Tolkien Gestures: Introduction

Welcome to Tolkien Gestures! A new, and hopefully interesting review column. Before we start, I thought I’d do a quick introduction and sort of self-justification post.

Several years ago I came to the horrible realisation that I was no longer the sort of person who also “had a book on the go”. This may be true for many people, but before work and parenthood took their toll on my spare time I read all the time and to become aware that this wasn’t the case anymore was a bit of a shock to the system. Normally, I’ve read Sci-Fi. Lots and lot of sci-fi, but sometime in the late-90s and early 00s I burnt out on the genre and pretty much just dabbled around, and slowly, inevitably, the amount I read just dwindled away.

So, in order to do something about this, I started to set myself reading lists on an annual basis, both to force myself to once again be sort of person who “has a book on the go” but also to expand my horizons a little bit. The first one was American Fiction of the 20th Century, with the modest aim of 12 books in a year. After that (last year) I did crime fiction, with a longer list, and the idea of reading them in publishing order to get a feel for how the genre has evolved and changed over time.

This year I was torn between a few subjects, but a few of my friends pointed out that over the years I’ve been a somewhat vocal detractor of the Fantasy genre, without perhaps reading too much of it, and perhaps I should stick my money where my mouth is and read a load of them.

Eventually, I ran out of excuses and agreed. I was able to come up with a bad pun – Tolkien Gestures – to name it as a project, and started to put a list together. We’ll come onto that later.

But first, some preconceptions. I don’t like Fantasy, as anyone who has sat down in a pub with me and talked genre fiction can tell you. From the outside, looking in, it seems homogeneous, overly in thrall to a small number of overly influential writers, and lacking in the great diversity that its older cousin, Science Fiction, has on offer. Give me aliens, and spaceships, and quadra-plasma-fusion-blasters over Elves, Dragons and Ancient-Mithril-Dwarven-Spell-Bows any day, I would say, with the snobbish air of the self-righteous. Go back to your 40-volume myth cycle and leave me in peace!

I concede that perhaps I am not as open to new things as I could be.

So, I’ve been reading for a good few months now, and posting up my various thoughts on a personal blog, however the delightful folks at GeekSyndicate like the idea and I’m happy to repost them here. The plan is to space them out about one a week – so I’m not overloading the site with my musings – till I’m caught up with the current reading, and of course feedback and comments are always welcome, either at the foot of the post or to grampus (at) dissectingworlds (dot) com

Next time – the list itself, with some reasons for inclusions and omissions.

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