Less majesty

rider-of-rohan
One of the Riders of Rohan from Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Fotonovel Publications 1979

The road travelled by the illustrated story is long and, as it were, goes ever on. Its several origins can be found in ancient Mesopotamia and on Viking gravestones, in Palaeolithic cave paintings and on the Bayeux tapestry, on medieval church walls and in early modern chapbooks. In the 20th century we were introduced to French comics called bandes dessinées and to Japanese manga and the graphic novel, while the addition of photographs gave rise to Italian fumetti and the American photonovel. When Tolkien’s epic fantasy appeared in the middle of the last century it was only a matter of time before the film of the book was produced, leading much more rapidly to … the photonovel of the film of the book.

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Strangers in their own land

Wanderings among Words 4: Strangers

What links a popular American TV series set in the 1930s, the recent UK referendum, and the End of the World? There will be a bit of wandering in this post while I follow words migrating around Europe (and further afield), all in an attempt to demonstrate those links. But first, I shall start at the end. Land’s End in fact.

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Destroying an empire

Public domain image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope
Public domain image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

Robert Silverberg Sorcerers of Majipoor
HarperPrism 1998 (1996)

Is it true, as is often said, that there are no new plots in literature? That every story we hear or read or imagine has appeared countless times before? Whether there is just one basic plot or seven or whatever number one can conjure up — and the numbers do vary, despite one theory that there are only seven — it can be argued that pretty much every narrative conforms to an ur-pattern. One might think that there is no need to create new tales when they already exist in one form or another.

Well, of course there are infinite reasons why we continue to invest in narratives, many of them explicable in psychological terms. It’s maybe worth looking in detail at our need for novelty: if there are indeed no ‘new’ plots it’s how we dress them up that creates originality, as when mannequins are arrayed in different clothes and accessories. In any given narrative it’s the combination of elements, often reminiscent of other narratives, that gives it distinction, and this is certainly true for Robert Silverberg’s Sorcerers of Majipoor.

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Across a sea of stars

Majipoor globe
Majipoor and its three continents: illustration by Ken Seamon http://worldofmajipoor.free.fr/pagesimages/majipoor_planet.html

Majipoor — even the name sounds fantastical with its hints of both magic and a city on the Indian subcontinent. But no, this is the giant planet that I’ve previously mentioned which features in the planetary romances of Robert Silverberg, and which I’m going to discuss a bit more before I complete all my rereads, and reviews, of the first three ‘prequels’ in the series: Sorcerers of Majipoor (1997), Lord Prestimion (1999) and King of Dreams (2000). But first, a bit of science.

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Hell’s Angels meet the Outlaws

angel

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman Good Omens
Corgi 2011 (1990)

Good Omens is the inventive comic fantasy you’d expect from both these authors, a eschatological novel which in 1990 documented the final week of History. The cast of characters whose individual actions and thoughts gradually coalesce for the final denouement are easily distinguishable, from the angel who guarded the gates of Eden to the angel “who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards”, from Witchfinders to fortune-tellers, from the group of mostly ordinary kids entertaining themselves over the summer to the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse (Equal Opportunities apply to supernatural beings these days too) appropriately sporting Hell’s Angels on their motorcycle jackets. Has Armageddon really arrived? Only this book can tell you. Continue reading “Hell’s Angels meet the Outlaws”

Today Was

Thanks to unintentional encouragement by the inestimable Gert Loveday I’ve resurrected the slowly expiring poetry blog Zenrinji with this bit of whimsy.

Zenrinji

mist

Today Was

Monday was Hug-an-Atheist Day
but I found that my arms
couldn’t reach all the way
round my body

Tuesday was National Book Lovers Day
but I missed it
I was too busy
reading in bed

Next came International Xenophobia Day
and I spent all Wednesday
just hating
myself

Thursday was National Paradox Day
but it took me till nighttime
staying in bed
to puzzle it out

Friday was Who Gives A Damn Day
and I decided to do
just that and go
back to bed

Saturday was the thirteenth
day of the month
and my luck
just
ran
out

Sunday was the seventh day
when God rested

Who can argue with that?

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