Thursday, February 7, 2013

Zelazny's dwarves

So, while skimming through another of the books that's made its way onto the 'out' pile, I came across an unexpected Tolkienian usage I thought worth recording here.

The book in question is CREATURES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS, by Roger Zelazny [1969], which I finally got around to reading about a year and a half ago. I've had this copy since 1995, the main reason I've kept it till now being it was a gift from Dave Sutherland, the late AND great TSR mapper (cf. I6. Ravenloft), early D and D artist (one of the three responsible for the original MM, PH, and DMG), and memory repository of many a story from TSR's early days (he having been Employee #6).

While I'd rank Zelazny second only to Ray Bradbury as his century's premier science fiction writer, I wd have said he showed no influence from Tolkien whatsoever, either in his fantasy (Amber, Jack of Shadows) or in his science fiction -- so much so that I was puzzled by a tribute to Zelazny one artist put in her art for a MIDDLE-EARTH: THE WIZARDS ccg card.

 And yet there it is, a throwaway reference in a passing line as a character walks through a crowd of weird beings, tentacular and otherwise: ". . . she pushes past a horde of pimply green dwarves, turns up an alleyway . . ." (p. 91, paragraph six in the chapter "Wrath of the Red Lady").

'Elves' he might have gotten from old tradition (or from Dunsany, who influenced everyone who came after), but 'Dwarves' is Tolkien's own invention. 

So, Zelazny knew his Tolkien, well enough to pick up a coinage from his work. Who knew?

--John R.

current reading: THE DEVIL WIVES OF LI FONG by E. Hoffmann Price [1979]

1 comment:

AB+ said...

" 'Dwarves' is Tolkien's own invention."

December 31, 1887 issue of Punch uses the plural "dwarves." Link:

The Story of Norway by Hjalmar H. Boyesen, 1887, uses plural "dwarves" on page 18. Link:

Just google "dwarves" for other examples. Clearly the spelling "dwarves" pre-dates Tolkien and so P. Anderson could have picked it up from other sources.