The Lord of the Rings achieved popular acclaim long before Peter Jackson even conceived of filming the work. LOTR appeals to mass readers, not only to niche genre aficionados. Its presence is felt worldwide, even beyond the pages of fiction, influencing the development of everything from video games to political sloganeering. The books continue to be printed, new editions appearing all the time.
Will any other work of fantasy fiction ever manage anything near such universal crossover appeal? Does it matter? I suppose not. My appreciation of something is not dependent upon its popularity. Still, the question occurred to me.
The Song of Ice and Fire enjoyed a several year run of popularity through HBO’s Game of Thrones series. But will that popularity carry over to decades of continuing book sales? It is probably too early to say, and may depend on whether or not Mr. Martin ever completes his work. And how much of the popularity can be credited almost entirely to HBO? Was Tyrion Lannister a household name prior to the show? Frodo was, decades prior to Elijah Wood portraying the character. I suppose we’ll see.
Conan will endure as an icon, much the same as Sherlock Holmes. The films and comics ensure his immortality. But will the stories reach a mass audience? Does anyone outside of a core fanbase (that includes myself, naturally) read REH? Or will Conan’s popularity continue to be confined to adaptations in other media?
I’m discounting Harry Potter, since my question is limited to adult fiction. But, will even HP endure? Or was it a generational phenomenon?
Perhaps there is some book on the horizon that will break through. I remain skeptical, however. Any ideas, readers?
If you want to help me give mass popularity a shot, take a look at these offerings and read one (or more) of them.