Monday, April 5, 2021

Guns of Middle-earth

The Shire, particularly in the first published version of The Hobbit, has a number of (at the earliest) Victorianisms. I don't see why you couldn't run a sort of 19th Century version of Middle-earth that would make those not be anachronisms, or at least not as much of an anachronism, as we might want to not tie ourselves down to the feel of a specific part of the 19th Century.

The rangers of the North would be like Mountain men or frontier scouts.

Gondor might have the architecture and general vibe of Old Mexico or Spanish California.

And Mordor perhaps becomes some sort of Steampunk industrial nightmare.

11 comments:

Dick McGee said...

The mental image of hobbits (or ewoks) packing heat is pretty amusing. Maybe they have a reputation for always having a derringer or three hidden on their person somewhere. I could see Dwarves as being fond of comically oversized hoglegs, sawed-off shotguns, maybe some Victorian mad science version of a duck's foot or pepperbox pistol for clearing tunnels...overcompensating for something, perhaps.

Anne said...

The scenes of Saruman manufacturing orcs at industrial scale in "The Two Towers" film could certainly serve as a component of Steampunk Nightmare Mordor.

Alistair said...

Makes sense. The Hobbit always felt different from LotR. More 19th century-ish. I could work with this.

JB said...

Much as I dig on the idea of adding a bit of modernity (with regard to tech) to Middle Earth, I can't really see the Americanisms. Call it a lack of imagination, but the Rangers (both the Northern ones and Faramir's group in the South) are more remnants of a fallen Empire, working amid the ruins and in the shadows of what was once their kingdoms (old fallen towers like Weathertop and Minas Ithil and whatnot)...not pioneers and woodsmen pushing into strange new wilderness. And Gondor definitely does NOT have the same feel as the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries that settled among the indigenous people of the Americas, overworking them as slaves until they were forced to bring in additional slave labor from Africa (which continent itself has a counterpart in Middle Earth).

No, I can totally get behind the bad guys industrial nightmare of Sauron (and his chief emulator Sauruman), but the whole of Middle Earth feels far to European. Could Aragorn have a brace of pistols? Sure. Should Gimli carry a blunderbuss? I'm good with that. And I can definitely see the elves being far more English fairy in nature (taking a page from Susannah Clark's books). But Tolkien's world with its aristocracy (kings and queens and whatnot) doesn't give me a New World vibe in the slightest.

Trey said...

It sounds like it's really important to you that specific details of Middle-earth (or North America) be retained, and that's cool. I'm not so sure the people of Gondor didn't have slaves at times and their were certainly indigenous (non-Nuemenorian) folk of Middle-earth. Also, there was certainly "aristocracy" in Imperial Mexico.

What I'm after is the aesthetics. If the details get too much in the way for you to utilize the aesthetics, well, different strokes and all.

Scott said...

I'd say go for Cavaliers and Roundheads and Napoleonic Era soldiers more than the Old West - and put it in the Fourth Age so that you can have it so that Saruman's Uruk-hai were still the first to use black blasting powder extensively in warfare, as per the Jackson movies. If you want there to still be a bit of a frontier feel to certain parts of the setting, it could be that a resurgent Gondor in alliance with the cavalry-mad riders of Rohan are taking back the regions of former Arnor that had grown wild, with Rangers sort of playing the Davy Crockett kind of role. The big question is how they're treating with any current inhabitants of those lands and just how colonial or at best paternalistic their actions are.

Ed Auger said...

Farmer Maggot reportedly has a Blunderbuss, or not?

said...

You be be thinking of Farmer Giles.

Alan

Simon J. Hogwood said...

Still, Farmer Giles' story takes place long before such things were at all common, so there's some precedent.

I sort of agree with JD, in that I find that a Spanish-style Gondor a bit dissonant. I would be interested in your thought process there - for myself, thinking "19th Century North American Middle Earth" means Gondor as a Neoclassical showpiece. I would argue that the Spanish California aesthetic is a better fit for Rohan - it's a bit rougher around the edges than Gondor, a little bit more Wild West. Which of, course, also means horses.

Trey said...

Rohan to me seems more like the Plains Indians.

"Neoclassical showpiece" doesn't translate well to a specific North American culture/subculture. Gondor's primary qualities I wanted to convey were Southern, aristocratic, and civilized. It's either the Antebellum South (which has elements I didn't want to ascribe to Gondor, so it was out) or Imperial Mexico. I get that these are not one to one comparisons, obviously.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

The Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings would serve as a good inspiration for such a setting:

Stumped at last for a riddle to ask, he cried out, as his hand fell on his snub-nosed .38, "What have I got in my pocket?"

..............

He would have finished Goddam off then and there, but pity stayed his hand. "It's a pity I've run out of bullets", he thought.