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K.L. Bennett
10-10-2014, 10:49 AM
I have this idea for a story where the magic system is based entirely around a system of connected lighthouses. The setting will be a vaguely Scandinavian archipelago, on an alternate earth that rotates on an axis that allows for a sort of perpetual polar night. The lighthouses and the magic generated by/from/in them are the only things protecting the people from some kind of Big Bad Eldritch Horror Thing (I don't want to give away too many details of the plot as it currently stands so that's as specific as I'll be for the purposes of this thread).

I'm wondering if anyone can recommend any books or short stories that are at all similar to this idea? Even something with the magic system based around light itself, without the house part, would be good. I'm having some trouble working out the specifics of what the magic can and can't do, what its limitations are, etc. and was hoping I could see how other authors handled similar material. I haven't read it yet but will be picking up from the library soon the Lightbringer books by Brent Weeks; it's not exactly what I'm looking for, as his focus seems to be on the spectrum of light specifically, but it's the only thing I've come across so far that's even in the same ballpark.

Don't worry, I'm going to write the damn thing no matter what ;), I just wanted to get a feel for what's already out there, if there is anything at all. I can't possibly be that original! :D Any recommendations are welcome. Thanks!

blacbird
10-10-2014, 10:58 AM
If you have a society living in "perpetual polar light", why do you need lighthouses?

caw

K.L. Bennett
10-10-2014, 11:06 AM
Night, not light. Basically, it'll fluctuate between total darkness and the first picture at this wiki page for polar night. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_night)

keiju
10-10-2014, 12:41 PM
I don't have any recommendations, but I just wanted to say that sounds awesome :)

PeteMC
10-10-2014, 12:52 PM
Seconded - really cool idea :)

victoriakmartin
10-10-2014, 02:51 PM
I also think it's a great idea!

For something similar but not similar, my first thought was the magic in Catherine Asaro's Lost Continent books. Magic there isn't connected to light but it is based around physical objects (sort of), in this case geometric shapes (not drawing them, like other magic, but actually drawing upon shapes around the characters to cast spells).

Also, while looking that series up, I ended up on TV Tropes and found this, which could also be applicable: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LightEmUp [insert standard TV Tropes warning here].

Marian Perera
10-10-2014, 03:27 PM
Reminds me of the YA novel Arclight (where light protects people from creatures called the Fade). You might want to check that out.

Teinz
10-10-2014, 04:37 PM
His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. In book 1, the Northern Lights play a part in the plot.

Buffysquirrel
10-10-2014, 05:43 PM
Not light-related, but the lighthouses kinda sorta remind me of the Charter stones in the Sabriel books.

K.L. Bennett
10-10-2014, 07:47 PM
Thanks, guys! I'm really excited about this idea, more excited than I've been in a while, so it's good to know someone else out there would be interested, too. :)

Teinz, the Northern Lights will definitely be featured, so I will grab a copy of His Dark Materials for sure. It's one I've been interested in reading for a long while now but I'm sure you all know how TBR lists go. Bumping this one to the top!

I will also check out Arclight and The Lost Continent books, so thank you Marian and Victoria. Arclight sounds about as close as I could hope to get to my idea.

Buffy, I LOVE the Sabriel series, but I hadn't made that connection. I think it's time for a reread! :D

Thanks again, everyone! This is a great start.

ETA: yes, I clicked the TV Tropes link; no, I don't plan on getting anything else done today! ;)

Liosse de Velishaf
10-11-2014, 02:52 AM
There's a video game called Golden Sun that involves magic lighthouses. Basically the balance of the four elements is controlled by them: if none are lit, the world decays; if some are lit, it becomes unbalanced an heads towards destruction; if all are lit, the "Golden Sun" rises and grants someone incredible power.


Brent Weeks has a magic system that revolves around the visible spectrum, called "Lightbringer".

The Green Lantern comic storyline obviously involves light and lanterns, with an evil entity restrained inside the Green "power generator"(lantern).

Using light to ward off predators is a pretty common theme in folklore and magic, so I'm sure there are more examples.

http://powerlisting.wikia.com/wiki/Light_Manipulation

Lighthouses are also surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly) popular in fantasy. I've used some in stories before. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LighthousePoint


This sounds like a really fun idea. Good luck with it!

MkMoore
10-11-2014, 03:34 AM
While it's not strictly about light, Brandon Sanderson's magic system in Way of Kings is based around "stormlight." (whether it helps or not, it's a fantastic read, and he is the king of magic systems, so it can't hurt, right?)

I think your idea sounds awesome! I've always found that the best way for me to get a grip on what my magic systems can do is to go ahead and write some of the book. A lot comes to me in the process.

K.L. Bennett
10-11-2014, 03:54 AM
Liosse, thanks for those links, especially the light manipulation one. There's some good stuff in there! I'm going to read up on that video game, too, because it's sounds pretty close to my idea in terms of the structure of the lighthouses, just without the four elements, decaying world stuff.

I'm also going to add Way of Kings to my next library haul. I know Sanderson is known for his inventive magic systems but I've shamefully never read any of his series. Thank you MkMoore!

blacbird
10-11-2014, 09:51 AM
Night, not light. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_night)

My reading error, sorry. Bad eyes. Makes a big diffeence, don't it?

Maybe your lighthouse should shine a quite bright white night sight light, right?

caw

K.L. Bennett
10-11-2014, 10:38 AM
My reading error, sorry. Bad eyes. Makes a big diffeence, don't it?

Maybe your lighthouse should shine a quite bright white night sight light, right?

caw

No worries, good sir. It was three in the morning, and I actually assumed it was my own error at first reading your comment, because I read it wrong when I went back to check myself. :tongue And yes, the night light will be quite bright alright!

Once!
10-11-2014, 08:45 PM
Interesting idea. Can't think of a magic system related to light or light houses other than His Dark Materials already suggested by Teinz. But I wonder if it could be linked to something like the concept of ley lines? The lighthouses could be placed on particular spots related to energy inside the earth?

But it sounds like a good concept that's definitely worth developing.

Reziac
10-13-2014, 06:30 PM
I love the idea. I say just go ahead and start writing and see how it works out -- after all the interesting part will be how your people cope with this situation and utilize the magic, not the nuts and bolts of it (well, that's interesting when we as readers infer how it works from how people use it).

BabySealWriter
10-17-2014, 02:35 AM
I don't have any help for you, but want to say that this sounds pretty cool. I picture civilization living under the proverbial shadow of these Lighthouses that form the last bastion of human protection from the darkness. Really cool idea.

BabySealWriter
10-17-2014, 02:37 AM
While it's not strictly about light, Brandon Sanderson's magic system in Way of Kings is based around "stormlight." (whether it helps or not, it's a fantastic read, and he is the king of magic systems, so it can't hurt, right?)

I think your idea sounds awesome! I've always found that the best way for me to get a grip on what my magic systems can do is to go ahead and write some of the book. A lot comes to me in the process.

damn if Sanderson's Stormlight books aren't some of the coolest things I have read in a while.

Tyler Silvaris
10-17-2014, 09:27 PM
I don't know about other books like you're asking for, but I do have some advice on the matter. Maybe you've already thought of this or something better, so feel free to ignore me.

When you're working on the details of any magic system, think about where the magic came from. That should heavy influence the way the magic works. I don't know the specifics on your world, but in general consider that if the use of magic was a blessing or gift of some kind, then it should have a lot of uses and only require so much sacrifice to use. On the other hand, if the use of magic was something mortals stole from the gods then it will be potent, but with limited use and be very taxing.

Also remember to explore the legendary angle of your magic for ideas. I would expect a Scandinavian to have a lot of myths about their history and magic. What do those legends say about magic? Even if the myths are misleading, they can give you ideas. For example, support the myth of magic being stolen from the gods by saying the perpetual night is a curse placed on the world for their treachery. Even if that's not true and its simple astrophysics, the people will believe it.

Fizgig
10-18-2014, 06:55 PM
Stormlight and His Dark Materials would be my two recs as well.

Just wanted to add that I LOVE this idea. Lighthouses are already sort of magical in my mind (edges of the "world' standing alone to protect people, isolated and often in difficult places...), adding magic sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it :)

Jamesaritchie
10-18-2014, 08:03 PM
What effect would a perpetual solar night have on the rest of the planet?

Reziac
10-18-2014, 08:24 PM
I'll bet it's cold and largely lifeless. Or if there is life, it's in the hostility range of a polar bear.

K.L. Bennett
11-02-2014, 10:55 PM
I feel kind of bad for bumping this thread now, and for not responding to the newer replies sooner, I just don't make it on AW as often as I'd like. :) I want to thank you guys again for your encouragement! I've got The Golden Compass on my nightstand, as well as Arclight, which I just started. I'm also following the "just write it" advice and using this nugget of an idea for NaNoWriMo this year! :D

To Tyler Silvaris, thank you for your post. I hadn't considered some of those points, but in considering them just now, I think I've got a better idea of the course the story might take. Food for thought, for sure!


What effect would a perpetual solar night have on the rest of the planet?

I don't really have an answer to this, because as far as my characters are concerned, there is no rest of the planet, but it's something I've wondered about myself. I didn't spend too much time wondering, though, because that's always been my downfall with previous projects! But I figured if the polar night was magically induced and planet-wide, it would be much like Reziac said: cold and dead. Or if it came about because the planet stopped rotating or something like that, then half the planet would be cold and dead and the other half hot and dead.

But I promise I didn't spend too much time thinking about it. ;)

Albedo
11-04-2014, 05:39 AM
Uzumaki, the classic horror manga, has a subplot surrounding a supernatural lighthouse. Though its lighthouse is the eldritch horror.

Tyler Silvaris
11-04-2014, 10:35 PM
To Tyler Silvaris, thank you for your post. I hadn't considered some of those points, but in considering them just now, I think I've got a better idea of the course the story might take. Food for thought, for sure!

Glad I could help! To me, the greatest beauty of writing is the creationism of it. Creating worlds in all their intricacy and complexity. I enjoy creating the world itself as much or even more than the stories about the people that live there.

Developing history and mythology, understanding magic and superstition, grasping the lines of culture and where it blurs with all of the above...that is what I write for.

I make the fantastic as real as possible by treating it like I would treat a study of our own world. Every part matters.

Everyone loves the stories of Middle Earth. It's because this is the level of dedication that J.R.R. Tolkien had to his creation. I am inspired by the photo I once saw in a documentary about Tolkien.

He was in his study, surrounded by piles of books and papers. Shelves were everywhere, all packed with binders and books. Everything in that photo was some scrap of culture, language, or history he had written about Middle Earth. Most of it has never been seen by anyone but his son.