June 11th, 2009


J.R.R. Tolkien's next book

I was tipped off by parrot_knight to the fact that I actually owned one of J.R.R. Tolkien's lesser-known works, which was not published under his own name. He translated it from French, although the French text was itself a translation; apparently his manuscript notes indicate that he was using a dictionary to cross-check vocabulary with the original text (which was in a language he did not know all that well). Below the cut is the complete Tolkien translation as it appears in my 1966 copy of the book, presumably cut about a bit by his co-editors; an account of the whole affair is to be published very soon.

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The Dark Knight - "This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I'm gonna give it to them."

Well, I thought that was tremendous; a dark meditation on the effects of Batman's existence on his environment. The special effects are great, the direction and camera work are superb, but what carries the film is the acting, and the central commanding performance is Heath Ledger's Joker, magnetic, horrible, fascinating, makes what could have been a painfully silly storyline into a mesmerising carnival of terror. The other stars are great too; I thought at first that Christian Bale was a bit subdued as Batman, but I came around to him in the end. Everyone else has seen this by now, so I'll add that I was pretty impressed that they killed off a major character half way through - that really shows that all bets are off. Sorry, WALL-E, you were very cute but this will get my Hugo vote.

(I guess there is room for some debate as to whether or not Dark Knight is actually science fiction. But if it has made the shortlist, it is eligible for the Hugo, and it certainly feels sfnal to me.)


I've been trawling through the various threads of discussion regarding the new Science Fiction and Fantasy Ethics blog, whose aim is "to promote positive reviews of books, movies and comics."

Well, I'm not interested. If a source tells me up front that it won't publish critical reviews, I can't be bothered engaging with it. Except to agree with Nic Clarke when she says "I’m still not clear on what ‘ethics’ have to do with celebrating books you like".

June Books 4) Schlock Mercenary: The Body Politic, by Howard Tayler

This is one of the shortlisted entries for Best Graphic Story in this year's Hugo awards, and the only one supplied free to the voters. Frankly, it's pretty poor. A crew of badly drawn and poorly characterised space mercenaries try to get a profit out of capturing an old enemy, who is variously alive or dead as the plot progresses. There are some Funny Bits. I would say that Firefly did it better, but that's a bit like comparing The Lord of the Rings with The Eye of Argon. I hope the Hugo category of Best Graphic Story continues, but I hope the other nominees are better than this.