Hugo Hiatus

Two people I know in real life are traveling down under this spring, to New Zealand, not to attend WorldCon, home of the Hugo Awards ceremony, but just for vacations. Although, I wonder if their plans have changed since I last spoke or saw them over two months ago now. Much ado about something is occurring everywhere now, but don’t even compare it to 1918. Regardless, a trip to New Zealand would check off two items on my bucket list: 1) to see the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky (stars and constellations I cannot see from 39 degrees north latitude) and 2) to visit the closest thing to Middle-earth on this Earth.

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At the Cross-Roads

Cover of The Lord of the Rings A Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull

My monthly Tolkien reading yesterday from A Reader’s Companion by Hammond and Scull took me on a journey into the ancient past, both in Tolkien’s Legendarium and in our own world. The rise and fall of empires; the hubris of man and his futile pursuit of immortality; the triumph of time over all things . . . all of this from a few lines of a two hundred year old poem about a three thousand years dead king.

It all started with a note (p. 485) referencing this passage in Chapter 7 Journey to the Cross-Roads in Book Four of The Lord of the Rings:

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Mars Slides Behind Moon This Month

In mid-February, a waning crescent Moon glides among Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the predawn sky. For many viewers in North America, the Moon actually covers Mars on February 18th.
Sky & Telescope

It’s fitting that with my intense focus on Malacandra throughout January that upon finishing the Mythgard Academy class this week I have a major astronomical event featuring Mars to look forward to in less than two weeks.

I can take good advantage of this occultation since I live in the middle of the country just shy of 40 degrees north latitude. If I were visiting my daughter in the Pacific Northwest, I’d have a bit more dark time but might not see it as well being at a more northern latitude at 47 degrees.

Image via IOTA. See the loop at the upper right above North America? As the moon rises in the predawn hours on February 18, 2020, in this part of the world, Mars will covered over by the moon. But, later on before dawn, you can watch Mars reappear from behind the moon’s dark side. Read more.

Actually, not just Mars will be in the spotlight in mid-February. Three planets are center stage in the predawn skies starting February 18th (see first graphic above). Listen to Sky Tour courtesy Sky & Telescope for some viewing tips and other astronomical tidbits for February observing.

Sky Tour Podcast for February 2020

My only concern will be the weather, which in February in Kansas, is dodgy at best.

Keeping my fingers crossed and as always keep looking up!

And Hnau For Something Completely Different . . .

I only had three chapters to read last week in Out of the Silent Planet. I should have listened closer or reread it in the print edition because the discussion covered things that hadn’t occurred to me. But that’s the fun of taking a class like this. Digging deeper and looking at the story from different perspectives.


Waiting for Corey to Join the Webinar

Joined webinar at 8:53 PM 

Waiting . . . 8:57 PM 

Still waiting . . . 9:05 PM 

Webinar started at 9:06 PM 

Now waiting on Corey . . . 9:08 PM 

Still no Corey . . . 9:10 PM 

Now starting 9:11 PM 

33 people attending 


YouTube: Out of the Silent Planet: Session 4- All the Hnau Now Crowd Around 


Week 4 

Read: Chapter 16-18 

Date: January 29, 2020 

Welcome back to Mythgard Academy Session 4 of Out of the Silent Planet 

Announcements about regional Moots and MythMoot (four day annual event).  This week we announced Verlyn Flieger will be joining MythMoot.  New Book Arthurian Voices (book release party) and wrote a play called “The Bargain” inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century poem).  Corey might be the Green Knight.   

New registration page (pretty bare bones right now).  A custom system written for Signum University. Shifting away from an expensive third-party software.  Don’t be alarmed.   


Corey recaps and sums up from last week.  Let’s see what happens when Ransom starts to encounter the other species.

    Continue reading “And Hnau For Something Completely Different . . .”

Reading Recap ~ January 2020

I’m a bit stunned to find myself already facing February. Where did my January disappear to? So many reading ambitions and so few goals achieved. I find myself five books behind my pace to reach my annual goal of ninety-six books (eight books per months). Basically, I finished three books last month. Not that I wasn’t constantly reading something (I’ll discuss my overflowing currently reading dilemma in a bit).

Here’s the three I actually started and finished during January:

Hard Times by Dickens

The first book I started and finished during the first week of the new year was Dickens’ Hard Times. This was the winter reading classic selection for my local library adult book club. We meet on the second Thursday and have lively discussions, including about this shortest and last published work of Charles Dickens.

I listened to the audiobook read by Simon Prebble and managed to complete it with just thirty minutes to spare before arriving at the library for the discussion. We were split as a group whether we liked this book. It is not your typical Dickens and had some portions that were a bit of a slog to muddle through. In hindsight, we all agreed we should have read Little Women in light of the release of yet another movie adaptation over the holiday break. We decided that next winter we will allow ourselves the luxury of reading a classic that might be adapted and released during Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays.

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Hman HRansom Among Hnau Hrossa

Lewis Pokes Fun at Oxford Philologists

I’ve reached the point of hknow return in this third week of a five week course on Out of the Silent Planet led by Corey Olsen through the Mythgard Academy arm of Signum University. Please parden my use of a hnot-so-silent “H” throughout this post in honor of Lewis foray into the philological hrealm usually hrelegated to his fellow Inkling Tolkien. For my hnotes from week one and week two, please click on the appropriate week to return to those posts.

I’m listening via Hoopla Digital

I had hoped to publish this Thursday night, but the video for this week’s class has not yet been uploaded to Signum University’s Youtube channel. So I will hold off on publication until Friday evening or Saturday morning.

A tweet from @Mythgardian earlier this morning woke me up (at 3:58 am Central) but I was happy to see the video for session three had finally been posted. Now I can finally publish this post!


Joined webinar at 8:38 pm
Waiting . . . still at 9:04 pm
Starting at 9:12 pm
Waiting for Corey now still at 9:15 pm 

Starting now at 9:18 pm 


Week 3 

Read: Chapter 11-15 

 Date: January 22, 2020 

This is one of his two favorite bits of this book – Meeting the Hrossa.  We are going to try to go from his first meeting of this whole interlude all the way to the parting from the Hrossa.   

Week 3 ~ Hross and Hman

Announcements:  

Upcoming Moots:  

Three open for registration:  

  • TexMoot on 8th of February in Houston 
  • Early bird registration for MythMoot VII “Defying and Defining the Darkness”; CFP should be out soon.   
  • SoCalMoot hosted at Netflix HQ 

MootCast is being done again this year for MythMoot.  Live access to any session you want to be in; you get recordings for everything; a wonderful way to participate and watch even if you can’t make it.   

Continue reading “Hman HRansom Among Hnau Hrossa”

Reorienting Ransom

I meant to post my notes from last Wednesday’s second week of the Out of the Silent Planet class but work life got very hectic and then I spent most of my last three day weekend until Memorial Day playing Aardwolf. I will do better this week, I promise – notes posted by end of week at the latest.

And I discovered a feature of GoToWebinar too late, at the end of the second session, that allows me to save the current slide as an image. Going forward, I’ll capture each slide so my notes make more sense to myself and others. Of course, I always include a link to the video of the session that’s published within a day or two by Signum University (see link above or click here).


Week 2 

Read: Chapters 6-10 

 Date: January 15, 2020 

8:53 PM ~ Joined webinar, organizer has not arrived.   

9:02 AM – Webinar started, but we’re holding.   

9:07 PM – Broadcast started; 41 attendees, 1 presenter 

Announcements:   
Two moots in February 
Spring Semester started at Signum U.   
Continue reading “Reorienting Ransom”

Chief Critic, Collaborator and Cartographer ~ R.I.P. Christopher Tolkien

The Ides of January. The day Gandalf’s challenged “You cannot pass” to the Balrog in Moria. Christopher Tolkien, the youngest son of J.R.R. Tolkien, passed away yesterday at the age of ninety-five. The Tolkien Society posted the news on their website earlier today, which rapidly spread across social media and news sites.

“Someone else always has to carry on the story.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I heard the news via a chat message from my good friend and President of the Tolkien Society of Kansas City as I was returning to work from lunch. It was difficult to focus on projects and conference calls this afternoon, when all I could think about was the loss of such an amazing man who devoted his entire life to his father’s legacy. I am eternally grateful but also deeply saddened. My prayers and condolences are with his family.

“I wisely started with a map.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Growing up reading and re-reading The Lord of the Rings in the 1970s, I did not know, at the time, that the maps were drawn by Christopher. It’s his fault, then, that I despair of reading any other epic fantasy that doesn’t include a well drawn map to aid me in building the author’s subcreation virtually with my mind’s eye. Christopher’s drafting skills set a high bar and my first and favorite maps are his maps of Middle-earth and Beleriand (see photo below).

Christopher’s fold-out map from my First American Edition of The Silmarillion

For the last two to three years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of studying several of Christopher’s publications of texts from his father’s prolific treasure of unpublished draft manuscripts, sketches, and poems. I’ve done this in my local Smial but also online through the Mythgard Academy. I have barely scratched the surface of what Christopher was able to decipher of his father’s sometimes incredibly illegible scrawls and publish in a readable format for study and contemplation. The following quote is just one of the tantalizing treasures buried in Christopher’s published research in The History of Middle-earth:

“(2) Tom could have got rid of the Ring all along [?without further] . . . . . . . — if asked!

. . .

In (2), most frustratingly, I have not been able to form any guess even at the altogether illegible word.”

Christopher Tolkien, The War of the Ring, p. 98

Rest in peace, Christopher, and Godspeed your journey into the West.

“There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Ransom Kidnapped

My notes from first session of Mythgard Academy webinar discussion on Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.

I spent a couple of hours past my usual bedtime last Wednesday evening with Corey Olsen and three dozen new friends discussing the first five chapters of Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I’m proud of myself for making it to the end of the discussion, which ended at 11:15 p.m. I’ve probably read the first book of the Space Trilogy a half dozen times since I first discovered it in the 70s as a pre-teen. I’ve never had an opportunity to do a serious in-depth reading and discussion so I am very excited about the opportunity presented by Mythgard Academy and a generous donation of a patron thereof.

While I participated live in the GoToWebinar session, where I could interact with Corey Olsen via chat, you can watch to the session via the Signum University Youtube channel (link to the playlist) or listen via podcast. Old habits die hard; even knowing the session was being recorded, I took transcript-like notes (because I can still type over a hundred words per minute and can easily keep up with a single person lecturing).

What follows are my notes from Wednesday’s first webinar on Out of the Silent Planet.

Continue reading “Ransom Kidnapped”

Mythgard Malacandra

Tonight I join the latest Mythgard Academy selection featuring C.S. Lewis’ first book in the Space Trilogy series.

Mythgard Academy Presents

Out of the Silent Planet

Meeting on Wednesdays at 10 pm Eastern Time

January 8th through February 5th


Nearly six years ago I re-read Out of the Silent Planet for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. I gave it my top slot vote for the Best Novel category, followed by Galactic Patrol and T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone. I was a bit disappointed when Lewis came in second to the White, but you can’t win them all.

I originally read the Space Trilogy in my early teens and those paperbacks are long gone. Over the years, I’ve picked up copies from used books stores, garage sales and Friends of the Library annual book sales. This past weekend, I remembered I’d registered for the class when it was first announced weeks ago and went searching for all my editions: print, electronic and audio. I quickly found two nearly pristine in very good condition and apparently unread paperbacks buried in my brimming bookshelves.

Continue reading “Mythgard Malacandra”