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Old 12-16-2022, 09:07 AM   #2
William Cloud Hicklin
Loremaster of Annúminas
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Join Date: Oct 2006
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William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.William Cloud Hicklin is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The estimable Bret Devereaux weighs in on why ROP's rendition of Middle-earth feels - and falls - flat. Excerpt:

Speculative fiction – be it fantasy or science fiction – is a genre where a great deal of the weight is carried by the fictional world being constructed.

We want the fictional world to feel real or at least like it could be a real world, with internally consistent rules and clear lines of effect and consequence. In part that is because the deep, rich real-ishness, as it were, contributes to the sensation (be it joy or horror, depending on the work’s tone) of exploring and discovering a new fictional world and in part it is because a world that feels real and bounded by rules, the way our world is bounded by rules,2 makes the stakes of the story itself more engaging. The plausible link between causes and consequences, bound by those rules, is what encourages us to invest in characters and to care about their decisions and internal struggles.

One may easily contrast a story set in a world unbounded by rules of logical consequences, like a dream. Anything can happen in a dream, unrelated to what came before or after. Dreams can break their own rules and they can exist in unreal or surreal spaces. And they also, famously, make for extremely boring stories. Nothing is quite so tedious as having someone narrate a dream to you, because nothing in the dream actually matters for anything that comes before or after. Of course nothing in a fictional story necessarily matters in the real world, but nothing in a dream actually matters even in the dream world. Thus the consistency of the rules and the setting are essential for allowing the audience to engage their emotions with the characters and story because they make the events in the story matter by making them feel less arbitrary.
The entire plot of The Lord of the Rings could be said to turn on what Sauron didn’t know, and when he didn’t know it.
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