Technology in Middle-Earth

Submitted by Christian Lassen <erundil-aaaaaaat-gmx-dawt-de> on 27 June 2000.

It must unfortunately be said that the events described in Prof. T's work The Lord of the Rings are completely wrong. However, Prof. T is not to be blamed since he only translated the RBW (Red Book of Westmarch), whose content is already as far from the truth as London from Andromeda.

Now, it must be known that Middle-Earth was not medieval at all, but blessed with technology of the finest. The question arises why nothing of this can be seen in the RBW. The answer is quite easy: The RBW was written many years after the end of the Third Age, in a time which was what we would call medieval. Indeed it has been the fate of Middle-Earth to gradually lose its technology... until, at some point in the Dark Ages, the evolution inverted and mankind gradually re-won the advancements which we know today.

Thus, in the First Age, technology was far more advanced than in the Third Age, and therefore at a point which we haven't reached yet.

It is clear that the Dwarves and Elves knew the secret of plexiglass and aluminium - only they called the former Elven-glass and the latter mithril. Yes, mithril is nothing but the periodic element Al. The RBW describes it quite accurately: a strong but very light metal. Of course, as is the case with all the RBW, its virtues are greatly exaggerated. You still don't believe me? All right, another example:

Eärendil's Ship.

Cf. Bilbo's song:

A ship then new they built for him,
of mithril and of elven-glass
And this new ship afterwards did not only sail the sky, but also the outer void. Surely the idea of a starship springs to mind? And what are starships usually made of? Aluminium and plexiglass! As for the Silmaril, it may be some kind of Photon-driven engine.

But far greater are the mistakes of the RBW where the Third Age is concerned. For example, the Rings of Power were not rings at all; they were a very special form of cell phones!

I say special because of their unique powering method:

Since their creators - the executives of Eregion Telecommunications®, which was owned by Celebrimbor Enterprises™ - intended them to be away from their charging stations most of the time, a sort of constant powering system had to be invented.

And this was it:

Each Cell Phone of Power had a charged battery. Its energy was gradually used up. However, when the battery was empty, the Cell Phone did not stop working. Instead, the battery became charged with negative energy! When the Phone was put back on its charging station, a strong flux of positive energy began to flow through it. The positive and the negative energy cancelled each other out until the battery was empty. Then it became charged with positive energy again.

This brings us to the actual reason of Sauron's downfall.

Frodo didn't throw the One Phone into a volcano, of course. He just put it back on its charging sation in Sauron's communication lab - which the RBW refers to as 'the Cracks of Doom' in what can only be called unnecessary over-dramatizing.

Since the One Phone had been lost since the Second Age, you can imagine how much negative energy had meanwhile accumulated on its battery!

The charging station's automatic system tried to cancel all that negative energy at the same time. To do that, it drained all the positive energy from Mordor's electricity network - which eventually led to the breakdown of the main computer in the Barad-Dûr headquarters.

Now let us discuss the Nazgûl. These were taken under contract by Sauron: for a very small fee, they received a special medical treatment which guaranteed them eternal life. However, their bodies became streched and haggard and grey-wraith-like, as some people said.

Sauron also gave them nine Phones of Power. Thus being able to stay in touch at any time, the Nazgûl became succesful businessmen and built up a mighty economic imperium. One day, however, this imperium collapsed because of some plot of Sauron, and the Nazgûl were bankrupt... and because of their amassed debts for the Nine Phones, they suddenly owed a large sum of money to Mordor Telecom, Inc.®. Since they had no money left, they went into a kind of debt slavery for Sauron.

But, you might ask, surely after some years they would have paid back their debts? Theoretically that is true, but they still needed Sauron's medical treatment, which had suddenly become incredibly expensive because of - ahem - inflation. Therefore, their debts grew instead of decreasing.

And this is also the reason why excessive using of the One Phone eventually brings you under Sauron's control: because of the high phone bill!

(By the way, the One Phone does not really make you invisible, of course. But when you are attacked by ennemies, you just put your hand over the phone, say 'Sorry, I'm in an important business discussion,' give them meaningful glances, and resume talking. Then, while they are waiting, you quickly bolt and run.)

One question still remains, howerver: How on earth did the notion appear that the Phones of Power were rings?

The origin of this misunderstanding lies in a dialogue that took place between a Nazgûl and Sauron, after the latter had taken the former under contract:

'Hmm, you sure I shouldn't read this small print?'

'Quite sure. My medical treatment restores the body, but not the eyes. It would be a shame of over-using them.'

'OK. I trust you'll contact me, then?'

'Yes, I'll give you a ring.'

And this dialogue was handed down from generation to generation, until its true meaning was forgotten. Thus, the original RBW actually has a poem which claims the following:

Three Rings for the Telecom Kings under the sky,
Seven to the Dwarf-Lords for their calls at home.
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to pay,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the land of Mordor, where the phone bills lay.
One Ring to call them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to phone them all and to the contract bind them,
In the land of Mordor, where the phone bills lay.
A few translation errors by Prof. T did the rest, and the result was the Lord of the Rings. However these translation errors are understandable, since the RBW was written in a language in which one word can have many different meanings, rather like Latin. For example, the word for 'phone bill' and 'shadow' is the same, which shows that some wisdom was still left to these people.

Another thing which modern society got completely wrong: George Orwell was actually an Elven minstrel who wrote a lay about Morgoth's reign of power. It was called 1984 First Age: Big Balrog is watching you.

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And Sauron's use of a palantir: The Disney Channel? You Decide!