Discussion:
CRIT: sales synopsis of Have Dominion
(too old to reply)
Ben Crowell <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com">
2005-07-29 01:56:50 UTC
Permalink
This is a synopsis meant to be sent to prospective agents for my first
novel. Would anyone be willing to give comments on it as a document for
selling my work?

(Literary comments would also be welcome, but the novel itself has
just been through Critters for a second time, after a rewrite, and
although I'm still waiting for crits to dribble in, I don't anticipate
any drastic changes to the plot at this stage.)

Thanks in advance!

Ben

======================================================================

synopsis of Have Dominion
science fiction, 80,000 words
Benjamin Crowell
(address)
(phone number)

Background

The year is 2191. In its expansion into the solar system, Homo
sapiens has created an underclass of artificial intelligences and
genetically modified humans. But unknown to the human tribe, an
older, more advanced race has been working behind the scenes; they
have built a vast, hidden habitat under the surface of the asteroid
Ceres, where samples of Earth life have continued to evolve in a
low-gravity environment.

Characters

April, the protagonist, is a hominid from Ceres with a coat of yellow
fur. Asteroid miner Luiz Diegues has stumbled upon the Cerean
habitat, stolen the infant April, and sold her to genetically
modified humans in an Earth-orbit colony, who plan to use her as a
host mother to circumvent Earth's reproductive controls. April has
been raised by Nanny, an artificial intelligence housed in the body
of a panda.

Audience, Tone, and Theme

The story is aimed at the female YA market, but should also interest
adults. Until April escapes from her owners, old public-domain books
are her sole source of information about the human race, and this
leads to humorous and satirical episodes. Her quest to find out where
she came from is also her quest to learn what it is to be a human
being, and how to love and be loved.

Synopsis

April learns of her owners' plan to use her as a host mother, and
looks for a way to escape their orbiting farm habitat. Luiz sneaks
aboard the habitat, locates April via her DNA trail, and steals her
and Nanny. He hasn't seen April since she was a baby, and, like her
owners, believes that she isn't intelligent. Aboard his spaceship, he
intends to put April into a state of hibernation, but she puts him in
the hibernation chamber instead, and takes over the ship.

The ship is designed for fully automated cruising while its crew is
in hibernation, but April and Nanny don't know its destination. They
discover a frozen, evacuated cargo hold full of exotic animals, which
they infer come from the same place April did. The ship
malfunctions, Nanny takes a heavy dose of radiation, and they're
forced to wake Luiz. Luiz is embarrassed at mistaking April for an
animal and selling her, and is also impressed by Nanny's heroic
self-sacrifice. They reactivate the ship's artificial intelligence,
and in order to gain time to repair Nanny's panda body, the two AIs
are forced to temporarily cohabit the same computer, an experience
that pushes them over the threshold into true sentience. Luiz
describes discovering the Cerean habitat fifteen years ago, after its
buried surface was uncovered by a meteor impact. Due to treachery
surrounding his sale of April, Luiz had been left in hibernation ever
since. April gets a crush on Luiz.

They arrive at an asteroid colony, where they meet April's older
sister Monica, whom Luiz had left with his girlfriend. Monica has
grown up angry, with subhuman social status. April, Luiz, Monica, and
Nanny set off for Ceres. Monica sexually manipulates Luiz, and April
has to spend the voyage in hibernation. When she wakes up, she learns
that Luiz is an alcoholic, who only dries out periodically by going
into hibernation.

Inside the underground habitat, April and Nanny discover a DNA trail
left by beings of April's species, and the trail leads them to a
hidden doorway to a second habitat. Before they have time to
investigate it thoroughly, they get into a dispute with Monica.
Monica wipes Nanny's memory, and April, enraged, brandishes a cooking
knife at Monica and threatens to kill her. Nanny is now programmed to
be loyal to Monica, and goes after April, rifle in hand. April
escapes into the second habitat, but Nanny slips in after her before
the door automatically closes. April at first has no sympathy for the
new Nanny, who is trying to catch or kill her, but gradually starts
to feel sorry for her. The two strike up an ironic friendship by
radio. April evades Nanny by taking to the trees, which she can
easily climb in the low gravity.

Nanny, attempting to follow April's DNA trail, instead comes across
Sonu, a stone-age shepherd boy of April's species. Nanny and Sonu
begin learning each other's languages, and Sonu, unknown to Nanny,
makes contact with April and falls in love with her. Sonu and his
grandparents disarm Nanny and take her parole. We learn that the
adults of April's species are three meters tall. The tribe perceives
the situation as a deadly feud between the witches April and Monica,
and conducts a trial involving the barbaric custom of democracy. As a
result of the trial, April comes to see her own actions in a
different light, and forgives Monica.

The tribe requires April to make peace with Monica, so, accompanied
by Nanny and Sonu, she heads back through a third habitat, which has
been sealed off for fifty million years. The life in this habitat has
undergone radical evolutionary change since being brought up from
Earth. They encounter an injured member of an intelligent species,
rescue him from a predatory bird, and return to the original area
through which they had entered. Months have passed. Monica is
pregnant by Luiz, demonstrating that April's people are not really a
separate species from Homo sapiens. A chain of events set in motion
by the meteor impact has led to the accelerating deterioration of the
habitat's life-support systems. They evacuate the tribe's children to
orbit, and the rest of the tribe's prospects for survival are
uncertain. Monica manumits Nanny, and behaves heroically, confirming
April's decision to forgive her.
Patricia C. Wrede
2005-07-29 16:32:40 UTC
Permalink
.
"Ben Crowell" <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote in message
news:Dsqdnc_2KK06FnTfRVn-***@adelphia.com...
> This is a synopsis meant to be sent to prospective agents for my first
> novel. Would anyone be willing to give comments on it as a document for
> selling my work?

OK, this is obviously a synopsis intended as part of a portion-and-outline
submission, so I'm commenting on it as such. If that's *not* how you intend
to use it, let me know and I'll give you the other version.

> synopsis of Have Dominion
> science fiction, 80,000 words

If you're aiming for the YA market, 80,000 words is long. YA tends to
prefer 50,000-60,000 in a first novel; yes, there are longer ones, but
they're usually by established YA authors.

General comments:

It's not a bad job, by a long shot, though it doesn't particularly grab me.
You do a good job of summarizing the events of the story without being
confusing or going off on too many tangents. However, the overall
description lacks a certain amount of focus/drive. Stuff just keeps
happening; the main character doesn't seem to have any particular goal in
mind or overall problem to solve. Looking at it closely, I suspect this
does not reflect the actual book. It looks to me as if you were focusing on
"what happens" when this is more of a "why" book, which makes the synopsis
look a little disconnected. You also provide a bunch of information that is
irrelevant *to the synopsis*. It may be vital to the whole story, but
you're not telling the whole story here. Leaving out some of the
unnecessary information will give you more room to clarify and expand on the
things you *do* need.

You're using a rather formal format, which a) isn't necessary and b) in this
case, doesn't seem to be serving your story as well as it could. Given what
you have here, I don't think I'd go for the sort of free-form,
just-tell-the-story plot summary that I normally use, but I *would* use a
slightly different format. (I've posted a riff on different formats for
synopses before; try googling on "Linda purple monkey." If that doesn't
work, I can always repost.) I'll give you the specifics in a minute.

Specifics:

> Background
>
> The year is 2191. In its expansion into the solar system, Homo
> sapiens has created an underclass of artificial intelligences and
> genetically modified humans. But unknown to the human tribe, an
> older, more advanced race has been working behind the scenes; they
> have built a vast, hidden habitat under the surface of the asteroid
> Ceres, where samples of Earth life have continued to evolve in a
> low-gravity environment.

A good bit of this information is either irrelevant to the synopsis (the
"underclass" status of AIs and genetically modified humans seems to have
nothing to do with the plot, for example) or raises serious questions that
you don't answer in the synopsis. One of the things you really, really,
really do not want to do is to get an editor/agent really interested in some
intriguing bit (who are those "older, more advanced race" guys, and what are
they up to?) only to have it turn out that the story is focused on something
else entirely. I'd delete this entire section and incorporate the really
necessary information in the synopsis. (BTW, a lot of the time you will
find that if/when critiquers want to know *more* about things in a synopsis,
like "who are these older race guys?" or "how does April find out she's
intended as a host mother?", the actual solution is to provide *less*
information in the synopsis, so that the questions don't arise.)

> Characters
>
> April, the protagonist, is a hominid from Ceres with a coat of yellow
> fur. Asteroid miner Luiz Diegues has stumbled upon the Cerean
> habitat, stolen the infant April, and sold her to genetically
> modified humans in an Earth-orbit colony, who plan to use her as a
> host mother to circumvent Earth's reproductive controls. April has
> been raised by Nanny, an artificial intelligence housed in the body
> of a panda.

Based on the rest of this synopsis, this is the bit you need to focus on a
little more. As it stands, you leave out Monica, who is clearly a central
character; you may possibly also want to include Sonu as well.

The other thing you want to do in this section, I think, is to actually
focus *on the characters*. Right now, this paragraph is really just more
background information about what happened to get April into the situation
she's in at the start of the story. If you are going to have a section on
"characters," it should usually provide stuff like personality and
motivation that are hard to get into an event-based plot synopsis. What
does each of the characters want; how do their wants contrast or conflict;
which ones are cynical, innocent, easygoing, impulsive, trusting,
manipulative, etc.?

The reason to include and expand this section is that your story, as
presented, seems to be character-centered: your protagonist is trying to
find her identity (almost literally), and that seems to be the primary
central thread to the story (as compared to, say, a story in which her main
goal was to give hope to the genetic underclass or defeat the Evil Overlord,
and the identity stuff sort of came along with as an acillary benefit). So
you need a bit more information about these people, their personalities, and
their relationships.

> Audience, Tone, and Theme
>
> The story is aimed at the female YA market, but should also interest
> adults. Until April escapes from her owners, old public-domain books
> are her sole source of information about the human race, and this
> leads to humorous and satirical episodes. Her quest to find out where
> she came from is also her quest to learn what it is to be a human
> being, and how to love and be loved.

I suggest you leave this paragraph/section out. First off, there's no such
thing as a "female YA market." YA isn't broken down that way. The "of
interest to adults" part and the reference later to "humorous and satirical
episodes" don't need to be in this synopsis; they should be obvious from the
portion of the work that you're sending along with this outline. The only
useful information in this bit that doesn't appear elsewhere is 1) this is
intended for the YA market, and 2) the main character is on a quest to find
out where she came from and what it is to be a human being. #1 should be in
that bit up above, under synopsis ("YA science fiction, 80,000 words"
instead of "Science fiction, 80,000 words"), and #2 should be obvious from
the plot synopsis (it isn't, and that's the main problem with it).

> Synopsis
>
> April learns of her owners' plan to use her as a host mother, and
> looks for a way to escape their orbiting farm habitat. Luiz sneaks
> aboard the habitat, locates April via her DNA trail, and steals her
> and Nanny.

How old is April?

Why is Luiz back, looking for April, after so many years?

Your first paragraph needs to do a lot of work -- you're setting up the
opening of the story and the central story-problem for the main
character(s). You do a fine job of providing *what* happens, but there is
consistently little or no *why* (apart from April's reason for running
away). This continues in later sections -- why do they pick up Monica, but
leave Luiz's girlfriend behind? Why do they go back to Ceres and the
underground habitats, except for the convenience of the plot? If you don't
want to provide this information, don't give the reader (agent, editor) the
chance to ask the questions. (Also, remember that the agent/editor is going
to have the first three or four chapters along with this outline, so you
don't have to go into quite as much detail here as you might have thought
you needed. They can see the specifics in the portion.)

You can also get away with a far greater level of compression than you're
using for your plot events, which will give you more room to include
important motivations, emotional reactions, and/or thematic stuff, almost
all of which is now missing.

>He hasn't seen April since she was a baby, and, like her
> owners, believes that she isn't intelligent. Aboard his spaceship, he
> intends to put April into a state of hibernation, but she puts him in
> the hibernation chamber instead, and takes over the ship.

As you have presented the story, it is not important for me to know *in the
synopsis* that Luiz is the one who brought April here in the first place,
nor what her owners' plans are (since the host mother business is
irrelevant -- they could have been planning to send her to Harvard, but Luiz
would still have snuck aboard and stolen her, kicking the plot into motion).
Also, since April is the protagonist (and presumed primary focus of the
story), you want that obvious in the synopsis. So you can compress this
whole paragraph into how things look from her viewpoint:

"When 16-year-old April and her artificial-intelligence Nanny are kidnapped
by asteroid miner Luiz Diegues, they quickly turn the tables on him, taking
control of his ship and relegating Luiz to a hibernation chamber."

That keeps all of the relevant information from the first paragraph, leaves
out the stuff that is irrelevant or raises too many questions...and gives an
impression that this is going to be a slam-bang exciting action story.
Since that doesn't seem to be what you have, you don't want to use this as
your first sentence. However, having severely trimmed the paragraph, you
can now add in some of the motivation/character stuff that will provide more
of a flavor of the story:

"16-year-old April has just begun to wonder why she is so different from the
other inhabitants of the orbital farm when she and her
artificial-intelligence Nanny are kidnapped by asteroid miner Luiz Diegues.
They quickly turn the tables on him, taking control of his ship and
relegating Luiz to a hibernation chamber."

If, as you said in your "Audience, Tone, and Theme" section, this is
supposed to be a story about "where April comes from" and "what it means to
be human," the synopsis needs to include more recognition of April's
emotional development. The details of, for instance, April and Nanny's
discoveries aboard Luiz's ship and its malfunction are not nearly so
important for us to know as the details of, for instance, her emotional
reaction to the discovery that she has a sister and to that sister's later
betrayal.

> A chain of events set in motion
> by the meteor impact has led to the accelerating deterioration of the
> habitat's life-support systems. They evacuate the tribe's children to
> orbit, and the rest of the tribe's prospects for survival are
> uncertain. Monica manumits Nanny, and behaves heroically, confirming
> April's decision to forgive her.

From both the plot-angle and the character-angle, this climax comes out of
left field. It doesn't seem to have much to do with April's growth; all of
a sudden, it's about Monica (who seems to have undergone a truly remarkable
change of heart for no particular reason except possibly the passage of
time). But the really telling problem from a synopsis perspective, is that
this doesn't provide any sense of resolution. There's a sudden new, big
problem (the life-support system is suddenly deteriorating! Which it's been
doing for 15 years, since the meteor impact, but nobody's noticed until
now!) which has apparently got nothing to do with April's search for her
background or her attempts to understand/reconcile with Monica. The new,
big problem is incompletely resolved *without* providing any new answers to
overall-book questions -- in other words, it appears to function a a big,
splashy, artificial climax-event that ends up leaving the story with *even
more* loose ends than it already had. There's no resolution, no closure;
things just stop.

One of the main functions of a synopsis is to reassure the editor/agent that
the story has an ending, a resolution; that it doesn't fall apart at the
end. If you are intending to write sequels, and want to leave loose ends
for that purpose, explain that that's what you're doing...but the
editor/agent is still going to want to see some closure on *this* book and
*this* storyline.

In the case of this novel, I am guessing that if the relationshp between
April and Monica is as central as it seems, then the emergency evacuation
and Monica's "heroic behavior" are the occasion of some rapproachment
between them. If so, then that's the closure that you need to provide more
clearly -- not just "April forgives Monica and was right," but "April and
Monica are forced to work together to save the children, and in doing so
settle their differences and come to a new understanding of each other."

Patricia C. Wrede
Ben Crowell <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com">
2005-07-29 19:54:17 UTC
Permalink
I don't want to try anyone's patience by going through multiple
iterations, but I've revised the synopsis based on Patricia's
very helpful comments. If anyone is inclined to give further
crits, here's the new version.

I didn't realize that 80,000 words was considered long for a YA,
so I'm wondering if I should just try to sell it as straight SF,
with the unspoken implication that since the protagonist is a
teenage girl, it could appeal to girls and women. My original
draft was 50,000 words, which I learned was unmarketably short
for an adult novel, so while I was fixing the problems that were
pointed out by my first readers, I lengthened it :-)

===================================================================

synopsis of Have Dominion
science fiction, 80,000 words

Characters

April, the 16-year-old protagonist, is a hominid from Ceres with a
coat of yellow fur, who wants to find out who she is and where she
came from. April has been raised in near-total isolation by Nanny,
an artificial intelligence housed in the body of a panda. Because of
April's strange upbringing, she has a hard time relating to other
people in an honest and trusting manner, and the usual teenage
emotional turmoil is amplified for her. April was originally
discovered by Luiz Diegues, a morally pliable asteroid miner with an
alcohol problem. April's manipulative older sister Monica has been
raised separately from her, and grew up angry because of her subhuman
social status; she's less interested in self-discovery than in
carving out a position of power for herself. Sonu is a stone-age
shepherd boy of April's species, who falls in love with her; in
contrast to April, he's honest, trusting, and more mature.

Background

A meteor impact uncovers part of the shell of a mysterious, ancient
habitat under the surface of the asteroid Ceres. Luiz discovers the
infants April and Monica there, and sells them as exotic animals. In
the treachery surrounding this shady business deal, Luiz is left in
hibernation aboard his spaceship for the maximum programmable period
of fifteen years.

Synopsis

Growing up, April has had little contact with humans, even her
owners, from whom she learns to hide her intelligence and literacy.
She's developed a confused picture of the human race from a cache of
old public-domain digitized books. Luiz tries to kidnap April back
from her owners, but April and Nanny quickly turn the tables, put him
back in the hibernation chamber, and take over the ship. The ship is
designed to fly on autopilot while its owner is asleep.

April steals Luiz's identity, and via the local communication network
she participates in the social life of the miners whose ships are in
nearby orbits. She wins a small fortune by playing poker over the
network, and adopts a romanticized version of the miners' anarchistic
ethos. The ship runs into mechanical problems and a solar storm,
which April and Nanny are eventually unable to handle on their own,
and they're forced to wake Luiz. Nanny has taken a heavy dose of
radiation. Luiz is embarrassed at mistaking April for an animal and
selling her, and is also impressed by Nanny's heroic self-sacrifice.
They reactivate the ship's artificial intelligence, and in order to
gain time to repair Nanny's panda body, the two AIs are forced to
temporarily cohabit the same computer, an experience that pushes them
over the threshold into true sentience. April develops a secret crush
on Luiz.

They limp in to port at an asteroid colony, where April's older
sister Monica has been raised. April's poker winnings are needed in
order to pay off the ship's bottomry bond, which has been collecting
interest for fifteen years. April and Monica are reunited, and
instantly dislike each other. Luiz initially expects to rejoin
society, but after realizing what it means to have been in
hibernation for all this time, he decides to go back to Ceres with
April, Monica, and Nanny. Monica sexually manipulates Luiz, and April
has to spend the voyage in hibernation. When she wakes up, she learns
that Luiz is an alcoholic, who only dries out periodically by going
into hibernation.

Inside the underground habitat, April and Monica get into a dispute,
and Luiz isn't sober enough to mediate. April and Nanny discover a
DNA trail left by people of April's species, and the trail leads them
to a hidden doorway to a second habitat. They learn how to open the
door, but Luiz and Monica don't have this information. The dispute
between April and Monica escalates. Monica wipes Nanny's memory, and
April, enraged, brandishes a cooking knife at Monica and threatens to
kill her. Nanny is now programmed to be loyal to Monica, and goes
after April, rifle in hand. April escapes into the second habitat,
but Nanny slips in after her before the door automatically closes.
April at first has no sympathy for the new Nanny, who is trying to
catch or kill her, but then starts to feel sorry for her. The two
strike up an ironic friendship by radio. April evades Nanny by taking
to the trees, which she can easily climb in the low gravity. April
begins to feel more and more responsibility for Nanny, who in many
ways is little more than a baby; without admitting it to herself at
first, she ends up accepting the role of surrogate mother, reversing
their previous roles. Nanny, caught between her love for April and
her programmed loyalty to Monica, begins to hack herself, while April
tries to help with bumbling long-distance psychoanalysis. There are
signs that something is wrong with the life support.

Nanny, attempting to follow April's DNA trail, instead comes across
Sonu. Nanny and Sonu begin learning each other's languages, and Sonu,
unknown to Nanny, makes contact with April and falls in love with
her. April doesn't believe that Sonu could love her for herself, and
imputes other motives to him. Sonu and his grandparents disarm Nanny
and take her parole. We learn that the adults of April's species are
three meters tall. The tribe perceives the situation as a deadly feud
between the witches April and Monica, and conducts a trial involving
the barbaric custom of democracy. As a result of the trial, April
comes to see her own actions in a different light, and forgives
Monica. Monica has grown up in a society in which artificial
intelligences are thought of as tools, not people, and other
artificial intelligences are not as sentient as Nanny. April now sees
herself as an adult, and her older sister as an immature teenager.

The tribe requires April to make peace with Monica, so, accompanied
by Nanny and Sonu, she heads back by a different route. There are
adventures involving exotic life forms that have been sealed off from
the rest of the habitats, and have been evolving independently for
millions of years in low gravity.

By the time they get back to the airlock, it's been months since the
original dispute with Monica. Luiz's liver has failed, and he's in
hibernation aboard the orbiting ship. Monica is pregnant by Luiz,
demonstrating that April's people are not really a separate species
from Homo sapiens. Monica didn't want to abandon April and Nanny in
Ceres, but was also afraid to give birth all alone in a wilderness.
Desperate, she used explosives to blast open the door that April and
Nanny had passed through. The meteor impact had already left the life
support in a precarious state, and this final insult kicked the
systems over the edge into an accelerating death spiral. Although the
consequences of Monica's actions could be horrible, April has learned
how to trust and understand other people, and realizes that Monica
did what she did because April had backed her into a corner. Working
together, they evacuate the tribe's children to orbit. With the
temperature and air pressure rapidly dropping, the tribe's adults
make a break for an area whose life support may still be functioning,
but Sonu delays in order to help save the children, making it
unlikely that he'll survive. Monica risks her own life in order to
let Sonu be evacuated to orbit. The emotional conflicts involving
April's relationships with Monica and Nanny are resolved, and April
has found out about her origin and her people. However, unresolved
complications in the plot leave openings for a sequel.
Patricia C. Wrede
2005-07-29 20:31:54 UTC
Permalink
"Ben Crowell" <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote in message
news:eY2dnWavXri3FXffRVn-***@adelphia.com...
>I don't want to try anyone's patience by going through multiple
> iterations, but I've revised the synopsis based on Patricia's
> very helpful comments. If anyone is inclined to give further
> crits, here's the new version.

I'd say it was a big improvement on the last one; now I have a sense of the
characters' progress, and it sounds much more interesting overall. At this
point, I wouldn't worry about nit-picking it to death.
>
> I didn't realize that 80,000 words was considered long for a YA,
> so I'm wondering if I should just try to sell it as straight SF,
> with the unspoken implication that since the protagonist is a
> teenage girl, it could appeal to girls and women. My original
> draft was 50,000 words, which I learned was unmarketably short
> for an adult novel, so while I was fixing the problems that were
> pointed out by my first readers, I lengthened it :-)

If you're only sending it to agents, let the agent figure out how to market
it. He/she will anyway.

If you're trying for YA editors as well as agents, you're probably not going
to be starting with this anyway -- there are almost *no* YA houses that take
unsolicited submissions that are unagented, so you'll have had a query
letter first and they should know from that what to expect in terms of
length and have allowed for it. Be *absolutely sure* to check guidelines;
some YA houses don't even want query letters these days.

Patricia C. Wrede
Dan Goodman
2005-07-30 02:14:46 UTC
Permalink
Patricia C. Wrede wrote:

> If you're trying for YA editors as well as agents, you're probably
> not going to be starting with this anyway -- there are almost no YA
> houses that take unsolicited submissions that are unagented, so
> you'll have had a query letter first and they should know from that
> what to expect in terms of length and have allowed for it. Be
> *absolutely sure* to check guidelines; some YA houses don't even want
> query letters these days.

Same for at least one non-age-specific publisher, I believe.

--
Dan Goodman
Journal http://www.livejournal.com/users/dsgood/
Clutterers Anonymous unofficial community
http://www.livejournal.com/community/clutterers_anon/
Decluttering http://decluttering.blogspot.com
Predictions and Politics http://dsgood.blogspot.com
All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.
John Arbuthnot (1667-1735), Scottish writer, physician.
Brian M. Scott
2005-07-30 01:32:00 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 29 Jul 2005 12:54:17 -0700, Ben Crowell <crowell05
at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com> wrote in
<news:eY2dnWavXri3FXffRVn-***@adelphia.com> in
rec.arts.sf.composition:

[...]

> I didn't realize that 80,000 words was considered long for a YA,
> so I'm wondering if I should just try to sell it as straight SF,
> with the unspoken implication that since the protagonist is a
> teenage girl, it could appeal to girls and women.

Or to anyone else. I don't know how atypical a datapoint I
am, but I have always preferred female protagonists, all
else being equal. Leave it to the folks with experience
making such decisions (though I do sometimes wonder about
those decisions).

[...]

Brian
Ben Crowell <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com">
2005-07-30 02:13:24 UTC
Permalink
Brian M. Scott wrote:
>>I didn't realize that 80,000 words was considered long for a YA,
>>so I'm wondering if I should just try to sell it as straight SF,
>>with the unspoken implication that since the protagonist is a
>>teenage girl, it could appeal to girls and women.
> Or to anyone else. I don't know how atypical a datapoint I
> am, but I have always preferred female protagonists, all
> else being equal. Leave it to the folks with experience
> making such decisions (though I do sometimes wonder about
> those decisions).
I was spurred to write a YA with a female protagonist because my
daughter (now 9) refused to read my favorite old Heinlein
juveniles. She's much younger than the intended audience of
the book, of course. I think the stereotype for young kids
is that girls will relate to a protagonist of either sex, but
boys spurn fiction with a girl protagonist. I'm not sure for
teenage SF readers. I do recall hating the Andre Norton books
with a passion, and checking them out of the library only if
there was absolutely nothing else SFnal that I could find. But
then, that was in a period when I immature enough to be
titillated because "I Will Fear No Evil" used words like "horny."
:-)

I did an informal survey at the local Barnes and Noble, and
I was surprised by how little SF there even was in the YA
shelves. Some of it is obviously aimed at girls, but it doesn't
strike me as mainstream SF, more like stories about spooky things
happening on the internet. Fantasy seems to be in the ascendant
over SF right now, at least in the minds of marketers who are
impressed by the sales of Harry Potter.
Patricia C. Wrede
2005-07-30 03:12:04 UTC
Permalink
"Ben Crowell" <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote in message
news:ltqdnXE9YrmefHffRVn-***@adelphia.com...

> I was spurred to write a YA with a female protagonist because my
> daughter (now 9) refused to read my favorite old Heinlein
> juveniles. She's much younger than the intended audience of
> the book, of course. I think the stereotype for young kids
> is that girls will relate to a protagonist of either sex, but
> boys spurn fiction with a girl protagonist. I'm not sure for
> teenage SF readers.

It's a very old stereotype, and it doesn't reflect the way YA is currently
structured or the way YA editors are currently buying. You see, somewhere
around the late 1980s, somebody realized that the *reason* boys "didn't want
to read books with girl protagonists" wasn't that the protagonists were
girls; it was that the old-fashioned culturally-appropriate-for-girls stuff
didn't have girls doing anything *interesting*. Give 'em a girl with a
sword, and they were perfectly happy to read about her.

> I did an informal survey at the local Barnes and Noble, and
> I was surprised by how little SF there even was in the YA
> shelves. Some of it is obviously aimed at girls, but it doesn't
> strike me as mainstream SF, more like stories about spooky things
> happening on the internet. Fantasy seems to be in the ascendant
> over SF right now, at least in the minds of marketers who are
> impressed by the sales of Harry Potter.

SF has always been rough in the YA market; fantasy is only slightly less so.
Historically, there have been very few YA editors who like or understand
SF/F, and many of the ones that do have had difficulties getting stuff past
their bosses. In addition, there has been little incentive for SF/F
*authors* to try to sell to the YA market -- SF/F is one of the few fields
in which a teenaged protagonist actually *works* in an adult market, and the
advances in adult SF/F are much better than in YA. So many authors go
straight for the adult market where their stuff will be easier to sell,
where they won't have to argue with their editors about basic science and/or
SF tropes, and where they will get twice as much money or more, up front.

Patricia C. Wrede
Bill Swears
2005-07-30 05:08:55 UTC
Permalink
Patricia C. Wrede wrote:
>
>
> SF has always been rough in the YA market; fantasy is only slightly
> less so.

> So many authors go
> straight for the adult market where their stuff will be easier to
> sell, where they won't have to argue with their editors about basic
> science and/or SF tropes, and where they will get twice as much money
> or more, up front.
>
> Patricia C. Wrede
>

OK, I'm sold. I'm not going to try the YA market. Course my Protags
mate for life at 14, so probably wasn't headed that way anyhow.


--
Bill Swears

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Ben Franklin, 1755 "Historical Review of Pennsylvania"

To think that was once a right wing comment. In the land of Homeland
Security it seems.. Suspiciously left-wing.
Marilee J. Layman
2005-07-30 18:10:49 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 29 Jul 2005 22:12:04 -0500, "Patricia C. Wrede"
<***@aol.com> wrote:

>"Ben Crowell" <"crowell05 at lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote in message
>news:ltqdnXE9YrmefHffRVn-***@adelphia.com...
>
>> I was spurred to write a YA with a female protagonist because my
>> daughter (now 9) refused to read my favorite old Heinlein
>> juveniles. She's much younger than the intended audience of
>> the book, of course. I think the stereotype for young kids
>> is that girls will relate to a protagonist of either sex, but
>> boys spurn fiction with a girl protagonist. I'm not sure for
>> teenage SF readers.
>
>It's a very old stereotype, and it doesn't reflect the way YA is currently
>structured or the way YA editors are currently buying. You see, somewhere
>around the late 1980s, somebody realized that the *reason* boys "didn't want
>to read books with girl protagonists" wasn't that the protagonists were
>girls; it was that the old-fashioned culturally-appropriate-for-girls stuff
>didn't have girls doing anything *interesting*. Give 'em a girl with a
>sword, and they were perfectly happy to read about her.

Yep, I just finished Nicky's Basilisk (dual protagonists, one boy, one
girl -- and if it's ever made into a movie, I think Alan Rickman
should play the Archon) and am partway through her Hunted, which,
again, has dual protagonists.

--
Marilee J. Layman
Nicola Browne
2005-07-31 09:04:27 UTC
Permalink
"Patricia C. Wrede" <***@aol.com> wrote in message
news:***@corp.supernews.com

>> SF has always been rough in the YA market; fantasy is only slightly less so.
> Historically, there have been very few YA editors who like or understand
> SF/F, and many of the ones that do have had difficulties getting stuff past
> their bosses. In addition, there has been little incentive for SF/F
> *authors* to try to sell to the YA market -- SF/F is one of the few fields
> in which a teenaged protagonist actually *works* in an adult market, and the
> advances in adult SF/F are much better than in YA. So many authors go
> straight for the adult market where their stuff will be easier to sell,
> where they won't have to argue with their editors about basic science and/or
> SF tropes, and where they will get twice as much money or more, up front.
>

I don't know too much about SF/Fantasy in general, but children's
fantasy in the UK has been in vogue recently - I don't know if that
means we're already onto the next big thing (historical fiction has also
been popular while in the late seventies it was all issue books.)
Most YA writers I know see themselves as YA writers first and genre
writers second so I guess that means that I agree with
Patricia that if you see yourself primarily as a genre writer -
children's publishing would not necessarily be your natural port of
call. Moreover in a mainstream imprint you are in competition for
publication with all other children's books not just with other
YA SF/fantasy. General publishers don't have SF 'slots' they take
whatever they think is going to be the next big thing.
I got into it because I happened to be first published by a children's
publisher who have allowed me to write pretty well what I want.

Nicky (posting from Australia)


--
Posted via Mailgate.ORG Server - http://www.Mailgate.ORG
Simon Morden
2005-07-31 13:03:59 UTC
Permalink
Nicola Browne wrote:
> General publishers don't have SF 'slots' they take
> whatever they think is going to be the next big thing.
> I got into it because I happened to be first published by a children's
> publisher who have allowed me to write pretty well what I want.
>
> Nicky (posting from Australia)
>
>

Likewise. I wrote _The Lost Art_ as adult SF, even after I'd sold it to
a primarily YA publisher. He's letting me do (within reason) whatever I
like, as long as he likes it too.

YA is a marketing position. It doesn't say much about what happens
between the covers... although I would argue you have to cut down on the
sex and ultra-violence. That on its own might leave room for a little
more inventiveness.

Simon Morden
Patricia C. Wrede
2005-07-31 14:47:31 UTC
Permalink
"Simon Morden" <***@spamtastic.blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message
news:3%3He.42371$***@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk...
> Nicola Browne wrote:
>> General publishers don't have SF 'slots' they take
>> whatever they think is going to be the next big thing.
>> I got into it because I happened to be first published by a children's
>> publisher who have allowed me to write pretty well what I want.

> Likewise. I wrote _The Lost Art_ as adult SF, even after I'd sold it to a
> primarily YA publisher. He's letting me do (within reason) whatever I
> like, as long as he likes it too.

And I thought my agent was nuts when she said she wanted to market "Talking
to Dragons" as YA. Which is why I have an agent...

> YA is a marketing position. It doesn't say much about what happens between
> the covers... although I would argue you have to cut down on the sex and
> ultra-violence. That on its own might leave room for a little more
> inventiveness.

In the U.S., the presence of sex and ultra-violence is largely a matter of
tone and/or how graphic you can get. Jane Yolen's "The Devil's Arithmetic"
has a protagonist who is sent to one of the death camps during WWII; it
doesn't shirk the horror and violence, but it doesn't linger over graphic
descriptions of corpse piles, either. It's not a matter of content; it's
how you handle it.

Patricia C. Wrede
Patricia C. Wrede
2005-07-31 14:37:30 UTC
Permalink
"Nicola Browne" <***@btinternet.com> wrote in message
news:***@mygate.mailgate.org...
> "Patricia C. Wrede" <***@aol.com> wrote in message
> news:***@corp.supernews.com
>
>>> SF has always been rough in the YA market; fantasy is only slightly less
>>> so.
>> Historically, there have been very few YA editors who like or understand
>> SF/F, and many of the ones that do have had difficulties getting stuff
>> past
>> their bosses. In addition, there has been little incentive for SF/F
>> *authors* to try to sell to the YA market -- SF/F is one of the few
>> fields
>> in which a teenaged protagonist actually *works* in an adult market, and
>> the
>> advances in adult SF/F are much better than in YA. So many authors go
>> straight for the adult market where their stuff will be easier to sell,
>> where they won't have to argue with their editors about basic science
>> and/or
>> SF tropes, and where they will get twice as much money or more, up front.
>>
>
> I don't know too much about SF/Fantasy in general, but children's
> fantasy in the UK has been in vogue recently

YA fantasy is a lot more common and better understood than SF, but in the US
there are two strong currents of thought against it -- the "anything with
magic in it is corrupting my children by teaching them evil witchcraft"
school and the "anything with magic in it makes children grow up ignoramuses
by teaching them to believe in unreal things and to disbelieve in scientific
evidence" school. They're not strong enough movements to get fantasy out of
schools and bookstores and so on, but they still have an effect -- and one
of the effects is that a lot of adults, including editors, aren't terribly
familiar with fantasy and/or aren't really comfortable with it.

Harry Potter has sparked a huge boom in YA fantasy, but a lot of the editors
who're racing to find "the next Harry Potter" pretty clearly don't have a
clue; you can tell by what they're buying and how they're marketing it, and
by the fact that *in spite of* Harry's wild success, you don't see as much
YA/children's fantasy as you saw, oh, YA problem novels, a few years back
when that was the current Big Thing, or even horror when YA horror was the
big new trend.

> Most YA writers I know see themselves as YA writers first and genre
> writers second so I guess that means that I agree with
> Patricia that if you see yourself primarily as a genre writer -
> children's publishing would not necessarily be your natural port of
> call.

I don't mean to discourage him from trying YA -- it has advantages (as you
know, Bob). Figuring very highly among them is the market -- YA books tend
to have longer legs than adult fiction, because kids keep growing up into
them. The hardcover market is also potentially enormous (in the U.S., at
least) -- think of all those school libraries. The money is actually better
*in the long run*, in my experience anyway...but an awful lot of authors
are either too impatient or simply cannot afford to wait for the long run.

Patricia C. Wrede
John W. Kennedy
2005-07-31 16:37:34 UTC
Permalink
Patricia C. Wrede wrote:
> YA fantasy is a lot more common and better understood than SF, but in the US
> there are two strong currents of thought against it -- the "anything with
> magic in it is corrupting my children by teaching them evil witchcraft"
> school and the "anything with magic in it makes children grow up ignoramuses
> by teaching them to believe in unreal things and to disbelieve in scientific
> evidence" school.

The latter being the reason for the near disappearance of Oz from
libraries at mid-century.

Didn't stop the baby boomers from starting a wild upswing in
superstition and ignorance, though.

--
John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract,
Man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams. "Bors to Elayne: On the King's Coins"
Kevin J. Cheek
2005-08-02 00:18:23 UTC
Permalink
In article <s17He.6772$6%***@fe10.lga>, ***@attglobal.net says...
> The latter being the reason for the near disappearance of Oz from
> libraries at mid-century.

It also might have something to do with the Oz books being somewhat
dated. There was more than one Oz book, which I remember discovering much
to my delight in my youth, but most libraries only carry the first. Which
raises the question of how well "The Wizard of Oz" would be received
today were it not for the MGM movie loosely based on the book.

--
-Kevin J. Cheek
Remove corn to send e-mail.
R. L.
2005-08-03 12:59:08 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 1 Aug 2005 20:18:23 -0400, Kevin J. Cheek
<***@maize.planttel.net> wrote:

>In article <s17He.6772$6%***@fe10.lga>, ***@attglobal.net says...
>> The latter being the reason for the near disappearance of Oz from
>> libraries at mid-century.
>
>It also might have something to do with the Oz books being somewhat
>dated. There was more than one Oz book, which I remember discovering much
>to my delight in my youth, but most libraries only carry the first. Which
>raises the question of how well "The Wizard of Oz" would be received
>today were it not for the MGM movie loosely based on the book.


I'd say aged to vintage. :-)

Oz certainly reads different now, movie or no. 1900s Kansas is almost as
remote to us as Oz. (See intro to THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH about the opening
of fairy tales, the petty kings and spinning wheels, being as remote now as
the wonders in the middle of the story.) So is London in the Blitz,
thankfully; to me in Texas, England seemed much more than half way to
Narnia.

Some things within Oz have got more remote, magical. There are oldish
bridges on the US west coast that look like Emerald City architecture.
Well, oldish by western USian standards. Dorothy's clothes and hairstyle
were currrent at the time. I'm not sure how old the Oz natives' clothes
looked then. The gramaphone with ragtime was probably current at the time;
I bet it read like Xanth.


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Jonathan L Cunningham
2005-08-12 22:01:04 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 03 Aug 2005 12:59:08 GMT, R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:

(snip)
> to me in Texas, England seemed much more than half way to
>Narnia.

Noted. Since I am in England, if I want to get to Narnia, clearly
heading for Texas is the wrong direction.

What's the opposite direction to Texas? Hmmm. Lapland? Sounds
right: that's where Father Christmas lives.

So: head towards Lapland, and keep going for *less* than the
distance to Texas. Voila! Hey presto! Atishoo! Narnia!

I'm not sure, but I think Narnia is somewhere in Siberia??

Jonathan

--
Backlog in rasfc: 600
Mail to spam auto-deleted, use jlc1 instead.
(That's jay ell cee one, if your font makes l and 1 look the same)
Suzanne A Blom
2005-08-13 01:52:02 UTC
Permalink
Jonathan L Cunningham <***@softluck.plus.com> wrote in message
news:***@news.plus.net...
> On Wed, 03 Aug 2005 12:59:08 GMT, R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>
> > to me in Texas, England seemed much more than half way to
> >Narnia.
>
> Noted. Since I am in England, if I want to get to Narnia, clearly
> heading for Texas is the wrong direction.
>
> What's the opposite direction to Texas? Hmmm. Lapland? Sounds
> right: that's where Father Christmas lives.
>
> So: head towards Lapland, and keep going for *less* than the
> distance to Texas. Voila! Hey presto! Atishoo! Narnia!
>
> I'm not sure, but I think Narnia is somewhere in Siberia??
>
This does explain why the snow witch is vile.
R. L.
2005-08-13 04:46:30 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 22:01:04 GMT, ***@softluck.plus.com (Jonathan L
Cunningham) wrote:
/snip/

>So: head towards Lapland, and keep going for *less* than the
>distance to Texas. Voila! Hey presto! Atishoo! Narnia!

Atishoo?


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Neil Barnes
2005-08-13 10:16:15 UTC
Permalink
and lo, on Sat, 13 Aug 2005 04:46:30 +0000, R.L scraped chalk on slate and
produced:

> On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 22:01:04 GMT, ***@softluck.plus.com (Jonathan L
> Cunningham) wrote:
> /snip/
>
>>So: head towards Lapland, and keep going for *less* than the distance to
>>Texas. Voila! Hey presto! Atishoo! Narnia!
>
> Atishoo?
>

Bless you! Saude! Gesundheit!

Neil

--
If you saw him, you'd think he was some kind of goose,
But the wise men all know he's a barnacle.
Julian Flood
2005-08-13 05:42:31 UTC
Permalink
"Jonathan L Cunningham" wrote

> I'm not sure, but I think Narnia is somewhere in Siberia??

Bill thought the Shire was near Feltwell. Not enough downs, not enough
ups, too bleak, not enough cose. To find that gentle folded country
I'd search West Sussex, or, better, the softer valleys of Hamphire and
Dorset where beech hangars loom green above tiny thick-hedged fields,
and fat red cows graze by tinkling chalk streams alive with caddis
castles and darting trout.

JF
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-13 06:44:14 UTC
Permalink
In article <ddk19c$7lm$***@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>,
Julian Flood <***@floodsnonoclimbersnospam.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:
>
>"Jonathan L Cunningham" wrote
>
>> I'm not sure, but I think Narnia is somewhere in Siberia??
>
>Bill thought the Shire was near Feltwell. Not enough downs, not enough
>ups, too bleak, not enough cose. To find that gentle folded country
>I'd search West Sussex, or, better, the softer valleys of Hamphire and
>Dorset where beech hangars loom green above tiny thick-hedged fields,
>and fat red cows graze by tinkling chalk streams alive with caddis
>castles and darting trout.

No, from all accounts the Shire is in the Midlands, the part of
it that used to be the Kingdom of Mercia. Oxfordshire and
surroundings. Note that the Rohirrim speak the Mercian dialect
of Old English, which I did not recognize when I first read LotR,
only that it was Old English but not the Wessex dialect I'd been
studying.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Bill Swears
2005-08-13 11:11:30 UTC
Permalink
Dorothy J Heydt wrote:
> In article <ddk19c$7lm$***@news8.svr.pol.co.uk>,
> Julian Flood <***@floodsnonoclimbersnospam.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:
>
>>"Jonathan L Cunningham" wrote
>>
>>
>>>I'm not sure, but I think Narnia is somewhere in Siberia??
>>
>>Bill thought the Shire was near Feltwell. Not enough downs, not enough
>>ups, too bleak, not enough cose. To find that gentle folded country
>>I'd search West Sussex, or, better, the softer valleys of Hamphire and
>>Dorset where beech hangars loom green above tiny thick-hedged fields,
>>and fat red cows graze by tinkling chalk streams alive with caddis
>>castles and darting trout.
>
>
> No, from all accounts the Shire is in the Midlands, the part of
> it that used to be the Kingdom of Mercia. Oxfordshire and
> surroundings. Note that the Rohirrim speak the Mercian dialect
> of Old English, which I did not recognize when I first read LotR,
> only that it was Old English but not the Wessex dialect I'd been
> studying.
>

Perspective is an interesting thing.

I turned 8, 9, and 10 in Feltwell. I was also one of the smallest
people in my school. The land around Feltwell seemed to be gently
folded, have ups and downs, when I was three and a half feet tall. I
don't recall it as bleak. There were streams to follow, haystacks to
jump in, and the farmer's fields behind my house seemed always green.

That area was certainly more shire-like than Fort Worth, TX; Merced, CA;
Spokane, WA; Albuquerque, NM or Teheran, Iran, which were the other
places I remembered living when I first read LOTR.

I had been on road trips through England and Scotland, Scandinavia, most
of western Europe, but no place out of Britain seemed as shire-like as
anyplace I had seen in the isles.

Today, I've been on every continent except South America, and a lot more
road trips, and I'm still pretty comfortable thinking the shire is
somewhere near Feltwell. That's from the small perspective of a very
small person living there, and from the larger perspective of a
moderately well traveled adult, who's never seen anyplace more
shire-like than the England I experienced as a child.

If you want to tell me I missed the location of the Shire by a couple
hundred miles, I'll agree, and posit that we are in alignment.

Bill
Julian Flood
2005-08-13 12:56:01 UTC
Permalink
"Dorothy J Heydt" wrote

> > To find that gentle folded country
> >I'd search West Sussex, or, better, the softer valleys of Hamphire
and
> >Dorset where beech hangars loom green above tiny thick-hedged
fields,
> >and fat red cows graze by tinkling chalk streams alive with caddis
> >castles and darting trout.
>
> No, from all accounts the Shire is in the Midlands, the part of
> it that used to be the Kingdom of Mercia. Oxfordshire and
> surroundings. Note that the Rohirrim speak the Mercian dialect
> of Old English, which I did not recognize when I first read LotR,
> only that it was Old English but not the Wessex dialect I'd been
> studying.

Oxfordshire? Never! Too flat, too boring, not enough gentleness. Huh!
Writers! What do they know, eh?

JF
There was an article about Ringies in a paper recently -- maybe the
Telegraph -- all about a Ringie convention. The tone was much as might
be expected (and I found myself rather sypathetic to it, all things
considered. The names, oh, Lordy, the names.)
Neil Barnes
2005-08-13 14:02:05 UTC
Permalink
and lo, on Sat, 13 Aug 2005 13:56:01 +0100, Julian Flood scraped chalk on
slate and produced:

> There was an article about Ringies in a paper recently -- maybe the
> Telegraph -- all about a Ringie convention. The tone was much as might be
> expected (and I found myself rather sypathetic to it, all things
> considered. The names, oh, Lordy, the names.)

There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading it.

Neil

--
If you saw him, you'd think he was some kind of goose,
But the wise men all know he's a barnacle.
Pat Bowne
2005-08-13 15:29:59 UTC
Permalink
"Neil Barnes" <***@hotmail.com> wrote
>
> There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
> the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading
> it.


Hey! Bombadil is my favorite person in the book. He's the only one not
sucked into that ring nonsense.

Pat
R. L.
2005-08-13 16:40:24 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 10:29:59 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com> wrote:

>
>"Neil Barnes" <***@hotmail.com> wrote
>>
>> There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
>> the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading
>> it.
>
>
>Hey! Bombadil is my favorite person in the book. He's the only one not
>sucked into that ring nonsense.


Mine too. Nor the other angsty stuff, iirc.


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Lucy Kemnitzer
2005-08-13 16:51:22 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 10:29:59 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com>
seems to have said:

>
>"Neil Barnes" <***@hotmail.com> wrote
>>
>> There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
>> the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading
>> it.
>
>
>Hey! Bombadil is my favorite person in the book. He's the only one not
>sucked into that ring nonsense.
>

I like Tom Bombadil too. Or at least I did when I read the book,
which was a while ago now.

Lucy Kemnitzer, still
http://www.baymoon.com/~ritaxis
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis
Margaret Young
2005-08-15 11:46:43 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:51:22 -0700, Lucy Kemnitzer
<***@cruzio.com> wrote:

>On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 10:29:59 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com>
>seems to have said:
>
>>
>>"Neil Barnes" <***@hotmail.com> wrote
>>>
>>> There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
>>> the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading
>>> it.
>>
>>
>>Hey! Bombadil is my favorite person in the book. He's the only one not
>>sucked into that ring nonsense.
>>
>
>I like Tom Bombadil too. Or at least I did when I read the book,
>which was a while ago now.
>
>Lucy Kemnitzer, still
>http://www.baymoon.com/~ritaxis
>http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis

Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
than the rest of the book.



--
Margaret Young
________________________________________________________
Come the apocalypse there will be cockroaches, Keith Richards and the
faint smell of cat pee.
Brian M. Scott
2005-08-15 13:45:33 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:46:43 -0400, Margaret Young
<***@umich.edu> wrote in
<news:***@4ax.com> in
rec.arts.sf.composition:

> On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:51:22 -0700, Lucy Kemnitzer
> <***@cruzio.com> wrote:

>>On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 10:29:59 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com>
>>seems to have said:

>>>"Neil Barnes" <***@hotmail.com> wrote

>>>> There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
>>>> the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading
>>>> it.

>>>Hey! Bombadil is my favorite person in the book. He's the only one not
>>>sucked into that ring nonsense.

>>I like Tom Bombadil too. Or at least I did when I read the book,
>>which was a while ago now.

> Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
> different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
> than the rest of the book.

Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.

Brian
Lucy Kemnitzer
2005-08-15 14:34:12 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 09:45:33 -0400, "Brian M. Scott"
<***@csuohio.edu> seems to have said:

>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:46:43 -0400, Margaret Young
><***@umich.edu> wrote in
><news:***@4ax.com> in
>rec.arts.sf.composition:
>
>> On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:51:22 -0700, Lucy Kemnitzer
>> <***@cruzio.com> wrote:
>
>>>On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 10:29:59 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com>
>>>seems to have said:
>
>>>>"Neil Barnes" <***@hotmail.com> wrote
>
>>>>> There's mention of one in the Guardian, today - but since they focus on
>>>>> the execrable and disposable Bombadil, I probably shan't finish reading
>>>>> it.
>
>>>>Hey! Bombadil is my favorite person in the book. He's the only one not
>>>>sucked into that ring nonsense.
>
>>>I like Tom Bombadil too. Or at least I did when I read the book,
>>>which was a while ago now.
>
>> Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
>> different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
>> than the rest of the book.
>
>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.
>


Tolkien readers are solidly split between those who think Tom Bombadil
is twee and those who think he's anything but. Usually the former
hate him and the latter like him.

Lucy Kemnitzer, still
http://www.baymoon.com/%7Eritaxis/donor/donorweb/donorindex.html
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis
R. L.
2005-08-15 17:23:27 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 09:45:33 -0400, "Brian M. Scott" <***@csuohio.edu>
wrote:

>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:46:43 -0400, Margaret Young
><***@umich.edu> wrote in
><news:***@4ax.com> in
>rec.arts.sf.composition:
>
>> On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:51:22 -0700, Lucy Kemnitzer
>> <***@cruzio.com> wrote:
>
/snip/

>>>I like Tom Bombadil too. Or at least I did when I read the book,
>>>which was a while ago now.
>
>> Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
>> different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
>> than the rest of the book.
>
>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.


What does he think about the 'great loss' and the elves flytting and all
that? Or did he leave too?


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Lucy Kemnitzer
2005-08-15 18:08:30 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 17:23:27 GMT, R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> seems
to have said:

>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 09:45:33 -0400, "Brian M. Scott" <***@csuohio.edu>
>wrote:
>
>>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:46:43 -0400, Margaret Young
>><***@umich.edu> wrote in
>><news:***@4ax.com> in
>>rec.arts.sf.composition:
>>
>>> On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 09:51:22 -0700, Lucy Kemnitzer
>>> <***@cruzio.com> wrote:
>>
>/snip/
>
>>>>I like Tom Bombadil too. Or at least I did when I read the book,
>>>>which was a while ago now.
>>
>>> Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
>>> different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
>>> than the rest of the book.
>>
>>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.
>
>
>What does he think about the 'great loss' and the elves flytting and all
>that? Or did he leave too?


Earth abides (to quote George Stewart), and so does Tom Bombadil.

Lucy Kemnitzer, still
http://www.baymoon.com/%7Eritaxis/donor/donorweb/donorindex.html
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-15 18:39:53 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 09:45:33 -0400, "Brian M. Scott" <***@csuohio.edu>
>wrote:
>
>>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.
>
>
>What does he think about the 'great loss' and the elves flytting and all
>that? Or did he leave too?

I don't think it says anywhere, but I doubt it. The Elves were
returning to their own country. Tom would stay in his own
country, that little patch of wild between the Shire and Bree.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Brian M. Scott
2005-08-15 19:12:41 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 17:23:27 GMT, "R. L."
<see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote in
<news:***@4ax.com> in
rec.arts.sf.composition:

> On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 09:45:33 -0400, "Brian M. Scott"
> <***@csuohio.edu> wrote:

[...]

>>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.

> What does he think about the 'great loss' and the elves
> flytting and all that?

The elves are rather peripheral to his world, though less so
than the shorter-lived races.

> Or did he leave too?

I don't believe that we're told, but it's inconceivable that
he would have done so.

Brian
Julian Flood
2005-08-15 19:29:25 UTC
Permalink
"R. L." wrote

> >Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
> >the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
> >utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
> >ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.
>
>
> What does he think about the 'great loss' and the elves flytting and
all
> that? Or did he leave too?

I believe he lives in Diss.

JF
Helen Hall
2005-08-15 15:48:47 UTC
Permalink
In article <k1syvyaa0vci$***@40tude.net>, Brian M. Scott
<***@csuohio.edu> writes
>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:46:43 -0400, Margaret Young
><***@umich.edu> wrote in
>
>> Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
>> different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
>> than the rest of the book.
>
>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.
>
>Brian

Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
relationship between him and Goldberry.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
Jonathan L Cunningham
2005-08-16 23:39:47 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 16:48:47 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:

>In article <k1syvyaa0vci$***@40tude.net>, Brian M. Scott
><***@csuohio.edu> writes
>>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 07:46:43 -0400, Margaret Young
>><***@umich.edu> wrote in
>>
>>> Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
>>> different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
>>> than the rest of the book.
>>
>>Good grief. Tom Bombadil fey? He's the most solid thing in
>>the book. It's hard to see him as whimsical, either: he's
>>utterly certain of himself and his little world. In some
>>ways he's the personification of the Shire, but more so.
>>
>>Brian
>
>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
>relationship between him and Goldberry.

What was squicky about it? The only odd thing that comes to my mind
was that Tom had to surround her with water from her river, once
a year, or she'd leave him. That sounds like an odd twist to a
common fairy-tale trope: does it suggest to you an element of
compulsion? (In either direction.) Or am I barking up the wrong Old
Man Willow?

Jonathan

--
Backlog in rasfc: 600
Mail to spam auto-deleted, use jlc1 instead.
(That's jay ell cee one, if your font makes l and 1 look the same)
Helen Hall
2005-08-17 12:36:23 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
<***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>>
>>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
>>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
>>relationship between him and Goldberry.
>
>What was squicky about it? The only odd thing that comes to my mind
>was that Tom had to surround her with water from her river, once
>a year, or she'd leave him. That sounds like an odd twist to a
>common fairy-tale trope: does it suggest to you an element of
>compulsion? (In either direction.) Or am I barking up the wrong Old
>Man Willow?
>
>Jonathan
>
Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
"squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather creepy.
There's this really old guy, who capers around singing gibberish all the
time, absolutely incessantly. He acts like someone deranged and there's
this beautiful woman left on her own in the house for hours, expected to
get the meals and do the washing and be there for whenever he feels like
coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.

Creepy.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
Lucy Kemnitzer
2005-08-17 17:23:30 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 13:36:23 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> seems to have said:

>In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
><***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>>>
>>>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
>>>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
>>>relationship between him and Goldberry.
>>
>>What was squicky about it? The only odd thing that comes to my mind
>>was that Tom had to surround her with water from her river, once
>>a year, or she'd leave him. That sounds like an odd twist to a
>>common fairy-tale trope: does it suggest to you an element of
>>compulsion? (In either direction.) Or am I barking up the wrong Old
>>Man Willow?
>>
>>Jonathan
>>
>Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>"squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
>after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather creepy.
>There's this really old guy, who capers around singing gibberish all the
>time, absolutely incessantly. He acts like someone deranged and there's
>this beautiful woman left on her own in the house for hours, expected to
>get the meals and do the washing and be there for whenever he feels like
>coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
>be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
>forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>
>Creepy.


NOw I have to reread it, because I honestly don't remember her at all,
and that seems creepy to me.

Lucy Kemnitzer, still
http://www.baymoon.com/%7Eritaxis/donor/donorweb/donorindex.html
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis
Suzanne A Blom
2005-08-17 23:54:23 UTC
Permalink
Helen Hall <***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote in message
news:***@baradel.demon.co.uk...
> In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
> <***@softluck.plus.com> writes
> >>
> >>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
> >>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
> >>relationship between him and Goldberry.
> >
> >What was squicky about it? The only odd thing that comes to my mind
> >was that Tom had to surround her with water from her river, once
> >a year, or she'd leave him. That sounds like an odd twist to a
> >common fairy-tale trope: does it suggest to you an element of
> >compulsion? (In either direction.) Or am I barking up the wrong Old
> >Man Willow?
> >
> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
> after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather creepy.
> There's this really old guy, who capers around singing gibberish all the
> time, absolutely incessantly. He acts like someone deranged and there's
> this beautiful woman left on her own in the house for hours, expected to
> get the meals and do the washing and be there for whenever he feels like
> coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
> be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
> forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>
I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
Jonathan L Cunningham
2005-08-18 00:54:34 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 18:54:23 -0500, "Suzanne A Blom"
<***@execpc.com> wrote:

>
>Helen Hall <***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote in message
>news:***@baradel.demon.co.uk...
>> In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
>> <***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>> >>
>> >>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
>> >>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
>> >>relationship between him and Goldberry.
>> >

>> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
(snip)
>> coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
>> be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
>> forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>>
>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.

That's more how I saw her: another immortal. Although Tolkien does
tell us that Tom is the oldest[*]. But I don't feel it's *too* creepy
if a couple are not identical ages.

But Helen's (and Lucy's) reaction is interesting. In defense of Tom,
there's no mention of what he does with his life either. If you asked
"who is the dominant partner in the relationship?" I think a good
argument could be made for either of them. And, my best guess is that
neither is dominant, but that they both conform to traditional (and
now outdated) stereotypes.

Writing is harder than it looks.

Jonathan
[*]Of anyone.

--
Backlog in rasfc: 700
Mail to spam auto-deleted, use jlc1 instead.
(That's jay ell cee one, if your font makes l and 1 look the same)
Lucy Kemnitzer
2005-08-18 02:30:21 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 18 Aug 2005 00:54:34 GMT, ***@softluck.plus.com (Jonathan L
Cunningham) seems to have said:

>On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 18:54:23 -0500, "Suzanne A Blom"
><***@execpc.com> wrote:
>
>>
>>Helen Hall <***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote in message
>>news:***@baradel.demon.co.uk...
>>> In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
>>> <***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>>> >>
>>> >>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
>>> >>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
>>> >>relationship between him and Goldberry.
>>> >
>
>>> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>>> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
>(snip)
>>> coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
>>> be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
>>> forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>>>
>>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
>
>That's more how I saw her: another immortal. Although Tolkien does
>tell us that Tom is the oldest[*]. But I don't feel it's *too* creepy
>if a couple are not identical ages.
>
>But Helen's (and Lucy's) reaction is interesting. In defense of Tom,
>there's no mention of what he does with his life either. If you asked
>"who is the dominant partner in the relationship?" I think a good
>argument could be made for either of them. And, my best guess is that
>neither is dominant, but that they both conform to traditional (and
>now outdated) stereotypes.


MY reaction was to not remembering Goldberry at all, which might mean
something sinister about the section of about me, I don't know.

Lucy Kemnitzer, still
http://www.baymoon.com/%7Eritaxis/donor/donorweb/donorindex.html
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis
Helen Hall
2005-08-19 19:22:43 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@corp.supernews.com>, Suzanne A Blom
<***@execpc.com> writes
>>
>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
>
There seems a huge age/power imbalance to me. Goldberry is described as
the "River-daughter" and doesn't seem like a goddess the way I read it.
I saw her as some kind of water nymph. Though she sings a "rain song", I
didn't see her as causing the rain, just that she sings a song to suit
and praise the weather. I didn't like the repeated, "Here's *my* pretty
lady!" "Here's *my* Goldberry..." [my emphasis] and I find the line,
"Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating!" a bit ominous
somehow. Is her singing no longer sweet? Is her heart no longer beating?

OK, that was probably just a duff line in the poem and doesn't mean
anything much, but it just gave an image of this beautiful young thing
who has now been trapped in a house with this mad old guy and only
occasionally allowed back to her river. It reminds me too much of the
fairy bride stories and none of them end happily.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
Brian M. Scott
2005-08-19 20:51:29 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 19 Aug 2005 20:22:43 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote in
<news:***@baradel.demon.co.uk> in
rec.arts.sf.composition:

> In article <***@corp.supernews.com>, Suzanne A
> Blom <***@execpc.com> writes

>> I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the
>> river goddess as he was the earth god. They are a
>> natural pair.

>> {1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was
>> doing her washing because in fact she was washing the
>> earth with rain.

That was certainly the impression that I got on first
reading.

> There seems a huge age/power imbalance to me. Goldberry is
> described as the "River-daughter" and doesn't seem like a
> goddess the way I read it. I saw her as some kind of
> water nymph. Though she sings a "rain song", I didn't see
> her as causing the rain, just that she sings a song to
> suit and praise the weather.

I think that the reference to her doing her washing and
cleaning is more significant than that.

> I didn't like the repeated, "Here's *my* pretty lady!"
> "Here's *my* Goldberry..." [my emphasis]

But this common form of words has to be read in conjunction
with Tom's obvious uxoriousness.

> and I find the line, "Sweet was her singing then, and her
> heart was beating!" a bit ominous somehow. Is her singing
> no longer sweet? Is her heart no longer beating?

> OK, that was probably just a duff line in the poem and
> doesn't mean anything much, but it just gave an image of
> this beautiful young thing who has now been trapped in a
> house with this mad old guy and only occasionally allowed
> back to her river. It reminds me too much of the fairy
> bride stories and none of them end happily.

Eccentric, but definitely not mad.

Brian
Helen Hall
2005-08-20 16:17:24 UTC
Permalink
In article <1gp3ioqb8z47c$***@40tude.net>, Brian M. Scott
<***@csuohio.edu> writes
>On Fri, 19 Aug 2005 20:22:43 +0100, Helen Hall
><***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote in
><news:***@baradel.demon.co.uk> in
>rec.arts.sf.composition:
>
>> There seems a huge age/power imbalance to me. Goldberry is
>> described as the "River-daughter" and doesn't seem like a
>> goddess the way I read it. I saw her as some kind of
>> water nymph. Though she sings a "rain song", I didn't see
>> her as causing the rain, just that she sings a song to
>> suit and praise the weather.
>
>I think that the reference to her doing her washing and
>cleaning is more significant than that.
>
OK, obviously a YMMV.

>> I didn't like the repeated, "Here's *my* pretty lady!"
>> "Here's *my* Goldberry..." [my emphasis]
>
>But this common form of words has to be read in conjunction
>with Tom's obvious uxoriousness.
>
My problem with the scene is that Goldberry doesn't appear to
reciprocate. The real reason is probably that Tolkien wasn't very good
at writing good parts for women, but it does cause (for me) an
imbalance.

>> and I find the line, "Sweet was her singing then, and her
>> heart was beating!" a bit ominous somehow. Is her singing
>> no longer sweet? Is her heart no longer beating?
>
>> OK, that was probably just a duff line in the poem and
>> doesn't mean anything much, but it just gave an image of
>> this beautiful young thing who has now been trapped in a
>> house with this mad old guy and only occasionally allowed
>> back to her river. It reminds me too much of the fairy
>> bride stories and none of them end happily.
>
>Eccentric, but definitely not mad.
>
>Brian

For what it's worth, on the first few readings, back in my youth, I had
no problem at all with Tom Bombadil and even quite liked that interlude.
My dislike of those scenes has crept upon me as I've got older and on
the last reading, it made me distinctly uneasy.

But then I've discovered that I have some pretty idiosyncratic reactions
to books that other people think are really good.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
R. L.
2005-08-20 18:44:01 UTC
Permalink
On Sat, 20 Aug 2005 17:17:24 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:
/snip/


>For what it's worth, on the first few readings, back in my youth, I had
>no problem at all with Tom Bombadil and even quite liked that interlude.
>My dislike of those scenes has crept upon me as I've got older and on
>the last reading, it made me distinctly uneasy.


Well, our culture has changed. See old threads about some Frodo and Sam
relationship passages now reading as gay!

In my youth I had no problem with Watson ejaculating at the breakfast
table. And still shouldn't, really. These are just accidental changes in
culture and language; imo suspending my anachronistic reactions is part of
reading old books (and much of the reward).


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Jonathan L Cunningham
2005-08-21 17:25:04 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 19 Aug 2005 20:22:43 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:

>In article <***@corp.supernews.com>, Suzanne A Blom
><***@execpc.com> writes
>>>
>>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
>>
>There seems a huge age/power imbalance to me. Goldberry is described as
>the "River-daughter" and doesn't seem like a goddess the way I read it.
>I saw her as some kind of water nymph. Though she sings a "rain song", I

<boggle> Water nymph = river goddess, in my mind. What else could a
water nymph *be*?

I guess it might depend on what you mean by "goddess". I think of it
as akin to the Japanese "kami". There's a lot of that kind of thing
in SF too - in Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion trilogy, the elves
respect/worship things called "taig" - which can be as small as a
weir, or as big as a forest.

And *absolutely certainly* any water numen will be as old as the
river she inhabits. I'm not sure how old the Withywindle was, but
it was older than the Shire.

I think you have a Piers Anthony Xanthian notion of nymphs: mindless
female beings created as sex objects. <sigh> That's as ... strange ...
as regarding fairies as cute humanoid butterflies, instead of the dark
and dangerous entities they originally were recognised as.

Jonathan

--
Backlog in rasfc: 850
Mail to spam auto-deleted, use jlc1 instead.
(That's jay ell cee one, if your font makes l and 1 look the same)
Helen Hall
2005-08-21 20:08:36 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
<***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>
><boggle> Water nymph = river goddess, in my mind. What else could a
>water nymph *be*?
>
Right. Um... Well, my Greek mythology is very rusty, but I don't recall
anyone actually worshipping nymphs. Though I'm sure now someone will
post lots of examples of people doing exactly that.

>I guess it might depend on what you mean by "goddess". I think of it
>as akin to the Japanese "kami". There's a lot of that kind of thing
>in SF too - in Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion trilogy, the elves
>respect/worship things called "taig" - which can be as small as a
>weir, or as big as a forest.
>
For me a deity has to have some sort of serious power and influence. If
Goldberry has any, it's not referred to, except possibly, in an
ambiguous way which I read one way and others have read another.

>And *absolutely certainly* any water numen will be as old as the
>river she inhabits. I'm not sure how old the Withywindle was, but
>it was older than the Shire.
>
>I think you have a Piers Anthony Xanthian notion of nymphs: mindless
>female beings created as sex objects. <sigh> That's as ... strange ...
>as regarding fairies as cute humanoid butterflies, instead of the dark
>and dangerous entities they originally were recognised as.
>
I have never read any Piers Anthony but that is most certainly *not* my
image of a nymph. However, I don't regard them as fully fledged deities
requiring worship either.

Anyway, Goldberry is specifically described as "river-daughter", which
implies she's younger than the river. I think I'd vaguely imagined some
watery equivalent of Tom Bombadil who was the actual river god and who
was her father.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
Jonathan L Cunningham
2005-08-21 22:02:29 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 21 Aug 2005 21:08:36 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:

>In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
><***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>>
>><boggle> Water nymph = river goddess, in my mind. What else could a
>>water nymph *be*?
>>
>Right. Um... Well, my Greek mythology is very rusty, but I don't recall
>anyone actually worshipping nymphs. Though I'm sure now someone will
>post lots of examples of people doing exactly that.

Um. See below.

>>I guess it might depend on what you mean by "goddess". I think of it
>>as akin to the Japanese "kami". There's a lot of that kind of thing
>>in SF too -
(snip)

>I have never read any Piers Anthony but that is most certainly *not* my
>image of a nymph. However, I don't regard them as fully fledged deities
>requiring worship either.

I don't think of *any* deities as requiring worship. At best, treated
with respect, at worst appeased.

Throwing a coin into a wishing-well is an example of that. Would you
call that worship? How about throttling a nobleman and drowning him
in a bog (after bashing him on the head, thus killing him three
ways)? Is that worship? And we occasionally dig them up again,
a couple of thousand years later.

How *you* read the story is not arguable. How Tolkien intended it, we
can only guess. But if I wrote a riff on Bombadil and Goldberry, it
could certainly hint at a "dark side" to both of them. IME (which is,
I admit, limited) most pagan deities/spirits/call-them-what-you-like
had two sides. Like fire (good servant, bad master). Or, in modern
times, electricity (good servant, bad master) etc. etc.

>Anyway, Goldberry is specifically described as "river-daughter", which
>implies she's younger than the river. I think I'd vaguely imagined some
>watery equivalent of Tom Bombadil who was the actual river god and who
>was her father.

Telling how *you* read that section is valuable to me, in the same
way that a crit group can be, but beforehand (which saves time). I
know now that, if I want to include such eldritch and scary river
spirits[*] in my stories, I need to inclue the readers quite a lot!

Although, the further east you go, the scarier they get. The Russian
rusalka is definitely dangerous. OTOH, the Rhine maidens were not
all that safe either - and Wagner didn't pull the idea out of thin
air.

To be fair, I'm conflating "river spirits" from lots of different
traditions and mythologies all over Europe. But, ISTM, that they
have a lot in common. Even the relatively benign Classical naiads
were not all that safe: look at what happened to poor Hermaphroditus:
a young man, minding his own business, gets welded to the nymph
Salmacis. I bet the novelty wore off quite quickly ...

Jonathan
[*] Isn't she? Oh, my! You *are* trusting :-). Ok, I admit Tolkien
presented Bombadil as an amiable buffoon, and Goldberry as a
happy housewife. And compare that with Beorn in _The Hobbit_ - there
the scary side was much more explicit, but mostly stayed offstage.

--
Backlog in rasfc: 750
Mail to spam auto-deleted, use jlc1 instead.
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Suzanne A Blom
2005-08-23 00:17:22 UTC
Permalink
Jonathan L Cunningham <***@softluck.plus.com> wrote in message
news:***@news.plus.net...
>
> How *you* read the story is not arguable. How Tolkien intended it, we
> can only guess. But if I wrote a riff on Bombadil and Goldberry, it
> could certainly hint at a "dark side" to both of them. IME (which is,
> I admit, limited) most pagan deities/spirits/call-them-what-you-like
> had two sides. Like fire (good servant, bad master). Or, in modern
> times, electricity (good servant, bad master) etc. etc.
>
> To be fair, I'm conflating "river spirits" from lots of different
> traditions and mythologies all over Europe. But, ISTM, that they
> have a lot in common. Even the relatively benign Classical naiads
> were not all that safe: look at what happened to poor Hermaphroditus:
> a young man, minding his own business, gets welded to the nymph
> Salmacis. I bet the novelty wore off quite quickly ...
>
> Jonathan
> [*] Isn't she? Oh, my! You *are* trusting :-). Ok, I admit Tolkien
> presented Bombadil as an amiable buffoon, and Goldberry as a
> happy housewife. And compare that with Beorn in _The Hobbit_ - there
> the scary side was much more explicit, but mostly stayed offstage.

Yeah, in a sense, the more powerful they are, the more they can act like a
buffoon. It is clear that neither Bombadil nor Goldberry would even imagine
being threatened by a hobbit--or a barrowwight or likely a man or elf,
either.
Catja Pafort
2005-08-18 07:26:59 UTC
Permalink
Helen wrote [Tom Bombadil and wife]:

> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
> after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather creepy.
> There's this really old guy, who capers around singing gibberish all the
> time, absolutely incessantly. He acts like someone deranged and there's
> this beautiful woman left on her own in the house for hours, expected to
> get the meals and do the washing and be there for whenever he feels like
> coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
> be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
> forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>
> Creepy.

Like Lucy, I don't remember her at all - an absolute non-entity, which
is not entirley surprising, but not a good feeling at all.

The other day, I came into a radio play - Radio 4 on Sunday - with a
central character called Oblomov. (Can't look it up right now) The whole
play has as central point that this character wants to stay in bed for
most of the day and can't get his affairs in order - he rouses himself
temporarily, but can't face the world/strangers...

It was supposed to be funny. All *I* could think was 'this guy sounds
seriously depressed' at which point I could not laugh at him or chide
him for not having more get up and go - I understood where he was coming
from and that he could not change without help, and he didn't get the
help he needed, so he was stuck in his depression.


Some stories don't age well.

Catja
Lucy Kemnitzer
2005-08-18 13:55:53 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 18 Aug 2005 08:26:59 +0100, ***@greenknight.org.uk.invalid
(Catja Pafort) seems to have said:

>Helen wrote [Tom Bombadil and wife]:
>
>> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
>> after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather creepy.
>> There's this really old guy, who capers around singing gibberish all the
>> time, absolutely incessantly. He acts like someone deranged and there's
>> this beautiful woman left on her own in the house for hours, expected to
>> get the meals and do the washing and be there for whenever he feels like
>> coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
>> be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
>> forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>>
>> Creepy.
>
>Like Lucy, I don't remember her at all - an absolute non-entity, which
>is not entirley surprising, but not a good feeling at all.
>
>The other day, I came into a radio play - Radio 4 on Sunday - with a
>central character called Oblomov. (Can't look it up right now) The whole
>play has as central point that this character wants to stay in bed for
>most of the day and can't get his affairs in order - he rouses himself
>temporarily, but can't face the world/strangers...
>
>It was supposed to be funny. All *I* could think was 'this guy sounds
>seriously depressed' at which point I could not laugh at him or chide
>him for not having more get up and go - I understood where he was coming
>from and that he could not change without help, and he didn't get the
>help he needed, so he was stuck in his depression.


There's a lush Soviet film of this story. It contrasted him with his
go-getter friend in a way that made Oblomov look like the wiser one.
And it showed him ending up married to a woman who loved him dearly
and who took care of his property for him.

I thought he was depressed too, because the flashbacks to his
beautiful mother and the siesta times of his childhood were so
melancholy and sweet. The friend I saw the movie with said that no,
Oblomov was just not into hustle and bustle.

Lucy Kemnitzer, still
http://www.baymoon.com/%7Eritaxis/donor/donorweb/donorindex.html
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ritaxis
Margaret Young
2005-08-19 12:19:47 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 13:36:23 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:

>In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
><***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>>>
>>>Sorry, but I hated Tom Bombadil too. And I did think he was fey and
>>>whimsical. I also thought there was something slightly squicky about the
>>>relationship between him and Goldberry.
>>
>>What was squicky about it? The only odd thing that comes to my mind
>>was that Tom had to surround her with water from her river, once
>>a year, or she'd leave him. That sounds like an odd twist to a
>>common fairy-tale trope: does it suggest to you an element of
>>compulsion? (In either direction.) Or am I barking up the wrong Old
>>Man Willow?
>>
>>Jonathan
>>
>Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>"squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my memory
>after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather creepy.
>There's this really old guy, who capers around singing gibberish all the
>time, absolutely incessantly. He acts like someone deranged and there's
>this beautiful woman left on her own in the house for hours, expected to
>get the meals and do the washing and be there for whenever he feels like
>coming home, with no mention of what she does with her life other than
>be there when he wants her. There's something a bit hysterical and
>forced about her attempts at laughter, I felt.
>
>Creepy.
>
>Helen

Thanks for articulating more clearly than I come of the things I
felt/remembered about that section of the book.

On a more "writerly" basis, it always felt like an intrusion from
another, very different book.
--
Margaret Young
________________________________________________________
Come the apocalypse there will be cockroaches, Keith Richards and the
faint smell of cat pee.
Anna Mazzoldi
2005-08-22 17:56:32 UTC
Permalink
Helen Hall wrote in rec.arts.sf.composition:

> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my
> memory after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather
> creepy.

I didn't find it creepy when I read it, because I read it as clearly
mythical. (Not that myths can't be creepy, but they need a lot more
creep than that to qualify.)

What I *did* find creepy is when I found out that Tolkien identified
the Tom/Goldberry romance with him and his wife. I found that rather
disturbing.

--
Anna Mazzoldi <http://aynathie.livejournal.com/>

"I say we take off; nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be
sure."
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-18 00:04:21 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@corp.supernews.com>,
Suzanne A Blom <***@execpc.com> wrote:
>
>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.

Now that's an interesting idea. Tom did say "I am no
weathermaster, nor is anything that goes on two legs," but maybe
he meant "except Goldberry."

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Erol K. Bayburt
2005-08-18 04:57:28 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 18 Aug 2005 00:04:21 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
Heydt) wrote:

>In article <***@corp.supernews.com>,
>Suzanne A Blom <***@execpc.com> wrote:
>>
>>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
>
>Now that's an interesting idea. Tom did say "I am no
>weathermaster, nor is anything that goes on two legs," but maybe
>he meant "except Goldberry."

Maybe Goldberry was excepted because she was a weather*mistress*.

(Shades of "But no living man am I!")


--
Erol K. Bayburt
***@aol.com
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-18 05:22:25 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
Erol K. Bayburt <***@comcast.net> wrote:
>On Thu, 18 Aug 2005 00:04:21 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
>Heydt) wrote:
>
>>In article <***@corp.supernews.com>,
>>Suzanne A Blom <***@execpc.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>>>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>>>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>>>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
>>
>>Now that's an interesting idea. Tom did say "I am no
>>weathermaster, nor is anything that goes on two legs," but maybe
>>he meant "except Goldberry."
>
>Maybe Goldberry was excepted because she was a weather*mistress*.
>
>(Shades of "But no living man am I!")

Do you know, knowing Tolkien, that might just work.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
R. L.
2005-08-20 18:46:23 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 17 Aug 2005 23:57:28 -0500, Erol K. Bayburt <***@comcast.net>
wrote:

>On Thu, 18 Aug 2005 00:04:21 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
>Heydt) wrote:
>
>>In article <***@corp.supernews.com>,
>>Suzanne A Blom <***@execpc.com> wrote:
>>>
>>>I understood that she brought the rain{1}: She was the river goddess as he
>>>was the earth god. They are a natural pair.
>>>{1}This was why the hobbits couldn't leave while she was doing her washing
>>>because in fact she was washing the earth with rain.
>>
>>Now that's an interesting idea. Tom did say "I am no
>>weathermaster, nor is anything that goes on two legs," but maybe
>>he meant "except Goldberry."
>
>Maybe Goldberry was excepted because she was a weather*mistress*.
>
>(Shades of "But no living man am I!")


If she lived in a river, did she actually have real legs? Mela Merwoman
gets some sort of legs for walking on land, but maybe that kind don't
count.

I'd wonder tho what a gold berry was doing living in a river. Should have
been 'shiny bubble' or something.


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-21 23:07:05 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@baradel.demon.co.uk>,
Helen Hall <***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:
>In article <***@news.plus.net>, Jonathan L Cunningham
><***@softluck.plus.com> writes
>>
>><boggle> Water nymph = river goddess, in my mind. What else could a
>>water nymph *be*?
>>
>Right. Um... Well, my Greek mythology is very rusty, but I don't recall
>anyone actually worshipping nymphs. Though I'm sure now someone will
>post lots of examples of people doing exactly that.
>
....
>>
>For me a deity has to have some sort of serious power and influence. If
>Goldberry has any, it's not referred to, except possibly, in an
>ambiguous way which I read one way and others have read another.

She's not manifesting it. Let me give you an example of early
nymphs. In the _Odyssey_ Odysseus is washed ashore on a strange
beach, stark naked to boot. And he hears the laughter of female
voices on the other side of a bit of brush. And he thinks they
may be nymphs, and he is terrified ... because if he encounters
them and they don't want to be encountered, there's no telling
what they could do to him. Fortunately, they are not nymphs,
they are a king's daughter and her maidens doing their laundry in
a nearby river, and he breaks off a branch and holds it modestly
in front of himself and approaches them slowly and cautiously and
with very polite words, and they say "Sure, no problem, we'll
take you to the king's house.
>
>I have never read any Piers Anthony but that is most certainly *not* my
>image of a nymph. However, I don't regard them as fully fledged deities
>requiring worship either.

Worship, no, unless the nymph in question inhabits your local
spring or something. The citizens of Syracuse venerated
Arethousa, for instance. But the nymph, even if not at the level
of an Olympian god, is an immortal, a lot more powerful than
*you* are, and to be approached politely and with caution.


Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-22 18:22:25 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@news.individual.net>,
Anna Mazzoldi <***@iol.ie> wrote:
>Helen Hall wrote in rec.arts.sf.composition:
>
>> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my
>> memory after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather
>> creepy.
>
>I didn't find it creepy when I read it, because I read it as clearly
>mythical. (Not that myths can't be creepy, but they need a lot more
>creep than that to qualify.)
>
>What I *did* find creepy is when I found out that Tolkien identified
>the Tom/Goldberry romance with him and his wife. I found that rather
>disturbing.

No no. He identified the Beren/Luthien romance with him and his
wife. Those names are on their tombstones.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Anna Mazzoldi
2005-08-22 23:22:41 UTC
Permalink
Dorothy J Heydt wrote in rec.arts.sf.composition:

> In article <***@news.individual.net>,
> Anna Mazzoldi <***@iol.ie> wrote:
> > Helen Hall wrote in rec.arts.sf.composition:
> >
> >> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
> >> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my
> >> memory after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather
> >> creepy.
> >
> > I didn't find it creepy when I read it, because I read it as clearly
> > mythical. (Not that myths can't be creepy, but they need a lot more
> > creep than that to qualify.)
> >
> > What I did find creepy is when I found out that Tolkien identified
> > the Tom/Goldberry romance with him and his wife. I found that rather
> > disturbing.
>
> No no. He identified the Beren/Luthien romance with him and his
> wife. Those names are on their tombstones.

Yes, that too. I may be getting things mixed up: but I'm fairly certain
that I've seen this claim (with support, possibly from letters?
Unfortunately I'm totally crap at remembering sources, so unless
someone else can chime in it will have to remain as "complete
hearsay"...) B/L wouldn't have creeped me out.

--
Anna Mazzoldi <http://aynathie.livejournal.com/>

The bland leadeth the bland and they
both shall fall into the kitsch.
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-22 23:38:03 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@news.individual.net>,
Anna Mazzoldi <***@iol.ie> wrote:
>Dorothy J Heydt wrote in rec.arts.sf.composition:
>
>> In article <***@news.individual.net>,
>> Anna Mazzoldi <***@iol.ie> wrote:
>> > Helen Hall wrote in rec.arts.sf.composition:
>> >
>> >> Quickly re-reading that section, in order to respond, I now think
>> >> "squicky" was a bit strong, though that's the feeling left in my
>> >> memory after the last full reading. But I still think it's rather
>> >> creepy.
>> >
>> > I didn't find it creepy when I read it, because I read it as clearly
>> > mythical. (Not that myths can't be creepy, but they need a lot more
>> > creep than that to qualify.)
>> >
>> > What I did find creepy is when I found out that Tolkien identified
>> > the Tom/Goldberry romance with him and his wife. I found that rather
>> > disturbing.
>>
>> No no. He identified the Beren/Luthien romance with him and his
>> wife. Those names are on their tombstones.
>
>Yes, that too. I may be getting things mixed up: but I'm fairly certain
>that I've seen this claim (with support, possibly from letters?
>Unfortunately I'm totally crap at remembering sources, so unless
>someone else can chime in it will have to remain as "complete
>hearsay"...) B/L wouldn't have creeped me out.

No, Beran and Luthien, really. You would probably be more
squicked by the story (it appears in a poem elsewhere) about
Tom's discovery of Goldberry and his wedding, which when you come
right down to it was marriage-by-capture.

However, they seem to be happy together. Who are we to tell two
immortals how to run their lives?

But the Beren/Luthien story is basically that of Ronald and Edith
Tolkien's courtship. Lonely young man, his parents dead, his
family dead or scattered or estranged, comes upon a lovely woman
older than he; stern authority figure (in the story her father,
in real life his guardian) forbids him to see her until he's
accomplished the appropriate task (in the story, recovering the
Silmaril, in real life, finishing university and turning
twenty-one), they are parted and reunited, et cetera.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Helen Hall
2005-08-28 11:39:04 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@kithrup.com>, Dorothy J Heydt
<***@kithrup.com> writes
>
>You would probably be more
>squicked by the story (it appears in a poem elsewhere) about
>Tom's discovery of Goldberry and his wedding, which when you come
>right down to it was marriage-by-capture.
>
Now you remind me of that (and I've just re-read the poem to refresh my
memory), that might be what caused my change of feeling about the scene.
The first time I read LoTR, I only had the text in that book to go by,
but later I read the other things by Tolkien, including the book of
poetry _Tom Bombadil_. And although I had forgotten that detail of Tom's
discovery of Goldberry, it must have left a subconscious memory behind
which coloured my later readings.

Helen
--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-28 14:17:36 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@baradel.demon.co.uk>,
Helen Hall <***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:
>In article <***@kithrup.com>, Dorothy J Heydt
><***@kithrup.com> writes
>>
>>You would probably be more
>>squicked by the story (it appears in a poem elsewhere) about
>>Tom's discovery of Goldberry and his wedding, which when you come
>>right down to it was marriage-by-capture.
>>
>Now you remind me of that (and I've just re-read the poem to refresh my
>memory), that might be what caused my change of feeling about the scene.
>The first time I read LoTR, I only had the text in that book to go by,
>but later I read the other things by Tolkien, including the book of
>poetry _Tom Bombadil_. And although I had forgotten that detail of Tom's
>discovery of Goldberry, it must have left a subconscious memory behind
>which coloured my later readings.

They're not human. They're not even hobbits. They're not even
mortals; they're immortal spirits with tastes and inclinations we
know nothing about. Maybe once she moved in, Goldberry
discovered she preferred living in a house with a clean floor, to
a river with a muddy bottom.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
R. L.
2005-08-29 03:29:48 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 28 Aug 2005 14:17:36 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J Heydt)
wrote:

>In article <***@baradel.demon.co.uk>,
>Helen Hall <***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:
>>In article <***@kithrup.com>, Dorothy J Heydt
>><***@kithrup.com> writes
>>>
>>>You would probably be more
>>>squicked by the story (it appears in a poem elsewhere) about
>>>Tom's discovery of Goldberry and his wedding, which when you come
>>>right down to it was marriage-by-capture.
>>>
>>Now you remind me of that (and I've just re-read the poem to refresh my
>>memory), that might be what caused my change of feeling about the scene.
>>The first time I read LoTR, I only had the text in that book to go by,
>>but later I read the other things by Tolkien, including the book of
>>poetry _Tom Bombadil_. And although I had forgotten that detail of Tom's
>>discovery of Goldberry, it must have left a subconscious memory behind
>>which coloured my later readings.
>
>They're not human. They're not even hobbits. They're not even
>mortals; they're immortal spirits with tastes and inclinations we
>know nothing about. Maybe once she moved in, Goldberry
>discovered she preferred living in a house with a clean floor, to
>a river with a muddy bottom.


Mm. I'd have to get all that stuff and read it, and I can't imagine really
faulting Bombadil or Tolkien about this. But I don't think 'they're not
human' takes care of it.

I'd expect 'Tolkien' (ie, a writer of Tolkien's skill and background and
era) to be aware of 'marriage by capture' as a possible reading, to be
excluded exclusion if he thought it an undesirable association -- the
reading, not the marriage :-).

Rather than drawing a line somewhere between humans and immortals, I'd draw
it somewhere between myself and the humans (of Tolkien's era?) who weren't
shocked by such possible readings -- and I'd try not to judge by my own
standards. I have a feeling there might be more to the tradition (as seen
in Tolkiens era) than we know.

I met a man recently, a warm, jovial family man who bragged about his
teenage daughter and her boyfriend. He talked about putting a lot of
obstacles in their way, acting hostile, as a sort of test for the boy --
and bragged about how well the boy was taking it.

Did 'marriage by capture' always assume the bride was unwilling -- or might
it apply to elopement, when the bride needs to be carried away from a
restraining father?



R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
David Friedman
2005-08-29 04:06:25 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:

> Did 'marriage by capture' always assume the bride was unwilling -- or might
> it apply to elopement, when the bride needs to be carried away from a
> restraining father?
>

Consider "The First Chantey."

--
Remove NOSPAM to email
Also remove .invalid
www.daviddfriedman.com
R. L.
2005-08-29 04:59:07 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 28 Aug 2005 23:06:25 -0500, David Friedman
<***@daviddfriedman.nospam.com> wrote:

>In article <***@4ax.com>,
> R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>
>> Did 'marriage by capture' always assume the bride was unwilling -- or might
>> it apply to elopement, when the bride needs to be carried away from a
>> restraining father?
>>
>
>Consider "The First Chantey."


Well, that really seemed to be a tribe vs tribe thing, laugh tho she did.

I was thinking of a much later stage of history. I seem to have a memory
(from Kitto?) of a nice picture on a vase or such, of a wedding, showing
various ceremonial items, and the groom holding the bride's wrist; the
author made some comment about this being a reference to earlier 'marriage
by capture'.


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
lclough
2005-08-29 22:50:28 UTC
Permalink
R. L. wrote:
>
> Did 'marriage by capture' always assume the bride was unwilling -- or might
> it apply to elopement, when the bride needs to be carried away from a
> restraining father?
>
>
>


There is always the Atalanta angle -- in which you have to
capture the bride all right, by defeating her in strength,
speed, or skill.

If my daughter should ever bring home a young man, my first
impulse would be to ask, "Does he know what he's getting into?"
(He would already be proven of sound mind and body, by mere
association with her.)

Brenda



--
---------
Brenda W. Clough
http://www.sff.net/people/Brenda/

Recent short fiction: PARADOX, Autumn 2003
http://home.nyc.rr.com/paradoxmag//index.html

Upcoming short fiction in FIRST HEROES (TOR, May '04)
http://members.aol.com/wenamun/firstheroes.html
Helen Hall
2005-08-31 19:47:28 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>, R. L. <see-
***@no-spams.coms> writes
>
>Did 'marriage by capture' always assume the bride was unwilling -- or might
>it apply to elopement, when the bride needs to be carried away from a
>restraining father?

Well, in romantic poetry/fiction it was certainly the case that the
bride was often willing. Eg Sir Walter Scott's famous poem which riffs
on that theme.

"One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
"She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young Lochinvar."

The full poem can be found at:
http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/Scott.Lochinvar.html

Helen

--
Helen, Gwynedd, Wales *** http://www.baradel.demon.co.uk
R. L.
2005-08-31 21:42:43 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 31 Aug 2005 20:47:28 +0100, Helen Hall
<***@baradel.demon.co.uk.please.delete.this> wrote:

>In article <***@4ax.com>, R. L. <see-
>***@no-spams.coms> writes
>>
>>Did 'marriage by capture' always assume the bride was unwilling -- or might
>>it apply to elopement, when the bride needs to be carried away from a
>>restraining father?

Of course I meant 'in later poetic idiom, as Tolkien and others might have
seen that later idiom', or something -- rather than in the era long long
previous, when it was really physically practiced.in Europe.

And there might have been a long intermediate stage, where an eager bride
might still be effectively an object to be 'captured' from father by groom,
not expected to take action herself.


>Well, in romantic poetry/fiction it was certainly the case that the
>bride was often willing. Eg Sir Walter Scott's famous poem which riffs
>on that theme.
>
>"One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
>When they reach'd the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
>So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
>So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
>"She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
>They'll have fleet steeds that follow," quoth young Lochinvar."
>
>The full poem can be found at:
>http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/Scott.Lochinvar.html


Somethihng like that might be an example from one end of what I'm calling
an 'intermediate' stage, where the bride had been pressured into accepting
the other suitor; so there would be social and psychogical reasons why
she'd need to be 'carried away' even tho her deeper feelings were clear.

Tho here the body language, one touch to the hand, one word in the ear --
Show(tm) reconsideration, change of mind, consent, planning....


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Gerry Quinn
2005-08-29 12:00:59 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@kithrup.com>, ***@kithrup.com says...

> They're not human. They're not even hobbits. They're not even
> mortals; they're immortal spirits with tastes and inclinations we
> know nothing about. Maybe once she moved in, Goldberry
> discovered she preferred living in a house with a clean floor, to
> a river with a muddy bottom.

And if you live in a river, there's no way to avoid having a muddy
bottom.

- Gerry Quinn
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-15 18:38:01 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
Margaret Young <***@umich.edu> wrote:
>
>Hated Tom from the first time I read the book--he seemed part of a
>different "aren't elves and fairies fey and fun and whimisical" world
>than the rest of the book.

I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
and Frodo's desperate journey.

The thing to do with Bombadil really is to look at him out of
context: read the whole of LotR without him, or read just him and
not the rest of the book. Here is an immortal spirit, at least
as old as the world itself, and what does he do? He sings songs
and tends his garden. It's a hint that an immortal and powerful
spirit doesn't necessarily have to be like the Valar, who sink
continents at their approach.

But if I'd been Tolkien's editor I think I might have tried to
get him to edit Bombadil out ... but I might not have succeeded.
Remember that Lewis said of him, "You might as well try to
influence a Bandersnatch!"

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Pat Bowne
2005-08-15 20:43:54 UTC
Permalink
"Dorothy J Heydt" <***@kithrup.com> wrote
>
> I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
> pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
> of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
> to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
> hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
> making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
> was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
> apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
> and Frodo's desperate journey.
>
> The thing to do with Bombadil really is to look at him out of
> context: read the whole of LotR without him, or read just him and
> not the rest of the book. Here is an immortal spirit, at least
> as old as the world itself, and what does he do? He sings songs
> and tends his garden. It's a hint that an immortal and powerful
> spirit doesn't necessarily have to be like the Valar, who sink
> continents at their approach.
>

This is what makes Bombadil so important to some and so irritating to
others. He's the promise of a peaceful life; so he'll irritate people who
want to read the books to participate vicariously in the glory and heroism
of war, and delight those who want the books to get over all that war
nonsense and get back to the peaceful life whose protection is war's only
justification.

Tom undercuts all the self-conscious drama of the elves and the other
powers, the exact same way that Gandalf's fireworks and Bilbo's hobbit-hole
do. Yet nobody ever seems to resent scenes of peaceful happiness in the
Shire the way they resent Bombadil -- almost as if every powerful immortal
has some duty to be great and dramatic, or we're being shortchanged.

Pat
R. L.
2005-08-16 01:05:54 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 15:43:54 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com> wrote:

>
>"Dorothy J Heydt" <***@kithrup.com> wrote
>>
>> I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
>> pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
>> of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
>> to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
>> hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
>> making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
>> was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
>> apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
>> and Frodo's desperate journey.

So would you have THE HOBBIT suppressed too? And all the Hobbity stuff in
LOTR? Lewis thought it a virtue, that the mode changed as the work went
along. Something about, as tho the battle of Toad Hall had changed into
<some classic battle>.

I wonder if computers make editing and changing too easy. And
communicating. Too easy for authors to get criticism from everyone, and
change accordingly. Older books were lumpier, heartier.


>> The thing to do with Bombadil really is to look at him out of
>> context: read the whole of LotR without him, or read just him and
>> not the rest of the book. Here is an immortal spirit, at least
>> as old as the world itself, and what does he do? He sings songs
>> and tends his garden. It's a hint that an immortal and powerful
>> spirit doesn't necessarily have to be like the Valar, who sink
>> continents at their approach.

Yes. The really powerful being, doesn't worry about the wars of the
mayflies.

>This is what makes Bombadil so important to some and so irritating to
>others. He's the promise of a peaceful life; so he'll irritate people who
>want to read the books to participate vicariously in the glory and heroism
>of war, and delight those who want the books to get over all that war
>nonsense and get back to the peaceful life whose protection is war's only
>justification.

Amen..


>Tom undercuts all the self-conscious drama of the elves and the other
>powers, the exact same way that Gandalf's fireworks and Bilbo's hobbit-hole
>do. Yet nobody ever seems to resent scenes of peaceful happiness in the
>Shire the way they resent Bombadil -- almost as if every powerful immortal
>has some duty to be great and dramatic, or we're being shortchanged.


It is odd, how people over-react. I can understand skimming something that
seems dull, eventless, irrelevant to the plot. I can almost understand the
movie leaving it out, as there's not enough time in a movie to include
everything, and the movie was more about a human story.

But -- Tolkien put Bombadil in. He's the logical extension of at least one
important theme. Many readers find that their favorite part, and a key to
the whole world.

So I can't (and don't want to, really) understand those who want it pulled
out on general principles or something! Why don't they just skip that
chapter?


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-16 03:53:06 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 15:43:54 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com> wrote:
>
>>
>>"Dorothy J Heydt" <***@kithrup.com> wrote
>>>
>>> I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
>>> pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
>>> of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
>>> to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
>>> hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
>>> making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
>>> was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
>>> apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
>>> and Frodo's desperate journey.
>
>So would you have THE HOBBIT suppressed too? And all the Hobbity stuff in
>LOTR?

Of course not! The Hobbits, and their home that they're trying
to save, are crucial.

But Bombadil is a by-the-way. T. A. Shippey points out that
before the plot can get rolling, Frodo must be winkled out of no
fewer than *six* Homely Houses: Bag End, Maggot's farmhouse,
Crickhollow, Bombadil's house, the Prancing Pony, and Rivendell.
What happens in the Pony and in Rivendell is important to the
story; Maggot's house too, maybe. Crickhollow is short and
quickly gotten over: but the Hobbits stay in Bombadil's house for
two whole days and nothing happens. A scene in a novel needs to do
something: advance the plot, flesh out the characters, explain
the surroundings. The Bombadil scene doesn't do any of these.
It is an interlude, a vision of timeless rural peace under the
aegis of a timeless spirit. And if that timeless spirit chooses
to dance around singing and chanting in metre, who can gainsay
it? But we mortals need to get on with the journey of the Ring.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
R. L.
2005-08-16 04:46:45 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 03:53:06 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J Heydt)
wrote:

>In article <***@4ax.com>,
>R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>>On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 15:43:54 -0500, "Pat Bowne" <***@execpc.com> wrote:
>>
>>>
>>>"Dorothy J Heydt" <***@kithrup.com> wrote
>>>>
>>>> I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
>>>> pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
>>>> of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
>>>> to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
>>>> hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
>>>> making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
>>>> was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
>>>> apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
>>>> and Frodo's desperate journey.
>>
>>So would you have THE HOBBIT suppressed too? And all the Hobbity stuff in
>>LOTR?
>
>Of course not! The Hobbits, and their home that they're trying
>to save, are crucial.
>
>But Bombadil is a by-the-way.

This sounds like a reading pretty focused on plot.

> T. A. Shippey points out that
>before the plot can get rolling, Frodo must be winkled out of no
>fewer than *six* Homely Houses: Bag End, Maggot's farmhouse,
>Crickhollow, Bombadil's house, the Prancing Pony, and Rivendell.
>What happens in the Pony and in Rivendell is important to the
>story; Maggot's house too, maybe. Crickhollow is short and
>quickly gotten over: but the Hobbits stay in Bombadil's house for
>two whole days and nothing happens.

As befits a more powerful protector? Why shouldn't the story keep
escalating their refuges, all the way to the top? If you think that visit
was given too much wordage, why not skim?


> A scene in a novel needs to do
>something: advance the plot, flesh out the characters, explain
>the surroundings. The Bombadil scene doesn't do any of these.

The existence of Bombadil tells us something very important about the whole
world, the whole Tolkien universe.


>It is an interlude, a vision of timeless rural peace under the
>aegis of a timeless spirit. And if that timeless spirit chooses
>to dance around singing and chanting in metre, who can gainsay
>it? But we mortals need to get on with the journey of the Ring.

Maybe it should have been subtitled "A Chapter Not Strictly Necessary"? But
-- necessary for what? For balance, understanding the whole, as well as
R&R....


R.L
not strict


--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Bill Swears
2005-08-16 05:39:27 UTC
Permalink
Dorothy J Heydt wrote:
> the surroundings. The Bombadil scene doesn't do any of these.
> It is an interlude, a vision of timeless rural peace under the
> aegis of a timeless spirit. And if that timeless spirit chooses
> to dance around singing and chanting in metre, who can gainsay
> it? But we mortals need to get on with the journey of the Ring.
>
But, the mechanism of Tom Bombadil allows the hobbits to get into a
situation they could never have survived without a greater power's
intervention, at a point in the book where Tolkien obviously still
wanted them wandering the wilds unescorted. It drained them of some of
their own silliness, which needed to be essentially beaten out of them.
The whole event of the barrow wraith's really set them up to realize
how stupid they were in the Prancing Pony, while also driving home the
concept that help can come from unlooked for sources.

I've always liked the interval because it gave me the feeling that the
Hobbits were learning as they went, and kept getting into bigger and
bigger fixes they had to get out of.

Bill
kaih= (Kai Henningsen)
2005-08-28 16:31:00 UTC
Permalink
***@gci.net (Bill Swears) wrote on 16.08.05 in <j_eMe.6800$***@newsread1.news.pas.earthlink.net>:

> Dorothy J Heydt wrote:
> > the surroundings. The Bombadil scene doesn't do any of these.
> > It is an interlude, a vision of timeless rural peace under the
> > aegis of a timeless spirit. And if that timeless spirit chooses
> > to dance around singing and chanting in metre, who can gainsay
> > it? But we mortals need to get on with the journey of the Ring.
> >
> But, the mechanism of Tom Bombadil allows the hobbits to get into a
> situation they could never have survived without a greater power's
> intervention, at a point in the book where Tolkien obviously still
> wanted them wandering the wilds unescorted. It drained them of some of
> their own silliness, which needed to be essentially beaten out of them.
> The whole event of the barrow wraith's really set them up to realize
> how stupid they were in the Prancing Pony, while also driving home the
> concept that help can come from unlooked for sources.
>
> I've always liked the interval because it gave me the feeling that the
> Hobbits were learning as they went, and kept getting into bigger and
> bigger fixes they had to get out of.

Well, all I can say is that it doesn't do anything in that direction for
me.

The first time I read that, it was mostly utterly incomprehensible. Plot
logic - plot itself - seemd to suddenly have gone out of the window,
replaced by toothachingly too much candy, completely out of rythm with,
well, everything.

And I'm not so sure that it got significantly better on later rereading.

It still feels as if we've suddenly changed to a completely different kind
of story - one of those insultingly patronising children's stories.

Kai
--
http://www.westfalen.de/private/khms/
"... by God I *KNOW* what this network is for, and you can't have it."
- Russ Allbery (***@stanford.edu)
nyra
2005-08-16 12:27:47 UTC
Permalink
Pat Bowne schrieb:
>
> "Dorothy J Heydt" <***@kithrup.com> wrote
> >
> > I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
> > pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
> > of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
> > to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
> > hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
> > making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
> > was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
> > apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
> > and Frodo's desperate journey.

I actually was quite fond of Tom - once he had finally, finally
finally stopped that blasted singing. Unfortunately, the verses all
are metrically identical and they _all_ fit to the melody of 'One man
and his dog went to mow a meadow'. Oh, the paaaaaiiin!
As a character, he made for a fascinatingly odd person, particularly
compared to the Elves. Powerful, wise and well-meaning, yet rather
outside the world.

> This is what makes Bombadil so important to some and so irritating to
> others. He's the promise of a peaceful life;

This simply feels wrong to me. I saw him as someone living in
'splendid isolation'. He had no interest in outside matters and would
be no good meddling in them, and fortunately outside matters had
little impact on his little world - although a triumphant Sauron might
have been able to devastate the Old Forest and vanquish or enslave
Bombadil.

> so he'll irritate people who
> want to read the books to participate vicariously in the glory and heroism
> of war, and delight those who want the books to get over all that war
> nonsense and get back to the peaceful life whose protection is war's only
> justification.

To me, Bombadil never was a part of the peaceful life the Fellowship
wanted to protect; he stood outside of these matters and was as little
a promise of the mostly-happy ending as was the Forest of Fangorn.

> Tom undercuts all the self-conscious drama of the elves and the other
> powers,

Not to me. I found that in the situation at hand, Tom only displays
ignorance and a lack of understanding. It's only later that i got to
understand that he was simply unconcerned like the bear living in the
woods is unconcerned by the siege laid to a nearby city - the bear has
no stakes in the matter and no-body really cares about what he does
(unless the siege is a leisurely affair allowing a bear-hunt); if
things go bad, the woods may be cut down for construction material and
firewood, but there's not much he can do about _that_, either.

--
Jos ei sika syö, niin kyllähän piika syö.
R. L.
2005-08-16 14:55:59 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 14:27:47 +0200, nyra <***@gmx.net> wrote:

[ re Bombadil ]

>I saw him as someone living in
>'splendid isolation'. He had no interest in outside matters and would
>be no good meddling in them, and fortunately outside matters had
>little impact on his little world - although a triumphant Sauron might
>have been able to devastate the Old Forest and vanquish or enslave
>Bombadil.

/snip/

> I found that in the situation at hand, Tom only displays
>ignorance and a lack of understanding. It's only later that i got to
>understand that he was simply unconcerned like the bear living in the
>woods is unconcerned by the siege laid to a nearby city - the bear has
>no stakes in the matter and no-body really cares about what he does
>(unless the siege is a leisurely affair allowing a bear-hunt); if
>things go bad, the woods may be cut down for construction material and
>firewood, but there's not much he can do about _that_, either.


The bear couldn't, but Bombadil? Is his unconcern ignorance, or fatalism,
or confidence that Sauron couldn't actually threaten him or his forest, for
some reason not explained to us?


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-16 15:53:35 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>
>The bear couldn't, but Bombadil? Is his unconcern ignorance, or fatalism,
>or confidence that Sauron couldn't actually threaten him or his forest, for
>some reason not explained to us?

It was the opinion of the Elves that if all else went, Sauron
could destroy Bombadil too.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
Bill Swears
2005-08-16 21:26:42 UTC
Permalink
Dorothy J Heydt wrote:

>
> It was the opinion of the Elves that if all else went, Sauron
> could destroy Bombadil too.
>

The Elves who knew and respected Bombadil, and understood immediately
why he shouldn't be involved in either protecting or transporting the ring.

Bill
R. L.
2005-08-16 22:27:15 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 21:26:42 GMT, Bill Swears <***@gci.net> wrote:

>Dorothy J Heydt wrote:
>
>>
>> It was the opinion of the Elves that if all else went, Sauron
>> could destroy Bombadil too.

If they're right, the pattern I saw wouldn't work: Bombadil sort of
sticking outside the story, head and shoulders above the mayflies.


>The Elves who knew and respected Bombadil, and understood immediately
>why he shouldn't be involved in either protecting or transporting the ring.

If they're protecting him all around, from Sauron and from the ring,
storywise he would be more of a loose end, expendable (unless functioning
as a hostage plotwise).

However the fact is that Tolkien could have cut B out of the final version,
or reduced his wordage -- and chose *not* to. I'll trust T's judgment about
his own story, for what all those story rules are worth. And whether given
story wordage or not, B is clearly part of that world. (And one of my
favorite parts. I'm more interested in the normal state of Middle Earth,
than the war that disturbed it.)


R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Margaret Young
2005-08-19 12:23:27 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 15:53:35 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
Heydt) wrote:

>In article <***@4ax.com>,
>R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>>
>>The bear couldn't, but Bombadil? Is his unconcern ignorance, or fatalism,
>>or confidence that Sauron couldn't actually threaten him or his forest, for
>>some reason not explained to us?
>
>It was the opinion of the Elves that if all else went, Sauron
>could destroy Bombadil too.
>
>Dorothy J. Heydt
>Albany, California
>***@kithrup.com

hmmm, that makes me think of the consequences of partying and fun
while horrors are being perpetrated elsewhere.

Remember, it is often the case that not fighting evil can be in some
cases a way of enabling it.


--
Margaret Young
________________________________________________________
Come the apocalypse there will be cockroaches, Keith Richards and the
faint smell of cat pee.
Dorothy J Heydt
2005-08-19 14:01:31 UTC
Permalink
In article <***@4ax.com>,
Margaret Young <***@umich.edu> wrote:
>On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 15:53:35 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
>Heydt) wrote:
>
>>In article <***@4ax.com>,
>>R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>>>
>>>The bear couldn't, but Bombadil? Is his unconcern ignorance, or fatalism,
>>>or confidence that Sauron couldn't actually threaten him or his forest, for
>>>some reason not explained to us?
>>
>>It was the opinion of the Elves that if all else went, Sauron
>>could destroy Bombadil too.
>>
>hmmm, that makes me think of the consequences of partying and fun
>while horrors are being perpetrated elsewhere.
>
>Remember, it is often the case that not fighting evil can be in some
>cases a way of enabling it.

Well, yes, but it was also stated that of all the powers Bombadil
had, fighting Sauron was not among them. Whatever his history--
and there are hints that he's withdrawn into his current mastery
over a few acres fairly recently, on a geologic scale--he is now
nature's contemplative, smelling the roses and considering the
lilies of the field, but unwilling-to-the-point-of-inability to
do anything beyong his own boundaries.

There's nothing *wrong* with Bombadil. He's a chthonic spirit.
Why should he not dance and sing and smell the flowers? He lives
in the grace of Eru Iluvatar. He just doesn't advance the story.

This is a characteristic of Tolkien's that you have to take into
account. He takes a while to get going, and stop meandering into
by-ways, and get on with the story. Once he gets onto the road,
however, you might as well try to stop a Bandersnatch.

Dorothy J. Heydt
Albany, California
***@kithrup.com
R. L.
2005-08-19 14:46:12 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 19 Aug 2005 14:01:31 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J Heydt)
wrote:

>In article <***@4ax.com>,
>Margaret Young <***@umich.edu> wrote:
>>On Tue, 16 Aug 2005 15:53:35 GMT, ***@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
>>Heydt) wrote:
>>
>>>In article <***@4ax.com>,
>>>R. L. <see-***@no-spams.coms> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>The bear couldn't, but Bombadil? Is his unconcern ignorance, or fatalism,
>>>>or confidence that Sauron couldn't actually threaten him or his forest, for
>>>>some reason not explained to us?
>>>
>>>It was the opinion of the Elves that if all else went, Sauron
>>>could destroy Bombadil too.
>>>
>>hmmm, that makes me think of the consequences of partying and fun
>>while horrors are being perpetrated elsewhere.
>>
>>Remember, it is often the case that not fighting evil can be in some
>>cases a way of enabling it.
>
>Well, yes, but it was also stated that of all the powers Bombadil
>had, fighting Sauron was not among them. Whatever his history--
>and there are hints that he's withdrawn into his current mastery
>over a few acres fairly recently, on a geologic scale--he is now
>nature's contemplative, smelling the roses and considering the
>lilies of the field, but unwilling-to-the-point-of-inability to
>do anything beyong his own boundaries.

Which could make him stick out the other direction, as a hostage to the
plot.... Which could be a design too, tho scary.


>There's nothing *wrong* with Bombadil. He's a chthonic spirit.
>Why should he not dance and sing and smell the flowers? He lives
>in the grace of Eru Iluvatar. He just doesn't advance the story.
>
>This is a characteristic of Tolkien's that you have to take into
>account. He takes a while to get going, and stop meandering into
>by-ways, and get on with the story.

Well, or we might say all this present-day focus on advancing the story is
a current fashion, or an artifact of crit groups, or of movies, or
something. I mean movies in general; a feeling that everything has to fit
neatly into a limited-time presentation. I expect some old books were meant
to be picked up and put down and read along much more leisurely and
casually, and a collection of stuff without it all even being story was
more acceptable.



R.L.
--
RL at houseboatontheganges dot com
for Indian river read styx
Alter S. Reiss
2005-08-21 11:14:38 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 15:43:54 -0500, Pat Bowne wrote:

> "Dorothy J Heydt" <***@kithrup.com> wrote
>>
>> I think you have, if not quite put your finger on it, at least
>> pointed it in the right direction. Tom is "the vanishing spirit
>> of the Oxfordshire countryside," and it was natural for Tolkien
>> to put him into the early part of the work. Except that he
>> hadn't pre-plotted where the work was going to end up: he was
>> making it up as he went along, and he thought at first that he
>> was writing "another _Hobbit_". Tom's lightheartedness and
>> apparent silliness doesn't fit the tone of the War of the Ring
>> and Frodo's desperate journey.
>>
>> The thing to do with Bombadil really is to look at him out of
>> context: read the whole of LotR without him, or read just him and
>> not the rest of the book. Here is an immortal spirit, at least
>> as old as the world itself, and what does he do? He sings songs
>> and tends his garden. It's a hint that an immortal and powerful
>> spirit doesn't necessarily have to be like the Valar, who sink
>> continents at their approach.
>>
>
> This is what makes Bombadil so important to some and so irritating to
> others. (. . .)

No, what makes Bombadil so irritating to at least some of the others is the
ferry-dol, merry-dol, ding a ling dilly type stuff. Which I find
screamingly irritating. Also the jumping and capering. I'd be irritated
by him if he were nothing more than a simple lunatic.
kaih= (Kai Henningsen)
2005-08-28 16:21:00 UTC
Permalink
***@gmail.com (Alter S. Reiss) wrote on 21.08.05 in <***@teranews>:

> On Mon, 15 Aug 2005 15:43:54 -0500, Pat Bowne wrote:

> > This is what makes Bombadil so important to some and so irritating to
> > others. (. . .)
>
> No, what makes Bombadil so irritating to at least some of the others is the
> ferry-dol, merry-dol, ding a ling dilly type stuff. Which I find
> screamingly irritating. Also the jumping and capering. I'd be irritated
> by him if he were nothing more than a simple lunatic.

Exactly.

We once had a neighbour trying to teach their parrot a certain melody.
This parrot, doing the beginning then stopping, *just one note* short of a
place where one might have accepted a stop - that's how irritating Tom
feels to me. There's pretty much *no* context in which I'd like to read
that part. It belongs in the kind of children's books that I carefully
avoided reading.

Except for me not having yet learned about book-to-wall moments when I
first read that, it would have been one.

There are a number of things I don't like about LotR ... this one is by
far the worst. With a cherry on top and a pink bow.

For comparision, I loved the Hobbit, and I could have read a bit more
about peaceful times after that war. But please, please, please, no
Bombadil!

Kai
--
http://www.westfalen.de/private/khms/
"... by God I *KNOW* what this network is for, and you can't have it."
- Russ Allbery (***@stanford.edu)
Marilee J. Layman
2005-07-30 18:08:44 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 29 Jul 2005 19:13:24 -0700, Ben Crowell <"crowell05 at
lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote:

>Brian M. Scott wrote:
>>>I didn't realize that 80,000 words was considered long for a YA,
>>>so I'm wondering if I should just try to sell it as straight SF,
>>>with the unspoken implication that since the protagonist is a
>>>teenage girl, it could appeal to girls and women.
>> Or to anyone else. I don't know how atypical a datapoint I
>> am, but I have always preferred female protagonists, all
>> else being equal. Leave it to the folks with experience
>> making such decisions (though I do sometimes wonder about
>> those decisions).
>I was spurred to write a YA with a female protagonist because my
>daughter (now 9) refused to read my favorite old Heinlein
>juveniles.

I mentioned to someone who is just starting to read FSF that my
favorite aliens are in The Mote in God's Eye. She read it and emailed
me back that not only could she not figure out which aliens (Moties!),
but it was so backward socially that she could hardly stand it. And
there's even a female major character in it.

--
Marilee J. Layman
Marilee J. Layman
2005-07-30 18:08:44 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 29 Jul 2005 19:13:24 -0700, Ben Crowell <"crowell05 at
lightSPAMandISmatterEVIL.com"> wrote:

>Brian M. Scott wrote:
>>>I didn't realize that 80,000 words was considered long for a YA,
>>>so I'm wondering if I should just try to sell it as straight SF,
>>>with the unspoken implication that since the protagonist is a
>>>teenage girl, it could appeal to girls and women.
>> Or to anyone else. I don't know how atypical a datapoint I
>> am, but I have always preferred female protagonists, all
>> else being equal. Leave it to the folks with experience
>> making such decisions (though I do sometimes wonder about
>> those decisions).
>I was spurred to write a YA with a female protagonist because my
>daughter (now 9) refused to read my favorite old Heinlein
>juveniles.

I mentioned to someone who is just starting to read FSF that my
favorite aliens are in The Mote in God's Eye. She read it and emailed
me back that not only could she not figure out which aliens (Moties!),
but it was so backward socially that she could hardly stand it. And
there's even a female major character in it.

--
Marilee J. Layman
Zeborah
2005-07-30 06:50:58 UTC
Permalink
Patricia C. Wrede <***@aol.com> wrote:

> If you're aiming for the YA market, 80,000 words is long. YA tends to
> prefer 50,000-60,000 in a first novel; yes, there are longer ones, but
> they're usually by established YA authors.

Oh, really? I thought I'd heard that it was longer these days. My
Kangaroo Story is 45K currently and could stand to add another 5K worth
of bits and bobs, so that's excellent news.

Zeborah
--
Gravity is no joke.
http://www.geocities.com/zeborahnz/
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