Classic Favorites: The Lord of the Rings

Poster

The first LOTR poster I ever saw.

For me, Lord of the Rings can be more commonly referred to as The One That Started It All. Before that, books meant little to me. Mostly because I was reading Babysitter’s Club at the time (and the Amish books that my mother sanctioned for me). But when the movie of Fellowship of the Ring came out, my dad fanboyed enough that he convinced my sister to go see it with him, first. And then he took me. It was love at first scene.

So, my daddy got me to read the books, and I had them all finished by the same time the next year, when Two Towers came out.

Lord of the Rings was my first obsession. I drew it, I acted it with my stuffed animals, I wrote it all over my dresser. Why? Unlike Harry Potter, which I got into shortly after, my sister and my mother didn’t like it. It was a Me And Daddy thing. It opened up a huge door for my imagination. A gateway to a new, previously inconceivable world of magic and adventure. It was dreaming about Lord of the Rings characters that got me to start writing in the first place.

Through my love of Lord of the Rings, I started to eventually expand my horizons. Other fantasy. Dragonlance. The Belgariad. Turning anywhere for a new source of this fantasy world my mother was so certain was evil.

Eventually, I developed other obsessions. Harry Potter. The Belgariad and Dragonlance. Dean Koontz. And Lord of the Rings—the original—faded into the background. My obsession with it was too much—too intense. For, when it came to Lord of the Rings, I would have to sit and watch the movies without allowing anything to interrupt. And after it was over, I’d be lost in the thought of it. Maybe because I was reminded of my original, childish obsession with it. Or maybe because it’s still–and will always be–the One Fandom To Rule Them All.

So, I usually studiously avoid it, lest I once more be pulled into that black hole of fandom worship. But it’s hard, sometimes. Like with the Hobbit movies being in theaters. After watching An Unexpected Journey (midnight showing, of course), I spent the entire next day moping around in an obsessive haze. The same with Desolation of Smaug, just a few weeks ago. And now, here I am, watching Fellowship of the Ring again with my roommate who’s never seen them. And what am I doing? Not working on my own writing. Just writing about my deep and abiding love of Lord of the Rings.

And I’m falling in love all over again.

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World? What World?

Losing oneself in a story is an amazing, and very addictive thing. If anything exists besides the book, movie, game, etc, it hasn’t totally sucked you in.

The problem is when you reach the last page. The last scene. When the book finally closes, and you realize how much time has past and that you aren’t a part of that world you were just reading about. Reality has to take over again. But your mind is still there, in that fantasy world, with those characters. Still lingering in their tragedies and triumphs. Left reeling and wanting to cry because you weren’t ready for it to end.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is me right now. This is me too often. Totally engrossed in a book or TV show to the exclusion of everything else. It’s torture. If it’s a book, I have to go back through several times and read over some of my favorite passages. And I don’t want to give it up, which gets me in heaps of trouble with the local library.

But “how do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart, you begin to understand—there is no going back?”

And that is why I must avoid the most addictive things, because I will be sucked into a dark pit of despair.

For the Love of Character!

Just finished an amazing book: Warchild by Karin Lowachee—a science fiction novel. Most genre fiction of my admittedly limited experience focuses on the world. They wow you with ships and space travel, magic and unicorns, princesses and dragons and orcs and ogres and weird new aliens and different planets, Earth as it will be or once was, and so on. The characters themselves are bland—just like a thousand other characters out there. You know little about them besides their names and generally what they look like, and you forget about them as soon as the book’s over.

BORING.

I can’t muddle my way through books like that, which is why I’ve had to stay away from the fantasy/sci-fi sections of the book store lately. But I’m always on the lookout for something to restore my faith in genre fiction. Warchild has been one of those. It’s not perfect, but I’d say the main character is just as strong and interesting and dynamic as the main character in some hoity toity literary novel.

(Note: It’s not a gay romance novel. Goodreads users have listed it as LGBT and m/m romance. It’s not, though the other books in the series might head that way. The main character in this one’s asexual.)

O, genre fiction! O, refuge of my childhood! Where did the character development go? What happened to personal challenges being overcome? Heck, what happened to the people, and why am I surrounded by cardboard cutouts? It’s all about flashy toys, now.  Or, if the characters are passably human, how It Got Worse and Darker and Edgier.

And that’s why I stick to the fiction and literature shelves. But still, I keep hoping. Searching the vast stacks of books at every bookstore and library far and wide, just hoping I’ll find something special that will restore my faith in genre fiction.