Sunday, 27 February 2011

Tolkien Fanfics A-Go-Go - Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien

I feel I may as well talk about the other big Tolkien story this week, get it out of my system.

Steve Hillard's Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien differs from The Last Ringbearer in that it's written by an actual author, as opposed to a palaeontologist writing fan-fiction for a larf which took on a life of its own and got published in Russia and other non-English-speaking countries. It's also different in that it's actually been published in America.  However, the Tolkien Estate has swooped in again and said "no, sir, not allowed." As bloggers aetherwide would have it, this is yet another case of the Tolkien Estate's infamously protective stance against copyright infringement.

But is that really what's going on?

Let's look at one apparently similar example, the case of Adam Rakunas:

Back in the late 2009, I got into a Twitter conversation with Madeline Ashby about geek culture, fandom, and a bunch of stuff like that. Madeline wrote, "While you were reading Tolkien, I was watching Evangelion." I thought this was an excellent encapsulation of the divide in SF/F/Whatever fandom, and thus took to Zazzle to make little buttons with her quote. I bought a bunch, handed them out at a few conventions, then I had a kid and promptly forgot all about it.

Until today, when Zazzle emailed me to say they were pulling the buttons for intellectual property right infringement.

And guess who complained about their rights being infringed?

I've tried to come up with something more to say about this, but I'm too angry and confused and tired to say anything more than I did in the title of this post. Have fun milking your dad's stuff, Christopher Tolkien!

Now, you'd think this was an open-and-shut case from the way people are talking. How dare that Christopher Tolkien stoop so low, to order a man producing buttons, for free, to cease and desist!

However... remember that since the films came out, The Lord of the Rings is a massive multimedia corporation, spanning many realms of merchandising and entertainment: games, posters, statuettes, toys, bobbleheads, fridge magnets and all manner of vulgar tie-ins that no doubt have some Tolkienists shaking their heads in disbelief. And such a large business has a lot of minor executives, secretaries and accountants - many of which are themselves on the hunt for anything they could possibly perceive as a threat, without the highers-up being remotely aware of it - initially, at least.

This is illustrated in the famous case of Gary Larson vs the Jane Goodall Institute. Gary Larson did a most amusing little cartoon in his strip, The Far Side, depicting a female chimpanzee plucking a long blond hair from her mate's fur. She blithely snaps "Conducting a little more 'research' with that Jane Goodall tramp?" It was cute, and hardly offensive. Nonetheless, a humourless robot at the Jane Goodall Institute felt this was in extremely poor taste - no doubt feeling Larson was defaming Goodall's good name, or some such - and actually wrote up legal letters regarding this "atrocity."

Now, if this was in the age of the internet, you can imagine what the response would be: everyone would be blaming Goodall herself. "How could that stupid woman not have a sense of humour about herself?" And so forth. But here's the thing: Goodall loved the cartoon. She thought it was delightful, and even met with Larson later, and wrote about the situation in the introduction to one of his books:

In 1988 Gary Larson went on a Safari to Africa and one of the places he visited was the Gombe National Park in Tanzania, home of the chimpanzees made famous by the National Geographic magazines and documentaries. As we sat around the fire the first evening, Gary told me he had been quite apprehensive about our meeting-because of the Jane Goodall Tramp cartoon. That story was already told-from his side - by Gary. But nobody has told my side. I was in Tanzania when the infamous cartoon first appeared. So I knew nothing about the minicommotion that went on at the time until I went to America on a lecture tour. When I got the Jane Goodall Institute, my then Executive director thrust the cartoon at me. "Just look at that, will you!" she announced, in icy tones. I thought the folded paper must contain some bad news, so I opened it apprehensively. When I saw it I remember making some kind of explosive mirthful sound - I like to think it was a guffaw, because that is such a wonderful word, a real Far Side sort of word. And I said something like: "Wow! Fantastic! Real fame at last! Fancy being in a Gary Larson Cartoon!" I could hardly believe it when my then executive director told me she had found it so offensive that she had asked a lawyer to write a letter of complaint! It implied, she said, that I had sexual relations with the chimps!"

So before people immediately start jumping on Christopher Tolkien, remember that there's more to the Tolkien Estate - like Tolkien Enterprises, for instance - than one man. What's more likely, that Christopher Tolkien himself came across Zazzle and felt his father's work was being compared unfavourably to a sprawling saga of giant robots and angsty teens... or that some minor executive wanted to impress their superiors by quashing a case of copyright infringement?

All well and good, you may ask, but what does this have to do with Mirkwood? Well, people are latching onto one particular aspect of the story: JRR Tolkien appears as a character. Thus, people are immediately drawing the conclusion that the book is being challenged only because Tolkien is in it. This, they believe, sets a dangerous precedent for using historical figures in fiction, arguing that if one were to apply this, then a great deal of fiction would have to be considered "copyright infringement."

What people don't seem to remember is that there's more to the case than simply having Tolkien appear in the story:

Mirkwood: A Novel About JRR Tolkien by Steve Hillard tells of Tolkien hiding secret documents that the forces of evil will do anything to obtain, and the young orphan girl, Cadence, who discovers them. In the opening pages of Hillard's novel, world-renowned author and linguist Tolkien lands in New York City on a mysterious errand. He carries with him a collection of ancient documents, many in an unknown language that hint of a heroine, a halfling named Ara, who lived in the same ancient landscape that inspired Tolkien's Middle-earth.

Fearing that possession of the documents will lead to great harm, Tolkien entrusts them to a simple scissor sharpener named Jesse Grande. Almost four decades later, Grande has disappeared and the documents have been found by Grande's orphaned granddaughter, Cadence. As dark forces from the realm of fantasy hunt down the documents and their guardian, Cadence must protect the story of Ara. 

So we can see that not only does Tolkien appear, but it takes the Literary Agent Hypothesis to heart, and decides to make the stories of Middle-earth entirely real - as well as adding some stuff of his own. So, it's taking fictional elements from Tolkien, explicitly setting it in Tolkien's world, which is explicitly populated by characters and peoples Tolkien created.  This isn't like creating a race of Hobbits to populate the world in Dungeons & Dragons, Mirkwood is intrinsically meant to occupy the same universe as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. That, to me, is much more worthy of comment, and a far more reasonable argument against copyright infringement, than having Tolkien himself as a character.

But in the blogosphere, it makes for much more righteous indignation and hand-wringing to forget all of that, and challenge the Tolkien juggernaut for squashing the Little Man under their heel like Morgoth crushing Fingolfin.  This is a misrepresentation of the dispute.  For one thing, we have direct evidence that the Tolkien Estate has let certain books featuring Tolkien the man be published: James A. Owens' The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. Not only does Tolkien appear, but C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, as well as a variety of characters from myth, literature and history.

The Imaginarium Geographica. . .

“What is it?” John asked.

The little man blinked and arched an eyebrow. “It is the world, my boy,” he said. “All the World, in ink and blood, vellum and parchment, leather and hide. It is the World, and it is yours to save or lose.”

An unusual murder brings together three strangers, John, Jack, and Charles, on a rainy night in London during the First World War. An eccentric little man called Bert tells them that they are now the caretakers of The Imaginarium GeographicaĆ¢€”an atlas of all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale. These lands, Bert claims, can be traveled to in his ship The Indigo Dragon, one of only seven vessels that is able to cross the Frontier between worlds into the Archipelago of Dreams.

Pursued by strange and terrifying creatures, the companions flee London aboard the Dragonship. Traveling to the very realm of the imagination itself, they must learn to overcome their fears and trust in one another if they are to defeat the dark forces that threaten the destiny of two worlds. And in the process, they will share a great adventure filled with clues that lead readers to the surprise revelation of the legendary storytellers these men will one day become.

An extraordinary journey of myth, magic, and mystery, Here, There Be Dragons introduces James A. Owen as a formidable new talent.

- Here, There Be Dragons

So why does Owens get a pass, and Hillard doesn't?  Simple: Owens didn't involve Middle-earth.  Tolkien, in his books, goes on a series of adventures in a fantasy realm created by Owens, with only the most vague and nebulous references to Middle-earth appearing in the text.  This is the essential problem with Mirkwood, not the inclusion of Tolkien as a character!  Hell, the name of one of Tolkien's creations is in the freakin' title!

That said, the Tolkien estate's original complaint doesn't exactly help their argument, since it concentrates on the likeness of Tolkien and things like typeface and design rather than, you know, the fact that Hobbits, Mirkwood and Middle-earth appear in the book, which I would've thought would be their primary method of attack.  Kind of reminiscent of the preposterous case of Mattel vs CPI, using the worst and most easily refuted arguments rather than the ones that might stick.  Unfortunately, it looks like the Streisand Effect is in full swing, as we have a multitude of online heroes looking for ways to subvert and taunt the Tolkien Estate for their silliness.

I have further problems with the book beyond the very clear copyright infringement going on. I'm not going to argue the merits and demerits of copyright infringement: all I'm going to say is that in the eyes of the law, I do believe this can be considered such, and thus the Tolkien Estate is within their rights to take action against Hillard. But, like The Last Ringbearer, part of the book doesn't just mean to be fiction, but a critique of Tolkien's work.

"Tolkien fervently hoped, indeed believed, that there was no divide between belief and reality," says Hillard. "My novel asks the question, 'What if he experienced this borderland first hand?'" Blending historical fact with fantasy, Hillard interweaves Tolkien's philosophy, his role as a World War II spy and imagined conversations between the great author and his friend, C.S. Lewis. Hillard was inspired to write the novel by his experience reading the Lord of the Rings series to his daughters, who enjoyed the books but asked, "Where are the heroines?". 
Erm, did you skip over this part, Mike?

Now, let's take this idea of there being no heroines in The Lord of the Rings - apart from Eowyn, of course - and address it. You could, if you wanted, make a fan-fiction story set in Middle-earth featuring a brave young Hobbit lass.  Nothing stopping you.  However, actually going out and trying to get it published seems... ill-advised to me.  Copyright in the UK is life + 70 years: Tolkien's only been gone 38.  People criticize the Tolkien Estate from feeding on the legacy of their creator: aren't works like The Last Ringbearer and Mirkwood doing pretty much the same thing?  They're still set in Middle-earth, they're still seeking to exploit Tolkien's creation: the only difference is they're trying to get across their ham-fisted criticism at the same time.  Why defend them for arguably doing what you're criticizing the Tolkien Estate for doing?  Because they're being "creative"?

The whole mess leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  I think The Last Ringbearer and Mirkwood both deserve to be released in some format for the sake of freedom of expression, but to be published, to gain money while exploiting another person's creation... well, that doesn't seem much better than those who seek to stop them.  Eskov doesn't need the money: he's making a mint having ancient spiders named after him and making the university talk circuit.  Hillard is a starting author, but you know, perhaps it would be better for a starting author to do an original story, instead of trying to get fan-fiction published.  Even August Derleth started out with his own stories.

EDIT: Following Lagomorph's mention of Heaven's War, I decided to have a look for other fictional works featuring Tolkien as a character. It turns out there are quite a few:

Heaven's War
1938: As the world moves toward global war, a secret angelic battle is waged in the heavenly realms to determine mankind's fate. The infamous Aleister Crowley plans to manipulate those angelic struggles and thus shape the world according to his will. Only "The Inklings" - fantasy authors J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams - oppose him. They must decipher a landscape of sacred geometry to intercept Crowley at the threshold of heaven. And, for one of the Inklings, the pursuit will reach outside time itself.

Looking For The King, David Downing
It is 1940, and American Tom McCord, a 23-year-old aspiring doctoral candidate, is in England researching the historical evidence for the legendary King Arthur. There he meets perky and intuitive Laura Hartman, a fellow American staying with her aunt in Oxford, and the two of them team up for an even more ambitious and dangerous quest.

Aided by the Inklings - that illustrious circle of scholars and writers made famous by its two most prolific members, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien - Tom and Laura begin to suspect that the fabled Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross, is hidden somewhere in England.

Tom discovers that Laura has been having mysterious dreams, which seem to be related to the subject of his research, and, though doubtful of her visions, he hires her as an assistant. Heeding the insights and advice of the Inklings, while becoming aware of being shadowed by powerful and secretive foes who would claim the spear as their own, Tom and Laura end up on a thrilling treasure hunt that crisscrosses the English countryside and leads beyond a search for the elusive relics of Camelot into the depths of the human heart and soul.

Weaving his fast-paced narrative with actual quotes from the works of the Inklings, author David Downing offers a vivid portrait of Oxford and draws a welcome glimpse into the personalities and ideas of Lewis and Tolkien, while never losing sight of his action-packed adventure story and its two very appealing main characters.

"Escape Hatch," Brenda W. Clough
A fictional account of Tolkien and Lewis meeting up in the Great War through a somewhat unlikely mutual acquaintance. The entire story is available here

Conversations with C.S. Lewis, Robert Velarde
"C. S. Lewis died in 1963, but I met him last week." Robert Velarde tells of an imaginative journey in which the literature professor mysteriously appears in Thomas Clerk's hospital room. "Call me Jack," the writer says as he invites Clerk to step into a wardrobe. From there the two embark on a remarkable journey through Lewis's life. They experience pivotal events from Lewis's childhood and meet many of his real and imaginary friends; they visit the Kilns with his brother, Warnie, and spend time in Oxford with fellow writers and Inklings J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. They also sit with Lewis's dying wife, Joy Davidman, and they even enter the world of Narnia. Along the way, Lewis challenges Clerk's thinking about the existence of God, the truth of Christianity, the problem of pain and suffering, the nature of love and much more. Are human beings a cosmic accident? Can we have morality without God? Was Jesus just a guru? Can we really believe in heaven and hell? Tom and Jack discuss these and many other questions, and they invite you to eavesdrop on their conversations. Prepare yourself for some of the most invigorating discussions you may ever experience this side of heaven.

You know, these all sound pretty interesting. Nary a "Gilgamesh in the Outhouse" to be seen.


  1. Thanks for being a voice of reason. It's good to hear about all this here first. Nothing much I can add about the copyright issue. The old nurse Ioreth and Arwen count as heroines, right (albeit secondary supporting characters)?

    The button quote just sounds pretentious, but then again it does strike home to me. In a sea of Japanophilia (or so I labeled it), I was reading Tolkien, and if I had discovered Howard then, I would have been reading him too, all to go against the grain. (Some chip on the shoulder...)

  2. Hah, been a long time since I've been a voice of anything resembling reason, I appreciate it.

    That said, I don't want to exonerate the Tolkien Estate necessarily: I just think people are too quick on the trigger.

    The button quote, I feel, is meant to sound pretentious. "When you were reading Dostoevsky, I was watching The Matrix!" sort of thing. I know a few Evangelion fans, and they are admirably self-aware enough to recognize how pretentious some of the fandom can be.

    Oh, and Ioreth doesn't get nearly enough love. You'd think she'd get a role in the films.

  3. I read The Hobbit to my daughter years ago and she was absolutely enthralled by it and never once complained about the absence of "Itaril." For that matter, I can't recall my son ever having trouble identifying with female protagonists in stories I've read to him. Like so many things, I can't help but think that "Where are the heroines?" is the kind of question only a cynical adult would ask; children almost never notice these "deficiencies" in stories well-told.

  4. You know, you're absolutely right, James. I haven't read any of the "essential" stories to my niece, but we have been watching a lot of classic films (by "classic" I mean the likes of Back to the Future, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Princess Bride etc). Not once did she lament the lack of a heroine in those that were male-dominated.

    It does indeed sound a lot like "where are the heroines" (would they even say "where are the heroines?" Surely "where are the girls" or some such) is the voice of the cynical adult.

  5. It's also worth noting that Tolkien attended King Edward's School in Birmingham, which was all boys, fought alongside men in WWI, and taught mostly young men at Oxford. His social/reading group, the Inklings, were all men.

    His was a male-dominated world. To expect him to adhere to 21st century standards and have a neatly equal representation of the sexes in his books is rather ridiculous.

  6. Oh, absolutely. Seriously, even in the '50s women warriors were few and far between. It's ludicrous to think Tolkien should've included more female characters to fit standards half a century, or even a few decades, later.

  7. "Yet Tolkien has arguably committed no crime worse than being a man of his time and place, or failing to transcend it in the way J.S. Mill, say, did his in relation to feminist issues. And it is too easy to ask a work to be something it isn't, or its author to do something he or she didn't set out to do. Indeed, maybe we should be grateful that Tolkien didn't attempt a more feminine Middle-earth. Without prejudice to those male writers who have succeeded in placing believable female characters at the centre of their work, the results can be ghastly. Imagine what Tolkien might have wrought!"
    - Patrick Curry, "Tolkien and his Critics: A Critique", 6.

  8. You also missed one of the 'Tolkien as Character' worked, Back in about.. 2000ish.. Image published "Heaven's War" a rather nice trade Paperback which featured the story of the Inklings vs. Aleistar Crowley for fate of the universe.

    Tolkiens barely in it.. and I'm not sure he's ever referenced as anything but John though.. I know C.S. Lewis is constantly referred to as Jack.. and most of the story centers around Charles Williams.

    Another thing to consider is, are these Takedowns coming from the Tolkien Estate only or are they also coming from Zaentez interprises who owns the film rights.. Since well.. Zaentez once sued a man for sounding too much like himself.

  9. Great quote, Taran.

    Thanks for the heads-up, Lagomorph. I've actually found another via Google Alerts: David C. Downing's "Looking for the King" which features the Inklings. So that's *three* recent instances of Tolkien appearing as a fictional character in a fantasy/SF/whatever story without being served papers by the Tolkien Estate.

    Zaentez Enterprises does sound like a possibility: after all, they have their bobbleheads to protect.

  10. Ahh good, I wonder if it's better than Owens.. I eagerly snapped that one up.. but wound up disliking it immensely because it treated imaginary characters like Capt. Nemo as if they had been real people.. seemed odd and I never wound up reading any more of them.

    I understand they are being adapted into a film however.. but I don't expect it to go very far... none of hollywood's attempts to catch that Potter Fevre have worked very well..

    Eragon, Golden Compass, Spiderwick, Unfortunate Events.. I dunno if Percy Jackson will be getting a sequel or not..

  11. Acually, when reading the book, my favorite characters wqas EOWYN and GALADRIEL... you know, the ONLY WOMEN in the story!!! Because were interesting characters. Arwen was NOT.

    The criticism against the lack of women in Tolkien books is ludicrous. And the solutions from Jackson and his team were pathetic.

  12. Hollywood want to make cash with fantasy. The main problem is: Hollywood have no freakin idea of what "fantasy" MEANS.

  13. Y'know, for someone who regularly attacks Howard commentators for not having read the books they're discussing, you yourself don't seem to have any problem dismissing works you haven't read.

  14. Ahh good, I wonder if it's better than Owens.. I eagerly snapped that one up.. but wound up disliking it immensely because it treated imaginary characters like Capt. Nemo as if they had been real people.. seemed odd and I never wound up reading any more of them.


    Acually, when reading the book, my favorite characters wqas EOWYN and GALADRIEL... you know, the ONLY WOMEN in the story!!! Because were interesting characters. Arwen was NOT.

    Can't believe I forgot Galadriel!

    Y'know, for someone who regularly attacks Howard commentators for not having read the books they're discussing, you yourself don't seem to have any problem dismissing works you haven't read.

    You are correct, I don't. The difference being I'm not pretending to have read them in the first place, or claiming to be some sort of authority on them. All cards are out on the table. It isn't as if I'm claiming to have read them and then lied through my teeth about it. I'm only commenting that on which I'm in a position to comment upon: that is, the elements of the book which bother me which can be easily discerned by the information available. Generally people are allowed to do that, no? Indeed, there are many occasions when one can only do that, such as when the book in question hasn't been released yet.

    I'm not criticising Mirkwood's characterisation, plot, dialogue or whatnot. I'm not in a position to do so. What I am in a position to criticize is that which is known about the book - and what is known about the book is that it's literary criticism combined with fiction, featuring the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien and the man himself.

    Now, if I'd gone and said "Ara is a horrible character," or "Hillard's interpretation of Tolkien is completely wrong," or "the guy doesn't even know his Sauron from his Saruman," then you might have a point. But I didn't. And I won't. Because I'm not talking about elements that I haven't read.

    I welcome anyone who has read the book to come by and say "dude, you should read the book, it's actually really good!" but thus far nobody has. After all, if I go about correcting people on my favourite authors, then I can only expect others to do the same if I'm grievously mistaken on someone.

  15. "I welcome anyone who has read the book to come by and say "dude, you should read the book, it's actually really good!"
    And here I am. Not without blemishes though, this book is a pretty good, at times really good representation of that world. And a good story on it's own.
    Let me present some warning bells first up.
    Frodo (Amon here, sometimes just Bearer)had a girlfriend who made it as far as Bree with the other 4 hobbits in quest. (And further on her own)
    Aragorn (Quickfoot... a variation on Wingfoot I would imagine) is much more openly known to be seeking the Throne and his rangers display airs of men already Lords with claims to territory.
    Sauron, hadn't lost his ability to take form 'that seemed fair to men'. And like Amon and Quickfoot he had different names. The name 'Sauron' is in fact, if anything a mock nickname, or a byword derived from the name of his lands 'The Land of Source'. Closer to the mark it suggests that *gasp*, Tolkien was in error by giving this Maia that name at all.
    What's the question here to ask? "Why the name changes and the alterations of the facts of things? How can this be good?" The synopsis of the thing more or less sets out that this is the purpose of the book, that it's an exercise of collecting and writing history alongside a contemporary story. But what's to talk about and cite that lends anyone's openness to the success of it?


  16. Ara is not a Rose Cotton (being no sleight against her) and is a perfect match for Frodo. She is just as strong as a Samwise but as wise and tender as Frodo. She also has a delightful method of speech as direct and 'familiar' as any hobbit, but deeper I think too. She is chosen by Frodo to join the quest as she is a hobbit from Frighten with good training and experience in scouting the lands of the Shire and somewhat beyond. Very far beyond the Shire by most hobbit's reckoning, and even by some of them from Frighten, who are more than a little Tookish, though in decidedly their own way. And she understands Frodo, and Frodo is understood by the author. He may be called Amon but he truly is the Frodo we know. A scene and dialogue showing this:
    Here Cadence stopped. Yes, the tale finally gets to the him, whoever he was.
    … Ara first met him after a series of the Great Parties (for births and holidays tend to be clumped in spring and fall in this land). He was quite lonely. He was no doubt looking for someone, yet perhaps afraid to venture too far in search.
    It is known that the one in times hence known as the Bearer had taken to long walks, even days of wanderings, about the far reaches of the little corner of the world then known. It was in this period, perhaps, that he met Ara. For one element of Ara’s character is—if “consistently told” is a reliable witness—well known: she loved the wilds and often visited the less trodden frontiers of the Far Forest. She was spoken of for her lore and wisdom even onto the far edges of their domain. She doubtless had, at times, passed well beyond those unguarded borders.
    From this account, little can I glean of her in later times, save this: a promontory often described as “Ara’s Watch” or “View Rock” was marked on maps for years, even into our times. It lay at the far western guard post of the Old Land, and from its vantage the dark blue sea could first be spied. Less reliably, it was said that in local lore it was regarded as a place for lovers to share their vows, earnestly ignorant of the namesake for the place they had chosen.
    As sadly, are we.
    Your humble scribe
    And a letter from Ara to Frodo:
    My Dearest Amon,
    The harvest moon begins to fill and we have not seen each other. Remember the glade?
    Your wizard came today, and he sat me down with my father and my mother. He said you will be going— leaving! And that I must simply wait for your return. I remained quiet, though he looked very directly at me. I did not tell him of our plans, or of my knowledge of your precious, the gift from your cuz.
    I will see you by the waxing moonlight at the Catpaw Bridge. I will not fail you, and we shall be together.
    My love, Ara
    P.S. My father draws forth a group of the most stalwart of our village. “Trouble in the south,” he says.
    I could go own quoting the thing all day citing evidences and making the case, but I'd really just say to you "read it". I personally liked the alternative take on the material and feel that while there are many differences, it's the fun of the endeavour. Also, that the characters we know really aren't butchered, but well understood, and just represented in different shades of light by a few extra scenes that "didn't fit in LOTR".
    It is a very interesting story, with nuanced writing at points, fast and plain at others, and quite intelligently funny too. Well drawn characters with personalities that I found that I couldn't hate even when they were being idiots. And a nice theme to boot. Believe your heart and it will reward you!

  17. You'd think Hillard could just make it about a famous fantasy author who's never named, but is obviously Tolkien.

    Anyway there's a film called The Lion Awakes which is in production. The main characters seem to be CS Lewis and Tolkien. The film seems to set in the real world, and mostly about CS Lewis' conversion to Christianity.

    1. Intriguing, I'll keep an eye out for that one.