aka Greedy Little Midgets & Why My 12 Year-Old-Self Sucked
I wish I could say that I enjoyed every science fiction & fantasy novel I ever picked up as a child, but I can’t. I’d be lying if I did. What I’m about to do is akin to sacrilege in the SF/F community, and I beg your forgiveness in advance. Remember, I was in middle school. Were you perfect between the ages of twelve and fourteen?
I thought not.
I was twelve the first time someone handed me The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. Unlike my husband who immediately loved and devoured it, making my way through its 310 pages was like wading through quicksand—only quicksand would have meant I was on an adventure of my own instead of reading what I thought was a dry novel about some “greedy little midget.”
I can’t say I possessed a great vocabulary back then (greedy little midget indeed!) or a good appreciation for the classics. Without Tolkien, fantasy as a genre would look quite different. I’m wouldn’t go so far as to say it wouldn’t exist—after all, Mary Shelley wrote about Frankenstein long before Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, but his influence in world building, linguistics, and creature design definitely impacted the genre.
I hated the book as a kid. HATED it.
I know, there’s a mob coming for me with pitchforks and bows & arrows. Anyone have an inn I can lay low in until the crowd disperses?
As an adult, I have a much healthier appreciation for the story (though I do still find Tolkien‘s writing a bit dry for my taste). Either way, the novel was one more source of an imaginary world filled with creatures. After reading The Hobbit in 6th grade, my “fan-fiction” first novel I’d written…evolved. Not only did my land possess dragons out of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, but now it held dwarves and elves as well.
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