Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The film Peter Jackson should have made....

A friend just pointed me in the direction of this review, of a novel telling the Lord of The Rings story from the other side, with a healthy dose of sly references to modern world politics, but more importantly, providing a full scale assault on Tolkein's idealised anti-industrialisation views which underpin the original. Here, Gandalf is the luddite trying to destroy Mordor's 'ivory' towers of progress. Sounds very cool (the full text is here if you want to read), and I certainly had similar issues while re-reading the original due to Tolkein's simplistic (in hindsight) moral views.

But, more interesting than the book itself was, I thought, the last paragraph of the review, where the author indicates that this might be considered 'fan-fiction' as art. Its an idea I like, in that it suggests a debate and dialogue between different writers, with 'fan-fiction' written as critical response to the original piece. Its been done before, plenty of books are written in response to other books (Don Quixote provides alternative complexities to the earlier Tirant lo Blanch for example), but whats unusual about fan-fiction is that it situates its response not only in the same style and genre, but in the exactly same fictional world, with the same characters. Which, when you think about it, seems so obvious its strange this point (to my admittedly limited knowledge) wasn't realised earlier, a very effective way to debate someone's position is to start by accepting the fundamental premises of that view, then take them to a subversive alternate conclusion. I like it.

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