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Margo Channing

Star Trek is better than everything

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See, you're the fantasy equivalent of Star Trek fans who read starship manuals and engineering books. None of that is of any interest to me because it's of no consequence.

I don't think that comparison really stands up. I presume that Star Trek engineering books would be something of a specialist interest among people who like Star Trek, but Tolkien's prose is hardly a specialist area of the fantasy genre.

As to whether they're of any consequence (either starship manuals or descriptions of landscapes and journeys), surely they're of consequence precisely insofar as they're of interest to any given reader? For a reader wishing for punchy storylines, Tolkien's books are probably not going to deliver the goods, true enough.

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Well put Uni.

And LotR spoke to me in the 5th grade, and that's without any appreciation for the subtext, and poetry and all. So I believe it's storyline is stellar, just maybe not for today's younger ADHD audience.

I think Tolkien's real magic is how his world-building works on a visceral level.

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And is ST really the benchmark comparison for all franchises? I mean, does every franchise aim to surpass ST? I don't quite see it...


Because both are very popular, long lasting "franchises".

Hmm, a superficial comparison if there ever was one.

Look to Uni's post why that doesn't make much sense.


Right, that was the only show with a similar legacy I could think of on the spot. But I always viewed ST as more along those campy lines, but with shades of philosophy and stuff in it. But the way you describe it, you make it sound like a less ambiguous 2001 or something...


Star Trek was never campy. It's always been too serious for that. Even in the 60's.

Really? Gotta admit, it's hard to take it seriously when there's stuff like this ;)

That or the "tribbles" I've heard about.

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You really can't compare Star Trek with Tolkien's Middle Earth. One is strongly sci-fi in nature, the other is pure fantasy.

I don't think the difference is really genre-based. I mean, if there had been a fantasy T.V. show in the 60s that was still being produced on one level or another today . . . that would not only rival Star Trek, but I have to say it would be totally bitchin', too.

How many of you are viewing this on your Star Trek inspired (PADD) phone?

. . . and how many are viewing this in the Mirror of Galadriel? Hah! Point proven!!! :rolleyes:

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And is ST really the benchmark comparison for all franchises? I mean, does every franchise aim to surpass ST? I don't quite see it...

Well it's one on the oldest, to be sure. It has had 5 (or 6) distinctly different TV series, and a dozen movies. Plus a large variety of spin off media. There hasnt been a decade since the 60's without some Star Trek movie or TV show.

It's popularity has endured that of a simple fad, like most hit shows enjoy. Aspects of the franchise have become part of both popular culture and history. A space shuttle was named Enterprise because of the show. Many people have chosen careers in various fields of science or computer engineering because the were introduced to it by Star Trek. Star Trek has, on a few very rare occasions really gone where no show had gone before. The first interracial kiss for example.

Particularly in the 80's, 80's and 2000's TV shows they did make a strong effort to give some level of scientific plausibility and continuity to the show. Scientific advisers were part of the regular production team for these shows. Unlike Doctor Who, which occasionally flirts with proper science if it feels like, but will abandon it by the first sign of something more cool, or interesting (in no incarnation of Star Trek will the moon ever be an egg).

And again, unlike any franchise I can think of, it has enjoyed continued success on both the big and small screen.

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Has Tolkien inspired anyone to become anything? Obviously not. His work is dodgy piece of fantasy where people just walk and eat. No future rocket scientists ever read Tolkien and thought "Hey you know what this stuff inspires me to create better gadgets to improve humanity". It is so obvious why it is inferior to Star Trek.

Tolkien's work has doubtlessly inspired many people to because writers. It's influence in the fantasy genre still runs deep. Whether one is trying to emulate LOTR or to avoid similarities, it's a work that cannot easily be ignored.

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It's Inky, so you know where his true loyalty lies. ;)

That's not Gandalf in my avatar, it's a red suited ensign!

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Sometimes it's hard to tell where extremism goes from satire to genuine with certain posters here....

Avatar + post = the answer to your quandary. ;)

That's not Gandalf in my avatar, it's a red suited ensign!

Dead man walkin'. . . !

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It's Inky, so you know where his true loyalty lies. ;)

That's not Gandalf in my avatar, it's a red suited ensign!

I thought he was Santa Claus!

In Star Trek he would be dead on the first away team mission.

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Make no mistake Incanus, I'm a huge Tolkien fan. I'm not saying Tolkien didn't inspire people. Tolkien's works inspired a deep appreciation and respect for nature for me personally. I would not be as big an advocate for the natural world without him. He made a huge impression on me at a young age. I walk around forest trails quoting Tolkien. From memory. Ask the people that have gone on nature walks with me, they'll tell you how irritatingly nerdy I can get.

But why does it compare less favorably to Star Trek for me? Because Star Trek provides a lot of what Tolkien provides, and then adds the intellectual and scientific ideas and conversation on top of it all. It tackles social issues, environmental issues, scientific issues, ethical issues, moral issues, gender issues, human issues. That is the definition of Star Trek.

And incidentally that's why Abrams is such a shitty owner of Star Trek.

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But you are also comparing the work of a single man to a decades spanning work of countless writers and creators, not only Roddenberry, who all had their own ideas to contribute on those subjects and whose interests lay in those areas. Tolkien's work has an entirely different aesthetic and does not even try to accomplish deep commentary on many of the subjects mentioned. That is not where its appeal lies with me and probably for many. But I also do not think it makes his work any lesser or greater for that matter.

Again if I had to weight which has had a more profound effect on me and my life I would choose the more terrestrial Tolkien, whose works literally opened the world of art and languages to me in a way that has affected me immeasurably through the years whereas Trek has not been nearly as profound to me although it undeniably has its own appeal to me just for the reasons you list above.

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But you are also comparing the work of a single man to a decades spanning work of countless writers and creators who all had their own ideas to contribute on those subjects and whose interests lay in those areas. Tolkien's work has an entirely different aesthetic and does not even try to accomplish deep commentary on many of the subjects mentioned. That is not where its appeal lies with me and probably for many.

I don't dispute that. But that very difference is the reason Star Trek is a greater franchise than any other.

Tolkien's works are beautiful and endearing on their own. I would probably say that any single work of Tolkien's is at least as good as, if not better than any single work in the universe of Star Trek. Partially, it's because I'm a book-o-phile, and I hold that books are intrinsically superior form of literature compared to television and film.

But as a franchise, nothing is quite as good Star Trek.

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And I don't think it should be. It's a weak franchise. To me the Lord of the Rings will always be the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy books. Those are incredible, singular works of one man.

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I don't really consider Middle Earth as a franchise in the same vein as Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bond, Doctor Who etc etc.

Indeed.

I think one of Trek's many strengths is the amount of different people contributing to it and expanding it and its meaning and the different perspectives creators have brought to Roddenberry's original vision. In this way it is much more of a living legacy than any work of a single man.

And I don't think it should be. It's a weak franchise. To me the Lord of the Rings will always be the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy books. Those are incredible, singular works of one man.

Don't forget The Silmarillion! Pre-history matters. ;)

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Don't forget The Silmarillion! ;)

That's a touchy topic for me! I'm not sure how I feel about recognizing it as canon. When I look through my half-baked artistic endeavors I cringe, because they're not what I intended when I set out. They're fine, but not what I wanted. Or when I look at intermediate steps to my finished material, they're just so different.

I recognize it as an interesting work, a behind the scenes at Tolkien's mind and process, but because he didn't finish it, and publish it, and because I don't know his intentions...I...can't....I can't Inky!

Maybe a very sketchy, potentially highly-inaccurate and shady pre-historical artifact for the universe? But not the definitive history of the LotR universe. Which makes it interesting in its own way. Makes it seem like a genuine historical document...because you can never be too sure!

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Despite being cobbled together from a large number of manuscripts, and therefore at times very uneven stylistically it (for me) is impossible to ignore.

Tolkien was in the process of preparing it for publication at the time of his death and his son Christopher finished it, probably to his father's instructions for the most part. It is indeed the myths in the form that are what I consider to be their final state that is canon compared to a lot of the other posthumously released papers Tolkien left behind. Silmarillion is sprawling, epic in the true sense of the word, a new myth that sets Lord of the Rings into a larger historical perspective of a world that existed before it and the Hobbit. It is a collection of myth and legends and should be read as such, never a work with a single unified narrative.

As I said above I think that what in part separates Trek and other longer "franchises" is indeed the continuum where many stories by many creators more or less exist in the same universe and enrich it over a long period of time. Plus the premise does have very wide appeal. Not everything will be great but some great nuggets of inspiration filter through and there will be some defining moments, stories and elements that endure and enrich the whole. You can tackle such a wide range of things, issues, ideas and premises on the show and so many people can feed ideas into it that it becomes a very varied and also interesting universe over time. As long as the spirit is correct then you can do pretty much what you like, from social commentary to exploring very personal human issues of single characters. It makes it all very alive and current at any given moment such a franchise is alive and well and people are contributing to it. There are key ideas that are unchanged but so much around them is mutable.

A literary (or artistic in general terms) creation of one person is something more solid, less prone to change or being changed (largely depending on the author of course). Especially in cases of a set collection of works related to on another in a writer's ouvre. After the author dies he leaves this fully formed work behind. It is in a sense complete. Tolkien's creation has inspired many but few have actually attempted to add to the lore of this great secondary world as it has been largely protected as a sacrosanct unchanged legacy by the family of the author. They have every right to it but it has not stopped creative minds from expanding and exploring his world but it has not been officially ever connected to the canon. Tolkien himself was indeed very picky about what was appropriate for his world (his notes in his Letters to the makers of the first unreleased animated version of LotR attest to very specific vision that he wanted to protect and keep intact) but I think he would have encouraged that others should enrich his world and creative legacy. But he stands as such a larger than life entity (by no means was he infallible) that few would ever dare to take on such a deeply responsible task of adding new "official" parts to that universe he created. We see infrequent forays into this expansion or continuation of classics of literature with the likes of Peter Pan and the sequel Peter Pan in Scarlet or the recent Hercule Poirot story The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah but mostly people stay away from these worlds and their characters because they feel complete in themselves and not in need of additions and they are of course afraid of not living up to the legacy in style and content.

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I don't really consider Middle Earth as a franchise in the same vein as Star Trek, Star Wars, James Bond, Doctor Who etc etc.

It isn't a franchise period. That's why the comparison stalls out. A franchise, by definition, is something that involves original material created by one or more people that is then passed on to other people who use the same vision in other places or in different ways. The original series of Star Trek wasn't a franchise; it was a television show. It (arguably) became a franchise once it moved into a new medium (film), where it told new stories in a different format. They didn't adapt "City on the Edge of Forever" into a movie (which would've prevented it from becoming a franchise). They told a different tale altogether. Then they told some more. Once they returned to television with an entirely new cast in a different century, but following the same fundamental setting and legacy of the original (Starfleet, the Federation, etc.), it had unquestionably become a franchise.

LOTR, on the other hand, was never anything except what it was. They adapted the story into a movie, but it was the same story, not new tales from Middle Earth. It's not the same thing.

The real problem here is one of semantics: I think people are confusing the word "franchise" with "series," as though if there is more than one book or movie, it becomes a franchise. That's just not the case.

Don't forget The Silmarillion! ;)

That's a touchy topic for me! I'm not sure how I feel about recognizing it as canon.

Statements like that just baffle me, for a very similar reason. If, as a part of a franchise, someone other than the original creator of the concept inserts a storyline or writes a book or makes a movie that departs far enough from the original vision, then people (read: fans, because they're the only ones who will care) might debate whether the new submission can be considered part of the approved "canon" of the concept. But when it's a single-author creation like this, how in the hell can you not consider the most important work of the created world a part of what you would call its canon?

Make no mistake, the Silmarillion far outweighed the Rings novel in Tolkien's own mind. He wrote The Hobbit on lark because it was a story he'd told his children, and inserted it on the far edges of his vision of Middle Earth purely for his own amusement. When he went to write the sequel, he decided (not at first--only eventually) to make it the ultimate conclusion of his epic mythology, a record of the final days and last war of the Third Age of the Sun. But as such, it's entirely subordinate to the larger tale. And, as I said, Tolkien himself never thought otherwise. He spent his life prior to writing LOTR, all twelve years during its writing, and all the years after its publication and success, dreaming of the undying lands of Valinor, of the two trees of light, of Gondolin in its glory, of the rise and fall of Numenor, and most of all, of the Silmarils--which, as he said in his own words, were always near to his heart.

Saying you don't recognize The Silmarillion as a part of Middle Earth "canon" is like saying you think Hogwarts is a merely apocryphal part of Harry Potter's story, or that the Enterprise is nothing more than an afterthought in the universe of Star Trek. In each case, it's where the story takes place, fercryinoutloud. The sagas don't exist without them.

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Not dissing Star Trek in any way, but it's not really popular around here in Portugal. The most widespread and popular phenomenon I've seen in the places I've been too is definitely Star Wars. But popularity accounts for very little in quality terms

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Statements like that just baffle me, for a very similar reason. If, as a part of a franchise, someone other than the original creator of the concept inserts a storyline or writes a book or makes a movie that departs far enough from the original vision, then people (read: fans, because they're the only ones who will care) might debate whether the new submission can be considered part of the approved "canon" of the concept. But when it's a single-author creation like this, how in the hell can you not consider the most important work of the created world a part of what you would call its canon?

Make no mistake, the Silmarillion far outweighed the Rings novel in Tolkien's own mind. He wrote The Hobbit on lark because it was a story he'd told his children, and inserted it on the far edges of his vision of Middle Earth purely for his own amusement. When he went to write the sequel, he decided (not at first--only eventually) to make it the ultimate conclusion of his epic mythology, a record of the final days and last war of the Third Age of the Sun. But as such, it's entirely subordinate to the larger tale. And, as I said, Tolkien himself never thought otherwise. He spent his life prior to writing LOTR, all twelve years during its writing, and all the years after its publication and success, dreaming of the undying lands of Valinor, of the two trees of light, of Gondolin in its glory, of the rise and fall of Numenor, and most of all, of the Silmarils--which, as he said in his own words, were always near to his heart.

Saying you don't recognize The Silmarillion as a part of Middle Earth "canon" is like saying you think Hogwarts is a merely apocryphal part of Harry Potter's story, or that the Enterprise is nothing more than an afterthought in the universe of Star Trek. In each case, it's where the story takes place, fercryinoutloud. The sagas don't exist without them.

*Sigh*

It seems you may be utterly ignorant of the irreproducibility and volatility of the act of authorship.

The publication we have is all but a compilation of work-in-progress sketches and notes. They were never completed, edited, and published by the mind that conjured them. Worse still, great chunks of them are someone else's interpretations of Tolkien's thoughts, notes, and writings accrued over decades. We will never know what the final edits by Tolkien would have been. It doesn't matter how important he thought it was while writing it. They might give us glimpses of what it might have been, but we will never know. For all we know, Tolkien had a bad plate of pasta the day he wrote a note that his son interpreted as something it isn't.

Incanus earlier mentioned that Tolkien was preparing it for publication at the time of his death. Tolkien had been preparing a version of the Silmarillion for publication since he released the Hobbit. That is a meaningless state as far as I'm concerned. Until the master of the universe elects to commit elements of that universe to printed paper for all to see, those elements cannot be canon. Tolkien died before he could do that. The Silmarillion provides insights into the world of Lord of the Rings and its meta-development, nothing more, nothing less.

Unless you want to tell me you're J.R.R. Tolkien, you have no reason to assume anything in the Silmarillion would have still been in there had Tolkien lived another 7 years and published it himself. You will never know. You will never be sure. That is not canon.

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Silmarillion is the closest approximation of what Tolkien intended this collection of the stories of the pre-history of Middle Earth to be, filtered of course through Christopher Tolkien with whom Tolkien had discussed the work extensively prior to his death and intended to have him publish it if he did not have the chance to do it himself. Tolkien's own work on finalizing the book was terribly slow either for the lack of energy (he was depressed by his relatively "dull and grey" retirement), for other duties (answering tons of fan mail was one) or difficulties he had written himself into (he really was an absent minded professor, misplacing drafts and manuscripts and versions all the time) but also because of the enormous pressure of getting the myths of Silmarillion in line with Lord of the Rings down to the tiniest detail to avoid the inevitable flood of criticism (and fan mail) pointing these things out. Even then not everything in Silmarillion lines up 100% accurately but you could theorize (like Christopher Tolkien in his foreword) that this is much the nature of myths derived from different sources in different times, the creation of the work reflecting Tolkien's love for great tales and indeed the way they are passed to us. One can scoff and say this is a neat posthumous explanation or accept it and think of these myths as the most complete and final form of these stories that was arranged and committed to print.

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The Sil is canon!

Period.

Yes it is but let Blume wind us up a bit more. He knows he'll get longer posts from us "Tolkien-ranters" here. Only to show us the weakness of our wicked way in comparison with Star Trek. There can be only one. ;)

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While I have seen all movies and used to watch TNG on a somewhat regular basis back in the 90s, I've never really been a big fan and certainly not in a more adult age when my sci fi taste has veered elsewhere. In fact, there are very few of what I somewhat derogatorily call 'pointy ear' sci fi shows and films I enjoy these days. Some STAR WARS. BABYLON 5. That's about it.

I also have no interest in James Bond (except the newer films) and find most of it cheesy and my interest in the Tolkien universe only extends to enjoying them as good adventure films. This could be a sacrilege around these parts.

Moreover, I also think Jerry Goldsmith is overrated in film music circles (especially FSM) and hate complete & chronological releases.

I also think Hans Zimmer is one of the best film composers who ever lived.

There, that should just about cover it. :D

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I have a special place reserved for Stargate SG-1, in which I think of it as Star Trek's cable-bound little cousin that explores many of the same ideas, but presents them in an easily digestible package through more lighthearted characters and unashamed cheese. The meta aspect always distinguished itself from Star Trek too.

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