"Magic in a fantasy setting"

Discussion in 'BOARDANIA' started by Hsing, Mar 16, 2007.

  1. Hsing Moderator

    On behalf of Garner:

    (Please don't move this into the Roleplay forum!)
  2. Katcal I Aten't French !

    I think it's rather a personal thing, I know that I personnally am more comfortable with the more instinctive natural side of all things magical, but hey, that's me, I get annoyed by too many rules, I tend to want results soon when I start learning things, and I don't like colouring inside the lines, I want to paint the mona lisa straight away (another reason why I am not getting anywhere with the chain diary thing :D) so yeah, I would go with the natural seamless view, but I can quite understand that other people would enoy the more detailed view. I'm actually wondering if Pterry isn't right about the feminine-masculine difference, the witch-wizard types of magic.
  3. mr_scrub New Member

    I personally like rules in magic because you can actually say how you did it instead of "because it's magic". The Eragon magic system, even if the book is a bit flawed is wonderfully complex and interesting.
  4. Maljonic Administrator

    I quite like Robert Jordan's take on it actually, though the main female (aes sedai) characters always seem to be "embarrassing Saidar" without ever actually doing a lot with it.

    I like that all the races/cultures et cetera can "channel" the "One Power" in their own unique way, sometimes without even knowing that that's what they are doing.

    I also like the idea that some of the people who can channel are able to recognise other people who can also channel, and even see them glowing when they do - where others are totally unaware of anything happening, until it does.

    As for the Crowley etc "magick" type stuff, I think the rituals are more a focus of intent - like a Catholic Mass - that sort of put you in the rite (sorry) state of mine, which I also think Terry alludes to a little.
  5. Garner Great God and Founding Father

    let's jump to an opposite end of the spectrum for a second... what about Technology in a Sci-Fi setting?

    Now, there's a fundamental difference there, in that a sci-fi audience often wants to know the details of the technology involved. geeks love to pour over deck plans and schematics for the USS Enterprise.

    still, in that debate of show versus tell, there was a classic heinlein example:

    "The door irised open."

    The opening line to william gibson's Neuromancer is equally effective, i think:

    "The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel."

    these set the tone for you quite well, and in their own respect i think they're on the same tone as gandalf's glowing staff.
  6. Maljonic Administrator

    I think the main difference with Sci Fi is it usually portrays a possible future of our own, where fantasy is usually about a world or universe that we're never likely to see. So, with Sci Fi, to make it work for the reader/audience it has to be believable. In fact sometimes the ideas in sci fi stories are so good that people use them in real life because, in a way, they reflect our own aspirations for the future - the technology in them I mean, not always the plots.
  7. Ba Lord of the Pies

    Technology should only be explained as much as it needs for the story purposes. Too much explanation slows down the story. It's better to show how it works by letting the readers see it in action.
  8. roisindubh211 New Member

    hmmm...no thoughts on technology yet, but Magic? I think it depends on who's doing it. I never had a problem with having no idea how Gandalf did it, but I think if one of the other characters started I'd want to see some general rules. I loved Tad Williams's presentation of it in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn- Simon (the protagonist) is so curious about it, but of the only humans he knows who can do magic, one of them only presses how dangerous it is, that any sensible person should learn why NOT to use it, and the other, well, he kills puppies and tries to control ancient demons. The Sithi (basically elves) on the other hand, use it unconsciously and can't really understand living any other way.

    Basically I think I like 'knowledge-based' magic more than other kinds.
  9. spiky Bar Wench

    i think the detail to which the magic (or technology) depends on how central it is to the story.

    For Tolkein there was no need to explain how it worked and i wouldn't have wanted to know how it worked because I was alrady struggling with the detail of the geo-political system/history details of TLR*. Of which I think there is WAY to much. Adding in the details of the magic as well would have meant that the story goes backwards or comes to a substantial grinding holt. So for TLR the details of magic would are unneccessary (would have unduly burdoned the story) and as such I don't need to hear about it.

    However, for something like DW where magic is often used to drive a story, it is important to know why Rincewind can't do magic (ie that he negatively attracts thaums) and the idea of the smallest unit of magic and the wizard versus the witch magic systems are critical to understanding characters or driving the story, ie Equal Rites. SO the explanation of the magic system is neccessary and as such preferred.

    So my final thoughts are that for me it depends on what kind of story I'm in. For instance, if I am in an overly detailed story where understanding how the magic id done doesn't advance my character or the narrative then the description is not needed.

    If it does advance my narrative or character then it should be included...

    *One of the slowest, most unnecessarily detailed stories I've ever had the displeasure of wading through. **ducks from the outraged defence from TLR fans**
  10. Katcal I Aten't French !

    **slaps spiky with a haddock**

    It's LotR is you want to abbreviate it :D
  11. Maljonic Administrator

    I'm not an outraged Lord of the Rings fan, but I do wonder sometimes why so many people say the story is overly long and wordy. I sometimes miss longer stories, for me it was a nice long tale that I could settle down to of a night and be comfortable with - I don't try and rush through it, urging it on hoping to get to the end and soon as possible, if anything I try to savour it and get lost within the details.

    Now Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time is a truly never-ending tale, I'm on book 7 in a series where each book as almost Lord of the Rings length, but I've only been reading it on and off over the last ten years. There's no point at all in trying to rush through that, it just isn't going to happen.

    I wonder if that's the problem with Lord of the Rings for a lot of people, i.e. it just isn’t long enough for people to treat it as a massive epic and not aim for the finish line as soon as they pick it up. And it's just a bit longer than a big novel and looks tantalisingly like it could be done and dusted as such in a couple of days, only it disappoints if that's what you were hoping.
  12. Hsing Moderator

    I remember finding the first chapters difficult to wade through when I first picked up at age 13, without having read any fantasy -except when you let Michael Ende count- until then. I think we just aren't used anymore to books that speed up towards the end, but start out a little... dry. The effort of reading all the background info was worth it, because it gave the later, detailed story something to stand on. Plus, it wasn't that the reader Tolkien had in mind was as aware of the standard fantasy setting as we are today; it needed explaining.

    Considering Gandalf, I never asked myself how his magic worked in this particular case. Maybe because it wasn't exactly overused, maybe because it was, essentially, "god-derived" power in his case. Maybe also because when you read fantasy, or science fiction, you can't really enjoy it when you just accept a lot of basic things, for example that mgic works, or that scinece will be able to do a lot of things that from todays point of view are unachievable and unexplainable. If someone manages to give background descriptions on how it all works, and these background descriptions add to the feeling of the book instead of destroying it, than that is more literary skill than anything else.

    Pratchett detailed his view on the difference between witchcraft and wizardry in one of the interviews linked in The Jackal's thread - I vaguely remember not agreeing to some of those things, but I'll have to go back to the article as well as the post I made about it in another thread to give a detailed opinion about that. Of course he only reflects the literary tradition of our fairy tale canon with it.
  13. spiky Bar Wench

    pffft pedantic pain the a.... Oh are you listening.

    Well I'm sorry I did realise later that I'd misabbreviated but I figured people would figure it out and lo and behold you did! Super.

    I realise that LoTR is an epic to be savoured but I did find that the back stories and detail intruded on the flow of the book which is what annoyed me. I'm not against detail and back story but they could have been better integrated and written in LoTR so as not to be so stilted and intrusive on the narrative.
  14. Katcal I Aten't French !

    That's a small t there, spiky dear... LotR not LoTR... :cool: :lol:
  15. Mynona Member

    Tolkien's books are long, tedious and boring, most people just haven't understood that yet. :razz: (and yes, I've read them twice, it doesn't make them better. And yes, I do love neverending stories, and Tolkien's triology is rather short compared to what I usually read.)

    The most intriguing, but at the same time interesting, description of technology in a S-F novel (from back when I still read it) is the book that doesn't have any. I can't remember who wrote the book or what it's called, but there's no description of the technology at all. There's also a lot of changes in the language that aren't described or given a translation of. This way of presenting it challenges the reader to find it out/figure it out themselves and I find it quite fun, because my imagination does that anyways. I don't think it's ever followed the written description of anyone or anyplace. But my version is far superior.
  16. Tephlon Active Member

    Ooooh! The Never Ending story!

    False advertising though, I read the whole thing in 2 days.
    My parents would always give me the books on my birthday at the end of the day, otherwise I would be reading instead of socializing... :)
  17. Hsing Moderator

    And Momo, a book which sadly got lost for the English speaking world due to the only translation from 1977 being not too good, and badly advertised...
  18. Buzzfloyd Spelling Bee

    I detest the Vancean system of magic as used in D&D and satirised by Pterry in the wizards' magic on Discworld. It's not the complexity, it's that it feels so wholly unnatural. And yes, I realise magic is supernatural, but well-written magic is something that feels possible and as though it follows the sort of laws you would expect of a natural phenomenon - given that magic is supposed to be such a phenomenon in the environments in which it occurs.

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