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A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
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Podcasts > S&L Podcast - #161 - What Harry Potter Stole from Earthsea

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message 1: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - added it

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1701 comments Mod
This time around we're kicking off our February book pick, A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin. If you're looking for the first tale a of a boy who attends a school of wizardry, we've got the goods, as well as what Ms. Le Guin, who wrote her book in 1968, thinks of Ms. Rowling. Plus The Clarion Workshop deadline is looming and USC and Intel make one author's world come alive.

http://swordandlaser.com/home/2014/2/...


message 2: by Kaleb (new)

Kaleb When do you guys usually upload the podcasts to Sound Cloud?


message 3: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - added it

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1701 comments Mod
Kaleb wrote: "When do you guys usually upload the podcasts to Sound Cloud?"

Right when we're done recording (and editing), why?


message 4: by Kaleb (new)

Kaleb Just wondering.


message 5: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6889 comments Mod
So originally Veronica said the April fantasy pick would be a group vote. Now you guys are announcing that the April pick will come from the Kickstarter backer.

Do you plan to do a vote for June fantasy pick instead?


P. Aaron Potter (paaronpotter) | 585 comments You sound like you've got a horse in this race, Rob. Care to spill?


message 7: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6889 comments Mod
P. Aaron wrote: "You sound like you've got a horse in this race, Rob. Care to spill?"

Not really. We just haven't voted on a fantasy pick since I started reading with the group (8/12), but this is the second sci-fi vote we've done.

I've always considered myself more sword than laser, so I was looking forward to the chance to vote in April is all.


message 8: by Ricky (new)

Ricky Holmes | 21 comments If I listen to this and somebody starts bashing Harry Potter I'm going to shut it off. I'm fiercely defensive of that franchise and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, I just don't want to hear.

Hope that isn't the case though, I love the podcast and would prefer to not shut it off halfway through.


message 9: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6889 comments Mod
It's not Harry Potter bashing imho.


message 10: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6352 comments I think Tom was saying WesterFIELD instead of WesterFELD. -- Pronunciation Police


message 11: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - added it

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1701 comments Mod
Ricky wrote: "If I listen to this and somebody starts bashing Harry Potter I'm going to shut it off. I'm fiercely defensive of that franchise and while everyone is entitled to their opinion, I just don't want to..."

The only person bashing Harry Potter is Ursula K. Le Guin, literally.


Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments Is it "bashing" if she made a good point? Especially when it didn't relate to the books themselves, but the way they were treated in the wider media landscape after their release.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments I honestly (and this is my opinion, which I am Entitled to though Harry Potter super fans will disagree)am tired of everyone thinking Harry Potter is some original piece of classical literature.

Like honestly its not the deepest story arc on the planet nor is it the best written.

I think the experience, what ever that reader had going on at that time maybe harry was all they had to look forward to or the first "big book" they ever read themselves and enjoyed, has more to do with the huge fandom and success of Harry than its actual content.

I agree with Ursula although I don't think I particularly like the Earthsea books. I don't particularly like the Harry books either.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments Michal wrote: "Is it "bashing" if she made a good point? Especially when it didn't relate to the books themselves, but the way they were treated in the wider media landscape after their release."

No its not bashing IMO but she wasn't kissing Harry bootay so... :)


message 15: by Ricky (new)

Ricky Holmes | 21 comments I never said Potter was perfect but it is a franchise very close to my heart. I grew up with the series(read the first one when I was 11) and having a similar core premise does not mean it isn't original.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments Ricky wrote: "I never said Potter was perfect but it is a franchise very close to my heart. I grew up with the series(read the first one when I was 11) and having a similar core premise does not mean it isn't or..."

In case you missed it the first time : I think the experience, what ever that reader had going on at that time maybe harry was all they had to look forward to or the first "big book" they ever read themselves and enjoyed, has more to do with the huge fandom and success of Harry than its actual content.

you say " I grew up with the series (read first one when I was 11)"

Having a similar premise is exactly what makes it not original. Plus if you read The Hobbit and I'm sure their are others you will see even MORE "similarities".

I think what Ursula was saying is that its okay to be inspired by the writers that came before you WE ALL ARE but give them the credit due them. I don't think this is all J.k.'s fault the media plays a big part in the glorification of the franchise as being something new and original and great.

I'm honestly trying to finally finish the whole series I too was given Harry Potter and the Sorceress stone at an early age but I had been reading fluently for a while and after reading the first chapter I was not having it. This is my second time reading The Philosophers stone and I'm not finding it anymore magical, original or well written than my first read.

I wont apologize to the fandom for not liking it. But I think I'm fair in trying to understand what you all see and trying to read it.


message 17: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithatc) I didn't pay much attention to Pottermania when it swept through, but I don't recall a whole lot of claims that the series was overly original or unique; merely that it tapped into something that turned it into a phenomenon that hit people from the very young to the very old -- and that was something new(ish) for a book.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments not specifically I'm pretty sure the young and old alike were reading J.R.R. Tolkien. I certainly not a hater of the franchise I've enjoyed the games and some of the movies BUT just not the books.

I think it was def more of the media, the marketing and the timing of Harry Potter books. Not to mention the fanbase that "came up" with Harry really didn't have much to compare and contrast it with.


message 19: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithatc) It would have been interesting to see what would have become of Tolkien if they'd had then the sort of all-reaching media we have now. What made Potter different was how totally pervasive the mania was; it was everywhere, and everywhere in the late 1990s/early 2000s was a lot more everywhere than Tolkien could have reached in his time. But if they had the internet then, or social media and tv and so on, would we have seen something similar to the ubiquity of Harry Potter?

Maybe, but one thing is for sure: Leonard Nimoy never recorded a Ballad of Harry Potter. So advantage: Tolkien


message 20: by Micah (new)

Micah (onemorebaker) | 1071 comments Rob wrote: ""

Not really. We just haven't voted on a fantasy pick since I started reading with the group (8/12), but this is the second sci-fi vote we've done.

I've always considered myself more sword than laser, so I was looking forward to the chance to vote in April is all. "


Rob, I'm pretty sure we voted on a Sword pick sometime last year. I remember because I wanted us to read The Redemption of Althalus and Veronica had put it on the list. It lost though. It lost hard. I can't remember what to though because you always remember your loses more then your wins.

Ahh human nature you are a fickle beast....


message 21: by Ken (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments Ricky wrote: "I never said Potter was perfect but it is a franchise very close to my heart. I grew up with the series(read the first one when I was 11) and having a similar core premise does not mean it isn't or..."

Thing is bro, whether you want to admit it or not, there are very few original concepts in Harry Potter.


message 22: by AndrewP (last edited Feb 12, 2014 10:03AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2501 comments Some random thoughts on the podcast:)

Sure there are some similarities and Rowling should probably given Le Guin a nod. But claiming the whole 7 books of Harry Potter is based on 30 pages or so of Wizard of Earthsea is a bit of a stretch.

Why didn't Le Guin credit the movie 'The Forbidden' Planet for the basic plot of Wizard of Earthsea? It's almost an exact rip off. (view spoiler)

I wonder if Lev Grossman credit Le Guin for 'The Magicians'? Anyone know.


message 23: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6352 comments Forbidden Planet was a ripoff of Shakespeare's The Tempest.


message 24: by Serendi (new)

Serendi | 846 comments AndrewP:

This is being discussed in this thread:

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Le Guin didn't say Rowling ripped her off; read the thread to get lots more detail.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2501 comments Tamahome wrote: "Forbidden Planet was a ripoff of Shakespeare's The Tempest."

It's only loosely based on The Tempest. But take that Laser plot movie, change it to Sword and it's almost identical:)


Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments AndrewP wrote: "Tamahome wrote: "Forbidden Planet was a ripoff of Shakespeare's The Tempest."

It's only loosely based on The Tempest. But take that Laser plot movie, change it to Sword and it's almost identical:)"


They are both engaging with the same philosophical influences and thinkers of the time (as I've pointed out in another thread), so yes, they end up being similar.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments I interviews I've always found Le Guin to be very honest with her influences and why she wrote certain things. " I was sitting on the train and it just came to me" in thin air...no no it didn't. I just don't believe it I have to much concrete evidence


message 28: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithatc) I have an old issue of Future Life magazine (from the publishers of Starlog!) with an article by Ursula Le Guin about how much she hates modern (circa 1979 or so) science fiction movies because they are so loud and shouty and full of sound effects. I will see if I can dig it out and scan it in.

It was quaintly curmudgeonly (she is really mad about Close Encounters), but then I saw Man of Steel, which I thought was one of the most needlessly loud films I'd ever seen, and suddenly I was with her all the way. And then I rewatched Close Encounters (a film I love), and yeah -- that thing is really loud.


terpkristin | 4188 comments I finally got to listen to this episode this morning en route to work. It was a really great episode, I'd wished I'd had the opportunity to listen earlier (so I could have been ready to potentially ask questions for show 162, among other reasons).

I was honestly surprised by the total love for the book in this episode. It's definitely been a bit flat for me. That said, by reading it, I saw yet another influence for a lot of my favorite authors. Funny that neither V nor T (especially V, though, given her Rothfuss "connection") brought up Kingkiller Chronicles as books where a magician goes to school. :D


message 30: by Daran (last edited Feb 13, 2014 11:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daran | 599 comments The circumstances in which LeGuin made the statement might be of interest to Potter fans. In her interview she was asked what she thought about authors that deny they write in sci fi and fantasy. The next question was, "what do you think of Harry Potter and its similarities to your work?" The questions were designed to get LeGuin to say something about the most popular fantasy series of all time, presumably so more people would read it. LeGuin didn't go gunning for Rowling, as they say.

http://techland.time.com/2009/05/11/a...

I posted this, and another Grossman interview with Rowling, over on the Earthsea and Harry Potter thread.


message 31: by Ken (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments Most popular of all time? More than LoTR? I think not...


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments I came back just to say that when making an argument please have enough material to state your claim. Its kinda hard to get people to believe why Harry is original and the best when you haven't read the other books that are discussed.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with using the TROPES of fantasy at all. But for JK to deny even reading the material which she pulls the tropes from is very iffy to me.


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2501 comments Chakara wrote: "I don't think that there is anything wrong with using the TROPES of fantasy at all. But for JK to deny even reading the material which she pulls the tropes from is very iffy to me. "

When I was playing D&D in the 1980's I came up with a scenario where there was a wizard school that the players needed to infiltrate to gain some magic items. I had never read Le Guin nor, obviously Rowling at that time. Suggesting that nobody can come up with a wizard school idea by themselves is absurd.


message 34: by Daran (last edited Feb 14, 2014 10:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daran | 599 comments Alex wrote: "Kenneth wrote: "Most popular of all time? More than LoTR? I think not..."

I would bet money that more people have read Harry Potter than have read Lord of the Rings."


Hard to Prove. If you gp by Sales, LotR win hands-down. It's one of the few books to go over 100 million copies. It's in the top three all time bestsellers once you get rid of the Bible, the Koran and Chairmen Mao. The Harry Potter books are all somewhere in the 30-50 million range. Harry Potter as a series is over 450 million copies, but that has to be divided by seven+ (beetle the bard, guide to Quidditch etc)

That's all muddied somewhat by the fact that LotR has been taught in both high schools and colleges since the 1960's. It does not matter how popular an author is, they are never going to beat school districts ordering 500 copies every ten years. That's one of the major reasons the best selling English language novel of all time is A Tale of Two Cities.

Over all, I would say more people have read Tolkien's epic, just because it has been around longer. Even if every kid read the Potter series, the first book isn't even two decades old yet. And when LotR came out, it got a lot of outside genre readership, thanks to people like W.H. Auden.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments AndrewP wrote: "Chakara wrote: "I don't think that there is anything wrong with using the TROPES of fantasy at all. But for JK to deny even reading the material which she pulls the tropes from is very iffy to me. ..."

Andrew just because you havent read it doesnt mean you wernt exposed to the tropew in other ways. What is D&D about exactly? Sounds like it may contain some of those tropes. Had you seen any movies or tv shows? TO say that you pulled it straight from thin air is absurd and I honestly dont believe it.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments Alex wrote: "Kenneth wrote: "Most popular of all time? More than LoTR? I think not..."

I would bet money that more people have read Harry Potter than have read Lord of the Rings."


Not at all true. Id ned some concrete numbers.


Michal (michaltheassistantpigkeeper) | 294 comments LOTR has been around a lot longer and, I think, has been translated into more languages. Pretty sure more people have read it than the Potter books (taking both as a whole, of course, since there being *more* Potter books is also a factor...and then you'd have to heap "The Hobbit" on top of that, which might well have an even larger reach than LOTR does)


message 38: by AndrewP (last edited Feb 16, 2014 07:32AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2501 comments Chakara wrote: "AndrewP wrote: "Chakara wrote: "I don't think that there is anything wrong with using the TROPES of fantasy at all. But for JK to deny even reading the material which she pulls the tropes from is v..."

I'm not suggesting I did it all by myself. What I am saying is nobody should have an obligation to kiss Le Guin's ass because they came up with something similar.

But thinking about it.. In the late 1970's when D&D came along there was really no exposure to the tropes other than books. No Internet, no DVD's, no cable TV, not even VHS unless you were pretty rich. Of the 3 TV stations we received, the only things remotely connected would be Dr Who, Outer Limits, Time Tunnel, Lost in Space etc.

D&D was based on miniature war game rules and heavily influenced by the 'Mines of Moria' section of LOTR.


message 39: by Ken (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ken (kanthr) | 334 comments I don't think anyone is arguing that JK should be kissing LeGuin's ass.

Rather I think we are arguing that JK should not dare claim she came up with it all by her widdle self, and snub her nose at the genre she "subverted" by barfing up all its tropes in a new arrangement.


message 40: by Rick (new)

Rick | 2869 comments Again, you Potter fans are *adorable*.


Jessica | 22 comments I loved the Harry Potter series & I loved A Wizard of Earthsea.

I have never felt comfortable with the way Rowling talks about the fantasy genre. I mean why write a fantasy story if you have so much disdain for the genre?

However, isn't it possible that her exposure to the tropes of fantasy were more subliminal or second-hand? That would account for why she doesn't give authors in that genre the credit they deserve. She has admitted to reading some of the Narnia books, maybe fantasy was just an interest of the people around her & as a result, an indirect influence.

Just a thought. :)


Shaina (shainaeg) | 165 comments Sure, the Harry Potter books stole things from lots of books, movies, and other things that came before them. Very few books are truly original and don't take things from what has come before them. They are not great works of literature, they are just fun. The best thing about the Harry Potter books for me was the way they grew up with me since I was Harry's age when they first came out.

I wonder sometimes if readers without that experience will be quite as fond of Harry as those of us who had to wait and grow up between the books. The tones of the books really change as they go which I don't think would work as well if you just read all of them in a row.


message 43: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments Potter fans, no one is saying it was wrong to borrow what Rolling did, we are saying that at the very least it was kind of screwed up to deny it.


message 44: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 48 comments Pronunciation Police: Rowling rhymes with bowling.


message 45: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments Sorry auto correct, but seriously, did anyone really not get that I meant Rowling?


message 46: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 48 comments Nope, I wasn't referring to your post (I would have hit reply). I was referring to the many podcasters and radio announcers who get the name wrong.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments potato potato lol i think its one of those things that it depends where your from how you pronounce it.


Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments AndrewP wrote: "Chakara wrote: "AndrewP wrote: "Chakara wrote: "I don't think that there is anything wrong with using the TROPES of fantasy at all. But for JK to deny even reading the material which she pulls the ..."

LOTR....


message 49: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher Preiman | 347 comments Lol sorry now I feel a bit silly. *slinks off to corner*


message 50: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - added it

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1701 comments Mod
Melissa wrote: "Nope, I wasn't referring to your post (I would have hit reply). I was referring to the many podcasters and radio announcers who get the name wrong."

So you're referring to *us* then.


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