complete Game of Thrones ebook set for $9.99 #asoiaf

The complete 5-volume set of A Song of Ice and Fire
is on sale right now for $9.99 at Amazon, so grab it quick if you don’t already have it.

The complete series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is probably the authentic heir to Tolkien’s crown of Reference Epic Fantasy. Being American rather than British, it’s heroes are more typified by the tragic Starks than the homely Bagginses. Bilbo and Frodo (and especially Sam!) were the typical WW2-era simple Briton, preferring a simple life but when called upon to great tasks, heroic in their pragmatism and perseverance. Ned Stark’s clan is more violent, impulsive, bred for leadership and heroism and fated for nasty ends. If anything the heroes of ASOIAF are the antithesis of the heroes in LOTR (the closest that LOTR comes to an ASOIAF-style hero is Aragorn, who has the same Starkian bearing but gets to keep the girl and his crown. And head.)

I’ve never read ASOIAF and have no illusions about it being an easy read, but I am looking forward to the journey, especially since by the time I finish it, book 6 will surely come out. I am certain that this series will fill the void left by LOTR that the Wheel of Time series failed to fill.

Space Shuttle Program coda: There and Back Again

STS-135, 7/21/11

But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.

He drew a deep breath. “Well, I’m back,” he said.

Aragorn Shrugged

Overheard on the Internet:

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

(original source)

The reconquista subtext of The Lord of the Rings

Courtesy of Wikipedia, some history about the fall of Granada:

On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim sultan in Iberia, Emir Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil to the Spanish, surrendered complete control of Emirate of Granada, to Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Los Reyes Católicos (‘The Catholic Monarchs’), after the last battle of the Granada War.

(emphasis mine)

I’ve completed a detailed textual analysis of all references to Tom Bombadil in the Fellowship of the Ring and consulted supplementary texts such as The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (reprinted in The Tolkien Reader) and I’ve concluded that Bombadil is indeed Boabdil. The implications of this upon the subtext of the entire trilogy (and especially the reinterpretation of the prequel, the Hobbit) cannot be overstated.

It’s no accident that later that same year, Columbus – aka Celebrimbor – sailed into the West.

Does the Ring turn Sauron invisible?

One Ring to Rule Them All
The Ring
On Facebook, one of my friends posed an innocent question:

How come the ring doesn’t make Sauron invisible?

Indeed! Out of the mists of Facebook, a truly awesome discussion ensued. I found this reply the most intriguing and erudite:

The Ring doesn’t actually make someone invisible in the sense we understand the term. It shifts its bearer into the world of the Unseen (which is why it can’t hide Frodo from the Nazgul on Weathertop–they already dwell in the World of the Unseen). As a former Maia, Sauron simultaneously dwells in Middle-earth and the realm of the Unseen–so the Ring would not make him invisible.

Surely we haibane can contribute to this critical topic. What say you all? Agree or disagree with the theory above?

LOTR on Blu-Ray?

Warner Studios made a big splash this past week when they announced they were going to ditch HD-DVD in favor of Blu-Ray. The ripple effect of this hasn’t fully played out, but one consequence appears to be that the Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit, one assumes) will only be on Blu-Ray:

According to Variety, New Line and HBO will follow Warner’s lead to side only with Blu-ray Disc. BBC Video, the company behind the popular high-definition nature documentary Planet Earth, has not yet publicly expressed its intentions with format exclusivity.

New Line already positions its Blu-ray Disc products with greater priority than the equivalent HD DVD. New Line’s first high-definition film, Hairspray, hit Blu-ray Disc in late November 2007, while an HD DVD version was only promised sometime in early 2008.
Perhaps the most important outcome of New Line’s upcoming decision is that the studio owns the rights to The Lord of The Rings trilogy. Should the (second) most compelling motion picture trilogy hit high-definition home video, it’ll be on Blu-ray Disc.

If anything, this means that it’s better to just stick with legacy DVD and get my HD content via the internet. At least until the price of Blu Ray drives falls to the $100 mark or below (territory already occupied by HD-DVD). It also should be noted from the article that part of the reason for the preference of Blu-Ray is again the region-coding issue.

Shorter Lord of the Rings

Scene: The Council of Elrond

Elrond: It is decided. The Ring shall be cast into Mount Doom. The Ringbearer and the Fellowship shall journey to Mordor.

Radagast the Brown: (arrives) Hellooo! So sorry I’m late. Had a terrible time of it, all sorts of things cropping up at the last minute and all. My advice is never try to drink a Beorning under the table. What’s all this, then?

Gandalf the Grey: The Fellowship is tasked with destroying the One Ring of Power.

Radagast: Ah, good idea, about bloody time if you ask me. How, exactly?

Elrond: The Ring shall be cast into Mount Doom. The Ringbearer and the Fellowship shall journey to Mordor.

Radagast: Journey? You mean on foot??

Elrond: Well, yes.

Radagast: I can have three Eagles here in 36 hours.

(eyebrows rise around the Circle)


Sam: Well, we’re back.

UPDATE: a similar argument.


I see that Shamus is offline for going above bandwidth 🙁 (UPDATE: he’s back!) The likely culprit is his brilliant “DM of the RIngs” parody which reinterprets The Lord of the Rings as a D&D gaming session. It’s a concern that all of us hobbyist bloggers, especially in the otakusphere, should share – we tend to put creative things online, be they motivational posters or site maps or videos of our kids or audio samples from our favorite science fiction. The assumption we make in putting them online is that only a small circle of readers will partake of our binary goodies, which is the essential opposite of the political blogsphere in which the only output is text and everyone wants to get the Big Link.

One way to reduce our vulnerability is to use thirdparty services. YouTube for video and Flickr for photos (or comics) are obvious solutions. But what about audio? Is there a Flickr/YouTube for pure sound? It would be pretty interesting. An obvious but utterly illegal use for such a service would be to put your music collection online so no one could access it. If you were able to password protect your audio links however then you could upload copyrighted content for your personal exclusive use. However, I doubt such a solution would satisfy the RIAA given that they took on a few years ago for a similar scheme. Still, maybe the RIAA sees the benefits of YouTube’s collaboration with the MPAA and might be open to fresh thinking. Or maybe not.

But would an audio sharing site have any appeal without copyrighted content? Most would argue no, but I can see a lot of people using it for their own stuff. There’s an active MIDI community for example that would probably love a YouTube-like interface to simplify their filesharing. Brief excerpts from popular radio and TV are also probably justified under fair use, as well. And of course voice recorders are almost ubiquitous now on digital cameras and cell phones and mp3 players, so baby’s first words and ad-hoc skits and even random interviews might onstitute a large fraction of the content. I know that in college my friends and I experimented with WAV files and microphones for all sorts of things… Today’s computing environment affords exponentially more capability.

So, does such a service already exist? should it exist? what should it be called?

Update: an interesting blog post about audio sharing. And there’s already a service called Odeo which has some of the functionality that I am looking for, and seems tailored to podcasts in particular (which is an obvious application of such a audio-sharing site). Odeo seemed to have been founded by Evhead of Blogger fame, and there’s already a WordPress plugin. Seems promising. I’ll have to play with this thing further…

Update 2:

powered by ODEO