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Old 06-14-2010, 08:58 AM   #26
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I don't see why a rationalist can't write fantasy. I'm one of them thar and I explore religion and fantasy all the time.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:08 PM   #27
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Magic is nothing more or less than what we're willing to not see. Magic can always be explained away and rationalized, but the lack of understanding or the willingness to follow where the magician wants you to look that's where the excitement comes from. Note: I did not say "fun part" 'cause for some the fun part is figuring out how the magician did it.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:47 PM   #28
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To my mind, fiction is fiction. The fictional world can act in a way that I do not think is true in the real world.
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Old 03-25-2011, 02:33 AM   #29
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I dream of writing some music, getting up on stage, and having the hundreds in the audience seeing me with wings. {imagination}

What would they think?

If i was a better man i would activate my top chakra and have the thousand petaled lotus above my head. {imagination}

Rationalist writing fantasy? Does the end justify the means? How to rationalize it?

Write it how it is. Belief offers something to the believer. Think of the 'belief' someone has when they believe in God's divine plan. He is all powerful. What does that offer the believer? Complete faith. Faith will, in the end, yield a better life. It will affect every action throughout life.

Yeah, i wish i could believe.

Art is the wings, it is the thousand petaled lotus above your head. I am probably taking this way to far, but rationalize fantasy?

Write god and magic as it is. God at the top offering a lie, yet something completely worthwhile. He offers a better life, and creates beauty through fallacy.

I think that would make a great book

(ponders... damn maybe i should write that)
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Old 04-06-2011, 07:37 AM   #30
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My efforts to become a rationalist are causing me serious problems with my fantasy writing. I can't suspend my disbelief. I keep trying to make magic more scientific.

I believe in reason. So does my MC. I want the world she lives in to make sense. How can I do that while still making it a magical world, with a sense of wonder and mystery?
It all depends how you define magic. I think the stars are magical and there's a scientific explanation for them. If your character lives in a world where humans can conjure the elements or speak to plants obviously there would be a scientific explanation for those evoloutional traits. That does not make their abilities any less magical or wonderous.

Ask yourself why do you feel the need to explain why your character's world is the way it is? Is it important to the plot? As the author you should know how your world works but you do not need to explain every tiny, little thing.
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Old 07-19-2011, 12:56 PM   #31
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I have a similar problem. Generally I want to stay away from concepts like souls and afterlives in the mists of interdimentional godlike entities of pure evil and black magic. I want to use said evil as metaphors for how fucked up the world can be and the indifferent nature of the universe.
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Old 07-19-2011, 09:52 PM   #32
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You know, the Science Fiction book Contact was written by a rationalist.

So I don't see any problem with it myself.
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Old 02-02-2012, 07:53 PM   #33
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Smile Romantic vs Rational Magic

I don't think that any of us are totaly rational or romantic, if we were we would all be locked up in the nut hatch or out chopping our neighbors up into little pieces. The world we live in is both rational and romantic, the worlds we write about are both rational and romantic.

With that said, Hypathia take the romantic side of you and let it out. You're a writer, you're a magician, take that wand of yours and do your stuff, but at the same time use that rational side of you.

I am working on a book right now that has to do with out of body experiences and astral projection, the romantic side of me I guess, but the rational side only lets certain people do this, and only when they have the proper means to do so. When you set up a magical system in your world you need to follow the rules you set and not deviate from them, the reader will know you are lying.
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:06 PM   #34
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Quite. Fantasy is ... a fantasy. It can be whatever you need to tell your story or make your point.
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Old 02-02-2012, 08:06 PM   #35
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There's nothing impossible about a rational fantasy. I have (I hope) written some myself.

The thing to understand is that a fantasy takes place in a different world from ours. That world will work by its own principles.

There is, for example, nothing inherently contradictory about a world that is created by a deity with each species being made separately without any evolution. Such a world, however, would not look much like ours.

The thing to do is to build your worlds so they make sense. Not necessarily scientific sense because science doesn't necessarily work in every possible world.

Build your worlds up from their own principles toward the environment you need for your stories, make your characters and events make sense within the context of your world and suspension of disbelief will take care of itself.
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:41 PM   #36
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Keep Arthur C. Clarke's axiom in mind: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Magic is just a catch-all for that which we do not understand.

In my fantasy, there are no interventionist gods. People are adherents to religions though, but these religions are not necessarily true. They're just approximates of reason in a sub-technological world. In fact, in my fantasy I think of magic as an unexplained ability to affect matter on the sub-atomic level. People can heat, cool, expand and contract matter on that level. If you do it fast enough you have explosions, and if you do it slow enough you have curses.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:11 AM   #37
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My efforts to become a rationalist are causing me serious problems with my fantasy writing. I can't suspend my disbelief. I keep trying to make magic more scientific.

I believe in reason. So does my MC. I want the world she lives in to make sense. How can I do that while still making it a magical world, with a sense of wonder and mystery?

Don't see the problem, really, rational thought makes fiction more believable.

I'm definitely a rationalist, (INTP), and write fantasy (slipstream, actually) .
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:19 AM   #38
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Why is this thread in the Religion forum? Wouldn't it be better served to be in the Fantasy/SF forum?

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Old 03-23-2012, 06:29 AM   #39
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Some readers feel cheated if they're not made happy, but as a reader I feel cheated if I'm lied to, or if the author plays favourites with his characters. Fairness to me requires an unflinching honesty about a fair world; and in a fair world a lot of villains are just heroes in the wrong place; and a lot of heroes are just villains who got lucky, and that's what I write about.
I believe the trope is 'Earn your happy ending.' The characters have to struggle for happiness because you're usually not happy unless you've had to contort yourself through hoops of all sizes and shapes to reach your goal. I don't like it when series get derailed because an author grows too attached to a character and decides to keep them around even though the book would have been awesome if they had died. I think I love the movie "Stranger than Fiction" because it plays with this very idea and flops it on its head.

But back to fairness. Your characters can have different concepts of what constitutes fair. These ideas are likely cultural, and in judging a single character, you can slide in judgments on the entire culture of your world as well. The villian may be pitiable, but this is only because the culture that created them is terrible. Or the hero may be a raging idiot, but may never have been taught to really act otherwise to be successful. Really, the key is to keep in touch with current events and try to understand our own world. Then, you're just like, 'Wait! My story is totally about immigration reform or trade rights or nuclear warfare, but I just didn't realize it!'
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Old 05-29-2012, 09:08 PM   #40
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Keep Arthur C. Clarke's axiom in mind: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Magic is just a catch-all for that which we do not understand.
This doesn't apply to every approach to magic in fiction, though. There's plenty of fantasy where what happens is starkly impossible.

The thing I'm working on is fantasy and this is an issue I've been struggling with, balancing magic and making sense to the point where fantasy aspects are practically science fiction now. Even if that's the way I view it, though, as making sense on some level, I think explanations should be doled out sparingly. Often, explaining takes away the feeling of magic, like what happened to the Force with midichlorians. An underlying logic can lend cohesion that helps with suspension of disbelief, but too much and you get things like the heat-transfer BS from Name of the Wind, which is not fun.

You often catch writers trying to retcon reason into their magic, like JK Rowling did with unspoken spells trying to explain all the times they just shot them. Personally I find HP very stable magic wise, but there are huge gaps if you nitpick. I get into why that's not such a big deal ahead, though.

I think putting "emotional impact" over "making sense" is a viable approach, having aspects that would never make sense but are just awesome. Take for example: gillyweed. How the hell would gillyweed work? Who cares. It's awesome. Not that trying to come up with an explanation is a bad idea afterwards, ala unspoken spells, just that giving impact priority is one approach. Stephen King will have aspects that defy science in ways calculated to appall the mind. He's very aware of his transgressions and uses them to effect, though, unlike some writers you get the impression are just bumbling around with the magic.

An example of fantasy elements that don't make sense, or at least imply explanations that appall the mind, and have emotional impact, is the music video DYE - Fantasy, on Vimeo, NSFW. Highly recommended to Lovecraft fans.

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There is, for example, nothing inherently contradictory about a world that is created by a deity with each species being made separately without any evolution. Such a world, however, would not look much like ours.
Loaded statement, brah.

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The thing to do is to build your worlds so they make sense. Not necessarily scientific sense because science doesn't necessarily work in every possible world.
Agree, though there are examples where sense is sacrificed for emotional appeal to some success.

I absolutely do not think reason should be given up entirely, like you see in some absurdity. In Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reality is compromised all the time for the sake of the jokes, which, though funny, destroy my suspension of disbelief. Same with Catch 22 and from what I can tell the Colour of Magics though I've only read like one of them. Maybe this approach achieves its purpose of allowing wicked humour but it makes me stop believing an actual story is taking place and I'm simply waiting for the next gag. Not that HGttG or Catch 22 have anything like plots in the first place.
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:27 PM   #41
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I think it's perfectly fine to write about magic or gods when you're a rationalist, or even when you have rationalist characters. If there were verifiable gods that acted on the world then I'd be a believer. If your characters can see magic or can do magic then magic is part of their world.

What I have a problem reading and writing is stories that show things that real religions actually believe as real and demonstratable, or when they assume religion so they don't feel the need to forewarn a religious ending to a story, lie they do in some horror movies.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:51 PM   #42
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But I'm not willing to contribute to the perpetuation of false belief, even if it does make people feel better.
This resonates very strongly with me as well, along with Ruv Draba's comment about feeling cheated as a reader if you are lied to, and I think what bugs me most is when I feel I'm being lied to about life in general. There is no Happy Ever After out there. There just isn't. And to be told that there is, over and over and over, tends to be... oh, what's the word? ...detrimental to my psyche. Because inevitably, you have to pull your nose out of that book. Inevitably, you have to return to the real world where good deeds are oft unrewarded and wrongs go unpunished, where good men die while evil men prosper, and it hurts. It hurts to know that life will never be what it is in the fairy tales.

I think this is why some of my favorite books are also what many people would call depressing - The Road, 1984, or any one of the many books I have read regarding the Holocaust - but I like them because they don't lie. They tell it like it is, and I love them for their honesty.
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