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Holiday Gift Ideas (2001)

Posted on December 01, 2001

by Eleanor Farrell

When Father Christmas kicks up production at the North Pole in anticipation for the holidays, Polar Bear makes sure he has the latest edition of the Red Catalogue of Westmarch so he can help out. In case the gnomes stole your copy of this handy reference, here are a few of Polar Bear’s favorite gift ideas for fantasy fans of all ages.

Books

Let’s start with the obvious: with so many editions of The Lord of the Rings available on bookstore shelves, there’s just no excuse for anyone to not have their very own copy! Suit tastes and budget with hardcover sets, one-volume editions, trade and mass market paperbacks. The upcoming films have also spawned tie-ins such as The Lord of the Rings Official Movie Guide by Brian Sibley and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion by Jude Fisher. The former has more background information on the films; the latter is more a glossary for younger readers.

There is other fiction out there, both classic and modern. A new edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass features seventy pen-and-ink illustrations by Mervyn Peake, drawn in the 1940s and meticulously reproduced here. The Treasury of the Fantastic: Romanticism to Early Twentieth Century Literature, edited by David Sandner and Jacob Weisman and published by Tales from Earthsea and a novel, The Other Wind). Other books of note include Declare, an ambitiously mythopoeic novel by Tim Powers, and the ever-popular Neil Gaiman’s latest, American Gods. The Society’s Mythopoeic Fantasy Award winners and finalists are always a good bet – this year’s honors for fiction went to Midori Snyder’s The Innamorati and Dia Calhoun’s Aria of the Sea. Past award winners and finalists are listed on our web site.

In the non-fiction category, here again our Mythopoeic Scholarship Award honorees are worth a look: J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey and King Arthur in America by Alan Lupack and Barbara Tepa Lupack (with a new Fall 2001 tp edition) are recent winners. Finally, a gorgeous new coffee-table book from Collectors Press, Fantasy of the 20th Century by Randy Broecker, presents an overview of the genre with multitudinous color illustrations of pulp magazine and book covers, movie posters, and other artwork.

Music

Mythcon favorites Brocelïande have a new CD released just in time for the holidays. Sir Christèmas includes the group’s arrangements of such traditional seasonal songs as “The Boar’s Head Carol”, “Away in a Manger.” and “Carol of the Birds,” plus a selection of lesser-known vocal and instrumental pieces, all of which demonstrate the group’s usual musical virtuosity. The CD is priced at $17.50 and can be ordered from the Flowinglass Music web site. Film fans may be interested in soundtrack CDs from the Harry Potter movie (score by John Williams) or The Fellowship of the Ring (score by Howard Shore, including two new songs from Enya). For a very comprehensive (and eclectic!) listing of Tolkien-inspired music, check out Society member Chris Seeman’s ongoing project at The Tolkien Music List web site.

Video

The new release of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is being touted as the ultimate DVD package; with several documentary featurettes, deleted scenes, audio commentary and photo galleries, there should be plenty of material to satisfy fans. Somewhat less testosterone-driven, the recent TNT miniseries of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon will be available on DVD — with additional scenes, galleries, and a “Camelot Characters Family Tree” (!) — on December 11th.

However, even more intriguing is the new Monty Python and the Holy Grail Special Edition DVD, which offers subtitles (taken from Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II) for people who don’t like the film, an exciting “Follow the Killer Rabbit” feature, mindless sing-alongs, and mystery items for the mentally challenged.

Aside: this really belongs in the “ephemera” category, but the new Holy Grail DVD reminds me that toy building blocks are great gifts for encouraging fantasy creativity, as evidenced by a short film which recreates the “Camelot” song and dance number from the film, done entirely in Legos. It can be viewed on the Lego web site and is also included on the new DVD.

Calendars

Harper Entertainment’s annual Tolkien 2002 Calendar, featuring artwork by Ted Nasmith, was reviewed in the November issue of Mythprint. Also available for 2002, several calendar choices with photos from the New Line Cinema film. The Lord of the Rings 2001-2002 Student Planner Calendar: The Fellowship of the Ring offers a particularly nice selection of stills from the movie.

Ephemera

Mathoms, we’ve got mathoms! Toystore shelves are packed solid with action figures, snow globes, stuffed toys, mugs, you-name-it, from the fall fantasy film crop — Monsters, Inc., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Fellowship of the Ring. Harry Potter tree ornaments are SO last year, but you can outfit your young fans in stylish Harry Potter socks, some of which, sporting a Hogwarts emblem, are actually tasteful. The holiday evergreen décor du jour is a selection of Lord of the Rings ornaments from Dept. 56 featuring several of the story’s characters (in resin) and a selection of blown glass edifices. (Still disappointed that the Death Star never appeared as a tree ornament, I’d opt for a dangling Orthanc facsimile. The “Rivendell” ornament is shown in the photo.) By 2003, we’ll be able to completely recreate Middle-earth in miniature underneath our holiday trees – perhaps with wind-up mûmakil or a spring-triggered Grond!

Even someone whose work attire is “tie required” can express their literary interests with a tasteful “Author! Author!” tie from Bas Bleu featuring signatures from such luminary writers as John Milton, Rudyard Kipling T.S. Eliot, etc., etc. (These look particularly good with Godzilla socks.) I don’t think the Inklings are included on this particular pattern, but I’ll just bet there are LOTR movie “tie”-ins available somewhere ….

A membership to the 2002 Mythopoeic Conference (in Boulder, Colorado) makes a dandy gift, or think further ahead and support the 2005 Tolkien Conference (in Birmingham, England). Registration fees to both conferences will go up after December 31st, so it’s a great time to sign up. Don’t forget the Mythopoeic Society’s periodicals, and our growing list of Mythopoeic Press books; all of these can be ordered through the Society’s web site (and can be purchased with a Discover card or by using PayPal). Please, if you order gifts from Amazon.com, support the Society by using our web links; it brings us a small commission which helps pay some of our expenses.

Go Outside and Play!

Spread good fellowship — it’s really needed this year. Take your family to a seasonal play or concert, or dress up and check out the local Dickens Faire equivalent. Go see one of those movies based on popular fantasy novels. Invite your friends to tea and serve home-made lembas wrapped in leaf-shaped tissue paper. Build a fire (preferably in a fireplace) and read your favorite book passages or poems aloud. However you choose to spend the holidays, be sure to reach out to everyone you cherish.