If someone had to ask you to think of the world, focusing on how it would be different if certain key people never existed, that would be a rather difficult task to achieve.
Thinking about a world that never had the likes of someone like Newton, may seem odd, although just because a certain person wasn’t there to elaborate on a natural law, does not mean that, that natural law would no longer exist, and chances are, some unknown would still fill those massive shoes.
Can the same idea be shared with iconic figures that filled the roles of inventors and story tellers? Can we imagine the differences we’d have if people like Leonardo da Vinci or Tolkien were never around to share their brilliant minds with us?
I believe that Tolkien had an unbelievably massive influence on our world, both blatantly as well as subtly, and a Tolkien-free world would function rather differently in certain aspects.
The list is endless, although I’m going to focus on the massive impact he had on fictional mythology as well as the science fiction genre.
The first major influence Tolkien had on us comes in the form of fantasy, specifically, the number of different ancient races he created or at least popularised in the way we view and understand them. Although, many of the mystical figures share some sort of ancient mythological origin, it is greatly thanks to Tolkien that the image that pops into our minds when someone mentions Elves, Wizards or Rangers, is that of Galadriel, Gandalf and Aragorn. The scope in which Tolkien has popularised these mythical beings is rather breathtakingly massive.
Take a look at the endless number of games, card games, like Dungeons and Dragons and electronic games alike, such as World of Warcraft. I am not a gambling man, but if this was some jackpotjoy, I wouldn’t even hesitate to put all my money on the idea that most role-playing games would look completely different if Tolkien and his written masterpieces weren’t around.
Besides the direct influences, Tolkien and his creations also had a massive influence on contemporary science fiction, and the scope of massive blockbuster hits such as Star Wars. George Lucas has cited Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings as one of the influences he used, taking hold of the epic fantasy structure of storytelling and fusing it with that of science fiction, introducing space battles, new planets as well as alien races.
Besides some shared characteristics between main characters, we also find some rather obvious comparisons, such as Star Wars’ forest moon of Endor, named after “Endor”, one of the elvish language translations. Ironically, the technological advances and success that the Star Wars films achieved, assisted in making the brilliant Lord of the Rings films possible.
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