Posted by: kshayes513 | December 22, 2013

Here’s Your 2013 Holiday Stocking!

I don’t know about you, but I’m too full of holiday goodies to get my head to do any serious work. So rather than attempt (and fail!) at a discussion of any substantial worldbuilding topic, let me offer a stocking full of little goodies for you to open at leisure.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Before I could get around to deciding whether to review The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, a friend brought to my attention this blog post on Legendarium, which offers an excellent discussion of Tolkien’s position on film adaptations, as it relates to this particular movie. The comment thread here is also worth reading in full, for many thoughtful comments about the article and the movie. Taken as a whole they represent a pretty good review for serious fans!  Here’s a bit of the discussion of Tolkien’s letter on the issue:

“…All purists and critics should understand that Tolkien himself was ready to sell his work for either buckets of mithril or artistic control.  In other words the art was very important to him, but it could be compromised for enough coin.  This is the way of the world.  If you want the pure milk, you still have the books.   Lets have the professor clarify further from the same letter:

‘Either very profitable terms indeed; or absolute author’s veto on objectionable featIures or alterations.’   So there you have it from Tolkien himself; Cash or Art.  In fantasy laymen’s terms, if there was enough cash involved, Tolkien would put up with the flying Bombur-barrel river rodeo, Dwelfs (future offspring of Kili & Tauriel), or perhaps even Jar Jar Gollum.”

For me, the main lesson of this movie is to beware the middle part of the story. For the first time, PJ has fallen into the action sequel quagmire of substituting action for dramatic conflict, and the easy laugh for genuine character development. When your cast, from top to bottom, is actors of this caliber, it’s a crime to forget that their best use is in dramatic scenes, not barrel rides and orc battles.

The Twelve Science Fiction & Fantasy Movies of Christmas

Three years ago, I made up this list of science fiction and fantasy film and TV features that I consider good holiday viewing. Some are explicitly holiday themed, others, not so much. Many readers find it every year, and so far, I’ve seen no reason to replace it, or even to make any significant additions. Commenters have added their own suggestions, of course. If you think I’ve left out anything important, please do join in!

The Oxford English Dictionary Birthday Word Generator

The OED’s website now has an entertaining little tool that allows you to look up what words were first used (in print, at least) in the year of your birth. It’s a very simple interactive table. Go take a look. My birthday word is “artificial intelligence.” How suitable for a spec fiction writer!


And finally – live TV for space junkies. Yesterday, I spent at least an hour at my desk, trying to work but glued instead to the NASA TV live feed of the ISS space walk.  The feed comes from different cameras on the ISS exterior, on the astronauts’ EVA suits, and in Mission Control, with live audio, plus an occasional commenter, in quiet moments, filling in the audience on exactly what’s going on right now. And in the background, always, the expanse of the space station, and beyond it the stars, or the slow turning Earth.

It was the most fascinating live TV I’ve seen since I can’t remember when, and it makes about half of what happens in Gravity seem, in retrospect, even more idiotic than PJ’s most egregious videogame flourishes.

Another space walk is scheduled for Tuesday morning. And though I can’t find anything specific on the NASA TV schedule, I assume they’ll have the same live feed available for that one. Enjoy!


  1. Nice Blog! Perhaps i may recommend a german blog about worldbuilding also?

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