As per the kind request from Travis, and because I obviously can’t shut myself up from the subject of Doctor Who, these are my thoughts on the casting of the Twelfth Doctor who will be making his way into the world this Christmas. I’m not sure how cogent an argument or analysis I can make at this point as to his ability, given that it will be a year before we see a full episode featuring him as the new, new, new, new Doctor. However, I do have several thoughts (many of them shared with other Whovians and bloggers) that I’d like to put on record while the news is still fresh.
There’s not a lot of universe-changing news this week, but there is the announcement that J.J. Abrams is set to direct the next Star Wars movie. Abrams is known for his work on Star Trek, which is a weird qualification for a Star Wars director, and Lost, which is–by all report at the Pub here–a superb one. According to the linked article, Michael Arndt, writer of Toy Story 3, is set to write the screenplay, which is another hopeful sign. Might the next Star Wars be a worthy heir to the legacy of A New Hope?
io9 has some of Abrams’ thoughts on the job, and GeekTyrant has embedded a video in which Abrams talks about Star Wars as good storytelling. Related articles are available at MTV.com and Deadline Hollywood.
In slightly less directly related articles: Turks get in a tiff over a ‘Jabba’s Palace’ Lego toy; apparently they think it looks too much like the Hagia Sophia. io9’s Rand Simberg questions the original cost estimate for building a Death Star, and Charlie Jane Anders highlights a set of R2D2 high heels. The TOMS posted in the comments are likewise adorable.
Of the wide variety of articles in this week’s Common Room, one of the most fascinating is Laura Miller’s “Desecrating Poe,” posted over at Salon. Her scathing review of the new Fox TV show “The Following” includes commentary on art, beauty, and the artistic portrayal of violence. Sample quote:
Violence in popular entertainment is usually discussed in absolute terms: Either you think it should be reined in quantitatively or you defend it in blanket terms, as a matter of free speech. This bogus polarity obscures an important question: How is it used? Eyes are gouged out in “The Following” because the mutilated female corpses (all young and pretty in life) make a ghastly spectacle and enable Carroll to torment Hardy with talk of severing the victims’ ocular muscles one by one. Eyes are gouged out in “King Lear” to indicate that the play’s social order has descended to sub-human brutality as a result of the main character’s refusal to see the truth. It’s the same violent act, but in the latter case it is replete with meaning and induces an elemental despair, while in the case of “The Following” it’s just gleefully lurid.
Follow the link for the rest of the story, including many discussable points.
In other news and commentary:
Bloggers and C.S. Lewis fans: Review blog Pages Unbound is hosting a C.S. Lewis read-along throughout the month of February. Ways to participate include reviewing Lewis books or hosting discussions on your own blog, sending in guest posts to the Pages Unbound proprietors, and simply following along to read and/or comment on Lewis’ oeuvre.
Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer has been chosen to write one of eleven new Doctor Who short books, and the big speculation of the week is that J.K. Rowling may be chosen to write another. Colfer’s much-revered name was the first to be released; other news will hopefully be coming soon.
A series longer in the making than Harry Potter released its finale on the eighth of January: Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic began with The Eye of the World in 1990 and now, after Jordan’s death in 2007, has been completed (from Jordan’s notes) by Brandon Sanderson with A Memory of Light. Jordan’s story is known for worldbuilding almost unrivaled in its depth and range, a cast of characters large enough to fill a decent-sized small town, a high page count–fourteen books averaging over 800 pages apiece, a fantastic magic system, a handful of repetitive descriptors, and–to its loyal fans–a great deal of awesomeness. One of those loyal fans happens to be writing this blog post, and can hardly stand the wait for her copy to come in the mail.
Brandon Sanderson’s release post offers some final details: for instance, that Jordan himself wrote the ending before he died, and why the ebook release has been delayed. Also, Tor art director Irene Gallo toured the bindery as the book was in production, and posted a long set of pictures from the process.
There are rumors–again, only rumors, but still–that Universal may be getting the rights to create a Middle-Earth theme park. It seems likely that a satisfactory recipe for lembas will be as difficult to come up with as a satisfactory recipe for butterbeer.
It’s 2013, some of us are still sweeping up bits of confetti left over from wizard crackers–surreptitiously, when Aberforth isn’t looking–and there are a few bits and leftovers from 2012 to be picked up and discussed as well. For instance:
- Parallel Universe’s Geek Movies 2012: Hits and Misses
- MSN Now gives you permission to boast if you read more than six books last year
- Fantasy Faction lists their picks for best fantasy books of 2012
…and though the Christmas season is almost over (it’s the tenth day–perhaps you’ll get some lords-a-leaping from your true love!), there’s a Godzilla Christmas tree to be seen, fifteen ice planets for a guaranteed white Christmas, Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s picks for Top Ten Christmas Reads for Kids, and a little mixup over the generous nature and white beard of Gandalf.
It’s release day for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey! On account of which, there are a nearly infinite number of relevant articles and such this week, some of which are aggregated here:
- At The Christophers on Patheos: The Director and Stars of “The Hobbit” Share Thoughts on Bravery, Mercy and Tolkien’s Christianity.
- Mike Ryan at HuffPo talks about the experience of seeing The Hobbit in 48 frames per second instead of the standard 24.
- WhatCulture’s Shaun Munro has an early (possibly spoilerific) review of the movie, titled “The Hobbit: 5 things that were awesome and 5 that sucked.”
- Salon’s Robert Rodi: “Bilbo Baggins says ‘Buy This’.” He says, “Behold the onslaught of Hobbit action figures. Hobbit Legos. Hobbit meals. If only they did this to ‘Anna Karenina’.”
- Artist Donato has some beautiful pieces with Tolkien and his works as subjects.
- Gandalf actor Sir Ian McKellen has revealed he has prostate cancer, and says it is currently being managed and not spreading.
- Having trouble differentiating the dozen dwarves? Check out this flow chart, which distinguishes them by their facial hair.
- The Foxtrot comic strip from December 9 is Hobbit-themed and hilarious.
- Want to dress as an Elf to attend your showing of the movie? OneUpMakeup will show you how to do your makeup.
- Heath Dill has an upcoming cookbook titled Medium Rare and Back Again: A Tolkien Cookbook. Sounds like fun.
- A realistic-looking hobbit pub has opened for business in New Zealand.
- Stopmotion filmmakers Brotherhood Workshop have made a Lego parody video of the Battle of Helm’s Deep, including a blonde moment from Legolas.
- io9 has the 10 most unlikely things that were influenced by Tolkien and Hobbit/LotR cross-promotions that are best off not existing.
In not-so-small Harry Potter news: the stars of the Potter films are getting together to film a Potter mini-movie, which will be shown at the theme parks containing Potter attractions. Over at The Guardian, Ellie Lewis makes a guess at what the movie may be about.
As this post goes up, it’s still November 29 by my clock, on account of which: Happy Birthday, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle! Born exactly twenty years apart–Lewis in 1898 and L’Engle in 1918–the two authors must have shared a trace of magic along with a birthday, for few children’s books have been more loved than The Chronicles of Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time. Here’s to Jack and Madeleine, both of whom have been loved by many of us for nearly all our reading lives.
Fairy tale writer and aficionado L.C. Ricardo, has written a beautiful piece on symbolism and meaning in fairy tales, which was just published on the webzine Enchanted Conversation. From L.C.:
That is not to say that fairy tales are mere allegory. Perhaps this one-sided interpretation carries some blame for people’s frustration in“telling the same story over and over again.” If a tower is always a phallic symbol and the maiden either imprisoned or protected from the masculine, we rob the tower of its first childhood impression. That of something tall, stone, unreachable. Something enchanted, according to that which makes up its very definition. And from there—who knows what it could be?
Do you agree with her on the openness of interpretation, or disagree? What do you think of the universality and personal appeal of fairy tales and fantasy literature? Feel free to hold forth in the combox.
Here’s the news from the week:
Happy Thanksgiving to all American Pub members!
The big news story of the week is Utah paper boy Jaxon Gessel’s getting chased one dark morn
ing by a goat named Voldemort
ing by a goat named Voldemort. Now dubbed “The Boy Who Lived” by the goat’s owners, and less flattering names by his school peers, Gessel seems to have taken the event philosophically and with a fair degree of bravery as well, preventing other passers-by from likewise getting treed. After all, whatever Aberforth might say, a male goat can be an odd and rather frightening creature, especially in the dark.
In more serious discussion, Fantasy Faction’s Ryan Howse suggests a moratorium on Campbell’s monomyth. He criticizes it on several principles, from its influence on definitions to its overall masculinity. “Campbell’s monomyth is important to know,” he says, “but as writers we need to be willing to push against its boundaries and break it. We need to criticize it with a thousand cuts and let it lie fallow in the earth.” Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss.