Houston, TX — July 23, 2005 — Tolkien expert Michael Martinez will give a special presentation at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on Tuesday, July 26 as part of their Distinguished Lecturer series. “Being Middle-earth: How Fantasy Shapes the Living World” looks at the experience of creating a modern motion picture in a world where millions of fans watch and sometimes participate in the process. The lecture is sponsored by KUHF, 88.7 FM (http://www.kuhf.org/), Houston Public Radio.

The successful production of the three “Lord of the Rings” movies spawned two miniature economies focusing on Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth. The large, widespread audience for the movies has responded by creating tributes, organizations, and a vast sub-culture dedicated to sharing and nurturing the experience of being Middle-earth. Film-making has evolved into a communal experience whereby studios now develop projects under the watchful eyes of, and sometimes in conjunction with core audience groups with special knowledge and expertise in project-related topics. One insider’s perspective examines how the Lord of the Rings experience introduces a new, global medium of artistic expression.

“Unlike the immensely popular Star Wars movies,” Martinez says, “The Lord of the Rings was able to draw upon a well-established fan base which had a long-standing artistic tradition of interpretation of Tolkien’s book. The Lord of the Rings movies were really made by fans for fans, since Peter himself is a huge Tolkien fan.”

KUHF News Anchor Rod Rice is host for event. The presentation will begin with a special 10-minute video called “From Tolkien to Middle-earth”. Martinez will share insights from his own experience as an organizer of fan events and Web sites, as well as a contributor to the background research for the movies, and from the experience of thousands of other fans who have shared their thoughts and feelings on the Web and through surveys and articles.

Michael Martinez (http://www.michael-martinez.com/) is the author of Visualizing Middle-earth, Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth, and Understanding Middle-earth: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. He was the contributing editor for Suite101’s popule Tolkien and Middle-earth topic from 1999 to 2003 and he is a featured contributor on MERP.COM. Martinez also organized the Dragon*Con Tolkien and Middle-earth fan programming track. The Houston Museum of Natural Science (http://www.hmns.org/) is located at One Hermann Circle Drive in Houston, TX. Tickets may be purchased online at the museum’s Web site.