Tom Bombadil

Tom Bombadil is joy and contentment. That’s why:
A) he’s not human. We’re terrible at joy and contentment
B) he’s immune to the Ring. The Ring is temptation, and if you’re happy and content, temptation has no hold on you
C) he was so important to the book plot, which goes further into the metaphor of the Ring than the movies
D) he’s the right thing to cut from the movies, which are more literal than the books
E) he’s so popular in spite of not doing a lot
F) he seems like Eru Iluvatar, being a creature fully made of love and completion
G) he is powerful and yet must be protected
H) he can be summoned through song, yet the song has no power over him. We all have songs that are likely to make us happy, but they don’t always work
I) his enemies are the barrow wights, ghosts that hold forever onto ancient grudges. Those are legit grudges, mind. The Witch-King of Angmar did the men of Arnor dirty. But the wights hold onto those grudges beyond death, and as such are enemies to joy forever. They (the wights) are scattered when their treasures are distributed without history


Reading Fireborn by Munda. The female lead is named Antigone.

That’s…a momentus name.


Think about what it was like for Elrond. Galadriel was his mother in law, and his wife was tortured by orcs until she (Celebrían) fled into the west.

Can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner?

LOTRO Campaign

It’s weird there’s no full on LOTR campaign in LOTRO. Why isn’t there a mode where you build a hobbit, get a ring, and head off for Mordor?

There’s a mode where you’re recruited to support the Fellowship, but it’s circuitous and bizarre.

There might be IP or permission concerns.

Sinister Barrier

The introduction to The Complete Compleat Enchanter mentioned Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russell, so I read it. It’s good for what it is: pulp.

It’s extremely good pulp but still extremely pulp.

The main character is a detective of some kind, and he starts out investigating some scientists dying. Cosmic mysteries ensue, and things get rolling. I was a little annoyed at how long it took to disclose what was going on. Nothing really happened for a while, but when the big reveal happened, matters moved on pretty quickly. Global catastrophe and the end of human life hung in the balance by book’s end.

Everyone’s flat. The two main leads don’t really play off each other; one’s the boss and good at everything, and he bosses the other around. This is the hyper-competent man that gets referred to so much. It fits the story, but that’s the story you’re getting. Just know what you’re getting into.

What you’re going after in pulp is moving events. Things can’t stagnate. They need to get bigger and worse with every chapter until things hit the ceiling. All along, there must be endless certain doom the hero constantly barely survives, and it’s got to be gripping. If the reader buys the plot, the story should have a lot of tension. This one worked for me, but I got over a few things. If those stop you, you won’t enjoy it at all.

It’s just one of those books that is what it is. Don’t read Anne Rice if you aren’t into bad romance and vampires. There’s SCIENCE! in the Sinister Barrier, and if we were all manly enough man-scientists, the world would be a utopia.

I liked it, though. It rolled right along. 4/5


Do you think Achilles would have been in the wrong if Odysseus, Pheonix, and Ajax hadn’t made their embassy? They did, so he was. He wasn’t really in the wrong before then, so it stands reasonable that he wouldn’t have been in the wrong if they’d never gone to carry Agamemnon’s apology.

But that also feels like a moment-in-time thing. Taking the Iliad for the time period that it was gives the morality that the story follows. Now, in these modern times with modern moralities, I’m not sure Achilles wasn’t wrong all along. Maybe his error didn’t come to the fore until the embassy, and for dramatic purposes it wasn’t visible. But perhaps he was still wrong to abstain from the combat.

I don’t know. That has a lot of laudable warfare in it, something I find questionable in a circumstance like the Achaeans’s. Wondering about questions like that strikes me as being similar to arguments about the Heisenberg Compensator from Star Trek.


Long story short, I’m reading another long story, The Sword of Shannara, and I had Zelazny’s Roadmarks from the library on top of the stack. I’m a graduate student, so I have long due dates. However this was an interlibrary loan with a short due date. I got an email saying it was due in two days, so I sat down and tore through it.

I’m still reading The Sword of Shannara. It’s good, but long and slow.

I gave Roadmarks 3 stars on Goodreads, and if I find a $2 used copy, I’ll buy it.

This is my spoilertastic review.

The Road is sort-of like the Pattern. It’s an avenue between worlds and times, and much like shadow, there are an elect few who can travel it. What’s better about the Road than the Pattern is that you can take others. Randy, one of two protagonists though uninteresting, is guided onto the Road by a Clark-tech book. That’s amazing. That’s pure wonder. In so much fantasy, the magic realm is locked behind bloodlines or destiny, and the simple uniqueness of being able to take others is amazing. And you can still do it with bloodlines or destiny!

I cannot tell you how excited I was by this. There’s so much stuff in that! Some people are born with the gift, and great. Good on them. But with the gift, you can bring others. They don’t have to be chosen by a lesser fate; they have the power. They just need a guide, or instructions, or a foolhardly sense of adventure. Risk death! It’s a story. But it’s possible, and I love that.

In HP, the wizarding world can’t teach the muggles. Wizards are special, and there’s something deterministic and horrible to the lack of possibilities for those born without.

In Lovecraft, you’re…well, you’re going to get eaten by something or driven mad, so that’s just bad.

In Tolkien, there are only five wizards. Other magic is beyond all men, unless found in artifice. But the days of artifice are long gone, and even thought peace will reign, greatness won’t.

With the Road, if you can get there, you can explore. Now it’s naturally restricted, and that’s a good thing. Too many people would be going back in time to play murder, bang, kill with their grandparents. But the door has a key, and I love that.

The book is rather mediocre otherwise with an unresolved plot and unexplained characters. Red’s odd metamorphosis is left unexplained, and it’s vaguely hinted that he turns into a dragon. But then at the end, he doesn’t turn into a dragon, and the first scene is Red driving around not-a-dragon. Very frustrating. The antagonist is vague and unexplained. He’s never much introduced, and I’m left apathetic toward his big reveal. The plot, the characters, and the schemes don’t get solved, resolved, or even well explored.

The character interactions are fine.

Anyway, if the idea of the Road and more specifically its access wasn’t so interesting, the book wouldn’t be very good. But the Road was, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Other Character’s Thoughts

There’s a tricky balance between revealing a character’s thoughts, pointing out the character is having thoughts but not revealing them, and not saying anything, hoping the readers know that characters have thoughts.

I spend a lot of time in FP POV, and other characters are the issue. With first person, you can usually talk about the narrator’s thoughts. It gets bogged down sometimes, but important thoughts are almost always fair game, and the lesser stuff can usually be glossed over. “I don’t know what I thought about that.” “My feelings on the matter were mixed.” “I tried to keep an open mind.” Those are all paraphrases for ‘the narrator was thinking but the author doesn’t want to go too far into it now.’

With other people it’s tricky, and it’s especially tricky for other people in a FP POV. If Alice, narrator, is talking to Bob, Alice is going to have a lot of problems figuring out what Bob is thinking. That’s real life, but it’s also really frustrating to read. Picking the right balance takes some finesse, and the author can’t get too bogged down in writing about Alice trying to figure out what Bob is thinking.

I’m rereading the first book of Shannara, the Sword of Shannara. It’s good, but not as good as I remember. The problem is that Terry Brooks goes way too deep into some people’s thoughts, and they don’t have anything interesting to say, and avoids others. He avoids Allanon’s thoughts to build drama, and that’s all well and good. But the fourth or fifth time Menion thinks something impatient and stupid, albeit with a little depth, I’m getting bored. It reads like early RA Salvatore. They were/are contemporaries, and they write like players going through a campaign.