I saw this question about Tolkien, a biographical movie about J.R.R. Tolkien. While I haven't seen the film, apparently it's not fantastical or anything. However, the question is open with no close votes or comments about its on-topic-ness.

Should biopics on science fiction/fantasy authors be on-topic here?

3 Answers 3


I would say that's pretty hard (i.e. impossible) to reasonably distinguish between "discussion about an author" and "discussion of a biography about the author." The biography/biopic is just another source of information for on-topic questions about an author, and it's reasonable to question the accuracy or content of a biography.

Stepping back a bit, it's sometimes hard to analyze individual works, series or SF trends without talking about the point-of-view, ideas, biases, competencies, etc. of an author. Sometimes even the editor, like John W. Campbell, can reasonably be part of the analysis. So creators of SF themselves obviously must be on-topic.

In this particular question, it's about far more than some random biographical detail such as his marital status; it has to do with the creation of the Qenya language which is obviously relevant to Lord of the Rings.



The biography on the author can fall in two on-topic categories:

  • Historical or societal context of a work
  • Behind-the-scenes and fandom information

Asking about an author's life definitely falls to into fandom information and can help us understand themes, settings, and character motivations within a work.

A question about a work (book or film) that is about the author's life is just the same as asking about the author's life directly.

  • There are a lot of questions about Tolkien that you could ask that don't have anything to do with the author's life, and I don't think those should be on-topic here just because it's a movie about somebody associated with fantasy. Jul 9, 2019 at 21:11

Yes, but to a limited extent

We should allow a subset of questions about biographical works on creators (authors, screenplay writers, directors, etc.) of fantasy and/or science fiction works. On-topic questions should be those directly about the subject of the biographical work (e.g. questions about whether information provided in the biography is accurate). Off-topic questions should be those that are not directly about the subject (e.g. questions about the production of the biography).

For a similar policy, we allow questions about works that are not inherently on-topic (i.e. are not fantasy or science fiction), as long as the questions are about on-topic elements within those works (i.e. occasional fantastical or science fiction elements); we don't allow any other questions about those works.

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