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Student Publishes Extensive Statistics On the Population of Middle-Earth

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the how-many-hobbits? dept.

Books 218

First time accepted submitter dsjodin writes "There are only 19% females in Tolkien's works and the life expectancy of a Hobbit is 96.24 years. In January 2012 chemical engineering student Emil Johansson published a website with the hope for it to become a complete Middle-Earth genealogy. Now, ten months later, he has published some interesting numbers derived from the database of 923 characters. The site features a set of unique graphs helping us understand the world Tolkien described. Perhaps the most interesting ones are showing the decrease of the longevity of Men and the change in population of Middle-Earth throughout history. The latter was also recently published in the September edition of Wired Magazine."

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A Love Story (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41584889)

Roses are red,
grass is greener.

When I read Slashdot,
I play with my weiner.

So do I (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585231)

Roses are red, grass is greener.

When I read Slashdot, I play with my weiner.

So do I

And its good of you to let me

Still A Better Love Story Than Twilight (0)

trum4n (982031) | about 2 years ago | (#41585653)

Better than Twilight.

Re:A Love Story (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586899)

Roses are red, grass is greener.

When I read Slashdot, I play with my weiner.

Why do English speakers unanimously suck at spelling loanwords that contain "ie" or "ei"?

Wiener, referring to a penis, comes from the obvious association with the type of sausage. That sausage is a "Wiener Wurst", which is German for "Vienna Sausage". Wien is the German language name for Vienna. It's also where you get "Wiener Schnitzel" from.

"Wein" on the other hand is the German word for wine and is pronounced similarly.

There's a basic rule in English of "i before e except after c"; so if you're going to get things wrong, I'll accept accidentally writing "ie" instead of "ei" on loanwords, but the other way around like this is just fucked up.

Everybody knows. (5, Informative)

sunking2 (521698) | about 2 years ago | (#41584917)

Dwarf women often get confused with the men.

Re:Everybody knows. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585307)

Everybody knows - this guy has no girlfriend.

Re:Everybody knows. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585447)

It's the beards.

Re:Everybody knows. (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about 2 years ago | (#41586099)

I thought dwarves just spring out of holes in the ground.

Nerds! (4, Funny)

LucidBeast (601749) | about 2 years ago | (#41584933)

I'll come to insult you more - after I go through these numbers and make sure they are correct.

Allow me to be the first to say... (2, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 years ago | (#41584935)



(In all seriousness, though, that's actually kind of cool, pretty interesting)

Re:Allow me to be the first to say... (2)

Random2 (1412773) | about 2 years ago | (#41585057)

And already slashdotted to boot. The max number of user connections is allotted for the graphs. Apparently we've a lot of nerds here too. :)

Re:Allow me to be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585137)

In all honesty, there aren't enough active Slashdot users left to knock a TRS-80 web server offline.

Re:Allow me to be the first to say... (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41585391)

And already slashdotted to boot.

Great! I declare this "Don't RTFA Monday".

Re:Allow me to be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585869)

And that's different than every other day how???

Re:Allow me to be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585411)

He's more of a geek than a nerd.

nerd - one deeply interested in one or more academic fields
geek - someone obsessed with one or more pop cultural phenomena

This explains why Best Buy's Geek Squad is so terrible. Watching Star Wars ad nauseam doesn't improve your computer repair skills.

Re:Allow me to be the first to say... (2)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | about 2 years ago | (#41586775)

jerk: someone who makes up spurious definitions to common terms and then applies those definitions in order to make other people seem less credible.

According to Merriam-Webster:
Geek (noun):
1: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
2: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
3: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity <computer geek>

19% female is pretty good. (4, Funny)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | about 2 years ago | (#41584973)

That is better than most circles of geeks around here.

Re:19% female is pretty good. (5, Funny)

morcego (260031) | about 2 years ago | (#41585095)

That is better than most circles of geeks around here.

Actually, there are plenty of women around. They just don't want to talk to you :)

Re:19% female is pretty good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586085)


The letter is in the mail... (4, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 2 years ago | (#41584975)

This poor guy will probably soon receive a Cease and Desist letter from Tolken's estate...

Re:The letter is in the mail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585701)

Probably not if they get the same error I do: Firefox has detected that the server is redirecting the request for this address in a way that will never complete.

Hobbit life expectancy skewed (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41584985)

And Bilbo probably skewed Hobbit life expectancy with the life-extension properties of the Ring. There's also the problem that Bilbo and
Frodo will probably live to enormous age (or possibly not die--it's not clear which from the text) once they are welcomed to the
Undying Lands. If the become immortal, then the average life expectancy for Hobbits becomes infinite. I suggest moving to medians.

Re:Hobbit life expectancy skewed (2)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#41585659)

also Sam after the death of his wife Rosie left for the grey heavens and sailed to the west as he was also a ring bearer, thus possibly having immortality as well further skewing hobbit age statistics.

Re:Hobbit life expectancy skewed (2)

JockTroll (996521) | about 2 years ago | (#41585925)

Wrong, loserboy nerd: going to Valinor doesn't grant immortality to a mortal - Death being Ilùvatar's Gift it cannot be removed by the Ainur. A mortal granted passage into the West will die anyway but be spared the illness of old age. It's kind of a retirement home where the personnel doesn't manacle you to the bed, beat you up and piss all over your sore-ridden body while stealing your belongings.

Re:Hobbit life expectancy skewed (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41586667)

Why can't we do a search of "Hobbit Life Expectancy" Not-Bilbo Not-Sam?

Good ol' Boolean ops!

Re:Hobbit life expectancy skewed (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41585681)

"BullRoarer" Took lived to 135 without the aid of a magical ring...

Re:Hobbit life expectancy skewed (1)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | about 2 years ago | (#41585973)

No he didn't. He was known for his large size. It was Gerontius Took ("the Old Took") who lived to 130.

mo0d down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585003)

[] BSD's codebaSe to the crowd +in risk looking even

poor site has been slashdoted (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#41585037)

we'er sorry

Re:poor site has been slashdoted (1)

angelbar (1823238) | about 2 years ago | (#41585205)

We are sorry...

Re:poor site has been slashdoted (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41585847)

we'er sorry

Yeah, you're sorry. Now the poor admin and his friends need to walk and walk and walk, now not including Tom Bombadil, and walk and walk all the way to the data center, which now closely resembles a volcano due to the /. effect, to reboot the server, because no one can explain why the eagles can't just fly there and take care of it, because (insert a whole bunch of mumbo jumbo).

Re:poor site has been slashdoted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586351)

Pretty sure the winged Nazgul steed things could rip a few pathetic eagles to shreds, they sounded pretty damn nasty.

Slashdoted.. (2)

Severus Snape (2376318) | about 2 years ago | (#41585045)


See with a wee bit of communication before storys go on the front page, I'm sure administrators of sites like this would be happy to get some help from amazon or whoever to keep up with the increase in load.

Re:Slashdoted.. (2)

mdsharpe (1051460) | about 2 years ago | (#41585841)

Shaaaare the loooaaddd

What about the dwarves? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#41585051)

The population change chart has men, elves, and hobbits. What about dwarves, orcs, goblins, trolls, etc?

Re:What about the dwarves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585119)

Maybe Emil is a racist and doesn't feel they count as "people"

Re:What about the dwarves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585855)

The population change chart has men, elves, and hobbits. What about dwarves, orcs, goblins, trolls, etc?

I suspect there isn't a lot of data to build the population charts for those races. Orc populations were described several times but nothing concrete mainly due to Morgoth and Sauron both hiding their true numbers. I'm not sure goblin or troll populations were ever described in any of the books, and now that I think of it I don't remember their origin being told either.

In contract men and elves have lots of data you can use to determine very rough population data. Entire family trees are documented for some families.

I'm not sure where the hobbit data came from, I don't recall a whole lot of data on them other than some general data and personal data on the five main hobbits in the books. From my recollection the Similarion only briefly mentions them and not at any great depth.

Re:What about the dwarves? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#41585931)

I'm not sure where the hobbit data came from

It was this that made me think he should be able to do other races as well. He's got a period where middle earth is basically dominated by hobbits according to his numbers, but I can't think of any part of the books that suggests that was ever the case.

Re:What about the dwarves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586811)

Goblin origins are the same as orcs; corrupted elves.
Trolls are mockeries of ents.
I'm a nerd.

let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585097)

This kid is allergic to vagina?

Re:let me guess (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41585155)

If I were a gambling man, my bet would be on the other way around.

Serious points raised? (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#41585107)

This does in some ways raise serious points: A lot of classical fantasy had a dearth of women as characters. In Tolkien's case even when they are characters they are often far more passive than active. One sees how this conflicts with more modern sensibilities- look at how much screen time was given to Arwen and Eowyn compared to how much time they had in the books. (It is true that The Silmarillion also introduces some females but the overall numbers are low). Worse, when later fantasy did try to have empowered female characters, they were often more male fantasies, the classical "chicks in chainmail" and the like. One sees the extension of this to other variants as well in modern games, where in many videogames and MMOs otherwise equivalent armor is depicted as covering much less on the women and often emphasizing the female figure. And one sees a similar pattern in science fiction. Indeed, much of it doesn't even get close to passing the Bechdel test [] . Note that in the case of Lord of the Rings, it fails the Bechdel test so badly that no two major female characters even have a conversation. (Interestingly, another major foundation of the work- The Chronicles of Narnia has much more in the way of strong females.)

It shouldn't be that surprising in this sort of context that scifi and fantasy have for a long-time been seen as male-dominated genres. That's obviously not exclusively the case (I first started reading fantasy to some extent because woman who babysat me was a voracious consumer of fantasy novels), but it is a definite problem. There have been some clear changes in the genre in the last few years, especially in the Young Adult area. Thus, one has examples like Garth Nix's Abhorsen series where the main characters are to a large extent strong women, and actually strong not just skimpy-armor-strong. So the genre does seem to be changing, but there will likely always be some influence from what founded the genre.

Re:Serious points raised? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585335)

Interesting. You've proven yet again that neckbeards need to get a life.

Re:Serious points raised? (3, Insightful)

iggymanz (596061) | about 2 years ago | (#41585341)

why are you bemoaning an imagined problem because fantasy and the real world don't conform to your expectations? There are some women warriors in the world, sure. but not many. most have the good sense to avoid that occupation like the plague. most women don't think it's cool to destroy, be violent, maim and kill. or to start a war to plunder or expand power. men are different in that regard, on average. get over it, we really need less of that kind of "empowered" women and men on this planet.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

JockTroll (996521) | about 2 years ago | (#41585959)

most women don't think it's cool to destroy, be violent, maim and kill. or to start a war to plunder or expand power. .

You don't get out much, don't you.

Re:Serious points raised? (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 2 years ago | (#41585975)

I don't think that's all that's going on here. In a lot of classical fantasy including Lord of the Rings, many of the people who are involved aren't don't want to be. Both Sam and Frodo clearly are forced into their circumstances for example. And that's a pretty common thing in fantasy. The set of fantasy where people go out of their way to maim, kill and destroy like Conan is fairly limited.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 2 years ago | (#41586545)

every coerced "defender" in your (and my) favorite fiction is made so by an "attacker" who is basically acting as the real world male assholes who are power and wealth grubbing scum. war, it's a male thing.

but this goes even beyond war to occupations like firefighting and police. they lowered the standards for females they do have. for example, my cousin had to carry 250 lbs. dummy up and down an extended firetruck ladder, maybe one in a thousand or less women can do that. would you want a firefighter who *couldn't* do that?

Re:Serious points raised? (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41585371)

A lot of classical fantasy had a dearth of women as characters.

Whereas the typical male fantasy has lots of women and only one guy.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

jbonomi (1839286) | about 2 years ago | (#41585415)

I found the number and quality of female characters in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series to be refreshing. Are there any other fantasy series that reverse the trend when it comes to females?

Re:Serious points raised? (3, Informative)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41585595)

Pretty much all of the works by Anne McCaffrey, Ursula Le Guin and Marion Zimmer Bradley immediately spring to mind.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41586793)

But they are all pretty much hopelessly in love, and 90% of them with the protagonist Rand. Adding in a bunch of females so you can have an occasional sex scene and a gaggle of women swooning over your protagonist is hardly applaudable.
I really liked The Deed of Paksenarrion novels, but the woman protagonist is not particularly a woman. Other than the name the book reads like it is a man.
Allan Cole's Anteros series is probably better, with its lesbian protagonist.

But then sometimes it seems so forced. Often writing a female into a book and particularly choosing a female protagonist seem like it was just so the author could call himself progressive.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

jbonomi (1839286) | about 2 years ago | (#41587223)

Oh, I don't think that's fair. There are many female characters in the story who are not in love with Rand, and it's a huge stretch to suggest that even the three who are are nothing more than sex objects. How many chapters are written from their perspectives? How many instrumental events do they take the lead on? Do they wait for the men in the series to tell them what to do? No. Characters like Egwene, Nyneave (In love with Lan, but not moreso than he is with her), Elaida, Siuan? Each of these characters are leaders and interesting on their own.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | about 2 years ago | (#41586799)

I don't think Jordan is a valid counter example. He had enough characters to conform to at least one of each possible stereotype.

(Also, the Min/Elayne/Aviendha/Rand love tri^H^H^Hquadrangle that turned me off of the whole series. Hardly the archetype of strong, independent female characters.)

Re:Serious points raised? (5, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41585441)

At the risk of sounding like a misogynist... is the lack of women really a bad thing in and of itself? It's certainly quite "realistic" (as much as a fantasy setting can be): in medieval cultures, women weren't adventurers or warriors, and LOTR is focused almost exclusively on adventure and fighting. And for good reason: it's a simple biological fact (source [] , warning that the picture at the top is full frontal male/female nudity, so probably NSFW) that men have a greater upper body strength than women, on average, and when wielding 50+ pound swords and 100+ pound draw weights on bows, upper body strength is kinda important (which is not to say women could not be fighters and archers, but the average woman would be worse at it than the average man: obviously, some women are far stronger than most men).

There is also the fact that LOTR isn't concerned with gender inequality: it's simply not one of the themes of the book, so if you expect it to deal with it, you will obviously be disappointed. I'd say that isn't even the point of the genre, as a whole. It's like expecting sci-fi to explore what it's like to be a single person living in New York city: it's kind of missing the point. Gender equality is an issue in our day-to-day world. Writing fantasy to explore the issue, while possible, is a bit underwhelming. The point of fantasy is it can explore grand themes of the struggle between good and evil and power/corruption in a way no book set in everday life ever could. OTOH, a book set in everday life can explore the issues of gender inequality in a way that fantasy can't, because fantasy is by definition disconnected from the real world, so exploring real-world issues using fantasy will create some issues in the translation.

Mind you, I'm not saying you should write a book to specifically exclude women or paint them in a bad light, that would be misogynistic. But simply ignoring the issue isn't a problem, IMO, if you don't mean to be dealing with it.

Re:Serious points raised? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585997)

First, if a sword weighs 50 lbs, the blacksmith did something very, very wrong. Maybe it's a lump of gravel glued into the shape of a sword [] .

Second, I think you missed the point of the OP. Gender inequality doesn't have to be central theme of the book, just for women to be in it. That's a problem with historically unequal face time for female characters - it's come to mean that when they do show up, people think it's for a special reason or to 'make a point' or something. When, given that women and girls are half the population, and every man and boy will run into at least one at one point in their life (probably many more), you'd expect to see us all over the place for no particular reason because we're just that ubiquitous.

And yeah, specifically excluding us or painting us in a bad light is misogynistic. So is ignoring us because you think we only make good characters when you want to discuss women's issues. Women aren't "an issue," we're people. Just like men. If an author ends up writing a book about the lives of several characters and fails to present any women at all because they 'don't want to explore the issue of gender inequality,' there is still a problem. It's an indication that the author cannot see how women fit into the lives of 'people' (read: men). That's misogyny, too.

Re:Serious points raised? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586675)

If an author ends up writing a book about the lives of several characters and fails to present any women at all because they 'don't want to explore the issue of gender inequality,' there is still a problem.

That seems like that would really depend on the situation. If what is being written about is a scenario that historically didn't involve many women, then one could potentially face a decision about how hard one must try to include women. For example, if writing about soldiers in WW2, there are times it is going to be pretty male-centric. Of course there were women around, and women could be included in the story from anywhere from interacting with the local population to the couple front-line roles women had to something much more minor like writing to or reminiscing of someone they know back home. But those all require certain types of characters going into specific situations and specific focus/themes that may or may not fit with the story in mind.

I'm not trying to say there are not some issues with how women are treated in many stories, but I do think in many stories it is not a clear cut whether something was done for the story versus done because the author was misogynistic. And depending on who you talk to, some people complain even if they are women but are in the background too much, or complain that there are not enough women in certain roles within such stories. Trying to address those complaints are where you end up with the connection between "addressing gender imbalance issues" = "including more women," when trying to put women in a breaking-the-mold type position without risking it looking out of place or forced.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41586077)

It's like expecting sci-fi to explore what it's like to be a single person living in New York city: it's kind of missing the point.

Good, hard sci fi, you mean.

Bad soft sci fi like "stranger in a strange land" which is a very thinly disguised veneer of sci fi pasted over a 60s california hippy commune story, which doesn't appeal to me so I found it to be truly awful sci fi.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586117)

when wielding 50+ pound swords

Who the bloody fuck do you suppose wielded a 50 pound sword?

Re:Serious points raised? (4, Informative)

thelexx (237096) | about 2 years ago | (#41586165)

"wielding 50+ pound swords"

Swords do not weigh that much. The Wallace Sword is five feet six inches long and weighs six pounds. It's at the upper end of claymore size/weight and of swords generally.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#41586561)

Right, I was wrong about that (knew I should have looked it up). Still, when the weight is spread out over a 3-4 feet, that isn't nearly as light as it sounds. And of course you also have to carry armor and packs of food/water, which is quite heavy as well (although relying more on leg strength, which has less of a male/female disparity).

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41587003)

Wow that as a lot lighter than I would've expected. But I guess the longer it is the lighter it has to be.

But to anyone who ever used hammers/malls. It becomes obvious quite fast exactly how heavy even 10 pounds feels when you use tools like that. A 50 pound sword/mace would be pretty unusable, easy to pick up and carry around, but not to actually use.

Re:Serious points raised? (2)

kumanopuusan (698669) | about 2 years ago | (#41587025)

You're mostly correct, but Japanese cavalry swords were up to 18 pounds and were used in actual combat. Larger ceremonial versions weigh more than 150 pounds and exceed 3 meters in length—although these are obviously not usable as weapons.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586349)

I agree and to some degree was going to post something similar. If most societies kind of evolve from less ideal to more ideal, one would expect more equality in futuristic sci-fi and less equality in somewhat of a historical-esque setting.

Although, on the other hand, one of the nice things about fantasy is you can stray from what history has produced in our world. One could choose to create a matriarchal society for whatever reason, as the fantasy world would have a different history. Also, if one wanted to create work where gender imbalance was a major theme, then "stereotypical" male centered fantasy worlds would work quite well if going for something more blatant, or lone wolf versus everyone else scenario. If anything, writing about gender imbalance via futuristic sci-fi might be slightly more difficult, as it would require more subtlety.

Not every book is going to address every issue in society. Some are going to emphasize a few issues, or even avoid societal issues and stick to some personal issues of characters. Issues that are not addressed will just be in the background at some level appropriate for the setting. This isn't to say there are not bias issues, or at least complications, with fantasy being kind of male-centric. But sometimes there is a fine line between complaints of inappropriate bias, and pulling something analogous to complaining about smoking in a WW2 period piece...

Re:Serious points raised? (-1, Flamebait)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41586935)

More importantly women are far far worse at other important attributes than simply strength.
It would not matter if you made a 2 lb sword, the very best women who trained tirelessly would only be as good at a moderately above average man.

Most showenly this is demonstrated in marksmanship, where strength is not really an issue. You can take the military, or professional marksmanship as perfect examples of this. At pretty much any level of skill you will get far lower than a 19% ratio.

Re:Serious points raised? (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41585569)

There are good reasons why Lord of the Rings failing the Bechdel test is hardly surprising:
1. Tolkien wrote it in the 1940's. Sexism was hardly unusual then.
2. Tolkien was actively imitating and drawing from older tales and epics, which regularly had very few important female characters. For instance, the only woman with any kind of significant role in Beowulf (a significant inspiration for Tolkein) is Grendel's mother, and she isn't even given a name.
3. One of the constant and enduring themes throughout the books is the deep bonds that form between men thrown together into really bad situations. Probably part of the point was to give folks an idea of what it was like to be at the front in WWI, where the only women in the area were nurses.

There was at least one fantasy novel I read a long time ago that had actually completely reversed the roles of men and women: The women were the tough fighters and leaders and in charge of everything, the men were expected to sit around looking pretty until the women wanted to sleep with them.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 2 years ago | (#41586673)

Tolkien was also a man. Otherwise he would have been writing about debutantes trying to hook a rich and hunky husband.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585597)

Seems like when they try to make a woman a significant character in fantasy writing they go too far in the "strong woman" stereotype. She has to be hyper aggressive and violent to make her as unfeminine as possible. It is rare to find a soft yet strong female or even rarer, a somewhat comic one.

Re:Serious points raised? (4, Interesting)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 2 years ago | (#41585665)

I think it's more nearly the truth that Tolkien (like many men of his class and generation) was quite alienated from women. I don't think you'd exactly call him a misoynist - although many of his attitudes look very misoynistic to modern eyes - but he had no sympathetic ability to understand what it was to be a woman, not to write from a woman's view point. His understanding of women is pretty much as sexless and passive creatures. The outstanding exceptions to passivity are Eowyn and perhaps Luthien, but Eowyn at least is clearly unable to express the sexuality of her feeling for Aragorn[1], and is apparently virgin until her marriage to Faramir. I don't remember the Luthien narrative in detail, but my memory of it is that he pursues her, not the other way around; so again there's little evidence of any erotic feeling on her part. The only couple in the whole damned epic (I include the Silmarillion and the Hobbit) to appear to have anything approaching what we'd describe as a normal healthy sex-life are Sam and Rosie Gamgee, and that happens in a few pages at the very end of the text.

I have very conflicted feelings about Tolkien, and this is one of the issues. In the end he's telling a very reactionary story, a story of primogeniture, divine right, and male supremacy. A story, undoubtedly, influenced both by his Catholicism and his experience of the Great War. But seriously, do you see Arwen as good in the sack? Do images of Galadriel have you writhing in the night? No, didn't think so. Me neither. And, actually, I think the story would be stronger if they did.

Perhaps the reason that the population of Middle Earth is so small and doesn't grow in anything like a natural way is that Middle Earth women just don't like sex very much? Or perhaps Middle Earth men just aren't very good at it?

[1] I'm not suggesting that Eowyn 'ought' to have made an unsubtle pass at Aragorn; there are plenty of societies in which young women are very inhibited from doing that, although it's a little surprising in the robust horse-nomad society of the Rohirrim: but there are plenty of subtle ways in which Eowyn could have made a pass at him, and she just doesn't. She mopes about waiting for him to make a pass, and then when he doesn't goes all fey and suicidal.

Re:Serious points raised? (4, Informative)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41586057)

The Tale of Beren and Lúthien was written by Tolkien as an epic love story deliberately casting himself and his wife as the characters.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586213)

Thank you for using the word "fey." It is grossly underused.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586625)

Don't blame Tolkien for your short comings as a human being.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 2 years ago | (#41585719)

Even in a modern sword-and-sorcery like "Game of Thrones", the men-as-fighters and women-as-backstabbers (I'm sorry, politicians and behind-the-scenes agents) continues, and since the focus is on the fighters the focus is on the men.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586035)

How dare they make it realistic, the outrage!
This nonsense of ruining everything just so that a few pedantic idiots can be happy that everyone is 'equal' is silly, get over it already.

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41587015)

"...the focus is on the fighters..."

I'm pretty sure you're flat-out wrong.

Going down the list of main narrative characters (>1 chapter, >1 book), we have
Eddard - an older man who used to be a fighter, but now is a politician.
Catelyn - Eddard's wife, who runs things in his absence until war breaks out at which point she is much more active than he is.
Bran - their son, who, as a child, is scarcely a warrior even before the events that wind up overtaking him.
Arya - their daughter, likewise a child, but much more warriorly (yes it's a word, I swear.) than Bran.
Jon Snow - Eddard's bastard son, who takes up the life of a warrior by default since he's unable to inherit or become involved in politics.
Sansa - Ned and Cat's daughter, who fits best into the traditional feudal young woman's role at the start of the story.
Tyrion Lannister - Second son of a great nobleman, a dwarf with severe daddy issues, Tyrion is in no way suited for a martial life, and instead spends his time with books and political maneuvers whenever possible. [SPOILER:] he fights in a total of two real battles, one of which he is expected to lose handily by the general, but wins because the enemy committed ~10% of their available strength, the other he fights only after everyone else in a potential leadership role has turned craven and fled the field - he is badly maimed, and the battle is won only through the advent of well-timed reinforcements.
Daenaerys Targaryen - The deposed princess-in-exile, she doesn't engage in combat herself, though she's a competent leader and general in later books, when she uses her 'demure attitude to take political rivals by surprise (paraphrasing, "I am only a young girl and know little of trade, but I know enough to know that the crown takes its 10% before expenses, thank you very much...").

Book 1: discounting the prologue: 4 male and 4 female protagonists, with most of the page space going to the dead guy, but the single most critical plot moment (capturing Tyrion at Masha Heddle's Inn, kicking off the whole darn war) going to Catelyn. Of the featured characters, one was a fighter (Ned), two are training to become fighters (Arya and Jon), two aren't fighters but occasionally are involved in violent altercations (Tyrion's battle and Cat's fight with the hired knife-man), while three (Bran, Sansa, and Dany) are sometimes in the presence of violence, but are not violent themselves.

The pattern continues, as much as possible, through the later books - when we gain Theon and Davos, we've lost Eddard as a narrative character, Jaime's chapters don't appear until he's basically lost all credibility as a fighter, and Brienne's chapters in AFFC are outnumbered by Cersei's. The supporting chapters from the Greyjoy uncles are balanced out to a degree by the Martell heiress and Samwell (what is it with Sam being a fat guy who goes along as a sidekick? Samwise Gamgee, Samwell Tarley...), and by Dance, there are so many characters that most of the book is told by people who have 4 chapters, and it's just too complex to do the numbers game anymore.

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#41586033)

I've been re-reading the Revelation Space series lately and it struck me suddenly just how many principal characters are female. In the first book there are 3 principal characters - two of which are female, probably ~10 peripheral characters - about half of which are female and the trend continues into the other books as well though less so as the number of characters increases. Even the principal villains (I personally see the Inhibitors as more of a force of nature that must be dealt with than as villains) are female and most of the strong, active characters are female. Its really quite unusual for a science fiction series.

Re:Serious points raised? (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41586201)

A lot of classical fantasy had a dearth of women as characters

With childhood death rates around 80% any culture that doesn't do the barefoot pregnant and in the kitchen thing is literally going to disappear in at most a couple generations. As the Bechdel wiki page contains "A work may fail the test for reasons unrelated to gender bias, such as because its setting works against the inclusion of women"

Re:Serious points raised? (2)

bzipitidoo (647217) | about 2 years ago | (#41586597)

The story focuses a lot on physical drama-- trekking through dangerous wilderness, ruins, and enemy territory, plus of course war zones and battles. Men are physically stronger and better suited for that kind of thing. The things women are better at aren't given much time. Children are even less visible, so no need for any mothering. Talk is hardly needed, as, true to classic fantasy, the lines are already drawn and everything is black and white. Naturally the evil side is so dramatically strong and threatening that the good folks can't afford much disagreement and discussion, nor can they spare time for the complexities of domestics and the pursuit of happiness. When they do, the realm totters. It's all very simple. It's war.

Women and children aren't the only things conspicuous by their absence. There is also nearly zero science. But fantasy has to keep science, logic, and good thinking at a distance, or the fantasy world quickly breaks down. We can't have better forms of government appearing, that would spoil the monarchist idyll. (Funny how fantasies always ignore the Roman Republic and Greek democracies.) No one is inventing better weapons, instead progress is inverted. Such is necessary for monsters to be powerful and scary. That Watcher in the Water would have no chance whatever against a corps of engineers, anymore than solo acts like King Kong or Godzilla had a real chance against an entire city. The Balrog can't prevail with personal combat either. Sauron didn't rely on personal strength even with the Ring, instead he recruited and organized armies, and held territory. For communication we have horse relays, beacons, horns, and mysterious, rare, dangerous magical objects, and sorcery available only to the highest ranks of the enemies. Admittedly, control of a volcano makes for one heck of a beacon and tool for demoralizing and frightening one's foes. The older it is, the better it is, presumably because the forces of evil have been gradually grinding the free peoples down over the ages. Very Goth. Such discovery as there is, is all in the area of traveling and seeing the world. And to make that work, all the peoples have to be extreme homebodies. How else could the elves of Lorien be so out of touch with the Ents?

Re:Serious points raised? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41586601)

"In Tolkien's case even when they are characters they are often far more passive than active."
"Worse, when later fantasy did try to have empowered female characters, they were often more male fantasies, the classical "chicks in chainmail" and the like."

So first off you start by stating that putting women is passive, stereotypical woman, roles is sexist and bad.
And then you state that putting women in active roles is sexist and bad.
??? So what is not sexist in your view?

And women characters in games need revealing armour, otherwise you would not be able to tell that they were women. They would look like any other tank, just with a funny feminine name (remember that the characters in games are not like ones on TV, where they are mostly close up; In videogames you have small character sprites and you need to exaggerate for players to be able to make what what they are at a glance.).

Re:Serious points raised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586959)

Indeed, much of it doesn't even get close to passing the Bechdel test [] .

On the other hand the Bechdel test is highly flawed. When was the last time you heard at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man?

I'm Green, Jealous Green.. 00G(double o-g) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585109)

that title almost sounds cool
Wow i feel a little jealous of all the free time this guy has. If i could get a week off from my kids using my back as a bouncy castle and referree, I would totally do something like this..(NOT!!).

Hobbits and natural selection (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#41585165)

Flores man [] is thought to have become small due to island dwarfism [] . But what sort of environment would select for the traits ascribed to Tolkien's hobbits and especially the apparent population explosion starting around the 26th century T.A. (10th century S.R.) as seen here [] ?

Re:Hobbits and natural selection (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#41585679)

Personally, I'm voting for "literary necessity" followed by "some convenient agricultural innovation."

More seriously: without having read nearly as much Tolkien as I'd like to be able to claim, and without even referencing your LotR Project link because it's Slashdotted right now, one of the theories behind island dwarfism is a series of population explosions: the creatures over-eat, consume all available resources, and only the smallest organisms are able to find enough food to survive afterwards. This doesn't really scale well to an agrarian culture like the hobbits, since the primary purpose of farming is to make food sources more steady.

That leaves us with the possibility that their crops are very nutrient-poor as a general rule, and over time evolution (perhaps even sexual selection) led to smaller creatures. The conservative culture of hobbits would permit a much later influx of resources would increase the breeding rate but not allow sexual selection to suggest taller individuals.

Re:Hobbits and natural selection (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585935)

I would think that with comments about hobbits being shy quiet folk, with an ability to not be seen if they don't want too, and living in 'holes in the ground' that there was a large preditors that ate all the tall ones...selecting for short, quiet (hairy footed) hobbits.

It may well have been the ent wives...since they are unaccounted for..and probably mean.

Are the ent wives counted in the stats?

Re:Hobbits and natural selection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41586129)

Why it was the cultivation of pipeweed of course! (hobbits were once much taller, but smoking stunted their growth, probably the same with Dwarfs tructh be told) The only way to grow more hobbit pipeweed wuld be to have more hobbits to grow it.

Tolkien Estate Takedown in 3... 2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585191)

Knowing the "Wonderful Artists of This World That Enjoy The Protection of Glorious Copyright" this won't live long.

More importantly... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585291)

What is their rate of Linux adoption on the desktop?

Re:More importantly... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41585349)

What is their rate of Linux adoption on the desktop?

Rangers don't have desks, you insensitive clod.

hobbit lifespan incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585301)

when bilbo states his 111th is a long life its due to the one ring extending it and there usual lifespans are far less....
from the ebooks on the rpg published decades ago one can say what? I'll leave you to finding those after demonoids demise even though they are technically now public domain....

The Beach Boys won't be singing about it (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41585331)

"Four boys for ev - ry - girl!"

Healing powers of crack rock (-1, Troll)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about 2 years ago | (#41585431)

What the heck has this guy been smoking? it must have been phenomenal. Average life expectancy of a hobbit? is the the sort of hobbit that has a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet and regular exercise? do they drink yakult?! does that factor in dark lords and undead agents?
Beyond the smoke I can see talk of Dragon paleontology, maybe for a slot next month.

What's next on the agenda, Nazgul Kamasutra? how about some Elven Feng shui??

Why don't you get out of your mother's basement and speak to real people! heck you might even get to know some.

Fr#ost 4ist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585485)

The Bore of the Rings (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585495)

The most tedious story ever told.

ASoIaF (1)

tomzyk (158497) | about 2 years ago | (#41585579)

Interesting. Now I'd like to see someone come up with statistics like these for Westeros.
I want to know things like:
  - what the population of Westeros needed to be in order to supply enough man-power to populate and guard all of the castles along the Wall?
  - and what kind of crime-rate would that imply?
  - and why are there only "nine free cities" in Essos? shouldn't there be potentially hundreds of large cities scattered across the continent if this civilization has been around for somethign like 10,000+ years?

I've been thinking about this stuff lately and it kinda seems to me that humanity is on the verge of extinction.
Yep. I honestly don't think ANYONE in the WORLD will survive these books when he finally finishes writing them!

Average life expectancy of a Hobbit? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41585581)

Why not just ask them [] ?

Decreasing longevity of mankind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41585705)

Tolkien was a devout Catholic and as a literary scholar was most likely aware of the work done by people like Issac Newton who calculated lifespans based on genealogies in the bible. They decreased over time from hundreds of years to our own. Classic Greek writing talks about this concept of a greater and longer lived past human race vs the debased people of today. So I wouldn't be surprised if he used this concept or at the very least was influenced by it.

Narrative Chart on xkcd (1)

phrank (112038) | about 2 years ago | (#41585747)

XKCD #657 [] came to my mind.

I wonder if anybody has done something similar for A Game of Thrones?

This webpage has a redirect loop (1)

npuzzle (1875242) | about 2 years ago | (#41585771)

1...2...3... and...Slashdotted

Epic Pooh with few chicks, yeah that's better... (1)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 2 years ago | (#41586239)

It was, is, and shall ever be Epic Pooh [] as described by Michael Moorcock.

/.ed ? (1)

heatseeker_around (1246024) | about 2 years ago | (#41586715)

still slashdoted ?

Sorry the site is down! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41587147)

As the creator of LotrProject I can only offer my deepest apologies for the site being down. My host has temporarily shut it down -_-
Being featured on Slashdot is a dream come true.


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