Middle-Earth Fanfiction Awards

The Machine That Changed the World

Author: Altariel
Nominator: Marta
2005 Award Category: Genres: Drama (includes Angst): Fourth Age - First Place

Story Type: Vignette : Length: Short Story
Rating: G -- Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Hidden in a cellar in Minas Tirith, a new invention is about to make its mark upon the world...


Reviewed by: Marta -- Score: 5

This certainly is an imaginative tale. My reading of Tolkien's Gondor is that he sees it as being more or less antiquity/early mediaeval, so I'm not sure he envisioned them developing this kind of technology. (It is my understanding that the printing press did not arise in Europe until a fair bit later, though the technology was certainly developed in other parts of the world.) I can see the Elves or perhaps the hobbits (if they had more widespread literacy) developing the technology more easily. Regardless, it's a fascinating concept, and Elphir's fear of the results were well handled.

Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger -- Score: 5

Such a fuss over a printing press! But Elphir does have a few good points. There are repercussions to this, and I agree with Aragorn: the scriveners will not be pleased. Interesting look into the inventors of Gondor's society, but what makes this fic really dramatic actually happens in the author's notes with the reminder of the cults that rise up during Eldarion's rein. The printing press would enable them to spread their propaganda more quickly. Great example of how something so seemingly innocent as a printing press can still have far reaching consequences.

Reviewed by: Azalais -- Score: 5

Politics and sociology of Middle-earth in the Fourth Age - it's all here: the business of artistic creation, the rebirth of Numenorean technology, Manichaeaian cults, mass production, propaganda and censorship... and that gloriously Pratchettesque last line from Aragorn, who has clearly been enjoying the conflict between Amrothos's enthusiasm, Elphir's repressive tendencies, and Faramir's romanticism enormously. Thought-provoking and clever, but above all huge fun!

Reviewed by: Dwimordene -- Score: 4

Very clever! I suppose we shall have to wring the tale of industrialized Númenor out of Altariel one vignette at a time. Good use of a couple of minor characters here; one gets a sense of the relationships and personalities established amongst this little group, though the story is very brief. The argument over the introduction of this new technology is well done, as is the conclusion—the Age of Men will have its own marvels, with their own dangers.

Reviewed by: nerwen_calaelen -- Score: 4

An intersting and clever tale. I like the way you form this story , it is very clever. Your characterisations are good. I like the discussion of the printing press, it seems to be a very logical thing for them to be able to make. It is intersting how you have Elphir seeing all the problems with it and Amrothos seeing all the potential. A good thing Aragorn is there to mediate betweent hem.

Reviewed by: ErinRua -- Score: 4

Absolutely delightful! What an unusual, unique and enexpected tale - and oddly, it fits very nicely into Tolkien's universe. :-) It requires no leap of imagination for me to suppose that, in the affluence and prosperity of the Kingdom Restored, inventions such as a printing press would come to be. The play of characters, descriptions, and even Aragorn's cool, studied reactions are a delight to read. Indeed, such a device would change many things. Well told!

Reviewed by: Bodkin -- Score: 3

The king is, I feel, a master of understatement. The scriveners will not like this at all. And yet it has an inevitability about it that is rather sad. Fascinating debate on truth, lies and propaganda, too. And I like Amrothos as the inventor - and Faramir as the poet.

Reviewed by: Ainaechoiriel -- Score: 3

Ah, so that's what the machine was! I'd been wondering. And very fitting it is. Is it not the Guttenburg press which changed our world? And, more personally, in some ways, our lives as writers? A well-written story capturing both the magical allure of this new thing but also the inherent danger in it. One that is worth the good, I think.

Reviewed by: Nancy Brooke -- Score: 2

This was a good story - good characterizations, well told. The "what" of the machine was obvious, however; cliched. I wish there had been more debate; that was interesting and original.

Reviewed by: Dreamflower -- Score: 2

An excellent exploration of the benefits and drawbacks to the invention of the printing press. I adored the hapless inventor-prince Amrothos, a marvelous OC. And Aragorn's last line was priceless! LOL!