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Old December 23rd 01, 23:17   #11
Jomar
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Another thing that people forget is that almost the whole of Star Trek fandom accused JMS of ripping off DS9. I think that angered him more than anything else under the circumstances.

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Old December 23rd 01, 23:19   #12
GKarsEye
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

No, JMS did not rip off Tolkien or Trek or Star Wars or any of that.

He obviously stole most of his concepts from Dr. Seuss.

Seuss: One fish, two fish
JMS: G'Kar's song about fish

Seuss: Cat in the Hat
JMS: John and Delenn's conversation about cats and their Minbari equivalent

Seuss: I would not eat them on a boat
JMS: Military stylised after the navy (boats).

Suess: Whoville
JMS: Who are you?

Seuss: Was called Doctor
JMS: "Doctor" Franklin

JMS also stole from other sources. Ivanova's first name, "Susan," was used by the American women's suffragist Susan B. Anthony, and don't even get me started on the name "John."

The concept of a space station was done before in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, NASA and the Soviet space program. In fact, the idea of using alien life forms wasn't original either.

Even the title isn't original. "Babylon" was an ancient civilisation, and "Five" is the name of a number.



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Old December 24th 01, 01:59   #13
Ninja_Squirrel
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR> ...what you may not appreciate is the history of thing kind of thing vis a vis B5. People actually did accuse JMS of ripping of The Lord of the Rings and other things in so many words. An entire website was devoted to proving that there wasn't a single original thought in the entire B5 concept and that JMS was nothing but a hack who stole from others. The original, UNmoderated B5 newsgroup was awash in this kind of thing, and it sensitized a lot of the fan community to it. So some of us have something of an allergic reaction to seeing Lord of the Rings paired with Babylon 5. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Oh, okay, I see. If the comparisons have gone to those extremes and have gotten that controversial, then people's reactions to such make more sense. If done in moderation and for the right reasons, I still see it as harmless. However, it looks like a few people have ruined for people like me who see the discussion of the similarities and just fun trivia.

That's a shame. Thanks for clearing things up though.

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Old December 24th 01, 04:21   #14
Joseph DeMartino
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

"If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."

If your only frame of reference is Star Trek or Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings any other work that resembles it in any way seems to be "based" on it. Some people take this to extreme lengths, especially if they are entirely ignorant of the sources their own favorites drew upon.

B5 bears a much closer resemblance to the old pulp magazine space opera by "Doc" Smith, the Lensmen series, than it does to Tolkein. (Although it handles a similar structure and some related themes in an utterly different way.) Still people looked at B5, especially in the first two seasons, and saw the following:

1) The Minbari are an older, peaceful, spiritual race that seems to be acting as mentors to Humans. Therefore Minbari = Elves.

2) The Narns must be the dwarves.

3) Delenn is one of the elven princesses, fated to marry a "mortal"

4) The heavy use of foreshadowing, prophecies about the return of an ancient enemy, the very name Shadows and the Shadow Eye (similar in some ways to Sauron's restless Eye.)

5) Delenn, of course, used a set of "magic" rings in the pilot. (Quickly dropped and ignored thereafter.)

These were indeed similarities, but that hardly meant that JMS took them from Tolkein. In fact, both borrowed many themes from many of the same sources. And all epics or would-be epics have certain things in common, if they didn't we wouldn't have the single collective name of "epic" to cover them.

Everyone seemed to see a similarity between Sheridan's fall at Z'ha'dum and Gandalf's at Khazad'dum - but they missed the rather obvious differences. Both went where they went despite warnings - but Gandalf went knowing he risked his life, while Sheridan went on a conciously suicidal mission. Gandalf knew he might not return, Sheridan didn't expect to. Gandalf dies essentially by accident, caught by the Balrog's whip just as he is about to escape - Sheridan calls down the White Star, then deliberately leaps into the chasm at the urging of Kosh. And Sheridan leaps to seek the one slim chance of surviving his own plan. The whole point of his going to Z'ha'dum was to call destroy the Shadows at the cost of his own life. That was hardly Gandalf's intention in braving Moria. The Sheridan/Z'ha'dum event has much more in common with the myth of Orpheus in the underworld (which he, too, braves to save his lost wife) than it does with Tolkein. Not surprisingly, since JMS has said that he had Orpheus in mind when he created that part of the arc.

Certainly the name Z'ha'dum was meant to ressonate with "Khazad'dum", and certainly both authors chose the names they did for their sound, and for syllable "doom", which makes the name themselves foreshadowing for the story.

Regards,

Joe

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Old December 24th 01, 04:52   #15
Ninja_Squirrel
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

I agree with Joe that just because there are similarities A, B, and C, it does not mean that B5 is a ripoff of LotR because of differences X, Y, and Z.

However, I think the point of these threads that look for the similarities is not to accuse JMS of ripping off Tolkien, but to just have fun pointing out the similarities. It's trivia and nostalgia. Maybe the part of me that likes that kind of thing is a leftover aspect of my Trek-trivia geekiness that infected my body in the early '90's.

Yes, maybe B5 is actually more like one thing than another, but it doesn't mean it's not also an original work too. Even *if* JMS had ripped off every basic concept from one place or another (and I'm **not** implying he did), he still found an original way of combining it all together.

Pointing out the similarities is not meant to be accusatory or degrading, just interesting, and if somebody wants to point out the similarities it shouldn't mean that people should leap out of trees and climb out of holes to point out two differences for every similarity. Let people just have fun with it.

Sorry, rant over.

P.S. Holy crap, what happened to the smiley faces? I just noticed. They changed since this morning!

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Old December 24th 01, 11:25   #16
MartinRoth
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by GKarsEye:
He obviously stole most of his concepts from Dr. Seuss.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good catch. But you missed the most damning evidence of all:

JMS wrote B5 using the same twenty-six letters used by Dr. Seuss.

I think that should eliminate any remaining doubts.

(Actually, my favorite one of these was from Usenet several years back, where somebody proves that B5 was just a remake of The Dick Van Dyke Show.)


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[This message has been edited by MartinRoth (edited December 24, 2001).]
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Old December 24th 01, 13:24   #17
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

I'd just like to take the time to remind everyone that in my first post, I was not saying that B5 = LoTR, or anything like that. I was merely wondering if some of the similarities were put in there intentionally by him to piss off those people Joe D spoke of back in the day, just like JMS added that 'faith manages' line at the end of Season 4 as a jab at everyone saying B5 was gonna get cancelled. I agree with everything everyone has said, I just wanted to make sure that people didn't skip over that part of my post and miss the whole point. I wasnt trying to open up a 7 year old can of worms

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Old December 24th 01, 17:32   #18
Joseph DeMartino
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, arial">quote:</font><HR>I was merely wondering if some of the similarities were put in there intentionally by him to piss off those people Joe D spoke of back in the day...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I think this is absolutely the case with Legend of the Rangers, which could hardly be an accident and which he couldn't possibly have missed. For the rest, we have the chicken and egg problem.* Most of the direct references to Tolkein (like, "Expect me when you see me") pre-dated the heavy "he's ripping off LotR feeding frenzy. After that point JMS conciously minimized such allusions. (Although I have a feeling he kept the name Lorien just to piss 'em off. )

* (Which reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon. An anthropromorphic chicken and egg are lying in bed together, the chicken looking happy and the egg puffing on a cigarette. The egg is saying, "Well, I guess that answers that question." )

Regards,

Joe

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Old December 25th 01, 01:18   #19
bakana
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

Well, it's definitely a sore subject.

I was in the Genie Babylon 5 SFRT discussion when JMS dissappeared from the online community for several days.

When he came back, we found out that he'd been offline because some Troll had gone to a lot of trouble to convince JMS that not only was the Troll a fan, but that his KID had done a "great" piece of Babylon 5 art specially as a gift for JMS and that it was attached to a particular E-Mail.
Begged JMS to look at the art and E-Mail something Nice to the kid about it.

JMS being a sucker for kids, opened the attachment.

A few seconds later, he realized what was happening and hit the OFF switch on his computer.

The Trojan Horse program had already erased his hard drive. The only thing left was a text file with the message:

"Star Trek Rules!"

He lost two or three completed scripts and rough drafts of a couple others. He had to try to reconstruct everything from paper notes and rough draft printouts.

So, yeah, some of us are still sensitive and become angry over Trollish sounding comments.




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Old December 25th 01, 06:37   #20
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Re: Lord of the Rings?

GKarsEye,

I think you bring up an interesting concept. *chuckles* I like it!


MartinRoth,

Ohh, do you still have the material that proved how B5 was like the Dick Van Dyke Show? I would love to read that.

bakana,

I have heard that story before, but I never heard what was lost because of it. Man...


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