their interest and enjoyment by the general preseveration of those characters. They are almost never killed off and usually have acceptable if not entirely happy endings.

I don't know how the Jaxom/Ruth stories are wrapped up (I stopped reading the Dragonrider books, to be honest), but in all the stories I did read, their plotlines always ended in an upbeat manner. The same is true for Lessa. They experience grief, but they are generally treated better than, say, Fax (Jaxom's father) or any of the other "bad guys".

In general, Tolkien opened doors through which other authors have walked. They wandered in their own directions, but Tolkien got them through the doors first. The "cute and cuddly" factor, however you define it or describe it, is attributed by some people to Tolkien -- there really wasn't anything like it in the Fantasy genre prior to the publication of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

That is all I was saying.
Forgive me, Michael, for using a term and forgeting to to define it: by "dark fantasy" I meant the horror genre. I'll use "horror" when speaking of that genre the future and adopt your definition of dark fantasy while posting in this forum.
I think the opposite is true. The sucess of Ballantine Books and of authors such as Andre Norton, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke is more likely to have convinced LOTR's American publishers to take a chance on LOTR, rather than the other way around.
I borrowed my bother's copy of Heinlein's The Green Hills of Earth from his room previous to 1960 and was hooked. Shortly afterwards, I snagged his copy of The Wasp by Eric Frank Russell. Then I began buying my own copies. My first Andre Norton novel was Moon of Three Rings. I was quite young, but I knew right away that Lucky Starr beat Tom Swift, Jr. hands down.
Although I purchased many science fiction novels from a bookstore, many of them I got at the local drugstore. Science fiction novels and short stories were so popular that I could buy three new titles a week from that drugstore alone.
What was conspicuously missing from both the bookstore and the drugstore were any fantasy titles written for adults, with the exception of The Tarzan books and T.H. White's King Arthur books.
By the time LOTR came out, I had read at least fifteen Andre Norton novels.
Ann McCaffrey, who, as you've pointed out, can be considered a contemporary of Tolkien's, was quite popular long before starting her Pern series. I agree with you that LOTR helped Pern's popularity in a general way, as it did all fantasy novels published later. However, she'd have continued to produce a large output of reasonably sci-fi novels had she never written a Pern book and her Ship Who Sang series (co-authored by other writers) is nearly as popular as her Pern books, judging by my inability to ever find copies from either on my library's shelves.
Both her sci-fi and her Pern crossover series owe nothing to Tolkien in, style, structure or plotting; indeed, her style is essentually the same in both.
If by "influence" you mean that the success of LOTR caused publishers and readers everywhere to jump on Tolkien's bandwagon, I agree.
Even H.P. Lovecraft's works were soon available in paperback a short time afterwards, including a book of his poems, Fungi From Yuggoth and Other Poems and Lin Carter's Adult Fantasy Series enjoyed a short run for it's money.
Still, writers like Bob Heinlein never needed Tolkein's help to be Grand Masters. Their achievements are their own and they created the flourishing sci-fi book market we lucky readers enjoy today.

One enjoyable work on this subject by another seminal sci-fi author, editor and agent is The Way the future Was: A Memoir by Frederik Pohl.
Among the other delights offered in this illuminating history, you can see a photograph of eight of the nine total attendees of the very first science fiction convention ever held, in 1938. The ninth attendee is taking the photograph.
Quote:Contrast the sympathetic way McCaffrey portrays Lessa, Ruth, even the old Watchwher (whose death is an extremely touching scene, in my opinion) with, say, one of the secondary characters in a Michael Moorcock book -- especially the Elric books (which are the Moorcock stories with which I am most familiar). There ain't nothing cute and cuddly in a Moorcock story.

I'm not so sure I agree. "Cute and cuddly" as you defined it above could apply to the Moonglum character, especially when considered in the light of the other Moorcock "Companion to Champions" characters.

One thing that I have noticed about protagonists in many post-LOTR fantasy works is that they often seem to be initially sheltered and naive. Shea Ohmsford, Garion, and Richard Cypher all fit this description, to name only three. Even Elric would fit this description.
Quote:Originally posted by Bacchus


One thing that I have noticed about protagonists in many post-LOTR fantasy works is that they often seem to be initially sheltered and naive. Shea Ohmsford, Garion, and Richard Cypher all fit this description, to name only three. Even Elric would fit this description.
But that is a very old concept indeed. Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces describes his archetypal Hero as young and inexperienced when the story begins, though this is outside the Epic tradition, where the heroes are usually famous before the story begins. Let me see if I can find that book and give a citation.
I always thought the reason you had naive young characters was because then it was easier to introduce the completely alien new world. The character is finding out about it at the same time as the reader. Its just a good narative device.

Also I assumed the reason Fantasy and LoTR was viewed as cute and cuddly is because a number of literary critics dont understand why grown men and women want to read fantasy, and thus they downplay it as childrens fare. I remember when the BBC made a version of Gormenghast they interviewed a woman who would go into bookshops and move the trilogy from the fantasy bookshelves to the literary bookshelves, because it wasnt a kids book so it should not belong in Fantasy. There are people out there want fantasy to be cute and cuddly because they want it to be a kids genre, we who read it know differently.
I think that Bacchus, Attalus and Cosmic Jester are all correct.
This is a very old theme, which does double duty by being deeply emotionally satisfying to the reader on that archetypal level and serving as a fabulous narrative device for the writer.
The immense success of LOTR made publishers aware that a young, naive protaganist appeals to adults as well as children giving authors more freedom to create such protaganists.
Stephen King, has often done so, breaking a big taboo in horror fantasy in the process and making it work. His young characters are often much like Frodo, both inexperienced or frightened and wise or brave by turns and charged with defeating a great evil which, to all appearances, they are simply far too helpless to combat.

Jester, don't you hate it when critics do that? They did that exact same thing with the sci-fi genre when I was young; I was supposed to 'outgrow' it. It's staring to seriously annoy me. They aren't even consistant, since they regard some novels for children as classics which should be read by adults, such as Huckleberry Finn.
I agree with almost everything you say, Plan 9, but I feel Twain intended Hucleberry Finn to be read by adults, with, of course, a nod to the child-audience of Tom Sawyer.
Quote:Originally posted by Attalus
I agree with almost everything you say, Plan 9, but I feel Twain intended Hucleberry Finn to be read by adults, with, of course, a nod to the child-audience of Tom Sawyer.

Thank you, Kind Sir! I'm honored. *bows*

You know, when I read it as a child, it was quite a leap for me from Tom Sawyer and there are some very adult themes in Finn; the two are very different.
However, Twain did intend it for children and as a sequel to Sawyer and it was published as a children's book, then almost immediately banned by everyone who could manage it, although for different reasons than it's banned now. Overall, parents, librarians and educators contemporary to Twain definitely did not approve of children reading Finn.
Huck is a young teenager, so I suppose that it might more properly be placed in the "Young Adults" catagory now, were published today.
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