C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are deservedly well known for their fiction. Tolkien’s mythology is almost unparalleled in level of detail and The Lord of the Rings set the standard for fantasy literature, while Lewis’s novels have inspired countless readers. We are very familiar with them as writers, but what about as action heroes?
This is the role that the two play (along with many other British authors, including fellow Inkling Charles Williams) in the fantasy series The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. These are a series of novels, written by James A. Owen, that depict the Inklings and a few of their countrymen (such as Rudyard Kipling and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) taking part in mythological journeys–searching for the Holy Grail, fairy dust, and even Plato’s cave. The books are currently in the process of adaptation for at least two movies. Here is the original announcement of the project.
Naturally, this kind of use of famous authors as characters will upset some, though it might also please others. Here is a reaction from the National Catholic Register, addressing how (the author thinks) Lewis and Tolkien would have reacted to such a story.
Interestingly, this literary borrowing of people for fiction is not altogether uncommon. Lewis himself took part in it with his novel The Great Divorce–which features George Macdonald as the protagonist’s guide–and Till We Have Faces–which is Lewis’s retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. And then, of course, there are classical examples: such as Dante borrowing from Virgil (who in turn derived much from Homer).
Not to irreverently compare The Divine Comedy or The Aeneid to this fantasy series, but such things have been done before.
What do you think about using Lewis and Tolkien in novels like this? Do you think it’s harmless and all in good fun? Or is it simply exploitative? Please comment below!