The Lord of the Rings series has been branded ‘racist’ by a science fiction writer who claims orcs are discriminated against and written as inferior.
American author Andy Duncan said British author JRR Tolkien depicted evil creatures such as orcs as ‘worse than others’ and said this had ‘dire consequences for society’.
The criticism comes despite Tolkien being known as a fierce critic of racism, particularly the Nazi Germany regime in the 1930s and 40s
But Duncan told podcast Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, run by Wired Magazine: ‘It’s hard to miss the repeated notion in Tolkien that some races are just worse than others, or that some peoples are just worse than others.
‘And this seems to me – in the long term, if you embrace this too much – it has dire consequences for yourself and for society.’
In the novels, orcs are ugly, cannibalistic creatures who have a thirst for murder and are used as soldiers by their evil ‘dark lord’ Sauron.
Duncan has previously written a parody set in Tolkien’s Middle-earth universe called Senator Bilbo about a right-wing Hobbit politician opposing the immigration of orcs into The Shire.
Speaking about this story to the podcast, he added: ‘I can easily imagine that a lot of these people that were doing the dark lord’s bidding were doing so out of simple self preservation and so forth.
‘A lot of these creatures that were raised out of the earth had not a great deal of choice in the matter of what to do. I have this very complicated sense of the politics of all that.’
Duncan also compared the depiction of the orcs to modern day refugees and appeared to criticise President Donald Trump over the situation at the Mexican border.
He added: ‘It is easier to demonise one’s opponents than to try to understand them and to understand the complex forces that are leading to, for example, refugees trying to cross the southern border [of the US] legally or illegally.
‘It’s easier to build walls and demonise them as “scum”.’
Tolkien has previously been criticised for racism by academics, including Dr Stephen Shapiro, a then cultural studies academic at the University of Warwick, in 2003.
He wrote: ‘Put simply, Tolkien’s good guys are white and the bad guys are black, slant-eyed, unattractive, inarticulate and a psychologically undeveloped horde.’
But the criticism was slammed by other experts, including the Tolkien Society who said the author ‘detested’ racism.
Tolkien, who once described Hitler as a ‘ruddy little ignoramus’ previously argued with Berlin publishing house Rütten & Loening in 1938 over publishing a German language version of The Hobbit when the firm asked him to prove his ‘Aryan heritage’.
Tolkien wrote two letters in response, one ignoring the question, and the other confronting the issue head on.
In the second, he wrote: ‘If I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.
‘My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject – which should be sufficient.
‘I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army.
‘I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.’
MailOnline has contacted the Tolkien Society and the Tolkien Estate for comment.