Thread: When reality faces fantasy
Spiders dont grow so big. Its not because they dont have to, or want to, its because they cant. They have no skeleton made of bone. Theyre all held up by cartilage, which is not strong enough to keep heavy muscles and jaws and such above the ground!
I know im being picky, but if they are having actual animals in a story, they cant make them unrealistic without making them unreal.
Now I know there are such things as giant rats or anything else in some stories, but theyre not really unrealistic. It could work. But this one creature, the spider, cant. Its that easy.
Ehh...just in case...if anyone finds a place in The Hobbit or in LOTR where it says the spiders are magical or special in anyway, apart of being huge, please tell me and then delete my topic
This is one of the reasons why literary charges of Deus Ex Machina and Shaggy Dog (literary devices to make a story work when there are plot gaps) don't work against Fantasy writers. Anything can happen. Giant Sand Slugs, Giant Spiders, little kids living on planets barely bigger than a beach ball (The Little Prince), Old Witches who melt when water is thrown on them, whole cities of people living on a speck of dust resting on a clover being held by an elephant sitting on top of a little tree, flame breathing dragons etc. etc. Granted some of those Fantasies are geared towards children, but Fantasy, aka Fairy Story, has always been considered a children's genre by the unimaginative anyway, much to the disgruntlement of Tolkien (and myself ).
But the main point is, in Fantasy anything can happen. And adults like us, who enjoy Fantasy, have the imagination to make these sorts of things work. Marvel comics always had a nifty way of fixing plot holes--asking the readers to invent a solution and make up a reason why it could work. This is all we have to do to make Giant Spiders work.
For example: most insects, arachnids and crustaceans have an exoskeleton. When they are tiny, they are, as you suggest, cartilagetinous. However, as larger crustaceans such as Crabs and Lobsters have Hard Exoskeletons, we can imagine that a Giant Spider might have an exoskeleton as hard as any of our bones. So it could work .
And also remember what the Elves tell Sam of magic. What the Hobbits (and us) think of as magic is just normal to them. Elvish Magic isn't so much something studied like Harry Pottor. It is simply inate. It's just what they do.
The spiders could be something very similar. It just is.
[quote:29npccic]I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century and still in use) of [i:29npccic]midden-erd > middel-erd[/i:29npccic], an ancient name for the [i:29npccic]oikoumene[/i:29npccic], the abiding place of Men, [b:29npccic]the objectively real world[/b:29npccic], in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairlyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary.[/quote:29npccic]
(my bold emphasis)
Given this statement from Tolkien I see the statement that "it doesn't matter because it's fantasy" to be incompatible with [i:29npccic]The Lord of the Rings[/i:29npccic]. Not just anything can happen in Middle-earth. There are obviously some differences from our own world (Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, Dragons, Maia, and others come to mind), but these occur within an internally consistent framework. Orcs do not magically sprout wings from one scene to the next, they are subject to the same laws of nature as other organisms. Even the "magical" elements have rules to follow.
Thinking specifically of giant spiders, I do not know enough about biology to comment on the plausibility of them. There were many large creatures with exoskeletons in the distant past though, so I don't see it as particularly implausible.
It's certainly true that Tolkien intended Middle Earth as a mythical past for our current world. And I totally agree that Tolkien strove for internal consistency and rules of magic. We aren't really in disagreement. I think maybe you just misinterpreted my point, or perhaps I wasn't clear enough (it's been known to happen ).
But ultimately, as Show's signature Tolkien quote explains, its all in the hands of the reader. One person's brilliantly scripted save is another's random "And then God saved the day" moment .
The giant spiders of Middle-Earth were meant to be perversions of nature, descended from Ungoliant. However, even in their exaggerated size and capabilities, they acted like spiders. to see what "normal" spiders would be like at a larger size, watch [i:3dk1mzvv]Eight Legged Freaks[/i:3dk1mzvv], then imagine those larger "normal" spiders with some malign cognitive intelligence and a capability for communication, and you have the giant spiders of Mirkwood. Anybody still disappointed that reality can't match fantasy?
I agree on that GB, but I think the author should follow certain certain consistencies within his own work so it's not just a string of random happenings.
On a serious note, I agree, fantasy must be internally consistent, nonetheless anything can happen and should (no matter how much logic is required to achieve that consistency!)
Based on their works, I'd say Piers Anthony, David Butcher, James Green, and William S Burroughs all agree with that statement.
Must try those authors (though I'm familiar with Piers). Have you tried Jack Vance, Zeonista? No one on this forum but me seems to have.
Durn it, I got Butcher's first name wrong.... *sigh* Go read [i:2atai5dg]Storm Front[/i:2atai5dg], and [i:2atai5dg]Something from the Night Side[/i:2atai5dg] Odo, and see if that sort of oddity-spawning story background doesn't catch hold of your sense of wonder some. I have read [i:2atai5dg]The Dying Earth[/i:2atai5dg] some years ago, as well as a couple of Vance's short stories. He had a great sense of heroic fantasy as a world where wonders could be readily encountered...if you wanted to seek them, or sometimes even make them.
Btw I feel Jack Vance is only "Heroic fiction" in the very widest sense. He's far more Wodehouse than Robert E. Howard. I love most of his books: "Planet of Adventure" series, "Demon Princes" series, "Durdane" series, "Araminta Station" series (especially the first book), "Lyonesse" series.... Need I go on?!?!