Thursday, January 10, 2013

And another thing

[More on The Hobbit, for earlier discussion see here]

I knew there was stuff I was forgetting.

The Goblins under the mountain.  Their economy runs on what?  They have a lot of wood, theirs does not appear to be a woody mountain.  to get to an exit near woods the dwarves had to first fall deep within Gollum's depths.  The Goblin part of the mountain is rocky and without vegetation   They are in communication with the Orcs outside of the mountain, do they trade with them?  Are we to see them as... miners perhaps?  The evil dwaves trading the riches under the mountain for food and construction materials?

And how does the entire evil economy work?  If you're bad you're killed, I get that.  But what happens if you're good at your job?  What are your rewards?  In order to be compensated you need to want something, but do we ever see goblins or orcs with much more than the clothes on their backs and weapons in their hands?  Do we ever see them want much more than that?  They don't seem to be after finery or gold or jewels or whatnot.  What do the goblins do?

What do the orcs do when not hunting oakshield?

What do they want?

Consider all the goblins under the mountain, where did their food come from, how were they compensated for their work, what were their daily tasks?  Were there so many bridges because they finished building and said, "What now?" to which the response was, "I don't know, I guess we just build more bridges"?

That's a huge population in a place with no evidence of food beyond mushrooms on the lower levels they do not seem to venture to.  There can't be enough travelers falling into their traps to sustain them.  There's no evidence that their aspirations are higher than their wooden home.

There was a bounty out, but what would the bounty be paid in?  "Here's a tasty elf I killed," perhaps?

What the hell are these people doing when they're not encountering wayward travelers?

Some must be tailors, some must be smiths, some of the orcs presumably train the mounts.  Perhaps some are cooks.  Are some farmers?

We see armies, but no evidence of the infrastructures such armies need, and no evidence of the wanton destruction such armies need when they lack the infrastructure.

For four hundred years Middle Earth has been in a state of peace.  So these armies of orcs and goblins cannot be living off their conquests because they're not making any.  Yet they are so many.

What are they doing all of this time?  Other than making kingdoms of wood inside of mountains, I mean.


  1. I am grumpy about The Hobbit.

    I didn't enjoy myself half as well as I ought to, considering. I have mixed feelings about attempting to wrap a travelogue into some big huge conspiracy plot that fits neatly into LOTR. On the one hand . . . okay, it's not bad to have overarching plots, and some extra setup to the war at the end of the book is an excellent idea. On the other . . . I don't like this. I thought Captain Hook was ridiculous, and the scene where the dwarves show up wasn't fun, and I found myself pondering why beings who are immortal except for violence would leave off railings on a bridge over a gorge. If I were nearly impossible to kill except by accident or fighting, I would damn well make sure that there's chain link all over the place.

    And, hey, orcs are evil again! And crazy people are dangerous! And . . . why exactly are all the other dwarves going along with Thorin on this quest? I think in the book, they're just planning to nip in and steal some gold. Do these dwarves want to kill the dragon? Do . . . they have any kind of plan for that? Because this current "plan" where they can barely bring themselves to get their map read by the map expert is the worst. (Also: moon runes are great for encryption, but not so great for writing messages you ever want people to read ever again.) Somehow the dwarves are all super-badass, which apparently necessitates that the goblin capture scene is now a shooty tunnel into a wood trap. (I, too, noticed the extreme prevalence of wood as a building material. What.) Which doesn't make sense on a number of levels: how do you reset the collapsing tunnel? How often do things come sleep in the cave, especially given the gundams that are significant chunks of the mountain? What's the benefit to putting them in a cage trap that then has to be opened, rather than a cage trap where you keep them? Why wouldn't you build your trap using the natural elements: i.e. a pit trap hollowed out of the rock that is ~99% of your immediate environment? I assume that the mine architects are going to do some major revisions after the dwarves proved a bunch of the tactical weaknesses of their current setup. (Next model: arrow slits and lava.)


    Although I did laugh inappropriately when the eagles dropped them off on the middle of a 200-ft rock mesa with no visible way down or climbing gear. I hope the first hour of the next film is them trying to belay down.

    1. While I appreciate every comment (thank you, by the way) and would in no way want to scare someone off by being a grumpy old "THIS IS THE WRONG THREAD" person, it does seem worth pointing out that this:

      and I found myself pondering why beings who are immortal except for violence would leave off railings on a bridge over a gorge. If I were nearly impossible to kill except by accident or fighting, I would damn well make sure that there's chain link all over the place.

      Might be more at home in the thread attached to the post that talked about the railings and lack thereof.

    2. There are actually stairs leading down from the rock they get dropped on. That hike is going to suuuuuck, though. I guess the eagles either had important eagle shit to do or wanted to give them a view of their destination?

    3. In the book, there's a stone stairway leading down to the base of the Carrock. In the book, dwarves and hobbit seem to have little difficulty in just walking down it.

      In the movie, wasn't there a shot of an impossibly steep, impossibly high, impossibly narrow, set of steps? In other words, just the sort of thing Peter Jackson would come up with if you tell him to design a rock stairway.

    4. Yes, that's it exactly. I think it may only be impossibly steep right at the top; I don't recall being able to tell what the lower trail was like. It's interesting how the use of young mountains makes everything so drastic. Of course they scouted the locations to be how they are and added stuff digitally. But NZ Middle Earth has its own fascinating character.

    5. I don't remember the stairway in question, but it is worth noting (in general if nothing else) that an impossibly steep stairway can usually be converted to a perfectly reasonable ladder by facing the stairs and using ones hands. I say from experience with things that people who maintained trails seemed to regard as perfectly legitimate stairways in spite of them being nothing of the sort.

    6. I can see how that works for going up, but going down is a lot harder.

  2. The Lord of the Rings (book and film series) has a similar problem - where are all the people? All that farmland that gets walked through, but no farmers...

    The problem is that the entire world is sitting in aspic until the exact moment that the Important People come through the door and start the wheels moving.

    1. I thought the lack of people was intentional-- in the book, anyway, can't remember about the movies-- a sign of the decayed state of Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age.

      The population of Middle-earth had been in decline for centuries, right? Due to wars and plagues and such, formerly prosperous and populous regions have become desolate wastelands. It's not that the Fellowship is walking through farmland and can't be bothered to acknowledge the farmers, it's that the farmers are long since gone.

      You don't hear of any children in LotR until the King has returned, and "women and fair children" come back to Minas Tirith. Presumably, as the King reestablishes the rule of justice in the reunited kingdoms, the population will begin to rebound.

  3. This point reminds me of how in the Macross anime series you've got the Zentradi, who were genetically engineered as a warrior race and conditioned to literally have no conception of culture, to the point that encounters with things like music utterly baffle them.

    And how the whole basis of their conflict with humanity is that the civilisation that made them has long since died out with their last command having removed any kind of strictures against attacking civilian populations, leaving them in a state of just roving the universe and making war against everything they encounter. And the end of that conflict comes from humanity making cultural outreaches to them that give them a sense of more to life and allows them to peacefully integrate into human society.

    A Lord of the Rings fanfic running with similar ideas might be interesting.