Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Failure of Magic
I wrote a fantasy novel a couple of years ago entitled Okeanus, which I sent out to some agents. Unfortunately, they were uninterested. I am now re-writing the book to submit to a novel contest. As I was writing the novel several questions arose concerning magic. Primarily, how do fantasy writers describe the magic? Is it logical? Where does it come from? How is it used? How is it described? To answer the question I began to read with an eye on the magical systems. Once I began to dwell on these questions, I realized most fantasy writers do not deal with it very well. After awhile, I decided that most fantasy writers simply present their magic--their personal fantasies of power--on the plate like a dead fish. Magic for them is a fait accompli, without much explanation. More often than not, their magic arises from a genetic gift or power of the gods or the daemons. I then turned to non-fiction and the biographies of mages, shamans, witches. This study produced better results but ultimately it was not much help. Finally, I decided to base my magical system on learned spells. In other words, words spoken poetically create the power the speaker wields. My archetypal magician is Aaron, Moses' brother. Remember Moses stuttered and depended on Aaron's verbal facility. Also, remember that Aaron performs magic and battles the Pharoah's magicians and that all creation in the Bible springs from the word. Magic in Okeanus then depends upon learning, recitation, repetition and manifestation. Magic is created and imbued with human spirit and human emotion. And, as we all know, heightened emotion is enervating and erratic, spontaneous, and dangerous. Magic should also contain these attributes.