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Children's & Fantasy/Sci-Fi Books


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Good Times at San Diego Comic-Con 2018

  1. Arriving at the Convention Center
  2. Horrific tooth creature from Channel Zero: Candle Cove
  3. Amazing Lord of the Rings models from Weta
  4. A stylized Gandalf
  5. The Moose from Chappie resin kit by Weta
  6. Alita Battle Angel
  7. One man’s interpretation of Edna Mode
  8. Cuphead figures
  9. Star Wars trooper
  10. Scary creatures from Sideshow Collectibles
  11. Warhammer Space Marine Blood Raven
  12. Terrifying evil Batman and Robins
  13. Alien vs. Predator
  14. With NY Times bestselling fantasy author Todd McCaffrey
  15. Bioware power armor suits
  16. With children’s authors M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
  17. With children’s editor/author Ed Masessa
  18. Author collaboration panel with Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin
  19. Mars panel with astronaut Leland Melvin and The Martian author Andy Weir
  20. Stargate cosplay
  21. Cosplay knights
  22. Comics panel with Stan Sakai, Cecil Castelucci, and Sergio Aragones
  23. YA/MG Fantasy panel with authors Tomi Adeyemi, Daniel Jose Older, Victoria Schwab, Kiersten White, and Maggie Steifvater
  24. Apocalypse panel with authors Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld, and Andrew Smith
  25. Flame Princess cosplay
  26. With NY Times bestselling authors Peter Clines and Jonathan Maberry
  27. Fearless women author panel with NY Times bestselling fantasy authors Rachel Caine, Seanan McGuire, Susan Dennard, Victoria Schwab, and Laini Taylor
  28. With NY Times bestselling author Nancy Holder
  29. Star Wars cosplay
  30. Giant Boba Fett display
  31. Animatronic Deadpool’s Super Duper Dance Party
  32. South Park characters. Kenny lives!
  33. Pacific Rim
  34. Dragonball Z
  35. Dragon cosplay
  36. Self-deprecating Deadpool advertising on toilet seat covers
  37. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein panel with Jonathan Maberry, Kiersten White, and Merrie DeStefano
  38. Frankenstein takes the cake
  39. Academy Award winner Sir Richard Taylor (The Lord of the Rings) sculpting in clay.
  40. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Laini Taylor
  41. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Livia Blackburne
  42. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater
  43. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Kevin Hearne
  44. Our fantasy literature panel packed the room
  45. Huge Hot Wheels cars
  46. Life-sized LEGO Aquaman
  47. Life-sized LEGO Thanos
  48. Mantis photobombing the Power Rangers
  49. Personalized Magic the Gathering cards
  50. Dungeons & Dragons panel with Naomi Novik, Delilah Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Ray Feist and R.A. Salvatore
  51. Trump’s Titanz standee
  52. Game of Thrones cosplay Iron Throne wheelchair

53. Children’s Literary Agent panel with Taylor Martindale Kean, Tim Travaglini, Jen Baxter, Kari Sutherland, Thao Le

54. Fantasy Literature panel with Victoria Schwab, Livia Blackburne, Maggie Stiefvater, and Kevin Hearne (Laini Taylor not shown)


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Famous Movie Scenes Recreated Using Cardboard Boxes & a Two-Year Old

I never imagined that parents could have a two-year old AND too much time on their hands. But I was wrong. From Vaiva Vareikaite and the mad geniuses at Bored Panda.

“Sometimes what you need to get creative is just a pile of cardboard boxes and a baby, who needs to be entertained. This is exactly what inspired Leon Mackie and Lilly Lang to recreate their favorite film scenes after moving into their new home.

A young couple with a baby on their hands recently moved from Melbourne to Sydney, Australia, and got left with a lot of spare cardboard boxes. The boxes were a perfect source of inspiration for some astonishing things that were about to happen. Lilly and Leon are passionate cinephiles, so they didn’t take long to come up with an idea to bring most memorable moments from their favorite films back to life, except this time starring their 2-year-old son.

The beautiful initiative to have a quality family time became an inspirational project titled Cardboard Box Office and a source for quite a successful weblog. The adorable couple and the little one have already re-enacted such movie classics as Alien (Bubbalien), Jurassic Park (Goo-Goo Gaa-Gaa-Rassic Park), Castaway (Castababy), and Jaws (“You’re Gonna Need A Bigger Baby…”).”

#1 Game Of Thrones

Game Of Thrones

 #2 Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

#3 Mad Max

Mad Max

#4 Lord Of The Rings

Lord Of The Rings

#5 Batman

Batman

#6 E.T. : The Extraterrestrial

E.t. : The Extra Terrestrial

#7 Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump

#8 Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice

#9 The Revenant

The Revenant

#10 Home Alone

Home Alone


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The Epic Fantasy Movie Legacy of Orlando Bloom

This one goes out to all the ladies out there. Orlando Bloom has been in some pretty epic fantasy and historical fiction movies. Here’s a sampling:

blackhawk

Black Hawk Down (Blackburn)

HBT2-fs-140141.DNG

The Hobbit trilogy (Legolas)

kingdom-of-heaven

Kingdom of Heaven (Balian de Ibelin)

LOTR

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Legolas)

pirates

Pirates of the Caribbean series (Will Turner)

romeo

Romeo and Juliet (Romeo)

THE THREE MUSKETEERS

The Three Musketeers (Duke of Buckingham) – love the costume and the facial hair

troy

Troy (Paris)

commercial

Orlando Bloom has two other claims to fame in my book. Here he is in a Gap commercial with Kate Beckingsale.

"Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet" Broadway Opening Night - After Party

And, of course, he was married to Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr. Good news, ladies! They are no longer together.

Click to Tweet: The Epic Fantasy Movie Legacy of Orlando Bloom at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Dx via @Nimpentoad


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11 Monsters Who Could Totally Take On Godzilla

With the recent Godzilla movie remake in theatres, this is a timely and fun non-scientific analysis is by Janelle Myers from MTV at http://www.mtv.com/news/1825804/11-monsters-who-could-totally-take-on-godzilla/

As Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla” reboot roars into theaters Friday (May 16), we’re excited for epic action, over-the-top explosions, and of course, the ultimate movie monster in all its magnificent CG glory.For over five decades, Godzilla has terrorized cities and inspired awe in the hearts of movie-goers, but new monsters have been introduced that are stronger, smarter, and faster… making us wonder, does the 60-year-old radioactive giant lizard stand a chance against these newer creatures?We think these monsters could serve up some swift competition against the legendary reptile:
Optimus Prime
The strongest and smartest of the Autobots, Prime also has the advantage of weapons like his energon axe that could do some major damage to the lizard king.


The Incredible Hulk
With unlimited power and strength, a resistance to any weapon and rapid healing powers, it’s clear the president should have Bruce Banner on speed dial in case Godzilla ever attacks.


Basilisk
One look at the giant snake from “Harry Potter” and the lizard king would be turned into an incredibly detailed stone statue you can go see at the Met.


Smaug
The arrogant dragon from “The Hobbit” pitted up against the King of Monsters would result in one ego-filled battle. However, Smaug is also known for being quite indifferent, more likely to taunt Godzilla about his tiny arms and go back to his hoard of gold, calling it a day.


James P. Sullivan
Sulley may look like a giant teddy bear, but don’t forget, he was top scarer at Monster’s Inc for a reason.



Reptar
Two bad-ass mutant reptiles against each other?!… But there’s one thing Godzilla is missing and that’s a chocolate bar that turns your tongue green.


Clover
A fellow Kaiju, the deep-sea monster from “Cloverfield” would put up a good fight (destroying New York City’s famous landmarks in their wake), but probably would easily succumb to Godzilla’s atomic breath.


Big Ass Spider
The super gross looking spider from SyFy channel’s “Big Ass Spider” would have any creature running in the other direction.


Stay Puft
The marshmallow man from “Ghostbusters” was summoned by a Sumerian god of destruction, making him a lot more terrifying than he appears. Ultimately though, one blast of fire breath and we could all make s’mores!


Balrogs
The demons of terror and darkness from “The Lord of The Rings” basically just consume everything with fire and hate- so if Godzilla tried to eat one he’d have some serious indigestion.


Daleks
Don’t let their pepper-shaker shape fool you, these aliens are vicious. The main enemies of “Doctor Who” have been known to wipe out entire planets and civilizations throughout time and space.

Click to Tweet: 11 Monsters Who Could Totally Take On Godzilla at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Eo via @Nimpentoad


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Infographic: Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror Movies Related to The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite books, and I was thinking about the movie version. It struck me that many of the actors in “The Lord of the Rings” also appear in other speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy & horror) movies. Hugo Weaving plays Elrond, but he’s also Agent Smith in “The Matrix”. Christopher Lee plays Saruman, but also appears in “Star Wars” and billions of other movies. You get the idea.

Then I recalled the Six Degrees of Separation theory. So, starting from the Tolkien fan epicenter that is “The Lord of the Rings”, I plotted out how tightly connected by their actors speculative fiction movie are. Below is an infographic that shows an initial answer. I intentionally limited the scope of my inquiry. One could easily expand the network to be more inclusive.

Instructions:
1. Click on the image below to expand the infographic. If it’s still too small, use the View-Zoom In feature of your web browser.
2. Start in the center at “The Lord of the Rings” & “The Hobbit”. Move either right or left to the actor of your choice. Then keep moving horizontally right (or left) to see how these actors link to other speculative fiction movies, and so on.
For example, Karl Urban played Eomer in “The Lord of the Rings”. He was also in “Star Trek”, as was Zoe Saldana. She was in “Avatar”, as was Sam Worthington.  And Sam was in “Clash of the Titans”.

Caveats:
1. I don’t doubt that there are mistakes or omissions. There is no need to email me and remind me of my fallibility. There is no money-back guarantee. Well, since this is free, I guess I can offer a full refund if you’re not fully satisfied.
2. A single asterisk denotes that I couldn’t help myself, and included a few select TV shows. Whatcha gonna do?
3. A double asterisk denotes that I couldn’t help myself, and included a few non-speculative fiction movies. So sue me.
4. As in any network, there can be more than one path to get from one node (movie) to another. I’ve just shown single paths.
5. This infographic is in NO way represented as exhaustive, although creating it was exhausting.
6. If you enjoy it, kindly Retweet (@Nimpentoad) or otherwise share the link with friends you think would appreciate it (or send it to enemies who would not appreciate it, but who you wish to annoy).

Click on the image below to expand it.

LOTRinfographic


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How SFF characters made their way to the mountains of Titan

We all have our favorite children’s books. And many of them feature imagined worlds with their own languages, cultures, and geography. Did you know that some character and place names from science fiction and fantasy children’s literature have made their way into astronomy?

Titan

One of Saturn’s moons is Titan. And those wacky, kidlit-lovin’ astronomers have named some of the features of Titan after fictitious places created by fantasy and science fiction literature titans J.R.R. Tolkien and Frank Herbert. The full list can be viewed at the USGS website, but here are some tasty samples:

Angmar Montes (Mountain)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Named after an evil kingdom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Silmarillion”

From wikipedia.org:
“Angmar was founded in T.A. 1300 in the far north of the Misty Mountains by the evil Lord of the Ringwraiths, who became known as the “Witch-king of Angmar”. Since the Witch-king was a servant of the Dark Lord Sauron, it is presumed that Angmar’s wars against the successor kingdoms of Arnor were done at Sauron’s bidding to destroy an important ally of Gondor. It may also be presumed that wars against Arnor were an attempt to find the One Ring, as Isildur was going to Arnor to make the Ring an heirloom of the kingdom when he was killed.”

Arrakis Planitia (Impact basin)

Dune
Named after the planet Arrakis in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic “Dune”

From wikipedia.org:
“Arrakis — informally known as Dune — is a fictional desert planet featured in the Dune series of novels by Frank Herbert. Herbert’s first novel in the series, 1965’s Dune, is popularly considered one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time. In Dune, the planet is the home of the Fremen, and subsequently is the Imperial Capital of the Atreides Empire.”

“Arrakis … Dune … wasteland of the Empire, and the most valuable planet in the universe. Because it is here — and only here — where spice is found. The spice. Without it there is no commerce in the Empire, there is no civilization. Arrakis … Dune … home of the spice, greatest of treasure in the universe. And he who controls it, controls our destiny.”

Arwen Colles (Hill)

Arwen
Named after the elf princess Arwen, daughter of Elrond in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy “The Lord of the Rings”

From wikipedia.org:
“Arwen was the youngest child of Elrond and Celebrían. Her name Ar-wen means ‘noble maiden’. She bore the sobriquet “Evenstar” (or Evening Star), as the most beautiful of the last generation of High Elves in Middle-earth.

As told in “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen”, Aragorn in his twentieth year met Arwen for the first time in Rivendell, where he lived under Elrond’s protection. Arwen, then over 2700 years old, had recently returned to her father’s home after living for a while with her grandmother Lady Galadriel in Lórien. Aragorn fell in love with Arwen at first sight. Some thirty years later, the two were reunited in Lórien. Arwen reciprocated Aragorn’s love, and on the mound of Cerin Amroth they committed themselves to marry one another.”

Bilbo Colles (Hill)

bilbo
Named after Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit protagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

From wikipedia.org:
“In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit in comfortable middle age at 50 years old, was hired in spite of himself as a “burglar” by the wizard Gandalf and 13 dwarves led by their king Thorin Oakenshield on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. The adventure took Bilbo and the companions through the wilderness, to the elf haven of Rivendell, across the Misty Mountains and the black forest of Mirkwood, to Lake-town in the middle of Long Lake, and eventually to the Mountain itself. Here, after the dragon was killed and the Mountain reclaimed, the Battle of Five Armies took place.

In his journey, Bilbo encountered other fantastic creatures, including trolls, elves, giant spiders, a man who can change shape into a bear, goblins, eagles, wolves and a slimy, murderous creature named Gollum. Underground, near Gollum’s lair, Bilbo accidentally found a magic ring of invisibility, which he used to escape from Gollum.”

Chusuk Planitia (Impact basin)

chusuk
Named after the planet Chusuk in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic “Dune”

From wikipedia.org:
“In Dune, Chusuk is the “fourth planet of Theta Shalish; the so-called ‘Music Planet’ noted for the quality of its musical instruments.” The Appendix of Dune mentions “the Navachristianity of Chusuk.”

Doom Mons (Mountain)

mtdoom
Named after a volcanic mountain in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasies “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion”.

From wikipedia.org:
“Mount Doom is a fictional volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr. Alternative names, in Tolkien’s invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin (“fiery mountain”) and Amon Amarth (“mountain of fate”). The Sammath Naur (“Chambers of Fire”), made by Sauron in the Second Age, is a structure located deep within the mountain’s molten core. It was here Sauron forged the One Ring during the Second Age.

The mountain represents the endpoint of Frodo Baggins’ quest to destroy the Ring which is recounted in The Lord of the Rings. The chasm is the site where the One Ring was originally forged by the Dark Lord Sauron and the only place it can be destroyed.”

Echoriath Montes (Mountain)

echoriath
Named after the Encircling Mountains mountain range in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Silmarillion”

From wikipedia.org:
“A mountain range in the north of Beleriand, also called the Encircling Mountains. The Echoriath formed a natural circle of rock, enclosing the valley later called Tumladen, within which lay the Elven city of Gondolin. A hidden ravine provided the only access through the Echoriath — a way guarded by seven gates. Fingolfin, a High King of the Noldor, was buried in the Echoriath north of Gondolin, having been taken there by the eagle Thorondor after he was slain in his duel with Morgoth. Glorfindel was also buried in this place.”

Erebor Mons (Mountain)

Erebor
Named after a mountain and Dwarf kingdom in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Hobbit”. 

From wikipedia.org:
“In J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium, the Lonely Mountain (Sindarin Erebor) is a mountain in the north of Rhovanion. It is the source of the Celduin River, and the location of the Kingdom Under the Mountain. The town of Dale lies in a vale on its southern slopes.

Erebor became the home of the Folk of Durin, a clan of Dwarves known as the Longbeards, after they were driven from their ancestral home of Khazad-dûm. In the latter days of the Third Age, this Kingdom Under the Mountain held one of the largest dwarvish treasure hoards in Middle-earth.”

Faramir Colles (Hill)

faramir
Named after the son of the steward of Gondor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Lord of the Rings”

From wikipedia.org:
“Faramir is the younger brother of Boromir of the Fellowship of the Ring and second son of Denethor II, the Steward of the realm of Gondor. The relationships between the three men are revealed over the course of the book and are elaborated in the appendices.

Faramir first enters the narrative in person in The Two Towers, where, upon meeting Frodo Baggins, he is presented with a temptation to take possession of the One Ring. In The Return of the King, he led the forces of Gondor during the War of the Ring, coming near to death, and eventually succeeded his father as the Steward and won the love of Éowyn of Rohan.”

Misty Montes (Mountain)

Misty_mountains
Named after the Misty Mountains mountain range in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”.

From wikipedia.org:
“In J. R. R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle-earth, the Misty Mountains (also known by its Sindarin name of Hithaeglir—misspelled as Hithaiglin on the original Lord of the Rings map—and as the Mountains of Mist) is a mountain range, running for 795 miles from north to south, between Eriador and the valley of the Great River, Anduin, and from Mount Gundabad in the far north to Methedras in the south.

The northernmost peak of the Misty Mountains was Mount Gundabad, where according to legend Durin awoke, though it was later an abode of Orcs. The greatest Dwarven realm in Middle-earth, Khazad-dûm, was located at the midpoint of the Misty Mountains. The three peaks that were part of Khazad-dûm were Caradhras (Redhorn), Celebdil (Silvertine) and Fanuidhol (Cloudyhead). Inside Celebdil, the Dwarves built the Endless Stair, from the foundations of the mountain to the top of it. The southernmost peak of the Misty Mountains was Methedras (Last Peak).”

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.


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The Nimpentoad authors at San Diego Comic-Con

My fellow Nimpentoad and Twignibble co-authors and I had a great time wandering the Exhibit Hall at the San Diego Comic-Con. Here are a few pictures.

SDCC_PlantVZombie

Nothing starts your day like meeting a zombie from the Plants vs. Zombies game my boys enjoy playing.

SDCC_PeterBeagle

For us older folks, it was a real treat to meet Peter Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn”.

SDCC_KenMeyer

Here are my co-authors with comic artist Ken Meyer, Jr.

SDCC_KatieCook

Here are my co-authors with Katie Cook, who writes “My Little Pony” for IDW Publishing, and has also done licensed illustration work for DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings.

SDCC_HappyHobbit

Proving again that timing is everything, we just  happened to wander in front of the Badali Jewelry booth, when our friend Cliff Broadway from TheOneRing.net was conducting a Lord of the Rings trivia quiz. Have I mentioned that I am a Lord of the Rings Rainman? It will then come as no surprise that we won the quiz, and left laden with terrific Tolkien booty, much as Bilbo ended his Hobbit adventure riding a pony burdened with treasure. As a bonus, we got to meet the Rice sisters, who write and star in the weekly Happy Hobbit video that is shown on TheOneRing.net.

SDCC_EvangelineLilly

In the foreground, my co-author Harrison. In the background, the smoking hot Evangeline Lilly, who will be appearing in the upcoming (second) Hobbit movie. We also saw Sir Richard Taylor, who heads up Weta, the company that makes props for Peter Jackson’s movies.

SDCC_Domo

Here my co-authors pose with the largest Domokun I’ve ever seen.

SDCC_Azog

An enormous Azog the Orc in front of the Weta booth was not nearly as welcoming as Domokun…

SDCC_AndrewHuerta

At the IDW Publishing booth, we spoke with several comic book illustrators. As it turned out, fate smiled upon us again. We have a friend Sohaib Awan, who writes the comic JINNRISE. His illustrator, Andrew Huerta, was there and graciously offered to sketch Nimpentoad !

SDCC_NimpByHuerta

Here is the wonderful end result he knocked out in no time flat.


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Interview with TheOneRing.net senior staffer Larry Curtis

Larry Curtis is a Senior Staff member at TheOneRing.net (TORn). TORn is well known to fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s books ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’. Larry specializes in live events, news and social media. He was part of a set visit to ‘The Hobbit’ movie filming in 2012, gathering material primarily for the second film which has yet to be published. Although swamped with San Diego Comic-Con preparations, Larry has graciously agreed to answer some questions.

CurtisLarry

What is TORn all about?

TheOneRing.net is and always has been an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization made by fans, for fans, of J.R.R. Tolkien. It is an online community that serves many needs and kind of fan and bridges the gap between the filmmakers who worked on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and now ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy of films. They are a world wide group of staff and fans that does all it can to bring what it can to fans with the resources of fans. They are best known in the mainstream for their Oscar Parties in Hollywood but they have been reporting book and movie news since 1999. They are passionate people collectively serving a passionate community.

What will be TORn’s presence at SDCC?

We have been a presence at San Diego Comic-Con for well over a decade, presenting panels about either ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘The Hobbit’ for most of those years. This year we have a Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. look at ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ (the second of three Hobbit films). We aren’t part of the production or the studio so we speculate and discuss leaks and rumors as well as collect the public knowledge in a lively one-hour format. We are also selling shirts at the Weta Workshop booth and the Badali Jewelry booth to help us stay online. Currently our expenses are bigger than our income so a chance like this to sell shirts and make up some financial group is a great for us. We also relish the chance to meet fellow fans face-to-face and bring our online staff (or a small part of it) together in a physical place. It is self-paid vacation for many of us.

Henry: We’ll be at SDCC on July 21, so we will swing by the TORn booth to say hi.

What is it about Tolkien’s children’s book ‘The Hobbit’ that you find so intriguing?

I enjoy the book because of its introduction to Middle-earth, its deft use of an anti-hero and how grand and epic it all gets at the end. A very personable tale of a single Hobbit eventually involves all the key races in Middle-earth and despite the author’s modest and homey beginnings. He manages to leave such an impression of untold grand stories and weaves wonder with mundane world building in a way that leaves me appreciating the book long after I put it down.

What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from your involvement with TORn?

Simply that contributing to the greater good, as an unselfish team, brings me more pleasure and deeper satisfaction than almost anything I can do.

Henry: I will point out that you have a very Hobbit-like attitude in that regard. 🙂

What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been involved with TORn?

There are many, many such experiences. It is almost impossible to overstate how being part of the TORn family has enriched my life with choice experiences. Most important of all are the life long friends I have made with fellow staffers. Those folks are as dear as the friends I have from the other portions of my life. I don’t know for sure what they think of me but I surely love them. The other big answer is my personal exposure to New Zealand, including many people there, has also enriched my life.

Do you have any favorite Tolkien quotes?

The one I think about most often is, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit” and the bits that come after. It is a sentence and opening of such promise and I am shocked to think how he met that promise and then did so much more. It is very famous of course but not a quote as you mean exactly but it is what I think of first. I feel some need to read LOTR again so I have a better answer to this question.

Henry: For the handful of people who have yet to read ‘The Lord of the Rings’, some other quotes include:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”

If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?

Reading minds would be a useful skill. Flight would be the most fun power I can imagine but in real life it would be hot and cold and dangerous. I think I would take mind reading as a much more subtle but useful ability. Although, it would bring its own problems to be sure.

Henry: I would’ve bet money you would have chosen invisibility. 🙂

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

I would have Tolkien to be sure, although I suspect he would be intimidating with his knowledge and difficult for me to engage. George R.R. Martin would be my next choice because he understands what Tolkien contributed and I think I need a modern man. Finally, sifting through all the classic authors, it is tempting to bring Shakespeare or Mark Twain or Charles Dickens but I choose Edgar Allen Poe. He might not be amazing in person but picking that brain would surely be something.

Henry: It would be interesting indeed to see what Tolkien would think of Martin’s practice of killing off his characters with wild abandon.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

The dragon. It is so universal and so amazing and frightening. I like it best when used lightly, but they seem to be at the very top of the mythical food chain. If not that that Sharktopus.

Henry: LOL. For those of you who haven’t seen the 2010 film Sharktopus (and that would be almost everyone), IMDB tells us, “A half-shark, half-octopus creature created for the military, creates a whole lot of terror in Mexico while a scientist who helped created it tries to capture/kill it.”

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read or experience other stories through film. I like video games too, particularly ones with a story to tell.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

He drank life to the lees.

Henry: Ah, a little Tennyson. He may be drinking so much because you didn’t invite him to dinner.

Where can people find out more about TORn?

TheOneRing.net but also our Facebook page and on Twitter. The best way is to dive into the community! And of course, at San Diego Comic-Con.

This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner


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SDCC cosplay ideas: suits of armor from children’s books and comics

When we consider children’s books and comics, we typically think in terms of interesting characters and compelling stories. So while the focus of children’s books is not on armor, some of the tales taking place in fantasy setting, have armor that plays an important part of the story. After all, The Lord of the Rings tale would have turned out very differently if Frodo had not been wearing mithril armor when he was stabbed by the troll in Moria.

Compiled below are some famous suits of armor from children’s books, comics, and graphic novels. With San Diego Comic-Con just around the bend, these armor choices could serve as inspiration for SDCC cosplay as well.

The Witch King of Angmar

witchking
“The Lord of the Rings” series by J.R.R. Tolkien
This guy is Sauron’s right-hand man, er, wraith. If you had any doubts about his alignment, a spiky helmet is always a tipoff that someone works for the dark side. Although you can’t really see it in this photo, his gauntlets and boots are beautifully crafted. Plus, he one-handedly wields a mace the size of a naval mine!

From wikipedia.org:
“The Witch-king of Angmar, also known as the Lord of the Nazgûl and the Black Captain, is a fictional character and a major antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth fantasy writings. In Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings, he is the chief of the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths), the chief servants of the Dark Lord Sauron. His name is not revealed in any of Tolkien’s writings, nor are the names of any of the other Nazgûl, except Khamûl.”

Thor

thor
“Thor” by Marvel Comics
Here is actor Chris Hemsworth rockin’ Thor’s combination plate and scale armor. I’m not sure why Thor and Loki wear armor, since they appear to be indestructible (recall the beating The Hulk gave Loki in The Avengers movie). And although Edna Mode is not a fan of capes, the red cape really sets off Thor’s armor nicely.

From wikipedia.org:
“Thor is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962) and was created by editor-plotter Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.

Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the character is based on the god Thor of Norse mythology. He has starred in several ongoing series and limited series, and has been a perennial member of the superhero team the Avengers, appearing in each volume of that series.

The 2011 film Thor, based on the character and comic, was directed by Kenneth Branagh and starred Chris Hemsworth as Thor. Hemsworth reappears as Thor in The Avengers, and Thor: The Dark World is set for release in 2013. Thor placed 14th on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time in 2011.”

Elrond

elrond
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
Elrond is one of the senior elves left in Middle-earth, and bearer of one of the three Elven rings of power. As befits an Elf Lord, he is wearing stunningly beautiful armor. The mauve and gold colors are striking, and the gracefully curving lines convey the armor’s elvish provenance.

From wikipedia.org:
“Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion”.
Elrond was Lord of Rivendell, one of the mighty rulers of old that remained in Middle-earth in its Third Age. He was the son of Eärendil and Elwing, and a great-grandson of Lúthien, born in Beleriand in the First Age, making him well over 6,000 years old by the time of the events described in “The Lord of the Rings”. Elrond’s twin brother was Elros Tar-Minyatur, the first High King of Númenor.”

Batman

batman
“Batman” by DC Comics
Flexible black armor that renders you bulletproof! What’s not to like? Plus a utility belt with all kinds of useful gadgets. And a cape that lets Batman glide. Protective, functional, and stylish!

From wikipedia.org:
“Batman is an ongoing comic book series featuring the DC Comics hero of the same name. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27, published in May 1939. Batman proved to be so popular that a self-titled ongoing comic book series began publication in the spring of 1940. It was first advertised in early April 1940, one month after the first appearance of his new sidekick, Robin, the Boy Wonder.
The first stories appearing in the Batman comic were written by Bill Finger and illustrated by Bob Kane, though Finger went uncredited for years thereafter. These early stories depicted a vengeful Batman, not hesitant to kill when he saw it as a necessary sacrifice. Although not canonical, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns introduced a significant evolution of the Batman’s character in his eponymous series; he became uncompromising and relentless in his struggle to revitalize Gotham. The Batman often exhibited behavior that Gotham’s elite labeled as excessively violent as well as antisocial tendencies. Miller portrayed him with an anti-heroic and near villainous characterization.”

Iorek Byrnison

goldencompass
“The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman
Three words: Talking. Polar. Bear. In gold plate armor. OK, seven words. Imagine the power and ferocity of a polar bear, encased in the protective embrace of lovingly crafted sky-iron.

From wikipedia.org:
‘Northern Lights’, known as ‘The Golden Compass’ in North America, is a young-adult fantasy novel by Philip Pullman, published by Scholastic UK in 1995. Set in a universe parallel to ours, it features the journey of Lyra Belacqua to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger Parslow, and her imprisoned “uncle”, Lord Asriel, who has been conducting experiments with a mysterious substance known as “Dust”. Northern Lights is the first book of a trilogy, ‘His Dark Materials’.

King Iorek Byrnison is a male armored bear (panserbjørner in Norwegian). Like all Panserbjørner, Iorek follows a very strict code of conduct, and will not, in any situation, betray a promise he has made. He possesses incredible strength, and like many of his kind is an expert smith. He is a great friend and comrade to both Lyra Belacqua and Lee Scoresby.

During the first book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Northern Lights, Iorek Byrnison is found shaping metal for humans in an Arctic port town. These humans had deceived Iorek by giving him spirits, then stole his sky-iron armor while he was intoxicated: this left him no choice but to work for the humans.”

Prince Nuada

princenuada
“Hellboy” by Dark Horse Comics
Admittedly, it is hard to not think about Prince Nuada’s extendable spear and his incredible fighting prowess. But his beautiful leather armor is light and flexible, and therefore better suited to his lightning fast fighting style than would be clumsy plate mail.

From wikipedia.org:
“Hellboy is a fictional character, a comic book superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (Aug. 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and inter-company crossovers. The character has been adapted into two live-action feature films in 2004 and 2008. Prince Nuada was the villain in the latter film.”

Prince Nuada, played by Luke Goss, appears in the Hellboy II movie. He is the son of the Elf King Balor, and brother to Princess Nuala, with whom he shares a symbiotic yin-yang relationship. He resents the diminishment of the Elf realms to the point of madness. His lust to restore the Elves’ former glory leads him to ruthlessly kills a room full of humans, as well as his father, to obtain two pieces of the magical crown that controls the unstoppable mechanical Golden Army.”

Minotaur

minotaur
“Narnia” by C.S. Lewis
While he is not a named character in the book or movie, this minotaur is sporting some some ornate and evil-looking armor (that’s as it should be, since he’s a minion of the White Witch). Plate armor, combined with steel-tipped horns, immense strength, and feral ferocity make him an opponent to be feared.

From wikipedia.org:
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a high fantasy novel for children by C. S. Lewis, published by Geoffrey Bles in 1950. It was the first published of seven novels in “The Chronicles of Narnia” (1950–1956) and it is the best known; among all the author’s books it is the most widely held in libraries.

Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical beings that the White Witch has ruled for one hundred years of deep winter. In the frame story, four English children live in a big old country house during their World War II evacuation from London. In Narnia the siblings seem to fulfill an old prophecy, so they are soon adventuring both to save their lives and to deliver the country.”

Iron Man

ironman
“Iron Man” by DC Comics
Iron Man’s armor not only provides protection, but also enables him to fly, fire offensive weapons, and to receive tactical artificial intelligence. This high tech outfit is literally and figuratively the gold standard in armor.

From wikipedia.org:
“Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).

An American billionaire playboy, industrialist and ingenious engineer, Tony Stark suffers a severe chest injury during a kidnapping in which his captors attempt to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. He instead creates a powered suit of armor to save his life and escape captivity. He later uses the suit and successive versions to protect the world as Iron Man. Through his corporation ― Stark Industries ― Tony has created many military weapons, some of which, along with other technological devices of his making, have been integrated into his suit, helping him fight crime.

Warriors Working With Wicked Witch of the West

OzHalbardiers
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
Although formidable in her own right, the Wicked Witch of the West has two sets of minions: those delightfully scary flying monkeys and halberd-wielding and ornately uniformed royal guard. Although the bearskin caps and leather jerkins are impressive looking, their protective value is questionable, given three of them are quickly overpowered by the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. Still, they had to be included in this list for the sake of nostalgia, if nothing else.

From wikipedia.org:
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is a 1900 children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a cyclone.

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American fantasy adventure film produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Judy Garland. Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character makeups and special effects in a film up to that time.”

This article is also published in the San Diego Children’s Book Examiner.


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Children’s, Fantasy and SciFi book titles with one letter missing

Periodically, certain hashtags surge in popularity. A recent hashtag that generated some clever responses was #bookswithaletter missing. Some notable tweets for children’s books, fantasy and science fiction were:

Liver Twist: a Dickensian Cookbook by @harpercollins

Harry Otter and the Chamber of Secrets: the story of a young otter who finds a secret swimming pool by @prof_minerva

Watership Don: The Mafia, bunny style by @ellenkushner

The Fellowship of the Rig: Smokey, the Bandit and Rubber Duck on a dramatic cross-country convoy to stop Sauron by @kurtbusiek

A Wrinkle in Tim: one man’s battle against sun damage by @mackidsbooks

Conan the Babarian: Thief. Reaver. Kindly elephant monarch by @kurtbusiek. Bonus points for mashing up two different books.

The Andromeda Stain: in which an extraterrestrial organism makes laundry unbearable by @starstew

Storm of Words: the epic fantasy novel in which Walder Frey gives the King in the North a stern talking to by @scotttbartlett

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fir: The story of a young boy’s love for trees by @prof_minerva

Charlie and the Chocolate Factor: poverty-stricken youth enters Cadbury-sponsored reality TV talent show by @willmchoebag

Where the Wild Thins Are: Sendak’s study of the behavioral habits of starved supermodels in New York City by @zeldawilliams

Harlotte’s Web: E.B. White’s tale of one illiterate prostitutes journey to secure herself a better clientele by @zeldawilliams

Harold and the Purple Rayon: A cherubic boy reckons with the reality of synthetic fabric by @danielpink

If that wasn’t fun enough, the guys at @darth used the power of PhotoShop to make the following hilarious book covers (also with one letter missing). Well done!

jurassic-ark

new-moo

secret-of-the-old-cock

the-baby-sitters-cub

the-lion-the-itch-and-the-wardrobe

the-princess-brie