Abstracts and Speaker Bios available here.
Event registration here.
Workshops information here.
To celebrate this year’s Tolkien Reading Day theme of ‘Hope and Courage’, the Tolkien Society and the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow are excited to release the first of three extracts from Tolkien’s writings. This extract comes from The Hobbit and follows Bilbo Baggins as he musters his courage to enter Smaug’s lair alone. Accompanying the extract are a collection of readings in a diverse range of languages that have been lovingly created by members of the Society and Centre.
We are grateful to the Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins for permission to share this extract and videos. The videos will remain live until just after the end of Tolkien Reading Day (25th March 2021). We are also immensely grateful to our amazing volunteers: Tolkien Society members, as well as students and staff from the Centre, who took the time to record our chosen extracts in French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese! Keep an eye on this blog for extracts from The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings tomorrow (Tuesday 23rd) and the day after (Wednesday 24th).
On Tolkien Reading Day itself (25th March), don’t forget to join us and our special guests for one of our three live webinars, to share your own reading from Tolkien and discuss how his work inspires hope and courage! Here are the links to book:
Meanwhile, the Society and the Centre will be posting about this extract on their social media profiles and you can join in by visiting the Society’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or the Centre’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share your reactions to the extracts using the hashtag #TolkienReadingDay2021.
Download and read the extract from The Hobbit here:
Hobbit Extract (Word document)
Hobbit Extract (PDF document)
[These extracts are no longer available to download because the permission from the Tolkien Estate has now expired]
Below are the readings that you can watch and listen to at your own pleasure.
[These video recordings are no longer available to watch because the permission from the Tolkien Estate has now expired]
We have enjoyed working with the Tolkien Society to co-host this year’s Tolkien Reading Day on 25th March 2021. Many thanks to everyone who has been engaging with our joint interactive social media campaign, and have been responding to the weekly prompts. If you want to catch up with all the action so far, search for hashtag #TolkienReadingDay2021.
As the actual day itself draws near, we’re proud to announce guest speakers for each of our live events on the 25th of March:
Scholar in Residence
Dr Dimitra Fimi, co-director of the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, author of Tolkien, Race, and Cultural History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), co-editor of A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages, and twice winner of Tolkien Society awards for her work on Tolkien, will participate in all three events as Scholar in Residence. She is looking forward to interacting with everyone and celebrating Tolkien’s work!
Morning Meeting (book your place here)
We will be joined by Dr Anna Vaninskaya (University of Edinburgh), author of Fantasies of Time and Death: Dunsany, Eddison, Tolkien (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020); and Marcel Aubron-Bülles, independent scholar and author of The Tolkienist blog.
Afternoon Meeting (book your place here)
We look forward to welcoming Dr Kristine Larsen (Central Connecticut University), who has written extensively about astronomy and science in Tolkien’s works; and James Tauber, who runs the Digital Tolkien Project.
Evening Meeting (book your place here)
In our last meeting of the day we will host Dr Andrew Higgins, co-editor of the extended edition of Tolkien’s A Secret Vice, and an expert on Tolkien’s invented languages; and Dr Una McCormack, New York Times bestselling author, broadcaster, academic.
Join us on the 25th of March and share your own favourite parts of Tolkien’s rich and multi-layered work and world! Here are the links to book again:
Also, keep an eye on our blog – next week we will be releasing videos of Tolkien fans and scholars reading selected extracts that showcase hope and courage in Tolkien’s works in many different languages!
It was great to see so many people from all over the world join us for a talk and discussion on Fantasy and D&D, co-organized by our Centre and the Games and Gaming Lab. Our main speaker, John D. Rateliff, has very kindly offered us his talk for publication on our blog, which you can read here.
Like many of you, I have travelled to the lands of Middle-earth, Azeroth or the Forgotten Realms. These worlds have allowed us to escape, create agency within our own world, or in the case of Dungeons and Dragons, become a part of a world created by collaborative storytelling. In a time dominated by isolation and computer screens, Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, has become a social outlet for many, lessening the feelings of separation and isolation with role-playing adventure parties. Sometimes you just need to escape reality, even for an hour, so you can live your dream of being a bard who makes beautiful music with a priceless lute.
During lockdown, the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, co-presented with the Games and Gaming Labs, held the event “D&D and Fantasy Fiction: Giants in the Oerth” to discuss the literary inspirations and history behind D&D. Discussions began with Grace A.T. Worm, a 2nd-year PhD student, engaging the audience as the ‘Dungeon Master’ for the evening to discuss how D&D gave role-playing games their continued success in popular culture. D&D is unique in its ability to create diverse worlds that players can create through what Worm described as “collective storytelling.” This collaboration is key in navigating the game as it concerns both the absorption of D&D’s vast world-building while also creating a place for players to develop teamwork through adventuring parties. D&D’s popularity in the past decade has also been affected by Critical Role and The Adventure Zone through their visual storytelling. Worm utilised this interactive aspect of the game in her discussion, giving the audience a chance to create their own characters via simplified character sheets provided in her presentation. This small ‘one-shot’ gave the audience a glimpse into the experience of playing D&D, and how it can spark one’s imagination by simply picking a character.
After this, Tolkien scholar, John D. Rateliff, began his talk about the movement of fantasy fiction to D&D into game-inspired fiction. Rateliff contends that fantasy has always been a part of D&D as seen in the original Dungeon Master’s guide in 1979, as its core structure is heavily affected by the works of authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard. A memorable moment from Rateliff’s paper was his statement that D&D is heavily influenced by fantasy literature because of how permeable the borders are between the two. For Rateliff, it is these permeable borders that develop the imagination of world-building of future games and players. The last part of Rateliff’s paper leaves viewers with early images of a signpost that features Gygax’s world, Greyhawk, and Middle-earth on the same post, proving that Gygax himself created D&D with fantasy worlds like Tolkien’s in mind.
The session then moved into the Q&A, moderated by 1st year PhD student, Emma French. Topics began with Rateliff’s first involvement in D&D, to the role of violence as a driving force in D&D. As D&D was originally a war game, Rateliff notes that the game has slowly moved away from this mentality. The questions then moved onto a more heated topic in the recent months: the changing attitudes of race and diversity within D&D. This movement, according to Rateliff, will have a tremendous impact on the future of both D&D and Fantasy literature. Another notable question for Rateliff was why fantasy has been the dominant force in RPGs. For Rateliff, this has to do with fantasy being united under Tolkien as he was such a dominating force on 20th-century Fantasy: “Tolkien is such a big light in the room that it dims other lights.” This continued with other topics such as Dunsany’s influence on Fantasy, editorial work for RPG publications, and if fantasy functions differently in a game setting. The entire Q&A session with Rateliff was diverse and displayed the audience’s wide interests in learning more about the connection between Fantasy literature and D&D.
Overall, this event provided solace and fellowship both on and off-screen. I want to end this post with a final quote from John. D. Rateliff as I feel it expresses the overall tone of the talk: “D&D starts local and small and then the world gets bigger each time you explore it.” The exploration of worlds should not only be read through characters like Bilbo Baggins and his adventure into Middle-earth, it should also be shared in games like D&D through storytelling, especially during a time that seems more detached than ever.
If you missed this event, our YouTube recording is available here:
By John D. Rateliff
Dungeons & Dragons was heavily influenced by fantasy literature, as is testified by the famous ‘Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading’ found in the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide (1979).1 What is perhaps more interesting is that D&D quickly generated fantasy fiction in turn. This reciprocity dates back to the very early days of the game. In this talk I’d like to briefly trace the movement from fantasy fiction to D&D to game-inspired fiction.
That fantasy fiction played a role in the creation of D&D I take to be self-evident. Particularly crucial elements were taken from or inspired by the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, and Poul Anderson. From Tolkien came the demihuman player character races: elves, dwarves, and hobbits, later supplemented by the half-elf and half-orc (both extrapolated from Tolkien); the non-Tolkienian gnome was added later and perhaps for that reason has always seemed an odd man out.
The very idea of a player character party is Tolkien’s innovation. In stark contrast with the solitary hero or hero-with-a-sidekick (or damsel in distress with benefits) of Howard and his followers, Tolkien provides the paradigm for characters of different races and differing abilities (or classes) who join together to form an adventuring party. In the game this takes the form of having their success depend on the degree to which the player characters can bring into play the varied abilities of the different members of the party. That no one character has all the abilities needed to survive and succeed is thus an essential part of the design.
Gary Gygax, co-creator of D&D and dominant force behind its development, later denied that Tolkien had played any significant role in the creation of Dungeons & Dragons 2. Personally I ascribe this distancing less to historical fact and more to cease-and-desist orders he had gotten from Saul Zaentz’s Tolkien Enterprises shortly after D&D debuted. At any rate, a Tolkien-minimalist position is hard to maintain when even a quick skim of the earliest edition’s rulebooks reveals hobbits, dwarves, elves, ents, orcs, wights, giant eagles, Nazgul, and balrogs. Indeed, early printings of the rulebooks explicitly attribute some of these creatures to Tolkien (consistently mis-spelled ‘Tolkein’), such as the orc (Bk II.7), wight (II.9), giant eagle (II.17), and Nazgul or spectre (ibid).
If Tolkien contributed the player character races and player character party, then Howard’s Conan stories and Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser series provided a blueprint of what player characters actually do in the game: exploring, fighting, encountering traps, discovering riches, interacting with non-player characters, running for their lives, and the like. From Vance (and also perhaps John Bellairs) comes D&D’s highly characteristic ‘fire and forget’ magic system, a highly distinctive approach to spellcasting that requires planning ahead (and is thus disparaged by those who demand all options be open to them at all times). And then there’s the alignment system, another distinctive feature of D&D that derives from either Poul Anderson or Michael Moorcock or, more likely, both. 3
If this inherent evidence were not enough, we have Gygax, at the time of the game’s debut, deliberately stressing the game’s roots in, and deep affinities with, fantasy fiction:
These rules are strictly fantasy. Those wargamers who lack imagination, those who don’t care for Burroughs’ Martian adventures where John Carter is groping through black pits, who feel no thrill upon reading Howard’s Conan saga, who do not enjoy the de Camp & Pratt fantasies or Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser pitting their swords against evil sorceries [—those gamers] will not be likely to find DUNGEONS and DRAGONS to their taste. But those whose imaginations know no bounds will find that these rules are the answer to their prayers. [We] invite you to read on and enjoy a “world” where the fantastic is fact and magic really works!—E. Gary Gygax, November 1973
Foreword to D&D 1st edition (Bk I, page )
Despite Gygax’s reverse phrasing in this passage it is clear that here he is saying that if you love to read Burroughs and Howard and Leiber at al., then this is the game for you.
This fantasy-to-game indebtedness was emphasized by TSR reaching out in its early days to contemporary fantasy writers whose work Gygax admired. The Dragon, TSR’s house organ launched in June 1976, in its early issues published stories by Harry Fischer (Fritz Leiber’s silent partner in the creation of Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser and, like Leiber, a correspondent of H. P. Lovecraft’s) 4. Fischer was also Guest of Honor at GenCon X in 1977. Leiber himself had been a Guest in 1976 at GenCon IX and, in what must have been a bit of a coup for TSR, allowed what seems to have been the first publication of a new F&GM story, ‘Sea Magic’, in the December 1977 issue of The Dragon 5. Similarly L. Sprague de Camp authorized a reprint of one of the famed Harold Shea ‘Incomplete Enchanter’ stories he had cowritten twenty years earlier with the late Fletcher Pratt. The Dragon even ran serials by hack pulp writer Gardner Fox (‘Naill of the Far Journeys’) 6 and by Gygax himself, who under the fairly transparent pseudonym ‘Garrison Ernst’ essentially self-published a serial called The Gnome Cache (1976–1977). Debuting in the very first issue of The Dragon, Gygax’s picaresque tale ran in installments for six of the next seven issues 7 until it quietly disappeared in mid-story after the June 1977 issue. Despite its lack of any literary merit it is historically significant in that had it been finished this would have been the first D&D novel. And before moving on I feel that I should note that this tale’s final sentence is surely a contender for the oddest of Gygax’s many odd constructions:
‘Great Gods!’ expostulated the startled errant. ‘It is a dwarf being pursued by a pack of giant toads and weirdly hopping men!’ 8
Things came full circle —fiction inspiring gaming which in turn inspired gaming fiction— with the 1978 publication of a fantasy novel inspired by D&D but written by a highly regarded professional writer: Andre Norton’s Quag Keep. This was published by Donald Wollheim’s DAW Books with a cover illustration by Jack Gaughan—best remembered for having provided the covers for the unauthorized Ace paperbacks of The Lord of the Rings. Despite Norton’s somewhat shaky grasp on D&D’s rules and tropes,9 her book takes pains to emphasize its affinities with gaming, as is testified by the Acknowledgement:
The author [e.g. Norton] wishes to express appreciation for the invaluable aid of E. Gary Gygax of TSR, expert player and creator of the war game DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, on which the background of QUAG KEEP is based . . .
Examination of the book confirms Gygax’s influence, which mainly falls in the realm of world-building. Thus the first chapter is titled ‘Greyhawk’ and set in Gygax’s great city (and hence game world) of the same name. The plot includes D&D game elements such as polyhedral dice and the D&D alignment system depicting a vast struggle between Order and Chaos, as well as some recognizably specific geographical names, such as Blackmoor, Urnst, Geoff (here spelled ‘Geofp’) Yeocumby (probably an earlier version of The Yeomanry), Keoland (‘Koeland’; probably just a typo), the Sea of Dust, and the Temple of the Frog. All of these had appeared in the first two follow-up releases to the original D&D rulebooks, Greyhawk and Blackmoor (February and September 1975 respectively), describing Gygax’s and Arneson’s fantasy worlds.
Quag Keep seems not to have made much of a splash at the time. So far as I can tell it was treated as just another fantasy novel. But Gygax did not give up. By 1982 TSR had a book department, working on Endless Quest pick-a-path books. Not until 1984 did they release their first novel: Dragons of the Autumn Twilight, conceived as a joint effort between TSR’s book department (represented by Margaret Weis) and game department (in the person of Tracy Hickman). So successful was this that some two hundred DRAGONLANCE books followed, with a new trilogy in the series by the original authors currently in the works. Even more successful—by my rough count running to over three hundred novels and short story collections —has been TSR’s FORGOTTEN REALMS line, especially the Dritzt series by R. A. Salvatore. So successful was the TSR book line that by the mid 1990s virtually every TSR game world was accompanied by associated shared world novels, which typically far outsold their associated game line: DARK SUN, RAVENLOFT, GREYHAWK (two separate series), SPELLJAMMER, MYSTARA, the later EBERRON novels, and even Buck Rogers books.
I said at the beginning of this talk that D&D ‘was heavily influenced by fantasy literature.’ And it’s clear from texts like Gygax’s Foreword to the game’s earliest edition that this is not happenstance but by design. D&D is an Open System: it does not just invite borrowing from fantasy fiction and film but depends upon it. To put it another way: D&D is a way to quantify the imagination.
Nowhere is this clearer than in the long-running column that appeared in Dragon Magazine,
starting around issue #26 (June 1979) and winding down around issue #61 (May 1982).
‘Giants in the Earth’ was originally written primarily by the late great Tom Moldvay with Lawrence Schick and later revived by Roger E. Moore. A typical installment featured two or three characters from famous works of fantasy or legend: Vance’s Cugel the Clever (#26), Burroughs’ John Carter (#27), Homer’s Circe (#52), the four lords of Demonland in Eddison’s Worm Ouroboros (#54), and many others, including (controversially) Tarl Cabot from John Norman’s Gor series (#61).10
In each case the character had been translated into D&D terms, fully stat’d out like a pre-gen character, ready to drop into your ongoing campaign as an ally, rival, foe, love interest, or PC. Jon Peterson has written (in his new book, The Elusive Shift) of how from its earliest days D&D has appealed to two disparate groups, wargamers and sci-fi fandom, both of which predate the creation of D&D and each of which had their own apas, fanzines, conventions, awards, &c.
And part of that appeal is due to the ease with which works of fantasy like those listed in Appendix N could serve as templates for adventures, suggesting interesting monsters, quirky characters, intriguing plots, unusual magic, elements of worldbuilding, challenging traps and puzzles, extraordinary treasures, and more. Thus in a given campaign the adventure’s ultimate foe might derive from the villain in a novel the DM just read, while one PC may be inspired by a movie that player likes (I have a hunch there was a significant up-tick in the number of people playing elves about the time Peter Jackson’s Legolas debuted). One player might prefer the comfort of a traditional template, like a halfling thief. Yet another PC may be rules-driven and derive from a player’s urge to play an unusual race/class/alignment combination; the setting might be a generic Tolkienesque fantasy world with pockets of the weirdly exotic. 11
So permeable a system, capable of absorbing material from such disparate sources, results in an eclectic game world. It wd be wrong to say ‘plagiarism is our friend’, but that phrase does capture something of the process of creative borrowing that, if done well, serve as departure points for future games and systems.
Finally, I’d like to share an image from the past that I think offers a glimpse into the mindset of those in charge of D&D in its distant early days This picture comes in the last issue of The Strategic Review, TSR’s first house organ—the magazine which preceded, and morphed into, The Dragon. In the middle spread of this last issue (SR VII, [page 13], from April 1976, only a little over two years after D&D had first debuted) are displayed photographs of The Dungeon (later known as The Mail Order Hobby Shop). In the center top we see Gygax working at his desk. Below him his partner Brian Blume works on a hex-grid map. I’d like to draw your attention to the little piece of art directly to the right of Blume: a signpost pointing the way to various fantasy locations.
Greyhawk, Gygax’s game world, and Blackmoor, Dave Arneson’s game world, are at the top and bottom, respectively. In the middle tier lies the sign for Tekumel, the weird world of M. A. R. Barker published by TSR as EMPIRE OF THE PETAL THRONE. But what’s really interesting are the two remaining worlds: Lankhmar (second from top), the setting for Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser stories, and Middle Earth (second from bottom), which is of course Tolkien’s world.
This little sketch thus suggests that Gygax & company drew no distinction between the literary worlds created by the likes of Tolkien and Leiber, and TSR’s fantasy game worlds, created as a place for D&D adventures to take place in. These in turn would serve as sources and inspiration for the fiction TSR authors would create in the years to come.
—John D. Rateliff, January 2021
Many thanks to everyone who attended our event to celebrate the centenary of David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus on 19th November. We are pleased to share the opening remarks by our panelists Douglas A. Anderson and Nina Allan, who have both kindly made them available in their respective blogs:
Douglas A. Anderson – Arcturus centenary opening remarks
Nina Allan – Arcturus centenary opening remarks
We are also delighted to share a report on our event by English and Scottish Literature Honours student (and President of the University’s Scottish Literature Society) Domenico Di Rosa (who tweets at https://twitter.com/_domenico98).
A Voyage to Arcturus: David Lindsay’s legacy across a century
By Domenico Di Rosa
On the occasion of the 100th year since the first publication of Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus, the Centre For Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow held a commemoration and discussion of this science fiction novel in partnership with the Being Human festival, the UK’s only national celebration of the humanities (beinghumanfestival.org). Delving into several philosophical and spiritual interrogations, the novel follows Maskull’s interstellar journey from an observatory situated in Scotland to an unknown world across space, where the protagonist creates an extensively comprehensive imaginary planet.
The event’s host, Dr Dimitra Fimi, started the discussion with an introductory presentation of the novel’s several editions, remarking how, although the book’s initial publication in 1920 was unsuccessful in capturing the readers’ attention, Lindsay still managed to emerge as a tremendous influence to renowned authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and Philip Pullman.
American scholar Douglas A. Anderson, who has worked first-hand with Lindsay’s materials, offered a brief account of the writer’s life as well as some aspects about the origins and inspirations behind A Voyage to Arcturus. It was particularly the imaginative powers of Lindsay’s worldbuilding that influenced C. S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy, as well as the novel’s treatment of philosophy and religion which pushed Tolkien to read it ‘with avidity’. Ultimately, Anderson pins down the novel’s leitmotiv, namely that ‘Our visible primary world is a sham, and the real spiritual world, occasionally visible or recognised, lies underneath the sham’. It is arguably the universality of such search for answers to convoluted existential questions around spirituality which allowed Lindsay’s novel to gradually become more recognised towards the late twentieth-century. Moreover, in conjunction with the flourishing of science-fiction literature, A Voyage to Arcturus also starts to be acknowledged as a classic of Scottish fantasy and, in many ways, as a precursor of many science-fiction trends.
The second panellist, Robert Davis, Professor of Religious and Cultural Education at Glasgow University, focused his discussion around the spiritual and philosophical dimensions of the novel. In particular, Gnosticism seems to have had a relevant influence on Lindsay’s writing, even though the only references to it until 1945 were found in some citations of works written by the early Church. A Voyage to Arcturus might be considered as a ‘gnostic romance’ as Davis depicts gnostic theology as ‘confused, fragmentary, sometimes impenetrable’. Overall a revision of Judeo-Christian religious orthodoxy, Gnosticism depicts the God of the Old Testament as a demonic impostor whose disastrous work of creation is deliberately malevolent. The book is imprinted with these notions that were, similarly, perennial themes in the work of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, whom Lindsay knew well. Evident is, for Davis, the link with Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, a ‘deeply antichristian work’ that follows the lines of Milton, Shelley and Blake in its gnostic rebellion against authority.
The final panellist, award-winning British author Nina Allan, centred her discussion around Lindsay’s novel in contemporary science fiction. She notes some of the aspects that link Arcturus to her novel The Rift (2017), particularly the ‘poetic synchronicity’ between the two stories and the ambiguity or lack of closure around the narrated events which makes it a frustrating yet rewarding experience for the reader. She also mentions those elements that relate Lindsay’s work to current waves of SF writing as well as those aspects which make it distant from it. On the one hand, A Voyage to Arcturus may be one of the first science-fiction voyages in interspace, highly imaginative in its description of alien landscapes that seem almost ‘incandescent’, which could have been shockingly outlandish for the readers of the time. On the other hand, the novel takes inspiration from older influences such as Stevenson and Verne, and takes its philosophical underpinnings from universal questions such as ‘What makes human existence meaningful?’ and ‘How do we bear the existential nihilism of our world where death and suffering are all around?’. Ultimately, Allan suggests the novel is about a transcendent experience that invites us to connect with the universe, thereby setting our spirit free and exhibiting the best side of ourselves.
Overall, the event reached its purpose in remembering the legacy of A Voyage to Arcturus and in determining David Lindsay as one of the forefathers of Scottish fantasy. Tracing a quest for knowledge and higher learning while providing an unparalleled vision of imaginary worlds, Lindsay’s novel certainly proves to be worthy of further investigation.
If you missed this event, our YouTube recording is available here:
We are really excited for our event to celebrate the centenary of David Lindsay’s A Voyage to Arcturus later on this week. In anticipation of a rich discussion on this extraordinary Scottish SFF novel, we have put together a gallery of illustrations by various artists! Enjoy!
First of all, here are the two images most readers will know: the iconic cover of the Ballantine edition of A Voyage to Arcturus (third printing, 1973) and Dorothea Breby’s bespoke illustration for Radio Times, published on 22 June 1956, two days before the radio serialization of the novel begun.
By kind permission, we are delighted to share this spectacular illustration of Maskull and Oceaxe riding the shrowk, a favourite scene for illustrators (the Ballantine 1973 cover depicts the same scene), by Joel Fletcher:
Fletcher has really captured very well Lindsay’s vivid description of colour. The shrowks are described in this way:
They were not birds, but creatures with long, snakelike bodies, and ten reptilian legs apiece, terminating in fins which acted as wings. The bodies were of bright blue, the legs and fins were yellow. They were flying, without haste, but in a somewhat ominous fashion, straight toward them. [Maskull] could make out a long, thin spike projecting from each of the heads.(David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus, Chapter 9: Oceaxe)
Artist Nicolas Geffroy has completed a number of illustrations for A Voyage to Arcturus (you can find the entire series here) and we are delighted to share two of them:
Starkness Observatory, somewhere “on the north-east coast of Scotland” (Chapter 2: In the Street), from where Maskull, Nightspore, and Krag set off for Arcturus:
And Leehallfae and Maskull in Threal:
Last but certainly not least, this illustration pictures the startled Maskull as he awakes on Tormance and finds out that he has grown “fleshy protuberances” on his forehead and neck, and, perhaps more memorably, a “breve”, a tentacle which has budded “from the region of his heart” which is described “as long as his arm, but thin, like whipcord, and soft and flexible” . Later on Joiwind tells him that “by means of it we read one another’s thoughts” (Chapter 6: Joiwind). This illustration is by Monica Burns, a comic artist from Scotland, and was first published in issue 3 of Scottish SF magazine Shoreline of Infinity:
Join us on 19th November to celebrate the 100th anniversary if this influential book! For details about our guests and to book a (free) ticket, see here: https://fantasy.glasgow.ac.uk/index.php/2020/10/15/celebrating-the-centenary-of-a-voyage-to-arcturus/
And here is our “trailer” for the event!
2020 marks 100 years since the publication of A Voyage to Arcturus, a science fiction (or perhaps science fantasy) novel by Scottish author David Lindsay. We will celebrate the centenary of this Scottish cult classic on 19 November, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm via Zoom webinar.
Join the conversation as Lindsay specialists and enthusiasts celebrate the novel and its major influence on key fantasy authors of our time, including C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Philip Pullman. A Voyage to Arcturus takes its protagonist from an observatory in Scotland to a new world across space, and explores philosophical and spiritual questions while creating a fully-fledged imaginary planet.
We will be joined by:
Douglas A. Anderson, a Lindsay and Tolkien scholar, who has worked extensively with Lindsay’s manuscripts and is currently preparing a new edition of A Voyage to Arcturus. He blogs at: http://tolkienandfantasy.blogspot.com/.
Nina Allan, award-winning speculative fiction author, whose recent novel The Rift won both the British Science Fiction Association Award and the Red Tentacle Award for Best Novel and references A Voyage to Arcturus.
Professor Robert Davis, Professor of Religious and Cultural Education, who has written extensively on speculative fiction and has corresponded with Philip Pullman on A Voyage to Arcturus.
The event is free but ticketed. Please book your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/celebrating-the-centenary-of-a-voyage-to-arcturus-tickets-117744000475
This event is presented by the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic via the College of Arts at the University of Glasgow as part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, taking place 12–22 November. For further information please see beinghumanfestival.org.
A talk by Dr Juliette Wood, Cardiff University
Join us on 28th October 2020 at 5pm via Zoom webinar for a thoroughly spooky lecture on the folklore and traditions of Halloween and associated festivals, such as Día de los Muertos, with world-renowned folklorist, author, and broadcaster Dr Juliette Wood, followed by Q&A.
To participate in the Zoom webinar, book your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/halloween-folklore-traditions-and-global-reach-tickets-123318672469
We are also planning to stream this event via our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv3mkKQUDyZ_OcP-uLqJTMA/
It’s already been almost two weeks since the launch event for the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic, and we’re still receiving so many messages welcoming this new development at the University of Glasgow, and reactions in mainstream and social media. We are listing links to press reports on the Centre further below, but we’d like to share with all of our members and followers a wonderful report from the launch event by our PhD student Grace Worm. Grace is working on the YA fantasy novels of Tamora Pierce, and is in the second year of the PhD. She tweets at https://twitter.com/dressandsword.
Fantasy and the Fantastic
By Grace Worm
On good days as a research student, it feels exciting to know that you’re contributing to something new within your field. But then days go by in front of a computer, working on the same introduction sentence for four hours, and no matter how helpful your supervisors are, it can feel like you’re all alone in a race to an impossible feat of writing.
This last year was my first as a research student. I came in so excited – seeking opportunities all over campus to discuss and evolve my research and status as an emerging scholar. Then of course COVID and lockdown happened, which left me feeling alone and questioning why my research on gender and social equality in fantasy worlds was important in a global climate of panic, fear, and a growing distrust in science and research—how could my seemingly esoteric research be meaningful now?
This last week, I attended the UofG’s launch for the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic and for the first time in months, I felt that I and my research were important. At the event, I got to listen to authors Dr Brian Attebery, Terri Windling, Ellen Kushner, and our own professors Dr Dimitra Fimi, Dr Matthew Sangster, Dr Rhys Williams, Dr Robert Maslen, Dr Laura Martin, Dr Maureen Farrell, and Dr Matthew Barr discussing fantasy and our university on the forefront of something that has never been done before.
In my research field and the general public, these people are legends, celebrities, people who built the building blocks of the research we’re all following now and they were talking about my university, my research, and a new age for Fantasy studies at the University of Glasgow.
In online fan communities unrelated to the university, I saw people posting about the event beforehand with captions like “Don’t you wish you were in Glasgow now?” or “A real-life place for magic” and I felt a bubbling sense of excitement and pride that we were changing the future of my field forever.
The event was for the University of Glasgow to become the first dedicated centre for fantasy studies throughout the world but it was also a declaration that we will not stop or slow down, no matter how separated we may be.
In the event chat, academics and fans alike posted where they were attending from – all over the UK and US, Europe, Asia, South America, Australia etc. If this had happened in a world without COVID, how many people could have travelled to attend the event? Would it have been recorded or published? Now it was an event for anyone who was dedicated to the fantastic.
Before lockdown, I would have been happy my university was leading the world, but now, as I watched these people discuss the future of fantasy through a Zoom call, it filled me with hope and a sense of comradery, as we, the unshown audience, shared our outfits on twitter, told others where we joined from, and asked questions from distinguished speakers.
We were together, despite everything, and in these uncertain times. We were full of life, ideas, and hope for a future we were making happen. We were celebrating Glasgow becoming the leader in fantasy studies, but now we were also leaders in how to navigate meaningful.
Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic – Video and Media reactions
Our launch event was recorded and is available to watch via our YouTube channel:
Press stories about the Centre launch: