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View Full Version : Can you feel the magic in the air?



Mark B P
01-20-2009, 02:58 AM
Well I can't. See, I'm writing this sort of post-apocalyptic style sci-fi fantasy. It's more fantasy than sci-fi since it doesn't have spaceships or robots (though it does have computers), but it also doesn't have a lot of elements you'd find in fantasy, particularly in medieval fantasy. It's more like star wars without the robots, space battles, space ships.

It takes place in another world, but I think of it more like a planet.

One rule I made before I started writing was that I wouldn't use magic. Eventually I realized that I wasn't able to be as creative as I wanted to be because I had to explain everything with science, and I do not have a whole lot of scientific knowledge.

When I started thinking about it...I couldn't remember why I didn't want to use magic. I don't think it was because of it being cliche. I think it was because I wanted the series to ring true. Most fans of fantasy read because they want to escape from reality, but I wanted mine to ring true.

Recently, I've been using "energy" rather than magic to explain things. Since it takes place in another world, it makes sense that there would be different energies in the world right? It is different than magic because it would have more rules. The problem with this is that I have to make rules based on scientific principles. If there are no rules, then "energy" becomes just another way to say "magic".

I brought up Star Wars. From what I know of SW, it never uses magic. The planets have their own unique natural resources and technology. To explain the unexplainable in SW, they use the "force". I think the force is a good balance. It isn't necessarily anything spiritual, magic, or technological. It's just an energy. I think that is the sort of thing I'd be using. I guess one major difference would be that I probably wouldn't treat it as one all-powerful energy.


So what do you think? Does the whole "energy" thing work? Do you think it needs to be drastically limited?

Or do you think I should be ok with using strait up magic?

EDIT: and if I did treat these energies similar to the force (and gave it a name), do you think it's sound too much like I'm ripping from Star Wars?

Example: "Oh Mercy Alive! Evil Lord Arkansas is trying to draw power from The Florsh!"

Actualy, it'd probably be something like this: "Oh no. The king is trying to use Florsh energy."

The difference is I wouldn't use "The", which I think changes the idea a little.

kct webber
01-20-2009, 03:44 AM
Call it whatever you want. It's all the same thing. It's a good system or it isn't. All good "magic" systems have rules, whether you want to base it in science, energy, sprits, spells, or whatever.

Telekinesis, for example, is magic to us. And it will continue to be until we can do it--whether that's by technological means, evolutionary advancement, or whatever else, does it matter? And posting a communication instantly to someone a thousand miles away would have been magic to someone 500 years ago.

My point is, create your world, create the rules, then make your system obey the rules. That's what makes a system ring true. Not whether you call it 'magic' or anything else. If your system, technological, supernatural or some combination, obeys the rules you've set in your world, it will ring true.

Mark B P
01-20-2009, 03:50 AM
Call it whatever you want. It's all the same thing. It's a good system or it isn't. All good "magic" systems have rules, whether you want to base it in science, energy, sprits, spells, or whatever.

Telekinesis, for example, is magic to us. And it will continue to be until we can do it--whether that's by technological means, evolutionary advancement, or whatever else, does it matter? And posting a communication instantly to someone a thousand miles away would have been magic to someone 500 years ago.

My point is, create your world, create the rules, then make your system obey the rules. That's what makes a system ring true. Not whether you call it 'magic' or anything else. If your system, technological, supernatural or some combination, obeys the rules you've set in your world, it will ring true.

Well said. So, if I created a system of otherwordly-like energies, it wouldn't bother you to read it? It wouldn't make it hard to relate to the characters or anything?

kct webber
01-20-2009, 03:58 AM
I don't think so. That alone wouldn't make it hard, no. If it's a good system with believable rules--and it obeys those rules without fail--I wouldn't have a problem with it. Writers do it every day. Write blatently unrealistic, yet entirely believable things. The key is that these things are based on the rules of the world in which they operate.

Calixus
01-20-2009, 04:17 AM
Recently, I've been using "energy" rather than magic to explain things. Since it takes place in another world, it makes sense that there would be different energies in the world right? It is different than magic because it would have more rules. The problem with this is that I have to make rules based on scientific principles. If there are no rules, then "energy" becomes just another way to say "magic".

Hey Mark!

I really like your idea of using Energy instead of magic. But in the Pagan/Wiccan world, magic is energy. In Wicca, a witch uses a combination of meditation, "spell" work (use of words to focus thoughts), and the manipulation of energy drawn from any or all of the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit), and focuses the energy to help manifest the desire/need of the witch. Ley lines are an example of the energy that can be manipulated by those that can tap into them, and can be found by those that do dowsing. There are many examples of how Magic translate into energy and vice-verca. It may be that you can create something similar to the Ley lines of the Earth in your story that can be manipulated "like magic" by those that can access it.

There are also the theories of Magnetics that can help too, manipulation of them can cause anti-gravity, alter light ray pathways, etc. You might also want to review some of the current theories on Quantum Physics. There are several involving WIMPS, energy related to spliting sub-atomic particles, etc. Those might give you a few new ideas too. Hope this was at least a little helpful for you and good Luck! Can't wait to read what you come up with!

:popcorn:

Mark B P
01-20-2009, 05:21 AM
Hey Mark!

I really like your idea of using Energy instead of magic. But in the Pagan/Wiccan world, magic is energy. In Wicca, a witch uses a combination of meditation, "spell" work (use of words to focus thoughts), and the manipulation of energy drawn from any or all of the five elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit), and focuses the energy to help manifest the desire/need of the witch. Ley lines are an example of the energy that can be manipulated by those that can tap into them, and can be found by those that do dowsing. There are many examples of how Magic translate into energy and vice-verca. It may be that you can create something similar to the Ley lines of the Earth in your story that can be manipulated "like magic" by those that can access it.

There are also the theories of Magnetics that can help too, manipulation of them can cause anti-gravity, alter light ray pathways, etc. You might also want to review some of the current theories on Quantum Physics. There are several involving WIMPS, energy related to spliting sub-atomic particles, etc. Those might give you a few new ideas too. Hope this was at least a little helpful for you and good Luck! Can't wait to read what you come up with!

:popcorn:

Thanks!

Yeah...I did want to avoid anything used in that sort of mythology, but it is a fantasy. I guess I'll just write and see what happens. :)

Matera the Mad
01-20-2009, 06:32 AM
Magic is anything that we don't have an explanation for. The word "energy" is so overabused by New Age Nancy types that I wouldn't use it for anything, I cringe when I see it. If it means magic, might as well call it magic. It's da force, hey... :D

tehuti88
01-20-2009, 08:24 PM
My stories don't make use of the word "magic" because in truth, I hate it; it sounds like hokey stuff, pulling a rabbit from a hat. That doesn't mean there isn't magic, just that it goes by a different name.

I have an American Indian-based fantasy world so the name for the mystical forces that are beyond most people's understanding is "medicine." It's not natural and not supernatural, it just is. Some people understand it, some people don't. It fits into the world the same as anything else. Remember that one person's science is another person's magic, and one person's Force is another person's medicine. Different names for the same concept understood differently by different people.

I wouldn't be put off by magic or science in a story as long as it belongs and is written well. *shrug* But if you write it poorly and just use a different name for what's basically the same concept, calling magic "Florsh" in an attempt to make it not seem like magic, a reader will see right through it. So no matter what name you use, write it convincingly. Worry about that more than about what you call it.

Willowmound
01-22-2009, 02:35 AM
Does the whole "energy" thing work?

Not really, no. Not if you're aiming for hard science fiction.

Energy is an attribute of physical objects. It isn't some force floating around on its own. Most references to energy fields and similar nonsense in Star Trek and its ilk are almost always complete hogwash.

You can start your research simply enough with Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy).

kuwisdelu
01-22-2009, 02:53 AM
As long as you want to stay on the sci-fi magic-like side of things, that sounds perfectly fine. I love the Force.

Personally, I would advise you not to get very technical or technical at all with it. Keep it in the realm of fantasy even if it has the trappings of sci-fi.

Generalizing here, so your mileage may vary...but just my experience... A fan of hard sci-fi can suspend disbelief for fantastical things as long as there's nothing blatantly contradictory to what they know about science, or as long as it sticks to a magic-like explanation of things.

If George Lucas had come up with sci-fi, technical explanation for the Force using electromagnetism or QM or dark energy or something, it wouldn't have worked nearly as well as it did as sticking the vague "energy field that permeates all living things" description. Many fans even believe the whole "midichlorian" thing was pushing things too far into the technical.

To put it short, I'm willing to accept something called "energy" that is basically whatever kind of magic you want it to be...but if it comes too close to how I *do* understand energy, and gets it wrong or mangled, I won't like it anymore.


There are also the theories of Magnetics that can help too, manipulation of them can cause anti-gravity, alter light ray pathways, etc. You might also want to review some of the current theories on Quantum Physics. There are several involving WIMPS, energy related to spliting sub-atomic particles, etc. Those might give you a few new ideas too. Hope this was at least a little helpful for you and good Luck! Can't wait to read what you come up with!

Just my opinion, again... great for ideas. I would advise against getting too technical unless you want a hard SF on your hands. Especially since this stuff can get pretty complicated and lots of authors who think they have it down really don't.

Mr. Anonymous
01-22-2009, 03:45 AM
IMO,

What you have to realize is magic in most fantasies does not operate free from rules. In fact, one of the key recommendations I've heard given to fantasy authors is to set clear limits on magical powers, figure out how they work, what they can/can't do, etc.

Not every fantasy makes these rules clear, that's true. But if magic plays a large role in your story (ie, Star Wars, where most of the major characters are force-sensitive, where impossible feats are explained by the force, etc,) then readers should have a basic understanding of how it works.

Energy, like the force, IMO, is just another way of saying magic. Perhaps a more gritty magic. But magic nonetheless.