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Tolkien's influence on later writers
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CMackintosh
The Shire

May 26, 8:20am

Post #1 of 53 (3647 views)
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Tolkien's influence on later writers Can't Post

I spent part of lockdown reading the collected edition of Ursula Le Guin's EarthSea books. About a quarter of the way through it struck me that she was quite highly influenced by Tolkien. (She hardly makes a secret of how much she admires his writing.)
I've also come across several other authors who I think allowed Tolkien to influence their writing. I think I can safely put Vernor Vinge in that category - A Fire Upon the Deep hinges on some rather Tolkienesque concerns - The Blight tele-operates its victims, and Sauron's army before the Morannon breaks up and flees when he is crashed by Gollum destroying the One Ring and fails to continue tele-operating them ...
There are others, but at the moment I can't think of them.


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


May 26, 12:31pm

Post #2 of 53 (3495 views)
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Just off the top of my head [In reply to] Can't Post

JK Rowling —- Harry Potter at least takes Tolkien and does her own thing.

Terry Brooks— Shannara series—. The first was so obviously a Tolkien ripoff that I stopped. The tv series gave me a hint that maybe he eventually made his own story but I never went back to see. Anyone have an opinion on Shannara?

Susan Cooper— The Dark is Rising— I admit to only reading the first but it was intriguing. Other things just got in the way.

Stephen King—- The Stand... he admits it.

Andrew Weir —The Martian not so much a Tolkien influenced as a Tolkien referencer. I attended a talk he gave and he is obviously a fan of Tolkien.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 26, 3:16pm

Post #3 of 53 (3481 views)
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Tolkien's Influence on Role-playing Games [In reply to] Can't Post

Dungeons & Dragons was rather obviously influenced by Tolkien's Middle-earth, firstly by game's take on Dwarves, Elves and Halflings as player-races and the class of Rangers. There are also many monsters and other creatures borrowed from Tolkien, from Orcs to Giant Eagles to Wear-bears. And more specifically, Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms campaign is greatly influenced by Tolkien. Of course there have now been many licensed tabletop games, card games and video games directly set in Tolkien's Middle-earth including at least four role-playing games or settings.

I've never made it beyond Terry Brooks' first Shannara book for the same reasons you've given.

The Bone comic-book series by Jeff Smith is often (rightly) described as The Lord of the Rings meets Carl Barks (Disney's good Duck artist).


#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 26, 3:18pm)


Solicitr
Gondor


May 26, 5:22pm

Post #4 of 53 (3468 views)
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Subject [In reply to] Can't Post

I can't think of any fantasy writer since Robert Howard who wasn't influenced by Tolkien one way or another.* And certain writers (Terry Brooks) are little more than cheap Tolkien knockoffs.

What there are too few of are fantasy authors who go behind Tolkien to his own sources. And I don't mean "Encyclopedias of Mythology" but actually reading the Eddas and the sagas etcetera.

*That includes guys like Mieville and Moorcock whose work was written in negative reaction to Tolkien


(This post was edited by Solicitr on May 26, 5:23pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 26, 7:32pm

Post #5 of 53 (3458 views)
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Given the cultural behemoth that is LOTR et al, [In reply to] Can't Post

I figure that any fantasy writer since Tolkien's time is influenced by either Tolkien or another writer who took inspiration from him.

For instance, look at Star Wars: A New Hope. A great deal of the story and themes are shaped by LOTR, and that movie went on to inspire a heck of a lot of storytellers in turn.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


May 26, 9:30pm

Post #6 of 53 (3445 views)
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A query..... Who influenced who..... Lewis vs Tolkien? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sometimes when I look at Narnia and Middle Earth tales.... I think they seem the result of two guys handed a list and told go write a story that includes x, y and z and don't forget q and t.

Similar elements -- vastly different treatments --- but a lot of the underlying themes are similar --- though that could be the q and t above.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 27, 7:36am

Post #7 of 53 (3395 views)
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Nah, Tolkein wins hands down. [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, both were serious Christians, but Tolkien invented his own universe, history, languages, everything. Lewis wrote shallow allegories, quite lacking in originality.


sevilodorf
Grey Havens


May 27, 8:53am

Post #8 of 53 (3389 views)
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Oh, I agree [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien developed the ideas more completely. Lewis got in the avuncular tone (though that did fade a bit) and stayed firmly in the juvenile department. But simply in terms of influence... both infuse a lot Christian ideology — obviously Lewis lays it on with a shovel while Tolkien is infinitely more subtle.

And they were sitting around talking about writing with a bunch of friends— so perhaps in terms of influence we just have to recognize it undoubtedly went both ways.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)




CMackintosh
The Shire

May 27, 9:31am

Post #9 of 53 (3381 views)
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Dungeons and Drongos [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Dungeons & Dragons was rather obviously influenced by Tolkien's Middle-earth, firstly by game's take on Dwarves, Elves and Halflings as player-races and the class of Rangers. There are also many monsters and other creatures borrowed from Tolkien, from Orcs to Giant Eagles to Wear-bears. And more specifically, Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms campaign is greatly influenced by Tolkien. Of course there have now been many licensed tabletop games, card games and video games directly set in Tolkien's Middle-earth including at least four role-playing games or settings.

I've never made it beyond Terry Brooks' first Shannara book for the same reasons you've given.

The Bone comic-book series by Jeff Smith is often (rightly) described as The Lord of the Rings meets Carl Barks (Disney's good Duck artist).



I have made it past the first book of Shannara, but that was an effort. It did contain some minor compensations, when Terry Brooks' legal background took over and his character sounded like he was reading a legal brief ... but I can't say that reading them gave me any great joy.

Of course the Dungeons and Dragons was influenced by Tolkien, and in turn it passed on some rather bad writing habits to a number of writers who are perhaps well known to us all - Raymond E Feist being a shining example ...

What I find interesting is that some of the people who have publicly criticized Tolkien - Brian Aldiss in his Million Year Spree and Billion Year Spree, then turns around and uses some of Tolkien's basic elements - the race/species older than man, other (semi) human species, language/s, etc - in his Helliconia Trilogy. Again, Harry Harrison, a close friend of Michael Moorcock's (who incidentally liked Tolkien when he met him, he just was not fond of his writing) also uses the same elements. With Helliconia, it the Phagors who are older than humanity, with the West of Eden trilogy it's the Yilane. The Phagorian language is nearly incomprehensible to humanity; likewise the Yilane language. The Helliconian humans have to contend with various species of protognostics such as the Madi, Neandertal clones, while the West of Eden Tanu meet and befriend the Paramutan, furry humanoids with tails.

And yet both these writers would say their writing was not influenced by Tolkien; these two trilogies are full of references at the very least.


Morthoron
Gondor


May 27, 1:59pm

Post #10 of 53 (3376 views)
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No mention of George R.R. Martin yet? [In reply to] Can't Post

Martin claims that Tolkien's killing of Gandalf was influential in his decision to kill off his own characters. So there's that.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on May 27, 1:59pm)


Yva
Rivendell


May 27, 8:55pm

Post #11 of 53 (3343 views)
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Interesting, [In reply to] Can't Post

while I don't doubt Tolkien influenced her writing to some extent, I always thought of her as being her own category.

In fact, purely for fun and my personal needs, I divide fantasy into three vague and overlapping categories. Tolkien (where the journeys are more external), Ursula le Guin (where the journeys are more internal, think of the Jungian aspects of the Earthsea books) and anti-Tolkien (Sapkowski, Martin etc).


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 28, 1:21am

Post #12 of 53 (3311 views)
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Interesting indeed. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
while I don't doubt Tolkien influenced her writing to some extent, I always thought of her as being her own category.

In fact, purely for fun and my personal needs, I divide fantasy into three vague and overlapping categories. Tolkien (where the journeys are more external), Ursula le Guin (where the journeys are more internal, think of the Jungian aspects of the Earthsea books) and anti-Tolkien (Sapkowski, Martin etc).


I wonder where various examples of sword & sorcery fit into your system (Robert E Howard, Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, etc.)? Michael Moorcock's innovation was a fascinating blending of low-fantasy and high-fantasy elements. His Elric might fit into both your "anti-Tolkien" and "le Guin" catagories.

#FidelityToTolkien

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on May 28, 1:22am)


Elizabeth
Half-elven


May 28, 7:26am

Post #13 of 53 (3273 views)
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Gandalf was only temporarily dead. [In reply to] Can't Post

Shocking and effective, though. Boromir's death was important, too, if only to warn the reader that our characters aren't immortal. In many ways that made Gandalf's fall much more horrifying.


CMackintosh
The Shire

May 28, 8:18am

Post #14 of 53 (3262 views)
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Sword and Sorcery [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
while I don't doubt Tolkien influenced her writing to some extent, I always thought of her as being her own category.

In fact, purely for fun and my personal needs, I divide fantasy into three vague and overlapping categories. Tolkien (where the journeys are more external), Ursula le Guin (where the journeys are more internal, think of the Jungian aspects of the Earthsea books) and anti-Tolkien (Sapkowski, Martin etc).


I wonder where various examples of sword & sorcery fit into your system (Robert E Howard, Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, etc.)? Michael Moorcock's innovation was a fascinating blending of low-fantasy and high-fantasy elements. His Elric might fit into both your "anti-Tolkien" and "le Guin" catagories.


FWLIW, Elric Last Emperor of Melnibone suffers from a similar affliction to Frodo Baggins of Hobbiton the Shire - they are both addicted to something that gives them a feeling of immense power. And both suffer a mind-wrenching gut-churning fight for self-realization. That in the end destroys them anyway.

So much for Tolkien and Moorcock being poles apart. They both cared about similar things, even though their politics were poles apart.
https://www.multiverse.org/forum/fabulous-harbours-%E2%97%A6-welcome-to-moorcock-s-miscellany/faq/15380-faq-why-doesn-t-michael-moorcock-like-j-r-r-tolkien

As far as Sword-and-Sorcery goes, I think that is in a category of its own, neither high fantasy or low fantasy, but containing elements of both. But one thing they don't tend to share with high (epic) fantasy is the stakes. In TLotR, the stake is the freedom of all thinking beings - they can either fight for a (temporary) victory, or they can submit to having their very souls "raped" in the manner of the Orcs ... Life isn't so dire in the world of Conan the Barbarian. He's after his pay, primarily - and his life. (And that's where I think Michael Moorcock's analysis breaks down. he hasn't read the books quite as thoroughly as I have, so it's likely he's missed a few pointers here and there. Which is why the Council of Elrond is so valuable ... :)


Morthoron
Gondor


May 29, 1:12am

Post #15 of 53 (3205 views)
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Stephen R. Donaldson... [In reply to] Can't Post

If you've ever read The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, you will find the unmistakable blueprint of Tolkien. Donaldson mentioned Tolkien in an interview, but he seems to diminish his influence:

"Tolkien's work made what I do possible. In that sense, "Lord of the Rings" is an inspiring model for 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.' But Middle Earth itself was never a model for the Land (except in the sense that Tolkien showed me what could be done within the bounds of epic fantasy). Looking back, I can see 'echoes' of Middle Earth in the Land. But then, I can see 'echoes' of lots of things in the Land (Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' leaps to mind)."

It is one of those statements where you just shake your head, and say, "Yeah...right. Dude, I read your books. Believe me, Tolkien is hiding behind every tree."

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on May 29, 1:13am)


Asger
Rivendell


May 29, 5:52pm

Post #16 of 53 (3134 views)
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Julian May [In reply to] Can't Post

The Pliocene Exile: 20th-21st century political prisoners dumped smack in the middle of the Silmarillion, or some such thing

"Don't take life seriously, it ain't nohow permanent!" Pogo
www.willy-centret.dk


CuriousG
Half-elven


May 29, 11:13pm

Post #17 of 53 (3095 views)
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I remember those horrible books [In reply to] Can't Post

It was decades ago, but I thought they were Tolkien dumbed down, mixed with a few other things, none of them original, except maybe how fascinating leprosy is <sarcasm emoji>. I only made it through the first one.


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 30, 12:37am

Post #18 of 53 (3065 views)
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Huh. I hadn't thought of the series that way. / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


May 30, 12:57am

Post #19 of 53 (3069 views)
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Thomas Covenant [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It was decades ago, but I thought they were Tolkien dumbed down, mixed with a few other things, none of them original, except maybe how fascinating leprosy is <sarcasm emoji>. I only made it through the first one.


I was fascinated by Covenant as a different sort of protagonist--one who, at the story's beginning, has reached rock-bottom and is only one bad day from pulling the plug on himself. It's unusual to have a fantasy hero who is so self-pitying and hard to like.

#FidelityToTolkien


squire
Half-elven


May 30, 2:03am

Post #20 of 53 (3064 views)
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You speak for me [In reply to] Can't Post

I tried the Covenant book in college, I think, to see what other epic fantasy works were like compared to my beloved Tolkien. Although I certainly finished the book, given that there was a plot and all, and a certain facility with writing, I remember the endless combination of "that's Tolkien" and "that's not Tolkien" responses in my head to each new character or setting, and each new agonizing introspective moment by the pathetic hero.

Between that book (was there really a sequel?) and a much later experience with Eragon thanks to my daughter's infatuation with it, I've never taken to the genre of heroic fantasy for recreational reading. I did, for many years, absorb science fiction through my skin, and historical fiction as well, but as I grew up I found myself less and less taken by genre work, and have gravitated almost entirely to straight history and its variants, science, criticism, and current events.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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CMackintosh
The Shire

May 30, 11:33am

Post #21 of 53 (2995 views)
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Lore of the elders [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
It was decades ago, but I thought they were Tolkien dumbed down, mixed with a few other things, none of them original, except maybe how fascinating leprosy is <sarcasm emoji>. I only made it through the first one.


I was fascinated by Covenant as a different sort of protagonist--one who, at the story's beginning, has reached rock-bottom and is only one bad day from pulling the plug on himself. It's unusual to have a fantasy hero who is so self-pitying and hard to like.


I read the Covenant books, and found the only characters I could actually like were the Giant Foamfollower and the Waynhim - though it was impossible to see the Waynhim as individual characters, it was possible to see them as embodying a very admirable characteristic - keeping on keeping on, no matter the situation.

But Thomas Covenant is not the only fantasy hero who is self-pitying and so on and so forth. Elric of Melnibone is another such, and Michael Moorcock himself makes a joke of it in Elric at the End of Time. (Much as Tolkien makes a joke of the Lord of the Rings royalty and court setup in Farmer Giles of Ham.)

Maybe I should've been a little more clearer - everybody knows that all fantasy writers since Tolkien have been influenced by him, which is not very interesting. Does anyone consider SF writers like Stephen Baxter to have been influenced by Tolkien? I've been wavering between reading his Xeelee series as showing quite a lot of Tolkien influence - Xeelee are the victim of human intransigence and stupidity but they refuse to retaliate in kind - or showing mostly Arthur C. Clarke's influence. I mean, Xeelee is a dead give-away to the Seelie Court, so he was influenced by British (primarily Scottish it would appear) folklore; but are the Xeelee the equivalent of Tolkien's Eldar or of something he got from Arthur C. Clarke? Clarke was never much into folklore ...


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jun 1, 2:43pm

Post #22 of 53 (2707 views)
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Neil Gaiman [In reply to] Can't Post

In 2004 Neil Gaiman gave a talk to the Mythopoeic Society. The talk included this charming anecdote:

Quote
I came to the conclusion that Lord of the Rings was, most probably, the best book that ever could be written, which put me in something of a quandary. I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. (That’s not true: I wanted to be a writer then.) And I wanted to write The Lord of the Rings. The problem was that it had already been written.

I gave the matter a great deal of thought, and eventually came to the conclusion that the best thing would be if, while holding a copy of The Lord of the Rings, I slipped into a parallel universe in which Professor Tolkien had not existed. And then I would get someone to retype the book — I knew that if I sent a publisher a book that had already been published, even in a parallel universe, they’d get suspicious, just as I knew my own thirteen-year old typing skills were not going to be up to the job of typing it. And once the book was published I would, in this parallel universe, be the author of Lord of the Rings, than which there can be no better thing. And I read Lord of the Rings until I no longer needed to read it any longer, because it was inside me.


"A speech I once gave: On Lewis, Tolkien and Chesterton " http://journal.neilgaiman.com/...wis-tolkien-and.html


I suppose this shows the many ways in which one writer can influence another.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 1, 2:50pm

Post #23 of 53 (2708 views)
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Now... [In reply to] Can't Post

...if only we could get Neil Gaiman on Amazon Prime's LotR writing team.

#FidelityToTolkien


The Dude
Bree

Jun 1, 3:19pm

Post #24 of 53 (2710 views)
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Not that I have any trust in the actual writers of the Amazon show... [In reply to] Can't Post

...but Neil Gaiman is such a trivial writer; even worse are the films (Beowulf!) and television series (Good Omens, American Gods) he has been involved with as a writer - the very definition of postmodern claptrap.

To stay more on topic: one of the few good genre writers influenced by Tolkien passed last year: Gene Wolfe. That man actually wrote literature (PS: Here I completely side with Otaku-sempai ;) )


(This post was edited by The Dude on Jun 1, 3:27pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Jun 1, 8:03pm

Post #25 of 53 (2668 views)
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Although [In reply to] Can't Post

the episode of Dr Who that he wrote is one of the best, mixing heart-touching moments with old-school Dr Who horror. The ep won a Ray Bradbury Award and a Hugo Award.

https://en.wikipedia.org/.../The_Doctor%27s_Wife

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction

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