Looking Through the Palantir: March 25th



Welcome to Looking Through the Palantir, a new weekly recap where I’ll bring you the latest news, features, releases and more from the realm of science fiction/fantasy. So cozy on up to your favorite seeing-stone and check out this week’s divinations.

Ninety years ago author J.R.R. Tolkien completed his own translation of the epic poem Beowulf. Now the translation will finally be published, by HarperCollins, on May 22nd, complete with commentary based on lectures by the fabled author. Like many of the posthumously released works by the creator of the Hobbit, the translation was edited by his son Christopher Tolkien, who said that his father seemed to “never to have considered its publication Quite honestly, this is amazing. Forty-one years after his passing and we’re still discovering unpublished works by Tolkien. We need a new word to describe Tolkien, because the word prolific doesn’t seem to do him justice. Luckily, he invented entire languages so chances are good that he himself created a suitable word. I vote for Undarhruiménitupp, the name Tolkien gave himself in one of his “unrecorded languages”, Gautisk. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it.

Speaking of stories with dragons, at the Season 4 premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin mentioned the possibility that the tv show may end with a film, that “it might need a feature to tie things up, something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours.” This isn’t really a thing until it becomes absolutely official by way of release dates, director announcements, etc. Yet, it is a thing because George R.R. Martin is the one who said it. Either way, there’s plenty more Game of Thrones to look forward to and season four is imminent, yay!

And there’s more A Song of Ice and Fire news to be happy about. An entire chapter from the next book in the series, The Winds of Winter has been released as part of an update to the impossibly awesome World of Ice & Fire app (available on iTunes, Google Play, etc). The app is a glorious digital encyclopedia. It even has anti-spoiler settings you can activate depending on where you are in the series, which is nice if you want to avoid spoiling the scene where [redacted] took [redacted] and [redacted] all of the [redacted].

No new book releases this week, but I did want to point out the six recently announced finalists for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. This award is given annually to the best science fiction novel first published in the UK; the first book to win was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in 1987. Previous winners include Del Rey’s own China Miéville, the only three time winner. So, yeah, this is a big deal. The award director also wrote a fascinating blog about the judging process and how they pared down the record 121 submissions.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the recent passing of author Lucius Shepard. Shepard, who won the John Campbell Award for Best New Writer, a Nebula award, and a Hugo award was a luminous voice in the science fiction/fantasy genres for many years, he will be sorely missed.

Time to sign-off before Saruman catches me reading his email. Until next week, keep it secret, keep it safe!

Tom Hoeler is a freelance writer and editor who spends his time collecting stories,felling dragons, scrambling over the rooftops of Gotham, and cooking up delicious food. He serves as the intern and apprentice to the Del Rey and Star Wars Books team under the guise of Darth Internous.