Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Importance of Food and Drink in Fiction (A Very Pretentious Title)

This whole piece got started by an idle discussion between my husband and I about food in the Lord of the Rings. After that, I just started noticing all of the references to food, food preparation and meals in the books I was reading. It's not an exhaustive survey, just what I've noticed recently and some examples I remember reading in the past.

The Importance of Food and Drink in Fiction

Food and drink. The two are integral to every society I can think of or have read about in real life or in fiction. From a meeting in a coffee shop to a lavish feast being served up in front of the main characters, it can range from an elaborate background setting to something far more integral to the plot, or the characters.

The familiarity or strangeness of the foods being served or made by the characters can act as a barometer to the intended familiarity or strangeness of the worlds that the books are set in. A few examples might be the foods that the hobbits eat in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (apples, beer, bacon and mushrooms for example), meant to represent our own Europe in a distant past, or perhaps the foods from Pern (Klah, wherry, packtail, redfruit, tubers), the world created by Anne McCaffrey, an alien planet. Some authors have taken a middle ground, where some of the foods are our own, but perhaps some of the seasonings or drinks are unfamiliar – the direction taken by Elizabeth Moon in the Paksenarrion's World books (cheese, onions, stews, but also sib and asar).

Done well, the use of food in a novel can be a way of involving the reader's senses into the story through their own experiences and memories. To use one of Mercedes Lackey's books as an example, in Magic's Price there is a scene where the main character is enjoying a piece of bread fresh out of the oven with butter melting into it. Who doesn't know the taste and smell of that? Or the smell of a large pot of soup on the stove?

Some books use food and drink to illustrate elements of the characters personalities, as Mercedes Lackey did in The Fire Rose. Rosalind Hawkins' preference for unladylike sandwiches went along with her other unladylike interests in reading, history and languages, as well as her desire for a university education. Another Mercedes Lackey novel, By The Sword opens with the main character, Kerowyn, supervising the preparations for her brother's marriage feast. Really, her place should have been out participating in the feast itself though. However, for various reasons she's in the kitchen, which suggests in hind-sight that she's something of an outsider at the Keep – which is proven throughout the book. Then, going back to Tolkien and The Hobbit for another example, you have Beorn, the skin-changer, who could also take on the form of a great bear. He lived, according to Gandalf, mostly on cream and honey, which you might say reflected his other form as a bear.

Outside of restaurant scenes, how meal and food preparation is presented to us as the audience can also say a lot about the worlds the characters are inhabiting. If we only see perfectly done, finished meals presented to the characters, it suggests to me one of two things. Either they are upper-class with servants to do all the work, or else the world is a high-tech one a la Star Trek with its replicators to do most of the day-to-day cooking. It's not only how the foods are presented, but also the ingredients used, however – venison, hare, rabbit, onions etc all say to me “good, solid, homey food”. On the other hand, eels and other exotic dishes are more likely to suggest that the meals are designed to be impressive, and often expensive.

Eating and drinking is also very much a social thing to do. Especially when it comes to historical fiction and fantasy, though it's still very prevalent in more modern settings. How often do you see the characters agreeing to meet up for a drink? These days it would be a coffee and a muffin. In historical fiction it's more likely to be wine or scotch (for men) and tea and biscuits for women. One of the biggest set-pieces as well is the great feast, with all of it's attendant preparations and rituals. This is one that you see most often in the historical fiction and fantasy realms – either from the preparation side as in By The Sword, or from the perspective of one of the diners – think of some of the feasts in Diana Gabaldon's books for example.

Continuing with a further look into the third book of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, nearly every time characters are meeting socially there is food involved: Ginger biscuits in one of the 1960's scenes. Sherry or port for the men in the 18th century scenes – or, hare pie or a savory in the same time period in Scotland. Diana Gabaldon is an author who isn't going to shy away from the kitchen and food preparations in her books, and it adds so much richness to her writings.

Broadening out, food, or the lack of may well be a plot-point in and of itself. In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, the prevalence or scarcity of food is one of the keys to the characters' emotional states. The less food they have, the more irritable and angry they get – and several times, they run out of food entirely, or believe they are about to, adding more tension to the story. Similarly in the early books of the Change series by S. M. Stirling (Dies The Fire and The Protector's War) we see the lengths that the characters will or will not go to to get food due to the sudden scarcity thanks to the Change, and the meals are certainly more than a background setting. Another example of the lengths that characters will go to in order to get food is in Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy where teenagers are willing to increase their chances at being drawn for Tribute in order to get food for themselves and their families. Not to mention what they're willing to consider food!

Similarly, we see the cycle of the year shown through the foods and quantities of foods available as the seasons change in S. M. Stirling's books, and more subtly in the Outlander books. From seasonal feasts to scarcity, it's all there and it has an effect on the characters lives and actions. I know that after reading the early Change books, I have a greater appreciation for the humble backyard vegetable garden and it's potential.

A Feast Of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Companion CookbookAnd now, there's an interesting twist on the food in novels/TV-series that's growing: the novel-themed cookbook. I only know of a few so far, but they're definitely interesting. The first one I saw came out around 2012, for the Game of Thrones TV series, called A Feast Of Ice And Fire: The Official Game Of Thrones Companion Cookbook. It has it's own unique twist, in that the authors took known medieval recipes and modernized them. The Hunger Games has also inspired a few cookbooks, although I'm not sure just how inspiring some of what the characters are known to have been eating was.

The Outlander Kitchen CookbookThe one that I want to read and test the most though is the Outlander Kitchen cookbook. Due out this summer, it looks like a good one, based on the blog of the same name. Diana Gabaldon has included many a dish both humble and extravagant, old and modern through her series of books, and the author of the Outlander Kitchen started a blog inspired by the recipes, which has since turned into a book. However, as far as I can tell, the blog is still being updated as well, and what's more, all of the recipes I've seen there look absolutely delicious!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Tolkien's Annotated Map of Middle-Earth

I've seen a couple of articles this morning about the map of Middle-Earth that J.R.R. Tolkien annotated, including this one over at IO9. It's definitely neat, but I really hope that someday soon there will be a large-scale print version (preferably with notes) made available to those of us who can't go to see the original.

The largest size image I've found so far online is this one. It's good, but I can't read any of the annotations in the image. Part of that, I will admit is because the writing is a challenge in itself. However, many of the notations are quite faint and small - even when zoomed in on the image.

The Tolkien Society article on the topic.
The Bodleian Library article on their acquisition of the map.

The Tolkien Collection, 2016 Version

Back in 2011, Anassa gave me the idea to take out my Tolkien books and stack them up on the table. Made for a rather impressive pile too. The table then seated four. Now, it takes one side of a snooker table to display the collection. The last few years have been good ones for the Tolkien collector, with new books (not to mention new edition of his books) being released every year.

I did another list in 2013, which was the first time I used the snooker table to hold it, and now it's time for a new one.

To get the whole thing in one frame, I had to back away so far that none of the titles can be read easily in the photo. In general though, there's the entirety of the History of Middle-Earth series stacked to the far left of the photo followed by the newer books of Tolkien's poetry. Above those we have the audio books, two Hobbit Blu-rays, Mr. Bliss, the Art of The Hobbit and The Art of the Lord of the Rings (two absolutely gorgeous books). Next to that is most of the mass-market sized Tolkien books and then the Black boxed set and the white set (still in it's shrink-wrap). Just to one side of the middle of the stack are my Verlyn Flieger books on Tolkien, the Lord of the Rings movies, some art books, and the final item in the display is the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide two book set.

The books:
  1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One volume edition, illustrated by Alan Lee. (Middle of the bottom row)
  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One volume, movie cover edition. (Horizontally in the middle of the stack beside the Alan Lee illustrated Lord of the Rings)
  3. The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Box Set by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The white box set including the Lord of the Rings Readers Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. Still in the shrink wrap.
  4. The Lord of the Rings box set by J.R.R. Tolkien
    The black box set. (above the white set)
  5. The Lord of the Rings
    The BBC Radio Play edition adapted by Brian Sibley. Each of the major characters is done by a different actor, including Ian Holm (Frodo), Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum) and Michael Horden (Gandalf). (About the only thing not pictured. I realized too late that it's upstairs)
  6. The Lord of the Rings
    The BBC Radio Play edition adapted by Brian Sibley. Each of the major characters is done by a different actor, including Ian Holm (Frodo), Peter Woodthorpe (Gollum) and Michael Horden (Gandalf). Duplicate edition with some new narration. Not pictured.
  7. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  8. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  9. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  10. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  11. The Annotated Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson
    Lovely design with two columns: one for the text and the other for notes, including excerpts from letters, possible inspirations etc. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I have yet to fully read this edition, but it's so full of information that it really is a must have.
  12. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated by Alan Lee
  13. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Mass market edition.
  14. The Hobbit Graphic Novel
  15. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Black edition.
  16. Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated Hardcover edition, with the illustrations being by J.R.R. Tolkien too. Library discard.
  17. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hardcover, with illustrations from the Rankin-Bass animated movie. The first edition of The Hobbit that I ever read. A bit awkwardly sized, but has a lot of sentimental value.
  18. The Hobbit
    BBC Radio Play edition
  19. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    80th Anniversary Hardcover Facsimile edition. Not pictured.
  20. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Hardcover, illustrated by Ted Naismith
  21. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  22. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Library discard hardcover
  23. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
    My favourite translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Tolkien seems to have kept the meter and rhyme scheme very well.
  24. Tales from The Perilous Realm b J.R.R. Tolkien
    Made up of Leaf by Niggle, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham and Smith of Wootton Major. Illustrated by Alan Lee
  25. On Fairy Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson. Included commentary and notes
  26. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil edited by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
  27. Tree and Leaf by J.R.R. Tolkien
  28. Farmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
  29. The Tolkien Reader by J.R.R. Tolkien
  30. The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  31. The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Audiobook read by Christopher Lee.
  32. Sigurd and Gudrun by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  33.  The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien 
  34. Beowulf by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien.
  35. The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  36. The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger
  37. Beren and Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Christopher Tolkien. Not pictured.
  38. Tales from the Perilous Realm
    BBC Radio Play edition.
  39. Mr. Bliss by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Lovely slip-cased facsimile edition.
  40. The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien
  41. Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Edited by Verlyn Flieger
  42. Finn and Hengist by J.R.R. Tolkien
  43. The Ancrene Wisse edited by J.R.R. Tolkien
    One expensive book! In some form of Middle English, I think with some latin mixed in. I can't read it at all. Early English Text Society edition.
  44. Bilbo's Last Song by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Illustrated by Pauline Baynes
  45. The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays by J.R.R. Tolkien
  46. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Same cover style as the Black box set of the Lord of the Rings.
  47. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  48. The Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The deluxe slipcased edition. Not pictured.
  49. The Book of Lost Tales One by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  50. The Book of Lost Tales Two by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  51. The Lays of Beleriand by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  52. The Shaping of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  53. The Lost Road by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  54. The Return of the Shadow by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The first book covering the draft versions of The Lord of the Rings. Also, the first book in the History Of Middle Earth series that I ever read.
  55. The Treason of Isengard by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The second book about the Lord of the Rings
  56. The War of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    The third book in the set about the Lord of the Rings.
  57. Sauron Defeated by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Only part of the book covers the end of the documents about the Lord of the Rings. The rest holds one of my other favourite unfinished stories by Tolkien though: The Notion Club Papers. I think this copy also has some holes punched in the pages  (from the metal bookmark I stopped using as soon as I discovered it was doing that).
  58. Morgoth's Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  59. The War of the Jewels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
  60. Peoples of Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Christopher Tolkien
    Only one of the History of Middle-Earth books I have in hardcover.
  61. A Middle English Reader and Vocabulary by Kenneth Sisam and J.R.R. Tolkien
    IIRC, Kenneth Sisam was one of Tolkien's tutors.
  62. The Tolkien Family Album by John and Priscilla Tolkien
  63. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    Hardcover edition
  64. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    With the improved index.
  65. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
    This is the gold standard biography I believe.
  66. The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter
  67. Tolkien by Raymond Edwards
  68. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    Slip-cased set of two volumes: the Chronology and the Reader's Guide. Another jaw-dropper of a set, and one I consider to be a must-have.
  69. The Lord of the Rings Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
  70. The Art Of The Hobbit by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
    The artwork that J.R.R. Tolkien did for The Hobbit, both during the drafts and for publication gathered together in one place. Beautifully done in a lovely slipcase.
  71. The Art of the Lord of the Rings by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. 
    Follows the same format as the Art of the Hobbit. Absolutely spectacular!
  72. J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist And Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    About Tolkien's own artwork over the years from his childhood on. Stunning, and has insights into Tolkien and his writings as well.
  73. The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth by Robert Foster
  74. The Complete Guide To Middle Earth by Robert Foster
    Dates from university where I was keeping a copy handy for between class editing of my website.
  75. Tolkien and the Great War by John Garth
  76. A Question of Time: Tolkien's Road To Faerie by Verlyn Flieger
  77. Interrupted Music: The Making of Middle-Earth by Verlyn Flieger
  78. Splintered Light: Langage and Logos by Verlyn Flieger
  79. Green Suns And Faerie by Verlyn Flieger. 
  80. Meditations on Middle-Earth edited by Karen Haber
    Illustrated by John Howe. A number of authors writing on how Middle-Earth and J.R.R. Tolkien influenced them.
  81. Master of Middle Earth by Paul Koch
  82. A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings by Lin Carter
  83. A Tolkien Compass by Jared Lobdel
  84. Tolkien's Legendarium Essays on The History of Middle-earth (Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy) edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter
    Essays that focus on the History of Middle Earth series. Another expensive book (especially for its size).
  85. The History of The Hobbit: Mr. Baggins by John D. Ratelliff
  86. The History of The Hobbit: Return to Bag-End by John D. Rateliff
  87. The Journeys of Frodo by Barbara Stratchey
    Maps and distances focused on the descriptions given in The Lord of the Rings. Rather a neat book to have, if an awkward size.
  88. Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstaad
  89. Understanding The Lord of the Rings by William Ready
  90. Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall and Edmun Weiner
  91. The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle: Music By Donald Swann and Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien
    This is one that I`d really like to hear some day. I can`t read music, so I don`t fully appreciate the book at all.
  92. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings by Michael Coren
  93. Understanding The Lord Of The Rings: The Best Of Tolkien Criticism Edited by Rose A. Zimbardo and Neil D. Isaacs
  94. J.R.R. Tolkien by Robley Evans
    To be honest I cringe at this book - the errors are glaring.
  95. Tolkien: A Celebration edited by Joseph Pearce
  96. The Battle For Middle-Earth: Tolkien`s Divine Design in The Lord of the Rings by Fleming Rutledge
  97. Middle-Earth: Visions of A Modern Myth by Donato Giancola
    A book of art about Middle-Earth.
  98. The Road To Middle Earth by Tom Shippey
  99. J.R.R. Tolkien: Author Of The Century by Tom Shippey
  100. The Fellowship of the Ring Extended Edition DVD
  101. The Two Towers Extended Edition DVD
  102. The Return of the King Extended Edition DVD
  103. The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions set. Blu-Ray
    Not pictured. Purchased after the photo was taken.
  104. The Lord of the Rings DVD
  105. The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack
    Not pictured
  106. The Two Towers Soundtrack
    Not pictured
  107. The Return of the King Soundtrack
    Not pictured
    The animated Bashki edition. Interestingly, Peter Woodthorpe does Gollum here too.
  108. J.E.A. Tyler`s Tolkien book
    Not pictured, in storage
  109. Tolkien`s Ring by David Day
    Illustrated by Alan Lee - the most redeeming feature of the book
  110. The Tolkien Encyclopedia by David Day
  111. A-Z of Tolkien by David Day
  112. The Gospel According To Tolkien by Ralph Woods.
  113. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
    Peter Jackson's first movie in his Hobbit trilogy. Blu-Ray format.
  114. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    Peter Jackson's second movie in the Hobbit Trilogy. Also in Blu-Ray. 
  115. The Battle of the Five Armies
    Number three in Peter Jackson's version of The Hobbit. Blu-Ray.
    Not pictured - purchased after the photo was taken.
  116. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack
    Not pictured.
  117. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug soundtrack
    Not pictured.
  118. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies soundtrack
    Not pictured.
  119. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Origin of the Rings
    DVD. A waste of a hour it's that bad. Not pictured as I can't find it. I might have sold it on. Unfortunately I have to report since that that is not true. I still own this one.
  120. Tolkien Treasury
    A little gift-book of quotes. Not pictured. 
  121. The Song of Middle-Earth: J.R.R. Tolkien's Themes, Symbols and Myths - David Harvey
    Not pictured
Close-ups of the collection:
The left-most portion of my Tolkien collection

The center portion of the collection

The right end of the collection

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Two New Books on Indexing

There are two new book on indexing coming out in June.

The first is:
Ten Characteristics of Quality Indexes: Confessions of an Award Winning IndexerTen Characteristics of Quality Indexes: Confessions of an Award Winning Indexer
Margie Towery
978-1573875264

Release Date: June 14th, 2016

The amazon.com product description:
The name "Margie Towery" is synonymous with index quality, and in this guide the master indexer distills more than two decades of experience for the benefit of her fellow indexers. Towery defines and explores the characteristics of quality indexes: audiences and accessibility, metatopics and index structure, accuracy, comprehensiveness, conciseness, consistency, clarity, reflexivity, readability, and common sense.

Writing in an engaging and accessible style, she shares her own struggles in indexing and offers strategies for overcoming challenges such as bias and language, indexing blocks, and working with authors. Her digressions into research on reading and decision-making provide a wider context for thinking about quality, while her suggestions and checklist for evaluating indexes round out this essential volume for professional indexers at every skill level.
This is a book I really want to add to my library. As a professional indexer, albeit a newer one, I find that each time I read a book on indexing, I learn something new - a different way of looking at such finicky debates such as using undifferentiated locators or not, or workflow tricks to speed up the process.

The second book is another one that I really want to add to my library:
Indexing Tactics and Tidbits: An A-Z Guide - Janet PerlmanIndexing Tactics & Tidbits: An A-Z Guide
Janet Perlman
978-1573875257
 
Release Date: June 2016

The Amazon.com product description:
In this highly-recommended reference for indexing professionals, master indexer Janet Perlman presents a treasure trove of practical, in-depth explanations and advice. The author pays homage to the Hans Wellisch classic, Indexing from A to Z, while bringing her own in-depth, conversational style and a multitude of fresh topics to the table.

Indexing Tactics & Tidbits provides answers and insights on such vital subjects as audience analysis, clients and contracts, computers and software, ethics and standards, index depth and length, index structure, periodical indexing, professional resources, quality and usability, work methods and strategies, and much more.

New and experienced indexers alike will appreciate this significant effort to address "everything you always wanted to know about indexing but were afraid to ask" by one of the preeminent indexers of our time.
This should be an interesting read. I have and have read the Hans Wellisch book, Indexing From A To Z, and although it's older, it's still a very useful reference as I noted in my review. Just looking at the list in the amazon.com blurb makes me want to go out and order this right away.

I should note one bit of confusion. The publisher's website says that the release date for this is in June. According to Amazon.com, the book is already available for order, and has been since the end of March. I also note that some indexers have commented about having already received their copies, so it might be shipping out already.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Almost Two Months Of Spinning


I think I've set a new personal record with my spinning between March 8th and April 30th.
The dates were those for the most recent spin-along hosted on Ravelry by Mirkwood Spindles (my current favorite support spindles).

One of the neatest things about this spin-along for me: Two of the three spindles I was using were Middle-Earth themed, and most of the fiber was as well. The grey was from the previous spin-along and themed for Ungoliant, while the darker fiber is called I Am Death and was inspired by Smaug from The Hobbit.

Anyway, I ended up totalling 747 yards of chain-plied yarn that ranges between lace and sock weight.

My wrists are just happy that there's just over a week before the next spin-along starts! They need a break!

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