Meanderings

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3-6

[page 3] "By an alien dream despatched @dispatched@ and driven In a land to strange stars given, Stars that summoned forth the moon, Singing a strange red _eldritch_ rune, .." (From LUNA AETERNALlS by C.A. Smith -/1893- /.) MEANDERINGS {Title Art: The title is written in stylized block letters shaded with points at the bottom.} - The Editor's Page - <Block letter "I"> had intended giving you the benefit of my research into the word "_Eldritch_" as this issue's editorial: but alas! what with the '_Middle-earth_' item last time and '_Changeling_' later on in this number - I felt it prudent to regale you with this further 'scholarly' piece at a later date. By way of a compromise I've headed this column with the first of the many 'Eldritch' quotations that will be a regular "feature in E.D.Q. as from now, and I hope that not too many readers will be aghast at the idea. Now in the normal course of events this set-back would have left me at a loose end as to what to write about; but fortunately the Science Fiction Book Club has given me ample to comment on. I mentioned the S.F.B.C's edition of the RINGS trilogy - as the diligent reader may remember - in the last issue of 'Dream Quest'. Now having a copy of this item in my possession, I feel quite happy about passing judgement on the venture as a whole, and herewith are the comments it elicited. Professor Tolkien's 'THE LORD OF THE RINGS' has long been admired by both fantasts and fantasy-phobes alike as a classic of it's kind, and with no small justification. At first the price of a guinea per volume may have seemed rather prohibitive, but not too many fantasy lovers were deterred by it. After all, having paid cut £2.75 to £3.00 apiece for the seven books in the Conan canon, who were they to begrudge the same price for a volume of an immeasurably better work? I've always felt that the books are well worth the money, but the S.F. Book Club is actually selling the same volumes (apart from one or two minor details) at practically half the price. This, my friends, is a true bargain! [page 4] {Image: A frayed book binding reading "J.R.R. Tolkien <Stylized T> THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING" appears to the left of the first paragraph on the page. The tapestry is dark, as it has been shaded in pointillist style.} The interesting thing is that this edition, far from being a new one, is by way of being a reprint from the original Allen & Unwin masters replete with the with the same pages, maps, forward and indices. This was brought about by the books being published - the Allen & Unwin Readers Union - thence finding their way into the S.F.Book Club. The actual reprinting has proved somewhat of a surprise in that the actual type seems much clearer than that in my own copies of the original, and the binding of the trilogy is uniform in size - whereas the Allen & Unwin boards seem to vary slightly, but noticeably, between the three volumes. Perhaps this is self-explanatory, though, because the Allen & Unwin's were published separately and the RU's in one set. The actual differences between the two are so few that I feel I may as well point them out to all and sundry. The most obvious thing is, of course, the binding which is brown cloth in place of the original red, with the same colour difference applying to the staining on the top edge of the pages: whilst the spinal writing is re-arranged as is shown at the top of this page - the writing being more fluent with the RU colophon replacing "George Allen and Unwin."The 'Saint George and the Dragon' colophon has naturally been omitted, but the runic writing and the text on the title page is left unchanged save for the name of the publisher and the date. Then comes what is undoubtedly the strangest difference of all.....the maps. Now don't misunderstand me, what I mean is that the maps are _stuck in_ rifferently @differently@, being stuck from the bottom half and opening upwards instead of unfolding down as the Tolkien enthusiast has grown accustomed to seeing it. The dust jacket is the same unspectacular grey colour (which is as it should be), but with a one-colour (red) printing of the titles and the simplified cover design. Gone is the red and gold eye on the black field, encircled by the runic writing and surmounted by the ring of power - in it's place is a modern interpretation of the same motif. {Image: A small, decorative design of an "RU" within a ring appears to the right of the previous paragraph.} [page 5] Writing is kept to a minimum on the d/j flaps, with only the usual Readers Union note about the volumes being available to members only and the price. The _GUARDIAN_ press review on the back cover being one that I haven't seen before, I've taken the liberty of quoting it verbatim. "...To have created so enthralling an epic-romance, with its own mythology, with such diversity of scene and character, such imaginative largesse in invention and description, and such supernatural meaning underlying the wealth of incident, is a most remarkable feat. Mr. Tolkien is one of those born story-tellers who makes his readers as eager as wide-eyed children for more. His style, in prose and verse, is fresh and fluent, and equally apt to the expression of unearthly beauty, homely humour or stark horror..." This, then, is the S.F.Book Club edition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS - and a very worthwhile venture too. But this isn't the only item of interest to crop up since the last issue. There has been one event to equal - if not excell @excel@ -the SFBC venture; and that is the BBC broadcasting of THE HOBBIT on Children's Hour. This abridged reading of Professor Tolkien's classic fairy tale in thirteen installments started at 5.40 p.m. on Wednesday, the fourth of January with AN UNEXPECTED PARTY: and finished a little while ago with BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES on the twenty-ninth of March. That THE HOBBIT warranted this broadcasting goes without saying for - as the novelist John Braine pointed out in a recent issue of the "_Sunday Times_" - Tolkien's fairy tale is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding books for children written in this century (along with titles by C.S. Lewis and E. Nesbitt). I personally found this abridgement by Barbara Henderson to be more than pleasing, and it was with some regret that I listened to David Davis' narration for the last time. At 5.55 that evening I sank into a mood of deep despondency, but I was soon aroused from my reverie by the remembrance of yet another programme that was to fill it's place more than adequately. Ye Gods! But the Norns are stretching coincidence just a bit too far -- on the very {Image: A crude illustration of the /Lord of the Rings/ cover motif for /The Return of the King/ appears to the right of the final two paragraphs. Beneath the motif appear the words "J.R.R. Tolkien."} [page 6] night that THE HOBBIT finished on the wireless the Associated Rediffusion produced the first of their TALES OF MYSTERY by Algernon Blackwood on the little screen. I mean, of course everybody's _heard_ of Blackwood, but few have read his collections of short stories. This first half-hour play (8.50. Wednesday the 28th of March), THE TERROR OF THE TWINS, was introduced and narrated by John Laurie, posing as Blackwood himself - and was followed a fortnight later by one of his better-known tales THE MAN WHO WAS MILLIGAN. Now I'm pretty sure that there was no man called Milligan in the 'Harold Shea' series, but I thought that you might welcome an addenda to the last issue's editorial. One thing that I forget to mention then was that the first two Shea yarns are now available in pocket book form - THE INCOMPLETE ENCHANTER by de Camp and Pratt, Pyramid Book no. G53O at 35¢. This is available in the United Kingdom, but if any interested party is unable to obtain a copy I'll be only too pleased to help him out. That's one item that I forget - here's another of whose existence I was completely unaware. You all know about the three stories in UNKNOWN, of course, and some of you may also know about the two more recent tales in 'Fantasy Fiction' (June 1953) and 'Beyond Fiction' (Dec. 1954). Well, I didn't know about the latter titles until I'd read a copy of the new Avalon book containing THE WALL OF SERPENTS and THE GREEN MAGICIAN under the fomer's title. For anyone who'd like to know how Harold Shea and company fared in the worlds of the Finnish KALEVALA and Irish Mythology - this is a veritable must. A parallel world also features in THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS by Poul Anderson, and to save any letter-column-phobes from having to delve into the _Entmoot_ I'll impart Mr. Anderson's joyous news here as well. If you've aver read the serial in _The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction_ and were disgruntled at its short length, you'll be delighted to know that a re-written and expanded version is due out from the Doubleday stable. As with the 'Shea' title, this is heartily recommended. Yes, I had thought of heading this column 'Me an' de Rings', but I thought better of it.Faugh! @it. Faugh!@ a murrain on those niggling notions. - ye editor -

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