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mark211What are the limits of magic in Fantasy Fiction?2015-05-31 06:01:08
mark211I confess upfront that I *love* magic and the uses of magic and the representations of magic in fantasy fiction. In fact, along with the spirit, fairy, goblin etc. world (which are themselves often connected to magic) it is one of the things that I most look for in fantasy fiction.2015-05-31 06:03:08
mark211But what are the limits of magic? To take one famous example, less is clearly more in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series where magic clearly exists as a force in the world, but where it's not always evident what the source of that magic is or even if some of the things assumed to be the result of magic actually were the results of magic. In other series, say the Farseer trilogy, I would say magic (or Skilling as it's known there) plays a much greater role, and then on the end of the spectrum is Vance's Dying Earth series where magic is literally everywhere. How do you like your magic? What are or should be the limits of its use in fantasy fiction? Let us know ...2015-05-31 06:07:41
IronspiderI've always felt that magic (or it's equivalent) should carry a price to the user. From Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea stories - I still feel Sparrowhawk is a good embodiment of how a sorcerer and his magics should be portrayed - to the relatively benign magic that forms the backdrop of many Charles de Lint stories. The darker arts cost, maybe not immediately, but there is a price to be paid eventually. 2015-06-01 23:39:38
jessbaumWhen it come to fantasy, I feel that magic doesn't have to limits. We're not writing literary fiction to make commentaries on everyday life. Fantasy is all about escapism, and imagination. The whole "magic has a price" ideal ties into human interference. It's more of a cautionary "Be careful what you wish for" type of story line that we've seen before. If it's effective to the story, that's great but there are endless possibilities in fantasy writing. I say run with it. 2015-06-02 05:53:45
r.tornelloI agree with Jess for the most part, however many fantasy tales are of a cautionary nature, or they use fantasy to get around censors. And yes, fantasy can run the gamut.

Full key board speed ahead. Reality and scientific facts be Damned.

2015-06-02 08:53:05
Sidewinder4The power of magic in Fantasy is limited by the contribution it makes to the tale. If it becomes the tale what's the point? Thus the limit within the practitioner: personality, skill, and desire should advance the story too. If the the aged sage must still seek, through magic or otherwise, there is story to unfold. If a witch casts a spell and all creation is suddenly one block of ice, everything gets really-really quiet. The witch won; the end. But if a single rose remains untouched, there's still hope, and more story and more hero stuff happens etc. The tale must be true to its own nature-laws: up remains up, a well trained conjure-fox costs two sliver coins or it won't follow instructions etc. If it isn't then confusion sets in and readers stop reading. Zap; all of everything is now tomato soup. And there are no spoons. BUT THERE ARE BOWLS. Write on. 2015-06-02 21:00:13
r.tornellosidwinder4, I think the term your describing as being required is verisimilitude.2015-06-03 09:51:36
Sidewinder4Walt Disney spoke of the "plausible impossible." It seems quite plausible [but impossible] that Mickey Mouse could continue to run on air after passing the edge of a cliff if he did not notice his circumstance. This is step past verisimilitude. But a step past that causes a reader to move on to something else. A wizard might save himself with magic after blindly moving off a cliff but if he does so without even a flick of his wand the result is... Yeah, like that last sentence; the result is just... a really clear lack of verisimilitude. 2015-06-03 22:24:05
r.tornelloSidewinder 4, I disagree. The cartoon world allows for most anything outside the laws of physics, ie: Cool WORLD,Roger Rabbit, Animaniacs (oh yeah).

Once I step into that world, I give up all reality as I know it and accept it as it is shown. However, in a more realistic setting then a continuity in that given reality becomes more important.

That being said I will contradict my self and admit that I don't really give a damn about verisimilitude as much as many people do. I suspend my disbelief every time, I wake up in the morning, I read the paper and just look about this world.

2015-06-04 05:21:24
Sidewinder4Newspapers and broadcast news too often contain more propaganda and "spin" than would be acceptable in a fictional account. Politicians give speeches that when examined closely have very little meaning; a grasp for emotional identification with the target group, "i too am a devout [whatever will get me your support: money, vote, voice etc.]." If there are no limits imposed on magic by the author of a fantasy tale it may as well BE A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE: full of philosophies and dogma that pull the emotions and the pocketbook but leave the intellect untouched and un-entertained, but perhaps duped. Select the ingredients of your potions as if you were actually casting a spell with them, for you are: the tale you wind and unwind onto the page. Express emotion, through sensory reaction, using hate, or love, as catalyst. Give your magic words sting and stink, or savor and flavor. An author can get very wild but use the "plausible impossible" or even the "implausible-impossible" as a take-off and landing point. Otherwise confusion confuses and stops entertaining, then the reader stops reading. 2015-06-04 22:05:31
r.tornelloI think we're back to the term verisimilitude but in the widest sense. One of the few places it is not forbidden, so to speak, is in Looney-toon type cartoons and that is another world. But back to the point, even in Cool World and Roger Rabbit there is a physics that is not strictly subscribed to, or one that we have yet to discover.

In essence I do agree with you. BUT,for my own enjoyment I don't require it as much as many appear to. And that is why I enjoy animation, and writing poems and stories for children and like minded adults. I'm given a pass and I'm allowed the freedom to be.

2015-06-05 06:21:08
Sidewinder4Sometimes my mind "digs in," when an unruly mistake takes a leap into fantasy totally breaking the spell. In This TV Sci-Fi story airplanes at night are approaching; LA I think. The lights on the ground: city, county, airport etc. are winking out in large blocks. The computer-generated images of the airliners begin to spin out of control and fall. Reason in the tale? Aliens "turned off" electricity itself. For the spinning depicted to occur without the flying machines breaking into junk. The aliens would need to "turn off" all of the laws of aerodynamics too. An airplane couldn't go into a "flat spin" at the 250 knots they would be moving while approaching LA Airplanes have worlds of electric "stuff" but are controlled by mechanical means. The few that are "fly by wire" [flight controls that send an electric signal instead of pulling cables or pushing rods or both] would very un-dramatically continue to fly straight ahead if electricity ceased to exist. Verisimilitude IS where it's at for me. But I loved it when Roger Rabbit said that he couldn't take his wrist out of the "way too big" handcuff; "until it was funny." 2016-08-11 21:21:30

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