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Tolkien and Another Book of Middle-earth World Building

November 24, 2020

It’s amazing how many books dead people can get published. 25 years ago, I used to resent L. Ron Hubbard because he was dead and still seeming to get a new book published every year. I was resentful because I was trying to get a book deal and couldn’t, and I saw this dead guy getting new books published all the time.

Being resentful was stupid, I know; at least I was still alive (and still am).

J.R.R. Tolkien has been dead for a while too, but now he has a new book coming out. It’s been a while since Tolkien has had a new book out, and I appreciate Tolkien more than I do Hubbard, so I’m not resentful at all.

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After all these years, there’s still more to learn about Middle-earth. On Thursday, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced they will be publishing what they describe as a “previously unseen” collection of writings by The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien. This new volume will be titled The Nature of Middle-earth.

HMH VP and publisher Deb Brody describes The Nature of Middle-earth as “a veritable treasure-trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien’s shoulder at the very moment of discovery.”

“For him, Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored, and the writings in The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation,” Brody said in a statement. 

Read more at New collection of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing coming next year.

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There’s a part of me that thinks an obsession with world building is a waste of time. I’m not talking about a story or a book series about a fantasy world. I’m talking about volume after volume of fake history.

There’s a lot about real history that I don’t know. Before I spend hours learning about a fantasy world, I’d rather learn about a real culture that I know nothing about. To be honest, I rarely go out of my way to learn about new cultures, but I never go out of my way to learn about fake histories.

The thing is, I don’t even trust our own history books. I’m pretty sure history books on Earth are filled with distortions and outright lies. If the Tolkien estate found a Middle-earth history book buried in the attic that claimed The Lord of the Rings was a lie, that the Hobbits created Bilbo and Frodo to give Hobbits undeserved credit in the war against Sauron, then I’d read that book. I might even pay full hardcover price for that book.

Who would you believe? The Lord of the Rings? Or Tolkien’s newly-found manuscript that claimed The Lord of the Rings was a lie? That would be a Middle-earth history book worth reading!!

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What do you think? Am I being a little harsh with world building? What fake world would you be most willing to learn about?

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