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Meditations on Middle Earth: New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien by Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Pratchett, Charles de Lint, George R. R. Martin, and more
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Meditations on Middle Earth: New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien by Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Pratchett, Charles de Lint, George R. R. Martin, and more

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  3,111 ratings  ·  55 reviews
If you remember where you were when you first read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then this collection of essays by some of fantasy and science fiction's most popular authors is worth a look. J.R.R. Tolkien's impact on fantastic fiction--and its writers--is explored in contributions that range from intensely personal expressions of the power and beauty of Tol ...more
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Published (first published 2001)
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Start your review of Meditations on Middle Earth: New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien by Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Pratchett, Charles de Lint, George R. R. Martin, and more
Mary Catelli
A series of essays on Tolkien.

The commonest one was "the impact The Lord of the Rings had on my life and writing". A lot of them picked it up in the 60s or 70s when, really, there wasn't that much fantasy about. Terry Pratchett actually got pointed at Beowulf when he asked for more books like it -- fortunately he noticed books that had guys with helmets on theri covers and dived in. (That shelf was marked History, BTW.) One discussed Bored of the Rings and how it taught her the comic effect. One
Mar 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the authors' insights were completely new and scarily clever, but it was mostly what I've already know - Tolkien was a genius. ...more
Ines Gracia
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: awsome, 2020
It was interesting to read this book not only because of the anecdotes and points of view of each author but because it's like we are from different times. This book was published on 2001 (when I was 3 years old) and that same year Peter Jackson's movies were released. For these authors, their youth as the youth of their sons were marked with the book written by Tolkien, while in my childhood I grew up no reading The Hobbit, or There and Back Again or The Lord of the Rings : I grew up watching t ...more
Daniela Valentina
kind of meh, still good though
Nicholas Gourlay
Apr 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, essay-s
Originally written on 8.30.06 on
I did sometyhing illogical for me a few hours ago. I read an essay while engrossed in a novel. I don’t do things like that. It requires too much concentration for me, especially just reading any essay. But maybe, just maybe, I’m evolving.
I put down ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ by Jean M. Auel to read ’How Tolkein means’ by Orson Scott Card. Maybe I had a hair up my butt, but I just felt it had to be read. No time like the present. And I
Jim Collins
This is a varied and sometimes fascinating collection of essays by writers about their encounters with J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle Earth. Numerous writers credit Tolkien with opening the market for modern fantasy novels. Many, including Robin Hobb and Lisa Goldstein, report that their first reacton upon completing LOTR was to look around for more of the same. Others say that they immediately sat down to write something like LOTR. Many remembered the circumstances of their first encounter with Tolk ...more
Some of the essays are close to five-star, others are one-star, so my three star rating is an average of the seventeen essays compiled in this anthology.
I would recommend this book if you are are one of those people who loved Lord of the Rings and then tried to find other books like it (the essays will all tell you that you will never find another book like it, but there are quite a lot of credible recommendations for older fantasy works written pre-Tolkien, and warnings to approach with caution
Michael Bafford
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An anthology of essays by authors – mostly well-known – who recall their introduction to Middle Earth and/or give their own view on the subject, or an aspect of the subject.

As in all anthologies some of the efforts are more successful, and/or more in my taste. I found that the writers I like were generally better and more interesting, and the obverse. Raymond Feist, for example, says: "[Frodo], along with Sam, Meriadoc, and Pippin, were willing to brave tribulations that the larger, more 'classi
This book is a mixed bag of other author's thoughts about Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Some of them credit Tolkien with turning them into authors and recount their first meeting with his books. I enjoyed what one reviewer called the "tree house/school bus/fishing hole" essays the most. I didn't experience anything like they did so this was new to me.

Other authors wrote critical essays. I wish they hadn't, or at least that I hadn't tried to read them through. Although I have read and enjoyed
An outstanding and wide-ranging anthology of essays concerning Tolkien's work and how it impacted the lives of several top fantasy writers. It did strike me as a bit dated (being published in 2001), with several authors describing their first encounters with Tolkien's work, most of them in the 1950s or 1960s, when life was quite different than the way it is now. (Disclosure: I myself am a child of the 1970s, not much had changed then, so the essays really echoed my own first encounters with Tolk ...more
The Mole
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A So-So Book

Well, I can't say that I LOVED this books, though I had high hopes from the authors included. In the end, it turned out to be a collection of mostly "how I met Tolkien's work" essays and a few actually ABOUT Tolkien's work. I guess I've simply been spoiled by Shippey's great scholarly books about Tolkien and LotR.

However, as I read, I began to enjoy the essays not as scholarly work, but kind of as a fire-side chat among fellow Tolkien-lovers. Which was quite nice.

SO, if you take this
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Frodo travels through Middle-earth like some kind of God-sent integrity test. The wise, if they were truly so, upon seeing that he had come to visit, would shriek, 'Oh, no! It's that fucking hobbit! I'm not in!' and slam the door in his face. Here is the true purpose . . . not to destroy the source of power but to test all of creation and decide whether it is worthy of continuance."

Some of the essays were really good, and some were kind of dull, but if you're a fan, the collection is definitely

Feb 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eclectic mix of essays on Tolkien by a gaggle of authors. Some are dry and technical, some are critical or ambivalent, but the majority are early converts, people who, like myself, found Tolkien at a key time of their late childhood or young adulthood, as did I. We were fortunate enough to be exposed to The Hobbit in English class, and, for a small group of us at least, it changed our lives, and dominated our teens.
It's over 25 years since I read LOTR, so I have a certain nostalgia about Tolk
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic collection of essays by some amazing authors in the speculative fields writing about their experiences with Tolkien’s works. As is always the case with these sorts of books, some essays were stronger than others, but I felt those that were strong were very strong. It’s always fun reading about how others discovered Tolkien, and even more so how that might have influenced their lives as they went on to become best-selling authors in their own right. And scattered through the ...more
Some of the essays are quite fun. The one by Ursula le Guin in particular which examined the rhythm of Tolkien's writing.... almost like Hebrew poetry which rhymes in "thought and idea" and not in sound.
Nov 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am always interested in essays authors write about their influences. I also liked the small section "About The Authors" in the back of the book that put together a small list of some of the works they are known for. ...more
Paul Hebron
May 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Not very interesting observations on the Middle Earth cycle.
Jul 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting for the Rings fans among us....
Chuck Ledger
Nov 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As is often the case with compilations with many authors, some of them I really enjoyed and others were just ok. If you are a fan of middle-earth, I strongly recommend the read.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I was hoping this book would be writings set in the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien by famous SFF writers. I would love to see what further adventures George R.R. Martin's could dream up for Aragorn (AKA Jenny's babysitter), Legolas and Gimli!

But, alas, this was not that book. This book was dry, dry, dry uber-academic essays. Here's a sample sentence from Ursula K. LeGuin's piece "Rhythmic Pattern in the Lord of the Rings: "In poetry, the normal ration is about 50 percent: that is, by and large, in po
James Williams
Feb 24, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a book where some of my favorite authors (and, I suppose, some of my not favorite authors) write about J.R.R. Tolkien, an uber-favorite author. Obviously, it's something to be read if you're a fan of the Professor.
For the most part, this book is not filled scholarly essays (with the possible exception of Ursula K. Le Guin's piece on language), but are instead personal introspections and retrospections about how Tolkien's work affected each writer's life and career.
Which can be nice, of
I loved this book, especially Robin Hobb's chapter. I, like Miss Hobb, had a similar story and she's such a good writer. I really enjoyed her chapter.

I will be hoping I can find this older book so I can add it to my library.
Readible, with the exception of the Orson Scott Card contribution. With apologies to another reviewer, who said it SO much better than I'm going to:

" Orson Scott Card seizes the opportunity to get up on his big stupid hobby horse about how modernism is dumb. “Modernists treat everything as allegory,” he growls, harrumphing and popping his monocle. Then he makes up some imaginary straw-man argument in which a modernist read allegorically, and then rips that apart like tissue. Well done, Mr Card!
Stephanie Ricker
A rather random collection of essays be famous authors (mainly science fiction and fantasy) who love Tolkien. Some of them are a bit repetitive (there are really only so many ways you can say that Tolkien was a genius and inspired everyone), but many of the essays are entertaining purely for the writer's particular style. I especially loved this quote by Esther M. Friesner: “I am a writer. I have received money for doing this on several occasions, so the odds are that I will continue on this unf ...more
Jun 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't perfect, but it was a hell of a lot of fun. The approach most of the writers took was dissapointingly obvious, and even a little repetitive as you read through them.

A few stand-outs for me were Ursula LeGuin's challenging and, for me exciting essay on Tolkein's use of language in the first part of Fellowship. Terri Windling's essay at the end brought me in touch with feelings I've had for years, but haven't had the words to express myself just yet.

Card challeneged the way I lo

This collection of essays has two types of reflections on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy: actual talk about its effect on sci fi and fantasy as genres and its impact on the publishing industry - and the authors swooning over the first time they read the trilogy. Obviously, the latter is less interesting.

Of course, like most compilations, it is a grab bag of excellent and so-so writings, though Orson Scott Card proves yet to be an ass. it reflects quite clearly through his piece, which seems
Jun 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tolkien fans
This is a great book of essays on Tolkien and his work by people who are both authors and fans, and therefore both understand and appreciate the work and can delineate why. While there is a little repetition of "I first read Tolkien when I was N years old and it changed my life", since it's true, it doesn't detract too much from the essays.

The essays, for me at least, made me want to go back and read the books again, and made me appreciate just how new and exciting Tolkien's works were when they
There's a lot in here about the need for fantasy/fairy tales/epics/the-story-as-primary, for humans innately and individuals based on their experiences, and in Lord of the Rings's historical and social moment, all of which is fascinating if you think that's fascinating. Orson Scott Card thinks that LotR has no meaning apart from its story, and that this is what makes it good (and books snidely referred to as "'serious'" that you can say something about that isn't the story bad, not-so-implicitly ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It is a compilation of essays from famous fantasy and science fiction authors on their reaction/influence to J.R.R. Tolkien and The Lord of The Rings. My favorite was Terry Pratchett's essay. A really wonderful and brilliant tribute to Tolkien by authors who have been pretty powerful in their own respective rights. Even if you haven't read the trilogy, this book is worth the read.

Edit.... I also have to add the essay If you give a Girl a Hobbitt by Esther M. Friesner
What does Tolkien mean to you? No, seriously. What does he mean to you as a reader? A writer? A fantasy genre enthusiast? These are the questions some of today's great science fiction and fantasy writers try to answer in this collection of essays. Some essays are very technical, focusing on the history or the languages of Middle Earth. Other essays are more broad, focusing on the impact Tolkien's Middle Earth on the fantasy and science fiction genres. All in all, it was a great book and interest ...more
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Karen Haber is the author of nine novels including Star Trek Voyager: Bless the Beasts, and co-author of Science of the X-Men. In 2001 she was nominated for a Hugo for Meditations on Middle Earth, an essay collection celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien. With her husband, Robert Silverberg, she co-edited Best Science Fiction of 2001, 2002, and the Best Fantasy of 2001 and 2002 for ibooks and later, co-edite ...more

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