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If we were to compare styles...
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noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2013, 1:57pm

Post #26 of 41 (175 views)
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Cute ideograms on library book spines [In reply to] Can't Post

I think they can be of some help - you enjoyed one whodunnit, it makes it easier to find more. Maybe an author you would not have found otherwise. m sure it helps with shelving too. But it oversimplifies: some works should have several of the ideograms, or none.

Publishers catalogues cause a similar problem. And it is a legitimate concern for authors i think: Be stickered with the wrong ideograms, or put in the wrong part of the catalogue, and you may miss your audience.

Hence

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2013, 2:10pm

Post #27 of 41 (167 views)
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Speculative fiction [In reply to] Can't Post

Speculative fiction is a useful term, I think. But it doesn't completely solve the problem, because then arguments start as to whether or not a given work is speculative fiction...
Invent a new term, the same thing happens.

The "is it or isn't it " arguments can be enlightening, but they can become completely sterile arm-wrestles between people with different personal definitions.

I think a better question is "is it a good story? "

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Annael
Half-elven


May 11 2013, 5:00pm

Post #28 of 41 (167 views)
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I would call her the American Tolkien too [In reply to] Can't Post

first because she writes beautiful prose - even better than Tolkien's (well, she is a poet too!) - and like him, she excels at description so vivid that you can feel yourself there.

Second, because she creates entire societies on her worlds and not only shows how each operates, but how they interact/clash with other societies on that world. Not just in her Earthsea books but her sci-fi "Hainish novels."

Third, I have to disagree with CuriousG that she doesn't create much of a mythos or history in Earthsea. I've read all her short stories set in Earthsea as well as the five novels. She has never told us the whole story of Morred and Elfarren, but enough to give us a sense that she knows it all and knows it well. Ged and Tenar's story plays out against a history that is referred to in passing in the same way we would refer to history, like we expect everyone to know what we mean. Tolkien does the same in LOTR; the only difference to me is that LeGuin has not written a Silmarillon - but maybe she has and one of her daughters will publish it after her death?

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 11 2013, 5:04pm

Post #29 of 41 (162 views)
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a daughter named... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
a daughter named "chris," and it will be filmed by peter jackson.


cheers : )


.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel telpemairo


Annael
Half-elven


May 11 2013, 5:10pm

Post #30 of 41 (219 views)
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one difference I see between them [In reply to] Can't Post

Martin is not kind to his readers; Tolkien is.

As others have noted, Martin rubs the readers' faces in sex and violence. He also has no compunction about killing off characters that readers love. More problematic for me is the fact that I can't ever decide that I "know" a character, because Martin will "reveal" another side to them sooner or later. People are complex, yes, but most of us are who we are and you can mostly count on that.

And finally, something I've often said here: Martin just never gives the reader a break. Tolkien had the wisdom to vary his narrative by taking us from the pursuit by the Nine across the Wild to a safe haven in Rivendell, and again, after the horror of Moria allowed us a month to recuperate in Lothlorien. In Martin's world it seems there is no safe place.

I know that this appeals to some because they agree with the idea that "reality" is harsh and uncompromising. I've been through my share of trials in my 60+ years, but my reality has been much kinder. I have found friends unlooked-for along the way and many beautiful places where I can rest and restore my soul, as well as wise guides and, yes, divine help. So Tolkien's "reality" is much closer to mine than Martin's.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


demnation
Rohan


May 12 2013, 6:15am

Post #31 of 41 (150 views)
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Funny [In reply to] Can't Post

Just started reading Martin and was really trying NOT to compare him to Tolkien. Mostly because I don't like the A team VS. B team dynamic that can arise from such things, but also because I think they have little in common. I'm about a third of the way through the second book, and there is only one thing I can say about Martin's writing: it's not very good.

Still, I enjoy the world he has created and plan to read through the series at least once.

Use Well the Days


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 12 2013, 7:00am

Post #32 of 41 (151 views)
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Thank you. [In reply to] Can't Post

You have captured succinctly why I don't intend to try reading Martin's books. Current obsessions with making "reality" as unpleasant as possible is, in a way, an understandable reaction against unrealisticly happy "Pollyanna" novels, but, in the end, no more "realistic", just unpleasant. No, thank you.








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 12 2013, 8:15am

Post #33 of 41 (165 views)
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Pace and complexity [In reply to] Can't Post

My son and I were having a discussion yesterday about whether novels and t.v series had grown more complex. It's probably not atopic on which any definite conclusion can be reached, because it depends crucially on the examples one picks. But certainly when my son was younger I found copies of speculative fiction I'd liked. As possible reading for him: I did find a lot of it slow.

The conversation started from an article I remember reading, by Malcolm Gladwell I think, though I can't find it now. Here's someone else making the case. http://beamsandstruts.com/essays/item/156-smarter-tv-smarter-comic-books

Annael's point about Martin relentlessly piling on the events reminded me of that conversation. Martin also alternates chapters from different characters' points of view: get a few chapters of "Bran" then leave him for a while and catch up with "Sansa". Tolkien uses the same trick alternating between Sam/Frodo and the others (who I turn subdivide for parts of the story) but not as much. The technique is risky, because the audience is challenged to remember where we left Group A of the characters while we tell the story of Group B. I guess that, like "nastiness", it begins to backfire at different points for different readers (and At different points for the same reader at different times!)

So I wonder whether Martins approach is "of his time" - a tendency to all this complexity and excitement?

There's also reader preference- my mother could never penetrate the long slow start of Lord of the Rings, for example. I've not been able to join my Aunt as a Thomas Hardy enthusiast because of a feeling that his characters are too like authorial punch bags (either jumped up above their correct social station, and spending the story suffering for It, or exemplifying the plight of the poor). It's probably like that argument Tolkien makes in On Fairy Stories: we give the author special licence to vary reality in order to entertain, but the point at which the varied reality ceases to be believable or entertaining varies between members of the audience. And once disbelief is no longer suspended, its hard to get it airborne again.

Please note i am not, not, not arguing that more complexity is necessarily better or more advanced or whatnot here: just trying to relate interesting comments on this thread to another interesting conversation.

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimė I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


Annael
Half-elven


May 12 2013, 2:49pm

Post #34 of 41 (143 views)
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that is interesting! [In reply to] Can't Post

Certainly OUR lives are more complex than our parents' were (and that's true whatever generation you're in). We all have had, perforce, to learn to multi-task. As a "boomer" I'm in awe of the younger generation's ability to text and carry on a conversation at the same time--something I can't do.

I've wondered, in fact, if each succeeding generation is wired for more complexity. The brain responds to more stimuli by growing more synapses. I'm pretty sure that younger folks have more than I have--although I have more than I used to, thanks to going to grad school five years ago; I could actually FEEL my brain expand that first year!

It would make sense then that people are not just capable of but need more complex stories to keep their minds engaged. To keep us "guessing" keeps us in the story?

(Is that why I was so bored by Twilight? And here I thought it was just the execrable writing.)

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967


elostirion74
Rohan

May 12 2013, 7:03pm

Post #35 of 41 (129 views)
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two very different authors [In reply to] Can't Post

Calling Martin "the American Tolkien" seems more like a kind of marketing issue to me. There is one similarity between the two authors, the richness and level of detail of their respective imaginary worlds.

Martin“s world is centered on intrigue, power struggles and politics, shifting between many different characters from different social classes/stations. But the heart of Martin“s story lies in his detailed characterizations and playing with the different perspectives of his characters, not in the imaginary world in itself, although he does create some compelling places. I find that Martin“s story is rich and interesting and very different from Tolkien“s, with its own unique integrity. If one has to compare, his main weakness compared to Tolkien is his lack of discipline. Martin focuses so much on the characters and their emotions and thoughts for their own sake that he tends to forget the larger story at times and just lets the story get out of hand.

"What is Tolkien's style to you? If you have read A Song of Ice and Fire, what style do you feel in Martin? How does his style compare in your mind, and do you think they would have been contemporaries had they lived in the same time frame. (Yes I am aware of some overlap, but there is not that much)."

Martin“s style is usually more gritty, direct and concise, with short sentences, as long as he doesn“t write about food or decides to list names. He goes for poetic effects now and then, though, for instance when introducing a place or a character. Although his style is not exceptional he has a good command of it and knows how to use it.

Tolkien“s style has a greater range than Martin“s, the main difference being that it“s often more suggestive and poetic but also less direct and more "rounded" - Martin“s descriptions are in fact often much more detailed than Tolkien“s because he wants to show the social status of the characters through concrete descriptions of what they wear, what and how much they (can afford to) eat and where they live.


batik
Tol Eressea


May 12 2013, 8:37pm

Post #36 of 41 (124 views)
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quote-ables? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote worthy?

On GRRM as the American JRRT: I dunno about that! Yes, Martin has created a world and yes, his creation has a large fan base. Is he the first to do that? No. Is it the best? Depends on who you ask, I guess. I was pretty impressed by Feist's Riftwar/Midkemia world back in the 80s (prior to my exposure to Tolkien or Martin).

I was introduced to both JRRT and GRRM via film/series adaptations. I read thru the works of each writer after those introductions.

I am pretty certain there are some good quotes from Martin's work (other than ...winter is coming!) but honestly ... I would be hard pressed to name those. Tolkien, on the other hand, many come to mind (and we often see a favorite quotes thread here on TORn). OK--that's not a really fair way to compare since I've spend much more time with Tolkien than with Martin--even considering the sheer page count!

Things in Martin's world seem to go, go , go! There's a different pace in Tolkien's world (we get a chance to stop and name the flowers, for example). The motives of the characters in Martin's world are *usually* pretty well spelled out for the reader while in Tolkien's world we often get into discussions about what motivates characters like Aragorn, Denethor, Faramir. And, of course, Tolkien refrained from much (any?) mention of "unmentionable" body parts/bodily functions and Martin, much the opposite.
Martin seems to "match" his writing to the times/audience--that is to say--the level of action, violence, sex, language (that *out there* attitude) are what we see in contemporary books, films, music, and so on.
I am going to assume Tolkien did also. That assumption being based on what generally was/was not being delivered to the audience during the time he spent writing his works.

Contemporaries? Which of the two would have adapted better to the other's *time*? Worlds apart there.


elevorn
Lorien


May 13 2013, 2:15pm

Post #37 of 41 (116 views)
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a little explanation... [In reply to] Can't Post

I can take the comparison at face value, to me that means that its a shallow concept. I find some similarities, certainly they are there. But I think what we have in Martin is far less the craftsman than what we have in Tolkien. For me that represents Modern America, "or Post Modern" whatever we are calling it at present. The quality of writing craft and language that existed 50 years ago has been covered over by the fast and easy 140 character style of language. The musician in me would use this example. The Fender guitars made at the current time in America are nothing compared to what was made in the 50's and 60's are far as tonality. The same with the pre WWII Martin Acoustic guitars. The craftsmanship in this country has gone down so much on all aspects. There are very few companies and people who are able to get to that once guilded level. For me, Martin certainly comes close, but the tone of the writing is so very different though that the comparison is difficult at times.

As I have stated before I do enjoy Martin's writing, he is frustrating and somewhat mean to his readers, where Tolkien is not. At the same time, the sense of danger in LOTR is missing for me, it may be that I have read it so many times and that is why I find GoT so exciting, there is no safe place. Even in Rowling we feel safe, I actually summarized the end of "The Deathly Hallows" before I ever read the book. My brother was quite angry that I had guessed it right, down to the final section of the book. But at the same time, she had already proven herself to be a safe writer. I knew she was not going do anything to my beloved characters. Tolken was the same for me, again, this may be because I am just so familiar with the story and it has been so long since my first read, or maybe my dad spoiled the suprise of Gandalf coming back before I read it.

Back to my original explanation. The comparison I do believe is a marketing tool, and one the does indeed work, it caught me hook line and sinker. Thank you to all of you who have responded to this thread, your insight has been great and I have really enjoyed the discussion.



"clever hobbits to climb so high!"
Check out my writing www.jdstudios.wordpress.com
Posted newly, A short story draft, "The Last Bastion"


Darkstone
Immortal


May 13 2013, 3:25pm

Post #38 of 41 (105 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

Nowadays I often spoil a book by looking at the last pages, or spoil a movie by looking up the ending on the internet. It's like at my age I no longer have the patience for the cynical pessimism of an Evil versus Evil world view. Sure, conflict is drama, but I think it should be meaningful conflict, not simply a series of unremittingly unpleasant things happening to someone. And what's the point of character development if the character dies in the very next chapter? A lot of modern writers write with the whining angst ("wangst") of a teenager who has just discovered that the world is unfair.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Darkstone
Immortal


May 13 2013, 3:32pm

Post #39 of 41 (104 views)
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Yes [In reply to] Can't Post

A very good analysis. I'm tempted to say Martin writes Tolkien "dark fic", a subgenre of fan fic.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



squire
Valinor


May 13 2013, 7:24pm

Post #40 of 41 (109 views)
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Complexity is as complexity does, and always has [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't say I agree that daily life is becoming more complex. I think that's more likely an illusion, a natural consequence of changing perspectives between youth and age. We focus on what's new and difficult to adjust to, while underrating what has become familiar, and nothing is more familiar than the immediate past that is represented by the preceding generation.

(I keep reading about multi-tasking as the preserve of gifted youth. But what I read as often as the gushing articles about mental flexibility are articles reporting that tests show that multi-tasking is misnamed. It is actually giving momentary attention, one by one, to all the things being done, with substandard results overall compared to doing each thing for as much time as is needed.)

I'm sure the brain expands in response to more stimuli. What I doubt is that increased stimuli are offered by one period in history more than any other. It seems to me that the stimuli for increasing ones mental complexity have been always available for each individual to take advantage of or not, depending on ones inclination. Education, in other words, can be life long if the student is willing, no matter what the cultural setting.

I did enjoy that article about the increasing complexity of the mid-century's simplistic literature called comic books, and of the dramas of prime time TV. I had just had a long debate with my daughter over the style and readability of a recent 'Batwoman' comic book she was fond of, and as always I had been struck by how different today's comics are from how I remember the old Marvel and DC classics of the late 1960s. However, I didn't conclude from the article or from that conversation that a younger generation is in need of "more complex stories to keep their minds engaged." Since I tend to assume that people are the same today as they've been for many years, I wondered if what the writer was noticing wasn't simply a change of the media by which people who desire literary and dramatic complexity can acquire it. Suppose a given segment of a population appreciates a complex story with diverse and well-written characters, and plots that accommodate the ambiguities of real-world morality. Suppose the vehicles for such stories, say the novel as we have known it for a century or two, or serious feature films for the last 70 years or so, are becoming less accessible due to declining literacy levels, greater access to personal delivery of media, and an increasing social tendency to communicate via images and recorded sound. I guess that in such a situation, the writers and consumers of literature would simply relocate themselves to the new media, and continue to produce and enjoy the resulting art as they always have.

Earlier changes along these lines can be remembered as the decline of poetry, the decline of the sermon, the decline of stage drama, the decline of classical music, and the decline of rhetoric -- also known as the rise of the novel, the rise of the advertising pitch, the rise of film, the rise of popular music, and the rise of journalism. Art is as necessary to humanity as food and air, but the forms it may take are endlessly various. If comic books and TV are all we will be reading and viewing in coming decades, then I predict that some corner of that TV and comic book universe will be as elevated as anything Shakespeare or Tolstoy ever performed or wrote.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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Malveth
Rivendell

Jun 5 2013, 3:28pm

Post #41 of 41 (51 views)
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Thanks [In reply to] Can't Post

You put my thoughts into words. Very well written & thought out words!

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