Fantasy & Beyond

A Book Forum for Speculative Fiction

Discuss SFF books and authors here.
#1680
There probably aren't many people around who read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit when it first came out. Nevertheless, it is a book that has endured, in no small part due to the success of its sequels.

The Hobbit is one of those books that I know I've read as a hand-me-down from my brother, but I have no actual memories concerning the story. I do remember some illustrations of trolls and a dinner party, however. Since it's aimed at children, I think I outgrew it and never returned the way I did with the rest of Middle Earth.

Now for the Science Fiction. There are two books published in 1937 that I've read in the past few years.

Karel Capek's The War With The Newts is not a particularly good book. It's probably best known for foreshadowing the Second World War, but otherwise it's idea of a sentient race of salamanders at war with humanity is fairly lackluster. As an aside, Capek is almost certainly the first author to use the word 'robot' in it's modern sense, in the play Rossum's Universal Robots (1920). The SF Masterworks series bundles these two stories together, and R.U.R is easily the superior work.

The second SF book is E.E. 'Doc' Smith's Galactic Patrol, which forms part of his Lensman series. branded at the time a s a superscience epic, it's a very early version of what we now recognise as space opera. It's also not that great, with Smith's prose styling giving HP Lovecraft a run for his money, but a lot of the ideas that we'll see played out over the next eighty-odd years can be traced back to this. Dune, Foundation, Star Wars, and even comics like Green Lantern all would likely not exist without Galactic Patrol.
#1689
HormannAlex wrote: June 23rd, 2024, 16:42 There probably aren't many people around who read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit when it first came out. Nevertheless, it is a book that has endured, in no small part due to the success of its sequels.

The Hobbit is one of those books that I know I've read as a hand-me-down from my brother, but I have no actual memories concerning the story. I do remember some illustrations of trolls and a dinner party, however. Since it's aimed at children, I think I outgrew it and never returned the way I did with the rest of Middle Earth.

Now for the Science Fiction. There are two books published in 1937 that I've read in the past few years.

Karel Capek's The War With The Newts is not a particularly good book. It's probably best known for foreshadowing the Second World War, but otherwise it's idea of a sentient race of salamanders at war with humanity is fairly lackluster. As an aside, Capek is almost certainly the first author to use the word 'robot' in it's modern sense, in the play Rossum's Universal Robots (1920). The SF Masterworks series bundles these two stories together, and R.U.R is easily the superior work.

The second SF book is E.E. 'Doc' Smith's Galactic Patrol, which forms part of his Lensman series. branded at the time a s a superscience epic, it's a very early version of what we now recognise as space opera. It's also not that great, with Smith's prose styling giving HP Lovecraft a run for his money, but a lot of the ideas that we'll see played out over the next eighty-odd years can be traced back to this. Dune, Foundation, Star Wars, and even comics like Green Lantern all would likely not exist without Galactic Patrol.
I went back a bit further with Doc Smith and read Skylark in Space. I got it from the school library, and I think I got up to Skylark DuQuesne before giving up. I later got a collected edition of all 4 books and read the whole saga. It had really interesting ideas, but these old works haven’t aged well. It is interesting to see where things began, though.
HormannAlex liked this
#1693
I read The Hobbit in Grade 3 or 4, when the local lollipop lady (who was actually a bloke :happy: ) leant me a copy after watching me reading every day walking back & forth to school.
I remember enjoying the story a lot, and I branched out into reading Norse legends after that.

Elfy was surprised that I knew who Karel Capek was, and that he invented the word “robot”. He thought that Asimov had done that (he invented the 3 Laws of Robotics).
Ive read a whole lot more early SF / SF history than he has, but I am surprised what I know that he doesn’t (and he’s the same with what he knows that I don’t).
HormannAlex liked this
#1702
It may have been because I read The Hobbit first, and probably age appropriate, but I never really got into The Lord of the Rings. I think I'm a little bit like one of the Inklings (Tolkien's writers group of which C. S. Lewis was also a member) who used to cry 'Oh not more elves!' when Tolkien would read one of his poems or a bit of what became The Lord of the Rings. I've read The Hobbit quite a few times and always enjoyed it. I've never been able to face reading The Lord of the Rings again.
HormannAlex liked this
#1708
Elfy wrote: June 24th, 2024, 07:46
HormannAlex wrote: June 23rd, 2024, 16:42 There probably aren't many people around who read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit when it first came out. Nevertheless, it is a book that has endured, in no small part due to the success of its sequels.

The Hobbit is one of those books that I know I've read as a hand-me-down from my brother, but I have no actual memories concerning the story. I do remember some illustrations of trolls and a dinner party, however. Since it's aimed at children, I think I outgrew it and never returned the way I did with the rest of Middle Earth.

Now for the Science Fiction. There are two books published in 1937 that I've read in the past few years.

Karel Capek's The War With The Newts is not a particularly good book. It's probably best known for foreshadowing the Second World War, but otherwise it's idea of a sentient race of salamanders at war with humanity is fairly lackluster. As an aside, Capek is almost certainly the first author to use the word 'robot' in it's modern sense, in the play Rossum's Universal Robots (1920). The SF Masterworks series bundles these two stories together, and R.U.R is easily the superior work.

The second SF book is E.E. 'Doc' Smith's Galactic Patrol, which forms part of his Lensman series. branded at the time a s a superscience epic, it's a very early version of what we now recognise as space opera. It's also not that great, with Smith's prose styling giving HP Lovecraft a run for his money, but a lot of the ideas that we'll see played out over the next eighty-odd years can be traced back to this. Dune, Foundation, Star Wars, and even comics like Green Lantern all would likely not exist without Galactic Patrol.
I went back a bit further with Doc Smith and read Skylark in Space. I got it from the school library, and I think I got up to Skylark DuQuesne before giving up. I later got a collected edition of all 4 books and read the whole saga. It had really interesting ideas, but these old works haven’t aged well. It is interesting to see where things began, though.
I'm still on the lookout for a decent copy of Skylark. Not expecting to enjoy it, but the scholar in me yearns for completion.