1. Autumn Grayson says:

    Whelp, ironically I had a really epic dream last night where a few witches or whatever were fighting each other. It was sort of like a cross between Fate Zero and Ao No Exorcist in the way it felt. When I woke up, I liked the dream but it felt much higher in witchcraft and necromancy type content than what I’d normally want to write.

    IDK, maybe some day if I feel like it I’ll adjust the worldbuilding to work more in a Christian fiction or at least scientific setting. I know quite well it can be done, it’s just a matter of having motivation and inspiration beyond the initial dream. Especially since the exact feel of the dream is already fading and will probably be gone even if the idea is written down. We’ll see I guess.

    • tt_perry says:

      I have had some amazing story-related dreams myself. Hope you can remember yours better. Or at least let it inspire your mind while you are awake!

      • Autumn Grayson says:

        Thank you. 🙂 Hopefully I can remember. My dreams aren’t normally that cool, so it’d be kind of nice to recall it even if I never used it for anything.

  2. Kathy Eavenson says:

    Randall Garrett wrote stories/novels featuring an alternate history Earth (Lord Darcy Investigates [bk 3]; Murder and Magic [bk 1]; and Too Many Magicians [bk 3] – all available on Kindle or perhaps at your local library with an extensive SF collection). The stories which were collected to make the volumes bear orginal copyright dates in the 1970s.

    Background: in the Middle Ages when the Plantagenets still ruled, a monk discovered the Scientific Laws of Magic. Thereafter all scientific discoveries (paralleling ours) were due to magic investigations. Many changes to the history line; i.e., the Plantagenets are still ruling in modern times!

    Lord Darcy is a cousin (?) of the current modern Plantagenet ruler of England and France and is an Official Investigator in the King’s service. He gets to solve, along with his magical science assistant, Sean O’Lochlainn, many mysteries via sleuthing & application of the Rules of Magic. [You should see what they do with a classic locked-room mystery]

    Read them many years ago & bought the Kindles recently. Lots of fun. Do you know of them? How do they fit with what you’ve written?

  3. My middle-grade magical mystery A POCKET FULL OF MURDER, which is set in an alternate-earth version of 1935 Toronto, has a magic system based on the existence of plants, minerals, and other naturally occurring substances that contain magical energy. These can be used to create various kinds of magical effects by combining them in different recipes and proportions, using heat to dissolve or cook them and/or force to release their stored power, and so on. Poorer citizens rely on Common Magic, which uses cheap ingredients and home baking to generate “spell-tablets” and potions for temporary light, heat and so on, while the richer ones are trained in Sagery which uses precious metals and gemstones for more sophisticated and long-lasting effects.

    It was a fun system to work with, and I’d like to come back to it someday.

  4. Lady Arin says:

    Brandon Sanderson’s pretty well-known for having a very scientific approach to magic. All the magic systems in his Cosmere books come from investiture, which exists within the Cosmere alongside matter and energy as a fundamental part of reality, and to at least some extent it’s still affected by the laws of science — someone using investiture to push something better be heavier than what they’re pushing, or at least braced somehow, or they’ll be the one moving instead. In his Stormlight Archive books, people on the planet of Roshar use investiture for a significant part of their technology, creating devices called fabrials that fill in for “regular” things like telephones or elevators, but also transform trash or metal into food and building materials. I’m not scientifically literate enough to say where he accounts for the laws of physics and where he doesn’t, but he puts a great deal of thought into it for sure.

    Personally, while i love Sanderson’s books and hard magic systems in general, if i ever wrote a fantasy novel or series, the magic in it would be far less scientific. When i hear “magic”, i think of something that not only breaks or ignores the laws of physics, it doesn’t need to explain why. Asking how magic makes someone fly is like asking why heating ice makes it melt: there’s an answer, probably, but at some point you’re just going to have to accept that that’s the way it is.

    • tt_perry says:

      Well, at heart I am a science fiction writer, not a fantasy writer. In hard science fiction, one deals with the restrictions of what physics allows for. In fantasy, anything goes (or at least some fantasy)–it at least some science fiction, that’s not true.

      The problem with a “no rules, just because” approach is it in theory allows anything. Allowing anything can get cartoonish awfully quickly. Without restrictions and difficulties, magic is too easy.

      The framework I’m offering gives a set of restrictions and difficulties to keep the magic from overrunning everything in a ridiculous way. It also could be a tool towards approaching magic in an original way.

      I hear a lot about Sanderson but have never read him (again, I’m really a sci-fi guy). But it sounds like his rules have the purpose of ensuring that magic isn’t just automatic free power with no limits. Good for him. (Though turning trash into food I would myself rule to be hard–food is very complex in its biochemistry–unless you’re eating straight sugar or something.)

      Another aspect of making magic more overtly like science instead of more “magical” (for lack of a better word) is it might give some readers and writers an extra sense of security that we are talking about power here that is essentially neutral, thus with the ordinary restrictions of power. As opposed to demonic power, which some Christian people do get concerned about.

      My main interest in writing this is I thought the specific rules I offered sounded original to me. I think originality is good–so I’m freely offering the idea to whomever is interested. If you’re not interested, OK. 🙂

      • Lady Arin says:

        Brandon Sanderson’s “First Law of Magic” is that an author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is directly proportional to how well reader understands said magic. If a story’s magic is “soft”, it doesn’t necessarily break the story so long as it isn’t a front-and-center part of the narrative, or at least works in a predictable enough way that solving a problem with magic doesn’t feel like a deus ex machina.

        I don’t mean i picture magic as something with no rules, just not rules that necessarily adhere to the laws of physics. You would need to use the right spell (or ability, if you prefer) to lift things telekinetically or to travel through walls or to transform lead into gold; what you don’t need to do is explain how precisely the spell makes it so someone with the upper-body strength of a five-year-old can lift a two-ton weight, or how it lets you pass through walls but not the floor, building foundation and the earth’s crust, or the precise molecular (or whatever) changes you’re making.

        • tt_perry says:

          First, I think what a writer should have clear in her or his own mind exceeds what you tell a reader. And I think if you make a spell that allows passing through walls but doesn’t allow passing through floors, you should know why. Maybe you don’t tell your reader why, but if you don’t think such things through, you are being sloppy. In my opinion, of course–other opinions will vary.

          Tracking physics is one way to check yourself to make sure you are actually thinking through your stuff. It isn’t the only way–it’s a way I like, because at heart I am a sci-fi guy. But I think some stories do in fact use magic in a way that is eye-roll inspiring, not because it is soft, because it doesn’t make sense in any context.

          Magic being “magical” is not enough. It has to make some kind of internal sense. You quote Sanderson saying the reader has to understand the sense but I would say “not necessarily.” But if you are doing stuff without considering inconsistencies or how things operate–well, that doesn’t work for me personally.

  5. Travis A. Chapman says:

    “Nuclear magic could therefore be a branch of magical arts in this type of story world”
    Sounds like my kind of magic!
    I appreciate the framework as a means of noodling through some implications. In my current project I’ve been trying to hold together a magic construct that, in principle, is manipulation of matter/energy (the “what” happens… the “why” and “how” being the challenging part to keep consistent, logical, and reduce the number of “Well, if ___ is true, then why don’t they just _____”). As the author I need to keep it straight, but the story context is a soft magic system where it exists, it has an impact on the story, but it’s not the main thing. Good ideas up there T1!

  6. notleia says:

    Off topic because of course: If any of y’all need article ideas, the Going Medieval blog (going-medieval.com) would have loads because it challenges our basic assumptions both about how the medieval age worked and also all our cultural assumptions that were built up on medieval thought and mostly not reexamined since. It has relevance on this blog because, as you may know, the Catholic church was a Big Deal during that time, and it would be interesting to parse out and poke around in all these Catholic load-bearing beams in these Protestant traditions and how that intersects with “mere Christianity.”

    I’m gonna go ahead and poke the bear with a stick by talking about abortion. Like, Protestants did not care about abortion until the late 70’s/early 80’s. You can pull up some theological stuff from the 50’s and see that it was not a thing (extramarital sechs still covered a lot of the same angst-ground, as it ~kinda~ does today, but if a married lady would have died from complications of a pregnancy, no Protestant would have expected her to martyr herself about it).
    Catholics were (comparatively) weird about it for reasons like they were/are weird about the death penalty. There were some weirdnesses about abortion that would stem specifically from their weirdnesses about sex in general.

    (Aside: Catholicism is WEIRD about sex, because early Christianity in general was WEIRD about sex. I.e, you weren’t supposed to be doing such animalistic things unless you were making babies because you were supposed to be focusing on the nobler, intellectual things about life. Which is also the same reason why you refrained from eating meat and/or delicious things during Lent, because bodily pleasure is sus af, fam.)

    TL;DR: I bet all you married peeps around here are still sodomites. Explanation linkie: https://going-medieval.com/2019/08/16/thats-not-what-sodomy-is-but-ok/

    It’s funny because even the PURITANS noped out of that weird sechs stuff. Part of their recruitment strategy was talking about how it was a-okay to [redacted] your spouse during holiday seasons traditionally given over to fasting and abstinence because that was Papist crap and not biblical.

    I think we could spend a lot of time just talking about how frickin WEIRD Christianity has been throughout the ages about the idea of bodily pleasure. I’m willing to bet that that’s the cause of at least half the denominational schisms (like Church of Christers and their weirdness about musical instruments).

    • tt_perry says:

      Well, given the fact the blog you linked to on the Bible featured a guy using prohibitions on doing things as proof that such things must have once been normal (which is highly shaky logic) I am not super-eager to go run over to a site on Medieval subjects you recommend which also may perhaps feature some creative making-up-stuff-that-doesn’t-make-sense.

      But it isn’t really my style not to look at things at least once. So I will probably be on there in a bit, poking around.

      As for sex, Christianity has had a wide diversity of opinions. We can say in general early Christians tended to be anti-sex, but not everyone thought the same thing.

      As for abortion, I’m willing to bet the Catholics didn’t say much about it before 1950s, either. Because abortion used to be a dangerous and unreliable and not a very popular procedure, about which it wasn’t necessary to say very much because not much was performed.

      It was the advancement of technology that made abortion safe and relatively easy to access that made the issue important–developments of the 20th Century. Also the insistence that abortion was a legal right–that caught the attention of people who hadn’t been worried previously.

      In a way, that’s a bit like the modern transgender phenom. It is now possible to change a person’s appearance with surgery and hormones and such. Something that used to be impossible (though dressing as the opposite sex was always available). Which has vastly increased the number of people reporting transgender ideation…which has vastly increased the number of conservative Christians at odds with the trans movement.

      The French used to have a sexist saying (I’m not sure if French Feminists have effectively banned it by now): Cherchez la femme! Look for the woman!–which meant, if there is a problem with people getting along, some woman probably caused it, so look for the woman responsible if you see there’s some kind of argument going on. I don’t agree with that logic, but when societies rapidly change attitudes about basic things, including producing a conservative backlash, I think “Cherchez le tech!” is in order.

      Tech changes have produced cultural changes. Free ubiquitous porn, for example, has made modern society one of the most sex-obsessed of all time. WE, arguably, our overall First World society, are the ones who are weird about sex.

      • “You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?”

        ― C.S. Lewis

    • tt_perry says:

      My brief survey of your Medieval site rates it higher than your Bible blog guy. Your Medieval source isn’t half bad on the few topics I examined. But is written from a viewpoint that can be described as non-Christian, at least on certain hot button issues like sex–and when talking about modern Christianity itself, for that matter. So recommending it here wasn’t really appropriate.

      By the way, there have been multiple definitions of sodomy–the idea that all non-procreative sex is sodomy is only one historic definition of sodomy. Others have limited it to homosexuality–still others to anal sex. Your source didn’t seem to pick up on that tidbit in my quick scan through the article. Oh also, your source quoted extensively from time periods outside the medieval era on the topic of sodomy, though I would have expected medieval sources.. And in another place, it didn’t get the definition of “Dark Ages” quite right (for Voltaire, “Dark” meant ignorant–so for some, the use of the term doesn’t only refer to “lack of source material”).But I agree with the idea medieval people were not inherently anti-science.

      While there’s some good info there, there’s also some rotten apples floating in the punch bowl…

      • notleia says:

        But it would give you plenty of material to write your kids-these-days articles, desu ne? Plus I think there’s merits to reacting directly to the mainstream source material rather than the third-hand impression of what the mainstream is like (assuming, of course, that my nerdtrash SJW sib here can be counted as “mainstream”).

        I don’t think she’s unaware of the evolution of the connotations of “sodomy,” but I think it’s useful as part of that whole examine-your-assumptions thing.

        And I think Christianity’s long, tangled history of ascetism vs anti-ascetism would make for an interesting discussion, because Christian spec fiction is a part of that discussion.

        The peeps on the ascetic end of the spectrum (or “anti-fun brigade,” because that’s less annoying to spell) don’t really see a need for Christian spec fiction in the first place. And then there are people like you, who are invested on gatekeeping what counts as Christian fiction so that it doesn’t get TOO worldly/mainstream/what have you. Isn’t that contrast and tension between the two interesting?

        • tt_perry says:

          Hmm. Well I found this comment generally appropriate for I had to say in this discussion and also generally respectful of my point of view, though obviously not sharing it.

          Who are you and what have you done with Notleia? <joking, not joking 🙂 >

          Though it was interesting how you describe me here. I suppose “gatekeeper” might be how I should think of myself, since I am a publisher and a regular contributor to SF. But my publishing company is small potatoes and in my estimation lots of people whose opinions I might like to influence don’t even bother to read my articles, let alone read them with interest. There’s a handful of people who take interest in what I write, but as far as I know, no more than that.

          I feel more like a voice in the wilderness that a gatekeeper. I see no evidence that my most of views line up with a majority of anyone.

          As for tracking what kids-these-days think, I certainly am interested in what people think, but feel no need to track the latest trends and respond to them. There are folks who do that with devotion, but so far, that’s not me.

          Unless it’s the latest trend in physics or astronomy or materials science or something. Like the announcement from NASA today that the New Horizons probe indicates that previous estimates of the number of galaxies in the universe was probably off by as much as a factor of 10 times too many. For stuff like that, I’m interested in being au courant!

What do you think?