It's August, which means it's perfect winter weather for curling up with a reading list — drawn from this selection of fresh sci-fi and fantasy books from authors such as Cixin Liu, Mary Robinette Kowal, Connie Willis and some guy named J.R.R. Tolkien.
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J.R.R. Tolkien fans need to know about Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, a new exhibit in Oxford, England containing an incredible collection of papers, paintings and other archival material from the author’s vast career. If you can’t attend in person, you can pick up the exhibit catalogue, a hefty book packed full of gorgeous, fascinating images.
The news this week that Warner Bros. and Amazon are now working on a The Lord of the Rings series came as a bit of a surprise, since it'd been widely assumed that Christopher Tolkien would never give anyone the rights again. It's now come out that Tolkien, who has safeguarded the rights of his father J.R.R. Tolkien's work, recently resigned as director of Tolkien Estate - signifying a major change on the horizon for adaptations of Tolkien's work.
The works of J.R.R. Tolkien have given us a lush, vast fantasy realm in Middle-Earth, one that's extraordinarily archived and detailed in his many writings. But a new book wants to go even further on one particularly famous aspect: Tolkien's use of botany to tell us about the flora of Middle-Earth... and how its inhabitants smoke it.
One of the many reasons why The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in both book and movie form, is so good is the characters. Each hero, villain and everything in between is simply memorable and captivating. Everyone has their favourites and if your favourite is Gandalf, this is going to knock your socks off.
Last year, a map of Middle-earth, annotated by Tolkien himself, was unearthed in a copy of a book owned by illustrator Pauline Baynes. The map has now been purchased by Oxford's Bodleian Libraries, who very kindly put a full, authorised, version of the full map online, which is sure to be pored over by fans forever and ever.
Guy Gavriel Kay has carved out a unique niche, writing fantasy novels that take real-life historical settings and transforming them into something new and different. His latest novel, Children of Earth and Sky, takes place in a version of 16th century Europe that's under threat from a version of the Ottoman Empire, and includes a fictionalized version of real-life Croatian bandits called the Ushoks, who stole from the Venetians and the Ottomans for justice. We talked to Kay about just how he manages to turn real-life history into a world all his own.