This week the Sci-Fi Pubcast did a second installment of the What Ifs? of Science Fiction.
Once again we ran out of time to talk about any fantasy properties, but that’s technically outside our pub purview anyway.
So I just wanted to point out one of the most common What Ifs? about Lord of the Rings…
What If the Eagles flew the Ring to Mordor? We wouldn’t have a movie/book!
Not true! Just looking at it on the surface level…. the Nazgul are flying around on Fell Beasts. The Eye of Sauron sees all. He’s basically got complete satellite coverage with jet interceptors. You would never get all the way!
But more importantly, it goes against the entire point of the story. Lord of the Rings is basically a Book of Job parable where Illuvatar, the God of the Tolkeinverse, wanted to test man/hobbitkind with good and evil to prove their worth. That’s why the wizards like Gandalf, who were sent to Middle Earth by the Valar and are angels themselves, don’t just do all the work. They act only as advisors and inspirations. The same is true for the Eagles. They, too, are direct servants of Manwe of the Valar. That’s why they only help in the story where it’s appropriate.
This one’s just for the book readers, but Tom Bombadil raised some other major What If scenarios they discuss at the Council of Elrond. Tom is this strange, all powerful, apparently invincible, forest spirit who the Ring has no power over. He’s basically the asterisk to the entire story. So why not just give him the Ring? Because he has no sense of responsibility and would forget about keeping it safe.
So here’s my Weird-Derek version: What If you cut open Tom’s belly and stuck the Ring in there, so that it could never fall out? Let’s say Sauron conquers the rest of Middle Earth and surrounds the Old Forest. Would an endless army of orcs and Nazgul be enough to overcome that bizarre rule-breaking magic protecting that location and Tom? Who knows!
Another What If? they discuss at the Council of Elrond is sailing the Ring in a ship to Valinor. But they would not accept its corrupting touch. Another scenario was to just toss it into the deepest ocean… but if Sauron commands all the nasty creatures of the world…. surely he’s got some Nessies under his hat!