"In the tradition of JRR Tolkien..."
You've seen the blurbs. Every other new fantasy author gets hailed as the new Tolkien. But you know, I think I've found someone who tops him in some ways. I have to tell you how this came to me, because it's weird--it started with the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Also, I have just finished (for the 3rd time) reading Tom Shippey's 'Tolkien: Author of the Century'. I was thinking of Tolkien's world creating and how he struggled with the idea of Middle Earth; if it really worked to say it was once flat and then 'all the roads were bent' and it became a round world. I love fantasy, but for sheer brain expanding magnificence it is topped by the wonders of space, especially in the area of cosmology. The Big Bang. A universe not full of lamps kindled by a semi-goddess from the pooled light of two magical Trees, but instead populated with GALAXIES full of titanitc orbs of fusion fueled brilliance roaring light and energy into the void for millions of years. I mean, big. So that was all in my head while I was listening to 'Lady Marmalade' on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Then it started in on the 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend'. Since I have been so LOTR obsessed lately, in my mind I was...
STOP!! BIG CONFESSION MOMENT!
I am a Mary Sue. For those of you who do not indulge in fanfic, 'Mary Sue' is a reference to self-insertion stories that classically involve an avatar of the author (female) being placed in the story so that the fictional hunk of her choice (Legolas is very popular right now, I hope Orlando has bodyguards) can fall madly in love with her. But I don't write Mary Sue fanfics, and I don't exactly self-insert. Over the years, from playing with dolls as a little girl, I have developed various (mostly female) characters and I insert them into other people's stories. If I love a story, in whatever media, I tend to form an Alternate Universe storyline adding my own characters.
Okay. So, there my character was, talking to Gimli about diamonds and how they were made of the same substance as coal and talking about kimberlite pipes, which are geological formations in which diamonds can be found. That triggered the memory of Julian May's book 'Diamond Mask' in which there is a scene where the characters are attempting to use psionic magnification devices to stop an eruption of volcanic gasses that could kill thousands of people.
That's when it hit me. Julian May's Galactic Milieu series, one huge story ranging from Pliocene Earth to the 22nd century, has in some ways a more ambitious scope than LOTR. She too mines the stories of the fairies and gods, only in her telling they are revealed as aliens with terrestrial compatible DNA who come to Earth in exile from another galaxy. In her work she explores some of the same themes. The corruption of power, the problem of evil (is it a force from within us, outside us--or both? I recommend Shippey's book for an exploration of this theme in Tolkien), and the temptation to despair. There are forces at work from the Biblical scale to simple personal themes of love and friendship between the characters. I have always loved and respected Julian May's writings, but it took this moment of revelation to see how much her work had in common with my favorite author of all. I wonder if she would list Tolkien as one of her influences?
This musing has been sponsored by the Green Fairy.