Episode 54
September 4, 2023

The Pleasures of the Robot Dancehall

Hosted by Jared Pechaček, Ned Raggett, and Oriana Schwindt

Jared, Oriana and Ned discuss Jared’s choice of topic: The Lost Road. In 1937, Tolkien agreed to C.S. Lewis’s suggestion to try to write the kind of stories they enjoyed but didn’t see good examples of to their liking. Lewis’s efforts turned into what has been termed the Space Trilogy, starting with Out Of The Silent Planet. Tolkien’s goal was a time travel story called The Lost Road, but outside of a few chapters and some potential outlines, it never got any further, with the success of The Hobbit and his resulting focus of attention being The Lord Of The Rings stopping any further development. It was eventually published in the Christopher Tolkien-edited series The History of Middle-earth, and was revealed to be a fascinating if very incomplete early conception of what Númenor was, including some of its key protagonists and antagonists at the time of its fall. How much does the story’s self-evident autobiographical angle play into how we should regard the surviving chapters, and what do his choices about how to refocus or rewrite the story of his own life suggest in turn? What import do the specifically metaphysical elements of the story have for both Tolkien and his own conception of not only the legendarium but how he regarded language? Building off our previous discussion of the specifically Númenorean chapter in our episode on The Fall of Númenor, what is it about that sequence that is so unusual for Tolkien’s general writing on Middle-earth, and how does it fit within the larger context of this story as it is told, or as much of it as we have? And finally, have you all pre-ordered Jared’s book yet? Really, you should.

[Episode artwork]
0:00 / 55:48

Show Notes.

Jared’s doodle. I mean the whole skull thing is just plain rude.

Jared’s novel The West Passage is up for preorders! And you can see the cover art there as well, done by Kuri Huang – check out her work!

Elliott Bay Book Company is indeed a great Seattle bookstore, check it out if you’re ever there.

Deadline’s report about the rescheduled release of The War Of The Rohirrim, along with TheOneRing.net’s further report also noting the potential production crunch that had been previously looming. (As a compare and contrast, here’s Vulture’s piece on the production nightmare of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse and Screenrant’s summary of a paywalled Insider article on the much more humane Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem production.)

A summary of Embracer’s money sillies. Well well well.

The musical revival does seem to have landed rather well! Here’s a fun little promo video, an engaging video review from an attendee, and TheOneRing.net’s own report. (And of course, once more, here’s our own episode on the original production.)

The Lost Road! It’s a curio, that’s for sure, but an interesting one even in all its flaws and lacunae.

C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. It’s interesting…if a little uneven, let’s say.

As noted at various points, the Númenor chapter was already discussed on its own a bit in our episode on The Fall of Númenor.

Want to know something about the Lombardic language? Well there’s always Wikipedia

As for Middle-earth metaphysics, our episodes on The Nature of Middle-earth and the Valar are there for you!

The Worm Ouroboros with the framing device with Lessingham. A common trope!

Sycld Shefing! He got around.

Corn? Maize? Here’s a little more about it.

So the actual Alboin was…not pleasant. And you better believe the skull thing was known by later artists.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt, if you’d like to know more. (And then there’s Harry Turtledove and then etc.)

Our “A Secret Vice” episode, considering Tolkien’s compulsion to create languages.

Support By-The-Bywater and our network, Megaphonic. Thank you if you do.