Not a Bonnie Tyler Fan, Eh?

In this article, David Brin appears to criticize Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I've read his other article about Star Wars although I forget whether it was in Salon. While both articles have factual observations, the conculsions don't ring at all true for me.

Yes, it is rather unlikely that a single man, Jedi or Hobbit, would be able to single-handedly tip the scales and it is more likely that many regular folks would work together to triumph over evil. (And one could argue that in both cases there are ample examples of teamwork.) Yet unlikely is not the same as impossible. In the vein of Mr. Brin's Nazi analogy, in WWII Alan Turing led the effort to crack the Axis codes. Did he do it by himself? Of course not, but there's little doubt that, without him, the effort would have be qualitatively inferior.

Americans especially bristle at the notion that there is a royal line that is somehow better than the commoners. (And we pretty demonstratively disposed of such a monarchy.) But I think there's no doubt that each man or woman is born with their own special talents. Sometimes these special talents go unnoticed, like the man with freakish pinky finger strength or the woman with tracking smell like a bloodhound. But sometimes these special talents are so noticeable that they appear to be superhuman. They're not necessarily the young mother lifting the car off her toddler. But more often it's something like the sailor who stands for three hours in freezing sea water, spraying a fire hose on a generator to keep it from overheating and crippling his ship. That is heroic, that is superhuman, and that is the potential inside each and every one of us.

Heroes and champions are rare, sure. But so are the situations that create them from everymen. Far more important is the fact that both Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are stories. They're entertainment. And, yes, they're entertainment that has been wildly successful, both financially and popularly. But that doesn't reduce the fact that they're just entertainment requiring no more suspension of disbelief than a post-apocalyptic mailman.

Rather than focusing on which stories are more popular (Harry Potter certainly merits mention) than others, perhaps we ought to rejoice in anything that inspires us to be better people, to do some good, to make the world a better place.

Having said all that, I doubt Mr. Brin will be willing to provide a blurb for the dust jacket of my novel.

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