This week has seen a flood of Hobbit merchandise hit the stores — both online and off. So much so, that the cynical might think that’s all there is to Tolkien fandom these days.

That’s why, this weekend (Saturday October 6 at 6pm New York time), Hall of Fire will be asking the question: has merchandise become the default outlet for fan enthusiasm?

(By which i mean: the way “franchises” construct themselves now, as a culture are we becoming stuck in a mindset that we automatically express our fandom through (the collection of) merchandise?)

What do you think is the essential, defining thing that makes a Tolkien fan? What makes you — and others — authentic? Is it even possible to answer that question?

Is merchandise collection an exuberant outgrowth of your love for Tolkien? Or are we just suckers for a conga-line of corporate bloodsuckers out to inflate their profits and squash not-for-profit, volunteer fan projects?

Is there “good” merch and “bad” merch? How do you decide? Are their side benefits to merchandise? For example, do book tie-ins promote literacy?

And why do we so often seem to correlate “biggest fan” with the individual who has the most stuff?

These are the questions we hope to debate this weekend. So bring your thoughts (but also be sure to bring your politeness — we do not approve of personal abuse in Hall of Fire!) to Hall of Fire on Sat Oct 6 at 6pm New York time when we’ll discuss merchandise, fandom and authenticity in the Hall of Fire.

Time zone conversions

Not sure what time the chat will be where you are? Check this little conversion table out for some help. Alternatively, head to our event time announcer on Time and Date.

6.00pm EDT (New York)
5.00pm CDT (Chicago)
4.00pm MDT (Denver)
3.00pm PDT (Los Angeles)

11.00pm GMT (London)
Midnight CET (Paris)
1.00am EET (Helsinki)

8.00am AEST (Sunday) Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne
10.00am NZST (Sunday) Wellington

How long do your topic chats go for?

Our chats usually last an hour, and are very newbie friendly. Simply drop in and join the conversation! However, our main room, is open 24 hours a day. We don’t always talk Tolkien there, but if you have a burning question, you’ll usually find one or two of “the regulars” up for a chat!

Where — connection details

Chat happens on #thehalloffire on — the TORn IRC server. You can connect instantly via our embedded Mibbit client that works inside your web browser.

Alternatively, you can install a dedicated chat program such as mIRC on your computer and just plug in the following connection details.

Port: 6667
Channel: #thehalloffire