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Interviewing the AH Community: Alex Acks

I do like the question on whether AH is a way to give a bigger role for oft-marginalised groups, and their answer.
 
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I liked her take on the half-assed geology and hydrography of Middle Earth.

Eh, the complaints on Mordor don't really ring true.

It's pretty blatantly the Carpathian mountains and Hungarian plains with the addition of someone powerful enough to level out a bit of the higher ground and carve a gap in the highest part.

You've even got a greatly enlarged Lake Balaton in the sea of Nürnen.
 
Little note that Alex is non binary and doesn't use feminine pronouns.

I'm not familiar with them but it's definitely nice to see a fellow geologist enjoying success at writing.

I'd never heard of them myself until they were were mentioned in my interview with Hilde Heyvaert as a good steampunk author to check out. I've since bought a number of their books and very much enjoyed them. You'll probably see a review of some of them on this blog at some point.
 
I liked her take on the half-assed geology and hydrography of Middle Earth.
Eh, the complaints on Mordor don't really ring true.

It's pretty blatantly the Carpathian mountains and Hungarian plains with the addition of someone powerful enough to level out a bit of the higher ground and carve a gap in the highest part.

You've even got a greatly enlarged Lake Balaton in the sea of Nürnen.
Eh...

For the vast majority of content creators and consumers, the importance of physical geography starts with, "What is the route of the hero's journey?" and ends with, "I need physical features to define who lives where."

The map's just there to show where the scenes occur. Look at it too hard and you'll enjoy the product about as much as the guy who says, "That's actually an F-5 in USAF Aggressor colors that Tom Cruise is dogfighting."
 
Eh...

For the vast majority of content creators and consumers, the importance of physical geography starts with, "What is the route of the hero's journey?" and ends with, "I need physical features to define who lives where."

The map's just there to show where the scenes occur. Look at it too hard and you'll enjoy the product about as much as the guy who says, "That's actually an F-5 in USAF Aggressor colors that Tom Cruise is dogfighting."

I mean yeah the bigger point is 'it's a fantasy world which has had beings of immense power actively involved in shaping it and there's literally multiple references to the use of mountains as a created 'fence' around an area'.

But even leaving that aside, if someone is going to bring up actual geology, well there's antecedents if you start looking
 
Thanks @Gary Oswald for linking that essay on Personal Canon’s by Acks, it’s an excellent read and presents a compelling argument against the whole ‘classic books’ idea.
Their blog also has interesting articles.

The Indiana Jones movies are problematic as hell on a bunch of axes (and I love them anyway), but one thing they are relentless about is how much they fucking hate Nazis and have basically zero sympathy for those who claim they’re definitely not Nazis while happily riding the Nazi coattails to glory. In Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Belloq gets exploded by the power of the ark. In this movie, Elsa gets swallowed by the temple as it destroys itself. They signed up with the Nazis. They don’t get to run away from that association.
 
As a might have been geologist, I really loved the Middle Earth blogs. It's a shame so many of the comments on the original host site are "why are you taking this seriously, it's a fantasy map" are missing the point that the critique itself is obviously also a bit of fun from a fan, and I think very fair in weighing up the context that a) Tolkien was a linguist, not a geologist, b) even if he had been a geologist, plate tectonics wasn't overwhelmingly accepted during his lifetime, and c) the map is a part the narrative itself and may be as geographically reliable as the historical maps travellers compiled decades after the fact.

Neither Bilbo or Frodo were trained surveyors after all, and only saw transects of the world on their travels. When you walk long distances on foot your perspective is very different to how you would perceive floating down a river, or even passively riding on horseback. That's how I'd rationalise it anyway - its a map, not a world.

The Anduin I can actually accept as a rift or long parallel valley between the Misty Mountains and a much gentler range of hills to the east (unmapped, because the Hobbits barely travelled there). Likewise the mountains at right angles - well not all in one go, but given several phases of mountain building and rifting, and you only have to look at the topography of Europe and squint.

Mirkwood as a vast forest, and coastal Middle Earth as a mostly bare plain seems more questionable, given either westerly prevailing wind assumptions or the rich agriculture of the Shire being in the rain shadow. But again waive that as "bits Bilbo visited vs bits Merry and Pippin only glimpsed from the gap of Rohan while smoking some of Saruman's best shit".

Maybe "realistic fantasy maps" are missing the point, but I find the thought exercises of plausible geographies as fascinating as those of plausible histories. Planetocopia did some fantastic stuff on those lines.
 
I've only been exposed to Pournelle secondhand, but the more I read about him, the less curious I am to look up his books.

Sometimes it was subtle, like when Clarke and Asimov and Niven and Heinlein took care to describe women as the sum total of their breasts and fuckability and relation to the much more important hero on his adventure (when they bothered to have women present at all). Sometimes it was aggressively hateful, like my journey through Pournelle and Niven's Lucifer's Hammer, which ultimately pits anti-feminist, pro-technology libertarians as the saviors of humanity against cannibalistic hordes of Black people and pinko environmentalists, who have fallen into savagery for the sin of thinking atomic power is perhaps not a good idea, thus proving they are against civilization. It's the only book that's ever hated me so thoroughly and deeply that I think it saw into my soul and realized I was a queer socialist before I ever did.
 
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