Kel Richards is an Australian radio broadcaster and crime novelist who’s undertaking a series of classic “cozy” 1930s-style murder mysteries with C.S. Lewis as sleuth, interweaving detecting with conversations about mere Christianity. (The British publisher is an imprint of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, so the apologetics are intended as the real point.)
He contacted me a year ago because I maintain a bibliography of the Inklings as represented in fiction and he wanted to be entered on it. I ordered and read the first two books, which take place in a fictional locale somewhere in England, and reviewed them.
I guess Mr Richards was impressed with my perspicacity or something, because he asked if I would read over the manuscript of his fourth book, The Sinister Student, which at last takes place in Oxford and introduces Tolkien and more of the Inklings. (Warren Lewis had been in the first book as well.) Now the book has been published, with my name in the acknowledgments at the end, so I might as well report on it.
I begin to feel that I am copying Tolkien with my perpetual excuses about time – having too much to do and too little time to do it. But a lack of time (or, rather, an excess of things to do) is nonetheless a very real part of my life, so my usual disclaimers apply about newness, completeness and relevance (or any other implication of responsibility) are as pertinent as ever (all errors, omissions, inaccuracies etc. are of course my own). One way that I indent to deal with this is to leave more entries uncommented, and merely trust that you can judge the merits for yourselves 🙂
I had these transactions something like 80% done before going to Oxonmoot, but couldn’t get the last bit finished due to my other preparations. Now, however, I wish to get it out – to get it off my mind, so that I can work on other things (such as e.g. a report from my first Oxonmoot). This means that most entries will appear without commentary, and that there will be things I ignore simply because I haven’t the time to dig out all my notes (if anything important turns up later, I will of course include it in a later issue).
We use trivia to prove our depth of knowledge in a given topic but also to introduce people to new ideas or to revive interest in old things. How many people do trivia contests motivate to read books or perform Internet searches? But what we choose to include in our trivia lists suggests our priorities or interests are biased, either toward the simplistic or the popular. “Hard trivia” is almost a non sequitur. Why is it “hard trivia”? Is not all trivia hard for the untutored audience?
Why do people focus on the more well-known details of Tolkien’s stories rather than dredge up the hard-to-find facts? Perhaps it is simply because we don’t want to humiliate ourselves, but maybe it’s a reflection of where reader interests lie. The people who make up trivia contests are no different from the people who participate in them. We all love the story and immerse ourselves in the details. And yet we paint those details with expectations and assumptions. (more…)
As you will see below, July has been a deliciously busy month with conferences and interesting papers coming up. And due to the summer holiday season in Denmark, I’ve been able to keep up better than usual.
As I can see that the end of August and start of September is going to be quite busy for me, I had better warn that the next transactions may end up being somewhat delayed. If I haven’t posted when I take off for Oxonmoot on the 8th, there is a good chance that I’ll merge the August and September issues …
I don’t remember where or when I first heard that I was banned from participating in Tolkien trivia contests at conventions. This has been a running joke for decades, now, but it was going strong when I handed the Tolkien fan programming track at Dragon*Con over to Jincey from TheOneRing.net. She sent me an email one evening with an odd request. “I need expert-level trivia questions that even you cannot answer,” she pleaded.
For my part I have always felt there were questions I cannot answer. I just cannot think of them when people ask me for examples, but it’s hard to perform under pressure when you’re supposed to sift through millions (thousands?) of questions. (more…)