Volatile Rune

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AI and The End of the World: Book 4 of my 10 Books of #20BooksofSummer2023

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Title: The Silmarillion: An Epic Masterpiece of Myth and Magic

Introduction: If you are a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien’s richly imaginative world of Middle-earth, then “The Silmarillion” is an absolute must-read. Published posthumously, this remarkable book serves as the foundation for Tolkien’s legendary legendarium, delving deep into the ancient history and mythos of his meticulously crafted universe. Prepare to embark on an extraordinary journey through the ages, as “The Silmarillion” unveils a tapestry of epic tales that will captivate and enthrall readers seeking a profound exploration of fantasy and myth.

Review: “The Silmarillion” is a true testament to J.R.R. Tolkien’s unparalleled storytelling prowess. In this awe-inspiring work, he weaves together a collection of interconnected narratives that span millennia, from the creation of Arda (the world) to the events leading up to “The Lord of the Rings.” This ambitious undertaking may seem daunting at first, but the rewards for those willing to dive into Tolkien’s intricate lore are immeasurable.

The depth and scope of “The Silmarillion” are astonishing. Tolkien’s attention to detail and his meticulous world-building make for an immersive reading experience. He treats readers to a vivid pantheon of Valar (divine beings), Maiar (lesser divine spirits), Elves, Men, and numerous other races. Each chapter uncovers hidden histories, the rise and fall of empires, and the struggles of heroic figures. The tapestry of characters is vast, and their stories resonate with themes of love, courage, betrayal, and redemption.

One of the most captivating aspects of “The Silmarillion” is Tolkien’s prose. His language is lyrical and evocative, creating a mythic ambiance that envelops the reader. The writing style differs from “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” in that it assumes a more elevated tone, mirroring the ancient texts and sagas it emulates. Tolkien’s ability to infuse his narratives with a sense of grandeur and significance is truly remarkable.

While “The Silmarillion” may not have the same accessibility as Tolkien’s more popular works, the depth and complexity it offers are a treasure trove for those willing to invest their time and attention. It rewards readers with a profound understanding of Middle-earth’s origins and enhances the overall appreciation of Tolkien’s other writings.

It is worth mentioning that “The Silmarillion” is not a conventional novel, but rather a collection of interconnected stories, akin to a mythological chronicle. Some readers may find the abundance of names, places, and genealogies initially overwhelming. However, perseverance is rewarded as the pieces of this vast puzzle slowly come together, revealing a cohesive and awe-inspiring narrative.

In conclusion, “The Silmarillion” is a masterpiece of myth and magic that stands as a testament to J.R.R. Tolkien’s extraordinary imagination. It is a book that demands patience and dedication, but for those willing to embark on this literary journey, the rewards are immeasurable. Prepare to be immersed in a rich tapestry of ancient lore, where heroes, gods, and legends shape the destiny of a world. Whether you are a die-hard Tolkien fan or an avid lover of fantasy, “The Silmarillion” is an essential addition to your bookshelf.


If you immediately recognised the above as not being the work of the usual author of this blog, well done – the robots won’t be coming for you!  Yet.   If you didn’t, welcome to the brave new world.   The above review was written by ChatGPT in a matter of seconds as a result of the prompt ‘Write a review of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Silmarillion suitable for a blog’.

It’s not bad eh?  Ok the ‘legendary legendarium’ is a bit much – and the mythic ambience is mis-spelt;  maybe it’s a bit generic. But so what?  It’s still accurate enough to be terrifying.  And the robot is right. Tolkein’s book is epic and a masterpiece.    The Silmarillion is not a conventional novel.   The story is not told from the point of view of any one character as were the The Hobbit and LOTR but is in fact related as a history of the elvish races and languages where Tolkien’s interests truly lay.

On the other hand, these facts can be easily gleaned from other reviews of this work.  AI has amassed everything it could find that was relevant to my query, but without having actually read the book.  Because the text is not available online, the report AI has generated is, I suspect, an amalgam of hundreds of other reviews of this work.

What follows is my own review, honest!

The Silmarillion is the 4th book of 10 books I am reading for #20booksofsummer23 hosted by Cathy @746 books

The Silmarilli themselves were unparalelled jewels fashioned by an elven smith known as Faënor.  In these three supreme jewels, Faënor imprisons the Light of Valinor, from which is derived the light of the sun and moon.  Needless to say, the existence of three such powerful and unique gems in the realm awakens the darkness of the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness in Valinor, a place where they had not previously existed or had been controlled by the gods. The rise of the darkness empowers the evil Melkor, or Morgoth, a forerunner of Sauron.

Tolkein writes:

“The fall of the elves comes about through the possessive attitude of Faënor and his seven sons to these jewels.  They are captured by the enemy, set in his iron crown and guarded in his impenetrable stronghold.  The sons of Faënor take a terrible and blasphemous oath of enmity and vengeance against all or any, even of the Gods, who dares to claim  any part or right in the Silmarilli.’

The resulting war casts the entire of middle earth into catastrophe.

In case anyone was planning to panic, I do not intend to be handing over Volatile Rune to an I, Robot style VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) anytime soon.   My readers may rest assured that all future posts will be slaved over in normal (and normally late) fashion by yours truly.

But this experiment came about as a result of a conversation we had at a garden party yesterday about the use of AI in art graphics, writing, in fact all areas of life.  An artist present at the conversation reckoned that AI is the beginning of the end of humanity, and certainly many of the great SciFi writers such as Isaac Asmov and Arthur C Clarke may not have disagreed.  However I found a very interesting article online today basically saying that such concerns are a distraction from the real issues of the abuse of AI which is surveillance and data misuse.  For example,  police abuse of facial recognition technology and so on, is taking place now and on a daily basis; of this it seems there is little or no oversight.  These matters need dealing with first, surely, before we start worrying about androids running amok in the streets with people’s handbags.

Nevertheless AI software capability is here and it is not going anywhere.  In April 2023, the German photographer Boris Eldagsen refused a prize in the prestigious Sony world photography competition, admitting that he had generated his winning entry using AI.  He did it, he said,  in order to raise a debate about the increasingly diaphanous borders between AI generated work and human produced art.  Did it fool the judges?  They said not, that he had warned them that the work was “co-created”.

While I have partially terrified myself with this post, I am also encouraged.  There is no real depth to the AI generated report, at least at the moment.  Who knows what is coming.  Is our own middle earth about to be encased in non-climate related catastrophe?

I always welcome comments on my blog and would be particularly interested to hear what others think of this.  Don’t forget AI is out there writing science reports and deciding legal points, precedents and judgements or will be soon, so it’s not only artists who are affected.


This is #Book 4 of my 10 Books of Summer.


8 responses to “AI and The End of the World: Book 4 of my 10 Books of #20BooksofSummer2023”

  1. The AI-written texts do have a sort of fingerprint you can recognise – very interesting to see it at work on people’s blogs, though.

    And kudos for fitting the Silmarillion into your 10Books – I have the humungous Queen by Alex Haley on the go but as a side-project! I still have my copy, but I am not rushing to re-read it!

    • Thank you Liz. Yes it is a demanding work – it’s keeping track of all the elf populations with their different names. Good luck with Alex Haley.

  2. The “real” review from you confirmed my niggling impression that the first paragraphs were not your voice. Even though my level of book reviewing would be “it was/wasn’t good or I did/didn’t enjoy it”, I really don’t wish to expand my repertoire by using AI. All alarmingly terrifying in my opinion, when Asimov’s and Clarke’s writing has become fact not fiction

    • Haha. I know what you mean. Sometimes I feel that I don’t have a lot to say about a book but I usually find something. Yes, I agree I am very worried about AI things. I think a lot of folks are. Many thanks for your lovely comment.

  3. The chatGTP review has a slightly generic almost sales pitch’y tone to it but it’s quite uncanny. It really does read like natural language. It’s also getting quite good at impersonating individual writing and speaking styles apparently, which seems a more credible and immediate concern to my mind than the notion of sentient robot terminators!

  4. I haven’t read the Silmarillion even though I’m a huge Tolkien fan. I’m not sure why, really. Probably because I was so captivated by LOTR that I’m afraid any additional reading will burst that magic bubble in my memory. And AI is interesting and dangerous to me. Because you know humans … we always seem to find the most dispicable way to use technology. Could very well be the end of our “middle earth.” Eek.


The Volatile Muse

Poetry, literature, film and all things in between

Runes are ancient scripts, magical signs for secret or hidden laws.   I chose a name which I felt brought to mind the infinitely variable nature of the written word.


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