Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works?

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Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works?

Postby johnboy1 » Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:18 am

You know, it kills me that the "expanded universe" for Tolkien's mythos is so sparse. Adaptations aside, it consists entirely of video games and tabletop RPGs, and the vast majority of those are set in the universe of the movies, not the books.

While we've gotten numerous fascinating explorations on the subject of Tolkien's unfinished writings and ideas, the most recent completed book we've gotten is The Children of Húrin in 2007, and that was just an extended retelling of a story we already knew. The last "presentable" work before that was The Silmarillion itself, back in 1977.*

I realize that the Tolkien Estate wants to preserve the work of the man himself, but by focusing exclusively on doing so, the world that he created is dying with him. The beauty of fictitious worlds is that they can be effectively immortal as long as other writers are allowed to carry them on. I wish the Estate would bring in the most beloved fantasy writer it could afford and put out a Fourth Age book to test the waters. I hate to be the uneducated fanboy who says "they should do this, it would totally sell", but I honestly think it would.

*EDIT: Okay, Bilbo's Last Song was published in '78, but that's still a long time ago, and BLS is hardly comparable to the other books.
Last edited by johnboy1 on Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby geordie » Sun Dec 22, 2013 5:30 am

I disagree - Tolkien's fiction is not 'dying' - TH and LotR are as he left them, for future generations to find them. (hopefully). I really shudder at the idea of other writers trying their hand at writing or re-writing Tolkien - and i don't see the need for it.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:04 pm

Nor do I.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby johnboy1 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:12 pm

geordie wrote:I disagree - Tolkien's fiction is not 'dying' - TH and LotR are as he left them, for future generations to find them.


It's static. There's nothing more to be gotten. The works reflect a frozen period in time, between 1892 and 1973. Standing still, no forward movement. That sounds like death to me. Nothing lasts forever, obviously, but the world of Arda should not be limited by the lifespan of its creator. There's so much more that can be expanded upon, and that's without going off into the world of endless possibilities that is the Fourth Age.

geordie wrote:I really shudder at the idea of other writers trying their hand at writing [...] Tolkien


Why? It's like you said: Tolkien's works are still there to be enjoyed on their own merits. If a new novel were to come out and be... unsatisfactory, the originals wouldn't somehow become worse by association. On the other hand, if a new novel were to come out and be fantastic, then holy crap, we have another good book to read. Worst case scenario is that we have the same number of beloved works as we do now. It won't endanger the future production of new "genuine" Tolkien books, because Tolkien is dead and CRT has gloriously strip-mined his unpublished material. There aren't going to be any more. The fans have nothing to lose on such an endeavor.

The only real risk is a monetary one for the Estate and the publisher, and I don't think the risk is that high. I believe the hype surrounding a sequel to LotR would be enough to guarantee a break-even, and if the final profit margin isn't to their liking, they can drop the matter and never return to it. The problem isn't that they aren't doing it, it's that they've never tried, and seem to have no interest in trying.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby darthgandalf99 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:19 pm

johnboy1 wrote:
geordie wrote:I disagree - Tolkien's fiction is not 'dying' - TH and LotR are as he left them, for future generations to find them.


It's static. There's nothing more to be gotten. The works reflect a frozen period in time, between 1892 and 1973. Standing still, no forward movement. That sounds like death to me. Nothing lasts forever, obviously, but the world of Arda should not be limited by the lifespan of its creator. There's so much more that can be expanded upon, and that's without going off into the world of endless possibilities that is the Fourth Age.



Well we do have the films, the audiobooks, the boardgames, the cartoons, the videogames. Tolkien's world has expanded into more mediums than he could ever have imagined, probably more than he would have wanted, probably too much forward movement. Middle-earth has spawned a multi-billion dollar film franchise which has helped sell over 25 million copies of his Middle-earth books just in the past 12 years. Doesn't sound at all like death to me.

25 MILLION copies, that's a fantastic amount of units sold, and far more than any derivative, inferior, offshoot-works could likely sell. I don't understand why we need more books? Usually off-shoot works of a big franchise involve going into ANOTHER medium, e.g. the Star Wars EE is everything but film which remains the inviolable canon. I see no reason why Middle-earth should be any different, the canon of the books remains, and we already have numerous off-shoot works. I saw a Legolas action figure the other day!
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby scirocco » Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:37 pm

I'm quite conflicted on this issue. Personally, and as a gut reaction, I'm 100% with the previous posters. Why would we need any more? We have a massive Legendarium already. Once we had a new "official" story, what legitimacy would it have? How could it avoid looking and feeling bogus? And not least, no-one has ever been able to match Tolkien's unique qualities as a writer, so how could the new stuff avoid being inferior?

But I think that some of this is just me being selfish. Tolkien himself spoke of his hope that others might add leaves to his Tree (although he spoke of hands wielding paint, drama, music etc. and perhaps he did not mean new stories as such.) But perhaps he did. I just suspect that the practicalities of doing it in a way that would not seem like cashing in on his legacy and would still retain the quality would be very, very difficult.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby johnboy1 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:35 pm

scirocco wrote:And not least, no-one has ever been able to match Tolkien's unique qualities as a writer, so how could the new stuff avoid being inferior?


Well, really, it would start by not trying to be Tolkien in the first place. That's a recipe for disaster. Don't try to emulate his style. Unless you are a master impersonator, that always comes across as phony. The author would need to find his own voice, and project that onto Tolkien's setting and the values he instilled it with. Make it a recognizable part of Tolkien's world, but let the work stand on its own. Don't shoehorn in appearances from well-known characters unless it makes perfect sense for them to be there and they actually have something to do besides wink at the reader. Don't place the events of the story around the big set-pieces of Tolkien's work, like the siege of Minas Tirith. In fact, try to stray from familiar places altogether unless, again, it makes perfect sense to be there and it contributes to the story. Then, in a second book or a third one, you can start letting the trappings of Tolkien's classic stories make sporadic appearances, now that you've established yourself. If you're going to have a bit of fanservice, you need to earn it by not having everything else be fanservice as well.

The Star Wars expanded universe was mentioned, and it's actually not that bad of an example. There are books that try to ape George Lucas's style from the films, have Han Solo show up out of nowhere, include a bunch of lines from the movies for no reason, give the enemy a planet destroying weapon that could never be anything more than a stand-in for the Death Star, etc. These books are almost always terrible, and if one isn't, those qualities are invariably listed among the work's cons. Rather, some of the best stories are the ones that use unfamiliar settings or characters within the universe, or if they stick with the movie cast, they put the characters into stories that are largely unlike the movies. The universe is informed by the context rather than the content, if that makes any sense.

Simply put: This hypothetical new work should not, under any circumstances, center around another piece of jewelry.

scirocco wrote:I just suspect that the practicalities of doing it in a way that would not seem like cashing in on his legacy and would still retain the quality would be very, very difficult.


Yes, unfortunately, there's plenty of room for such a work to go wrong. However, considering the refusal of the Estate to do so thus far, even with all the free publicity provided by the movie projects, I think the quality of the work would be rather important to them if they ever did give it a try.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby andurilwest » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:45 am

We could use more Tolkien comics. Even just adaptations of the existing stories, not new stories like what's happened to Conan the Barbarian. The Hobbit has a graphic novel already.
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby siddharth » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:06 pm

I will say that Tolkien doesn't NEED offshoot works and such in order to prevent Tolkien-dom from dying. But if there are well-written unique offshoots by someone else (and as mentioned, someone who doesn't try to emulate Tolkidn or the movies) I will read'em.

As an aside though, is there any graphic novel or comic-strip on LotR?
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Re: Do you ever wish the legendarium had more offshoot works

Postby Morwenna » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:29 am

There's a good graphic novel of The Hobbit...

This is a tough one. I've seen some very good Tolkien fanfic and some not so good. I agree that a person would have to find his or her own voice; and I'm thinking about something Tolkien himself wrote in one of his letters, how he once envisioned creating a mythology for England that would include scope for other hands, including using other art forms. But it would have to be without changing the ethos, and I don't know if modern authors are up to it. I can't see it happening on a large scale; I'm afraid it would be spoiled. I've heard readers of other continued worlds complain that the newer authors have gone too far afield, or not got something right according to the original.

No, we don't need any more works set in Middle-earth, but we all would like to know what happened "up close" in the Second Age, or the early days of Gondor, or whatever. This is why fanfic exists: to plug those holes, at least for oneself. But professionally, for the mass market? I don't know.
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