Archive | Science Fiction/Fantasy

Peter Jackson Reveals Some Details of Planned Hobbit Movie

Possibly influenced by the recent discovery of real-life Hobbits, Peter Jackson has revealed some details of his upcomingHobbit movie, including the return of Ian McKellen as Gandalf; I think McKellen was quite good in that role in the Lord of the Rings movies. Perhaps there will be a part for co-conspirator Randy Barnett, who has previous experience appearing in sci fi/fantasy roles. [...]

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Scientific Evidence for the Lord of the Rings

It turns out that Hobbits actually existed [HT: Tyler Cowen]:

Researchers from Stony Brook University Medical Center in New York have confirmed that Homo floresiensis is a genuine ancient human species and not a descendant of healthy humans dwarfed by disease. Using statistical analysis on skeletal remains of a well-preserved female specimen, researchers determined the “hobbit” to be a distinct species and not a genetically flawed version of modern humans. Details of the study appear in the December issue of Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society, published by Wiley-Blackwell.

In 2003 Australian and Indonesian scientists discovered small-bodied, small-brained, hominin (human-like) fossils on the remote island of Flores in the Indonesian archipelago. This discovery of a new human species called Homo floresiensis has spawned much debate with some researchers claiming that the small creatures are really modern humans whose tiny head and brain are the result of a medical condition called microcephaly.

Researchers William Jungers, Ph.D., and Karen Baab, Ph.D. studied the skeletal remains of a female (LB1), nicknamed “Little Lady of Flores” or “Flo” to confirm the evolutionary path of the hobbit species. The specimen was remarkably complete and included skull, jaw, arms, legs, hands, and feet that provided researchers with integrated information from an individual fossil.

Frodo lives! I’m sure that science will eventually prove that elves, dwarves, orcs, and balrogs also once walked the Earth.

UPDATE: I should add that the existence of trolls even more ferocious than those described by Tolkien has already been proven beyond doubt in many parts of the blogosphere. [...]

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Federations in Science Fiction

I am alternately amused and saddened that one of the most widely read articles about federalism is my tongue in cheek 2007 National Review piece on federalism in Star Trek’s United Federation of Planets, based on an earlier VC post. Many more people seem to be interested in the fine points of federalism in fictional states than in the federal systems that exist in the real world. Just compare the number and quality of VC comments on my Star Trek federalism post (many based on an incredibly detailed knowledge of the fine points of Federation history) with those on virtually any VC post about real world federalism issues.

Aficionados of science fiction federalism will be happy to know that there is now an entire anthology devoted to stories about SF federations. I hope that the publication of this book will increase interest in real-world federalism among SF fans, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.

For a somewhat more serious post about science fiction federalism than those linked above, see my very first foray into this subject, from back in 2006. [...]

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The Six Greatest Fantasy Novels of All Time

Rising star fantasy writer Lev Grossman gives us his picks for the six greatest fantasy novels of all time [HT: Tyler Cowen]:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The Once and Future King by T.H. White
— Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

Many of these are worthy and unsurprising choices. I question the selection of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, however. I tried to read it several years ago and couldn’t get through it despite the fact that I am a huge fantasy fan and generally like long books. Either my reaction was highly idiosyncratic or Clarke’s book is at least somewhat boring, and therefore not worthy of inclusion in this distinguished list. The Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series is an important landmark in the field, but not actually a novel (it’s a set of loosely connected short stories with the same central characters, much like the Sherlock Holmes series).

Finally, I have to admit that I haven’t read Magic for Beginners. It, like Fritz Leiber’s work, seems to be a collection of short stories. Is it as great as Grossman claims? [...]

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