Help support TMP

"When Did Aliens Become Elves (Elf-Like) Exactly?" Topic

20 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the 15mm Sci-Fi Message Board

Back to the Terrain and Scenics Message Board

Back to the SF Media Message Board

Back to the 15mm Fantasy Message Board

Back to the Victorian SF Message Board

1,748 hits since 14 May 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2017 9:49 p.m. PST

Was it this 1923 SciFfi/Fantasy book by William Timlin, "The Ship That Sailed To Mars", with its Rivendel-like Martian city?






PDF link


darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2017 9:58 p.m. PST

Those are fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP14 May 2017 10:03 p.m. PST

Maybe the influence worked the other way. It would seem like 1923 came before 1937.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP14 May 2017 10:18 p.m. PST

Hmm. That would definitely be quite interesting, wouldn't it?

But was 1937 when Tolkien first began sketching or describing his Elves in this way?



Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member14 May 2017 10:49 p.m. PST

He began writing notes for what would become the Silmarillion in the trenches in 1916.

Actually, I don't picture Rivendell that way,and from his drawings, I doubt Tolkien did either. Minas Tirith, maybe.

Really lovely,though.

Looks like they hired some orcs!

goragrad14 May 2017 11:51 p.m. PST

Very interesting.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine15 May 2017 2:08 a.m. PST

The last picture would certainly not look out of place in a copy of the LOTR.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2017 4:00 a.m. PST

The story feels more like Dunsany, Cyrano de Bergerac or traditional fairy tales than Burroughs or science fiction.

They seem to borrow from the more romantic side of art nouveau with influences from the Pre-Raphaelites and the early fantasy canon. It's the same stuff we see in Fritz Lang's Die Niebelungen and countless artists and illustrators of the time where romantic nationalism, fairy tales (not quite the fantasy we know today) and a general nostalgia for those days gone by of fair maidens, stalwart heroes and strange mystical creatures.

This all happens right before the great shift towards science fiction where things like flying ships are replaced by rockets and fairies and elves are replaced by scientifically plausible aliens.


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

Wow, that's a tough question to tackle without highly levelled-up google-fu skills. I haven't had enough coffee yet today to navigate a search of artistic history that can get past the "It was aliens!" crowd.

LoudNinjaGames15 May 2017 8:25 a.m. PST

It is interesting that modern day alien stories mirror old world faerie stories. It's not a big jump to just making them appear much like the old beliefs that have been with us for ages.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2017 9:23 a.m. PST

Hmm. I'd hesitate to go with architecture alone. Low-G building is pretty much bound to be taller and more fragile, and so so to a degree "elf-like."

But yes, certainly, Eldar, Vulcans and Minbari have a certain elven feel to them. I'd go at least as far back as Poul Anderson's "The Queen of Air and Darkness" (1958) in which the ostensible fairy court IS alien. But I could easily believe there was something earlier--perhaps in Planet Stories?--I haven't read yet.

Legion 415 May 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

The last picture would certainly not look out of place in a copy of the LOTR.
As we all can see … GW got the 40K idea from taking the original races from LoTR … And fast forward to the very distant future.

So yeah … Eldar are Space Elves. Orcs = Space Orks. Dwarves = Squats/Space Dwarves, etc.

mrinku15 May 2017 4:41 p.m. PST

My hunch is that it's a parallel "wise and elder race" trope that was developed from earlier influences through the pulp era, which it should be pointed out didn't always separate fantasy from science fiction so cleanly.

They're not otherwise particularly elf-like, but Burroghsian Martians (1912) tick several boxes:

* Long lived (immortal for most practical purposes)
* Ancient civilisation whose time has passed
* Knowledge far in excess of the humans
* Artifacts that invoke wonder (and worth pointing out that Tolkien's elves don't consider their swords, cloaks etc as "magic" either.)

The good guys (Helium) are even pretty peaceful and Utopian by Barsoomian standards. And if you want the REAL template for the Warhammer Orc, I don't think you need go much further than the Green Martians who threaten their existence.

Of course the Green Martians themselves are directly based on the popular versions of real tribal peoples, such as the Apache, Picts and Mongols, who would have had their own influence on Tolkien I'm not suggesting JRR was influenced by Burroughs.

And in relation to the OP's picture, it would perfectly fit with Barsoomian architecture, aside from the stairs (no stairs, only ramps on Barsoom):

"The building was an enormous one, rearing its lofty head fully a thousand feet into the air. But few buildings in Zodanga were higher than these barracks, though several topped it by a few hundred feet; the docks of the great battleships of the line standing some fifteen hundred feet from the ground, while the freight and passenger stations of the merchant squadrons rose nearly as high."

Again, remember that passage was published in 1912.

Glengarry515 May 2017 4:58 p.m. PST

Hardly surprising as belief in elves and fairies has been replaced by a belief in aliens in the popular imagination. Ask anyone which they think is more plausible.

mrinku15 May 2017 5:53 p.m. PST

Musing further on the OP pictures… they actually don't match up with Tolkien's elvish architecture much. That balcony outlook could work at Rivendell, but not the towering castle itself.

A better fit would be Minas Tirith, as Hafen von Schlockenberg said.

But I'd be looking at Arthurian and fairy tale sources, in particular the 19thC (Brothers Grimm, Tennyson etc) for that sort of fantasy castle.

It's not dissimilar to Alcazar castle, either:

Personal logo ACWBill Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

Until someone actually meets an alien, or an elf for that matter, I suppose one can draw them in any way they see fit. Certainly, no one can dispute them as unrealistic.

ROUWetPatchBehindTheSofa16 May 2017 1:22 p.m. PST

Timlin's work looks like it was heavily influenced by Arthur Rackham et al. And I'd suggest that the story is really just a fairy story dumped on Mars. So the Martians look like elves because they are elves… Still I like the aesthetic, though I can't really think of too many miniatures inspired by it.

Lion in the Stars18 May 2017 4:36 p.m. PST

I would have said starting with ERB's Barsoom.

John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series deliberately goes there, most of the fantasy races are actually aliens.

mrinku19 May 2017 9:01 p.m. PST

Hmm… I might turn the original question on it's head:

When did alien races begin to no longer be based on fairy tales?

I'd suggest H.G. Well's War of the Worlds may be the answer.

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP20 May 2017 1:41 a.m. PST

And, not just VSF, whether Spock's ears, or the 'eldar' Minbari…


Edit: Whoops, someone else already mention Minbar.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.