I’m aiming to increase my attention here to writers who are “carrying the fire” (to borrow a phrase from Cormac McCarthy’s feel-good family-time storybook The Road), writers who are drawing our attention to meaningful blazes in a dark world, and who are doing so with wisdom and wit.

And I’m going to begin with Sarah Welch-Larson. If I see her name on an article, I drop everything to read it. She is influencing my own journey through the wilderness of the arts in meaningful ways.

Welch-Larson, author of Becoming Alien: The Beginning and End of Evil in Science Fiction’s Most Idiosyncratic Film Franchise, is writing this week with insight and eloquence (as usual) at her Substack — The Dodgy Boffin — about the new Tolkien fan-fiction series The Rings of Power:

[Image from the trailer for Amazon’s The Rings of Power.]

I wish I could quit The Rings of Power. I can’t quit The Rings of Power. The show infuriates me, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m not going to get into the side-by-side comparisons between Tolkien’s lore and the show’s versions of events … but I do think it’s worth getting into adaptations, and how they work, and why this show fails at the task it’s set out to do.

It’s possible to tell a complex story with an ensemble cast and multiple story lines woven into one, but The Rings of Power doesn’t do it. There are half a dozen threads in this season, and each one of them gets dropped by the wayside for multiple episodes for no good reason other than time. When those threads are dropped, I never felt the tug toward those characters. There’s no sense of tension about what’s happening off-stage and out of sight; it’s as though the dropped story lines have been left inert because the storytellers got bored with them.

[Image from the trailer for Amazon’s The Rings of Power.]
I encourage you read the whole thing, which is — thank the High Elves — free of spoilers.