December Challenge Bulletin
- DECEMBER CHALLENGES BULLETIN
A new month and the holidays are coming. Time to celebrate with a
new story? Perhaps inspired by the customs of Middle Earth or the
cultures Tolkien used for inspiration.
For ancient Germanic and Celtic people, the impulse to celebrate
solstice was the same as for their neighbors to the south -- a
celebration of the cycle of nature and a reaffirmation of the
continuation of life. But the style and substance of their
celebrations took very different shape.
Imagine living in, say, Scandinavia a thousand years ago. At
solstice, the sun rises around 9 a.m. It sets about 3 p.m. A mere
six hours of daylight. Even if you sleep for eight hours, you
spend much more of your waking time in darkness than in light. What
a relief when the days begin to lengthen again! Many of the ancient
traditions surrounding Yuletide are concerned with coping with the
darkness and the evils it was thought to harbor, and helping the
return of light and warmth.
All December babies, please put up your birthday
drabble requests at the HASA Birthday Cards
Forum! There are a few fang-filled prompts up
already, so get over there and ask for the
drabble you've always wanted.
**The Newbies - "Nine for mortal men doomed to die"**
November has been a month brim-full for us at
Challenges, and the little dears have been
flooding in. There are nine new Challenges up, so
check them out and get yourself bitten today!
Aragorn Poetry Writing Challenge (closes 2/13/05)
A VERY Interesting Question...(closes 5/5/05)
The Forgotton Ones (closes 5/7/05)
Pub Crawl(closes 5/9/05)
Working Life in Middle-Earth(closes 5/15/05)
Sophisticated Cultures and Primitive Peoples (closes 11/3/05)
The November Surprise!(closes 11/5/05)
Where the Stars are Strange (closes 11/30/05)
Confessions to the Sleepless Night(closes 11/30/05)
Wishing you a snaggly-toothed month! These are ending soon,so grab
them now and you'll have no regrets later:
Kids do the darndest things...
Even Dunedain kings and elven princesses were children once upon a
time... How were our favorite characters like as children? Were
Elrond and Celebrian's twins really mischevious pranksters (as fanon
often portrays them) and drove Glorfindel insane? Did Eowyn play
under Theoden's council table with toy soldiers and riders? Did
Legolas ever announce that he wanted nothing for mettare but a pet
How about the first age? Was Galadriel a child terror in Tirion? Did
Luthien go through the terrible teens, and drive her divine mother
crazy? How about Feanor and Nerdanel: how was life having a brood of
seven sons? How were the cousins of the royal Noldorin family
(Feanor's, Fingolfin's, and Finarfin's children) treated?
Any kid, any time, any frazzled parent/older sibling/caretaker
chasing after them/finding them/tearing their hair out over their
exploits. The kid should be young enough to NOT get into much
trouble about it: between birth and early teens (or the human
We've seen a lot of gloomy instrospective work on War, especially
during the WWI poet's challenge (and why did my mind only
think "Kipling! "Orcs, orcs, orcs, orcs, tunnelling up and down
again. Orcs, orcs, orcs, orcs, as through the mountains we go" and
that's the wrong war all together!) , but not every man found being
a soldier onerous. There has always been a rah, rah cheerleading or
humorous self-deprecating attitude in marching and drinking songs
that celebrate war and the profession of soldiering.
I happened to be at a science fiction convention this past weekend
and we revisited a group of songs written for one of the more
militaritistic of SF cultures. Some of them just cried out to be be
re-filked into Middle Earth.
For example, there's the original traditional Scottosh song "Drink
to the Health of the Weavers"
If it wasna for the weavers what would ye do?
You wouldna hae a claith that was made o' woo'
You wouldna hae a coat o' the black or the blue
If it wasna for the wark o' the weavers
Which was filked into a Dorsai song by Marty Burke, "Drink to the
Health of the Dorsai"
If it wasn't for the Dorsai, what would you do?
Ye wouldna' have your freedom to take a drink or two.
Ye wouldna' have the choice of the Devil or the Blue,
If it wasna' for the work of the Dorsai!
I can just see the Rangers sitting around a campfire before the next
skirmish with the orcs singing: "Drink to the Health of the
We're all here together to drink and to fight,
With a star on our chests and our weapons in plain sight.
There's not an orc among 'em who could back us down tonight,
As we drink to the health of the Rangers!
If it wasn't for the Rangers what would you do
You wouldn't have the freedom to take a drink or two
You wouldn't have a choice of the Dark or the Light
If it wasn't for the work of the Rangers!
There's archers and there's pikemen and there's scouts who've seen
There's guards and charging horsemen, and great-sword fighters tall
We're drinking tonight before an orcish brawl.
And we'll drink to the health of the Rangers!
You think you're all secure and your walls will save your lives.
An orcish horde is something that will catch you in your lies.
We're strong and gifted warriors and we're proud to bear the signs
That separate mere men from the Rangers!
This was only lightly filked from the Dorsai version. Thanks, Marty!
Or take "Sound the Pibroch":
Sound the pibroch loud and high
From John O'Groats to the Isle of Skye!
Let all the Clans their slogan cry
And rise tae follow Charlie!
I can just see Boromir's recruiters going about the land and singing:
No more we'll see such deeds again,
But men like you can lend your hand.
Pick up that weapon and learn again
And strike for Gondor's glory.
It could even be someting as extremely
silly as "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm
after they've seen MT?"
The challenge is to write, filk or pay homage to a song that
celebrates war or warriors.
Any format, any length as long it includes, or
is, a song.
Tolkien took on the persona of a scholar unearthing and translating
a set of texts: the Quenta Silmarillion and The Red Book. This
Challenge is based on extending this conceit in order to generate
a "historical AU".
As anyone knows, historical texts can be very slippery. There are
several "Gospels" that didn't for some reason make the cut for the
Bible; there are the Dead Sea Scrolls that testify to the life and
beliefs of a sect of Judaism beyond mainstream Judaism; there are
fragments of official documents about the life of Pontius Pilate;
there are tax records that tell us something about what the nobility
of mediaeval England actually could demand of the peasantry.
There are personal diaries and official chronologies, suppressed
works (The Mirror of Simple Souls) and sometimes copyists of Bibles
and other texts would include hilarious marginal (and totally
personal) notes. And to my everlasting frustration, most of
Aristotle's major public works were lost.
So what's to say there aren't dozens of these sorts of 'records'-
records internal to Middle-earth's history-floating about that
Tolkien the textual archaeologist didn't have (but might have seen
references to-like a very famous but unfortunately lost work of
Maglor, or records of Elessar's reign as recorded by the Haradrim),
or else didn't include? If only we had access to them, what sorts of
different takes on the stories of "The Lord of the Rings" or "The
Tale of the Children of Húrin" (for example) might we have?
That's the basic idea. Here's the 'how to' part:
There are two groups:
Group One would be writing up these pseudo historical documents and
posting them to HA Writers as a sort of central storage location:
our very own compiled "Red Book" as it were, which has been
entitled "The Lost Books." Group One writers could write anything
that the authors felt could realistically challenge the "dominant"
canonical text. This is why I made a cattle call onlist to
historians, classicists, museum workers, and "random folks who know
something of information transmission over the centuries" who
would have some idea of what sorts of things *tend* to be preserved,
and how to read them.
That way, they can realistically reverse engineer us some documents.
People in this group could create complete documents or ones that
are fragments, to imitate damage by time. If someone were really
ambitious, s/he could even have someone draw a picture (maybe
a 'photograph' of the fragmentary remains of Arwen's greatest
tapestry, for example; see "Prospective Challenges" forum for
other examples). I would like to try and limit this group, however,
because we don't need thousands of documents-I somehow doubt the
members of group two want to play archaeologist *that* badly. :-)
Group Two, then, would take up these jigsaw puzzle pieces provided
by Group One (as many as they liked, though perhaps some lower
limit could be set, e.g., at least two) and organize them into some
sort of coherent picture.
They would then compare what they have with the original works
Tolkien provided us, and then use those fake documents to write
a 'historically based' AU to the original stories (complete with
documentation). One could also conceivably take on a scholar persona
and write about why, for example, one ought to read X into the Red
Book, due to A, B, C bits of evidence, though I don't know how many
people would want to do this.
I was also thinking that if anyone with HoME volumes thought some of
Tolkien's drafts (or rather, portions thereof) might be great to use
in this, that we could carefully quote and cite the relevent
portions, thus adding another layer of complexity to this whole
The upshot of this is that we would have a set of AUs that took
advantage of the "found this text and translated it" conceit that
Tolkien employed, and which would be very specific to HASA.
Now open to fics based on any of the three films, or in light of any
combination of the three films! If you entered the original
Movie Challenge, please enter your story into this one as well. When
this Challenge is made public, the old Movie Challenge will be taken
down, so that we have everything in one big collection. Thanks!
The movie has of course made changes to the books. Some changes we
accept, others we feel fall short of expectations, and some outright
violate our expectations in a way we feel is barely acceptable, if
that. Pick a scene from any of the three movies that particularly
bothers you, either due to continuity, or due to issues of
characterization. Then, while remaining within the movieverse,
attempt to explain or fill the gap in a way that would enhance the
movie for you as a lover of the books.
If this is a persistent characterization problem, try to pick the
moment that you feel is defining of the wrongness of the
characterization and work with it.
The story should be at least one type-written page long, but not
more than 3 type-written pages. Definition of page - 1" margin all
the way around, Times 12 pt. font., standard size paper.
There should be one viewpoint or one character as the main focus
It should be one continuous scene
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pick one of
the below prompts, and write a story within the limits here
--Write the tale of Saruman's meeting with Denethor after Saruman
had discovered Isildur's scroll in Minas Tirith's library. Remember:
this would've been set well before the Ring War (see
"The Council of Elrond", FoTR).
--Celebrimbor's rejection of Curufin whenthe latter is expelled from
--The scene in the command tent of on the eve of the final battle of
the Last Alliance.
--Anborn asks Legolas about the black squirrels in Mirkwood
--Gimli presenting Dwalin with what's left of the book from the
Chamber of Mazarbul in memory of Balin.
--Elrond learns of Arwen's choice.
--Boromir receives the Horn of Gondor from his father, or for that
matter, Denethor receives it from Ecthelion
--The meeting of Turgon and Húrin in the middle of the Fifth Battle
--Ghan-buri-ghan's decision to make himself known to the Rohirrim:
how did it come about?
--Merry returning to Crickhollow and telling Fatty what has happened
to the other three hobbits, before the other three arrive
--Gandalf arriving in Lothlorien after his battle with the Balrog --
What would a wood elf's reaction be to seeing Gandalf wandering
--The great pearl Nimphelos--show the thoughts of the elven pearl
fisher who discovered it, or the reactions of Cirdan, Thingol, or the
dwarves when they first are presented with it.
--Beren and Celeborn take time out of the festivities to talk about
groom-gifts upon the occasion of Dior's marriage to Nimloth.
--Any encounter between one of the Dunlendings after Helm's Deep
with one of his Rohirric 'captors'
This Nugzul made it out of the Hutch:
Sweet Child of Mine
These Nugzul just need one more story to become a
full-blown challenge. So make a nugzul happy and
help it escape the hutch.
When Out the Hellish Legion Sallied
"There are some nugzul getting lonely in the hutch; adopt one today!"
Remember that the password for posting for HAwriters has changed.