Epic Fantasy Tropes

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Konrad Gaertner

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Sep 28, 2010, 7:25:26 PM9/28/10
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I just finished Brandon Sanderson's _The Way of Kings_, which has me
thinking a bit about some common tropes of epic fantasy (Sanderson
didn't really do anything new with this book).

1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
past several thousand years that might be useful? Steven Erikson is
the main exception to this rule, and of course urban fantasy is happy
to test tasers against vampires. It's possible Sanderson will
subvert this later (apparently 1000 pages isn't enough to give anyone
a chance to try the new tech against the old enemies).

2. Some characters claim the only way to establish lasting peace is
co-dependence through forced specialization. I first saw this in
Frank Herbert's _The Godmakers_ (not epic fantasy) where the example
given was having one village only make shovel handles, and their
neighbors only make shovel blades. In tWoK, we're told that the
previous time the main kingdom was united, peace was keep by having
the ruler of each province in charge of a different part of the
government: a Highprince of War, a Highprince of Justice, a
Highprince of Trade, etc.

Am I the only one who finds this idea totally naive? If these
polities are so determined to fight each other, what makes you think
they'd obey laws that hurt their profits? It sounds like the author
is trying to have checks and balances without rule of law.

3. Why would anyone think uniting warring nations be easier if you
first assassinate their rulers?

4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
lengths?


--
Konrad Gaertner - - - - - - - - - - - - email: kgae...@tx.rr.com
http://kgbooklog.livejournal.com/
"I don't mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface."
-- James Nicoll

Dorothy J Heydt

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Sep 29, 2010, 3:27:15 AM9/29/10
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In article <4CA27966...@tx.rr.com>,

Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
>I just finished Brandon Sanderson's _The Way of Kings_, which has me
>thinking a bit about some common tropes of epic fantasy (Sanderson
>didn't really do anything new with this book).
>
>1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
>past several thousand years that might be useful? Steven Erikson is
>the main exception to this rule, and of course urban fantasy is happy
>to test tasers against vampires. It's possible Sanderson will
>subvert this later (apparently 1000 pages isn't enough to give anyone
>a chance to try the new tech against the old enemies).
>
>2. Some characters claim the only way to establish lasting peace is
>co-dependence through forced specialization. I first saw this in
>Frank Herbert's _The Godmakers_ (not epic fantasy) where the example
>given was having one village only make shovel handles, and their
>neighbors only make shovel blades.

How very medieval. In the real Middle Ages, to make a belt knife
required the work of five separate guilds: one for the blade,one
for the tang, one for the pommel, one for the handgrip, and one
for the sheath. (I THINK that's how they divided it up. It's
been a while.) It was period job security.

--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Should you wish to email me, you'd better use the gmail edress.
Kithrup's all spammy and hotmail's been hacked.

Joel Olson

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Sep 29, 2010, 4:26:28 AM9/29/10
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"Dorothy J Heydt" <djh...@kithrup.com> wrote in message
news:L9HzD...@kithrup.com...

>

This brings to mind Jane Jacobs comments on the "division of labor".

"Smith gave to division of labor unwarranted credit for advances
in economic life, a mistake still much with us. _Division of labor,
in itself, creates nothing._ It is only a way of organizing work
that has already been created.

Division of labor is a device for achieving operating efficiency,
nothing more. Of itself, it has no power to promote further economic
development. And because it does not, division of labor is even
extraordinarily limited at improving operating efficiency in any
given work."

Norm D. Plumber

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Sep 29, 2010, 6:22:58 AM9/29/10
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Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

>3. Why would anyone think uniting warring nations be easier if you
>first assassinate their rulers?

Because the warring nations could then unite against the folks who
assassinated their rulers? You know, those rulers who keep them in a
state of war against their neighbors are much-loved, at least by those
profiting from the arms business.

>4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
>lengths?

It's no big deal, just global warming caused by the breath of
thousands of dragons waking from their annual nap... if you want
predictable seasons, give alarm clocks to the dragons.

--
What is trumps what should be, and what we expect, every time.

Ilya2

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Sep 29, 2010, 8:28:32 AM9/29/10
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> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?  Was there nothing invented in the
> past several thousand years that might be useful?  

I would say more and more fantasy authors are ditching this trope
lately, or at least cautiously poking it with a stick. But it did
reign unquestioned for a few decades. As to why... I think the same
reason as for so many other fantasy tropes: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TOLKIEN
DID IT.

Nothing new was invented in Middle Earth in thousands of years, at
least nothing new of any consequence, so that's how Tolkien imitators
(which is what fantasy pre-1990 pretty much was) have been doing it.

Robert Carnegie

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Sep 29, 2010, 10:04:33 AM9/29/10
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On Sep 29, 12:25 am, Konrad Gaertner <kgaert...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
> I just finished Brandon Sanderson's _The Way of Kings_, which has me
> thinking a bit about some common tropes of epic fantasy (Sanderson
> didn't really do anything new with this book).
>
> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?  Was there nothing invented in the
> past several thousand years that might be useful?  Steven Erikson is
> the main exception to this rule, and of course urban fantasy is happy
> to test tasers against vampires.  It's possible Sanderson will
> subvert this later (apparently 1000 pages isn't enough to give anyone
> a chance to try the new tech against the old enemies).

The same reasons as why the armed forces have reservists. When the
forces already mobilised are not enough to win the fight. The Ancient
Magic is usually a ready-made super-weapon that Evil hasn't defended
against, except when it has and you have to find the dungeon where
Ancient Magic was put by Evil.

> 2. Some characters claim the only way to establish lasting peace is
> co-dependence through forced specialization.  I first saw this in
> Frank Herbert's _The Godmakers_ (not epic fantasy) where the example
> given was having one village only make shovel handles, and their
> neighbors only make shovel blades.  In tWoK, we're told that the
> previous time the main kingdom was united, peace was keep by having
> the ruler of each province in charge of a different part of the
> government: a Highprince of War, a Highprince of Justice, a
> Highprince of Trade, etc.  
>
> Am I the only one who finds this idea totally naive?  If these
> polities are so determined to fight each other, what makes you think
> they'd obey laws that hurt their profits?  It sounds like the author
> is trying to have checks and balances without rule of law.

Guilds and their trade secrets are historic fact. I think I've heard
Venetian glass-makers mentioned. Basically, mess with Venice and
you'll be sorry next time you want a window repaired.

> 3. Why would anyone think uniting warring nations be easier if you
> first assassinate their rulers?

Quite probably the rulers have rivals whose political opinions are
different. It's "regime change", apparently.

> 4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
> lengths?

Huh? I think that only arises on planets of star systems with
complicated orbital mechanics, or when Evil has an effect on the
weather, such as in Tolkien (Mordor: very cloudy) or C. S. Lewis
(Narnia, Faunsicles) or Norse mythology (frost-giants).

Cryptoengineer

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Sep 29, 2010, 10:44:57 AM9/29/10
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Robert Carnegie <rja.ca...@excite.com> wrote in news:2181257d-ad6f-
467c-bde3-f...@k10g2000yqa.googlegroups.com:

Nitpick: 'Venetian glass' doesn't usually include window glass, though
I'm sure some came out of the isle of Murano for local use. Rather, VG is
highly ornamental glass items.

Venetian glassmakers were forbidden to leave the Serene Republic (though
their artistic works were an important export), so their influence on
window glass making elsewhere was minimal.

Its the French glassmakers in Rouen that you don't want to piss off, or
you'll get no Crown Glass (which was their secret) for your windows.

pt

Ilmari Karonen

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Sep 29, 2010, 11:29:35 AM9/29/10
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On 2010-09-28, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
> I just finished Brandon Sanderson's _The Way of Kings_, which has me
> thinking a bit about some common tropes of epic fantasy (Sanderson
> didn't really do anything new with this book).
>
> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
> past several thousand years that might be useful? Steven Erikson is
> the main exception to this rule, and of course urban fantasy is happy
> to test tasers against vampires. It's possible Sanderson will
> subvert this later (apparently 1000 pages isn't enough to give anyone
> a chance to try the new tech against the old enemies).

I'd say this is just one specific manifestation of a more fundamental
trope, namely that of the Golden Age (a.k.a. "it was all so much nicer
before..."), which so widely permeates the fantasy genre. The trope
itself is ancient: the name dates back to ancient Greece, and I
wouldn't be surprised if the idea itself was much, much older than
that.

In any case, if you accept the premise of an Ancient Evil, once
banished but now returning -- seemingly unstoppable -- to threaten
civilization, then looking for the Ancient Magic that was used to
defeat it before does seem like a reasonable thing to try. Hey, it
worked last time, didn't it?

--
Ilmari Karonen
To reply by e-mail, please replace ".invalid" with ".net" in address.

Kurt Busiek

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Sep 29, 2010, 11:29:09 AM9/29/10
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On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> said:

> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?

Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
essentially a Science Fiction trope?

At least, there's gotta be an argument made along those lines.

I take a certain pride, though, in having written a fantasy work, the
graphic novel ARROWSMITH, in which the problem the heroes face is that
they're fighting the Ancient Evil by industrializing magic, and
creating new applications for it, something that has triggered a
sorcerous arms race.

Of course, like lots of things in SF and fantasy, I stole it from history.

kdb
--
Visit http://www.busiek.com -- for all your Busiek needs!

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 29, 2010, 11:55:19 AM9/29/10
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Here, Ilmari Karonen <use...@vyznev.invalid> wrote:
>
> In any case, if you accept the premise of an Ancient Evil, once
> banished but now returning -- seemingly unstoppable -- to threaten
> civilization, then looking for the Ancient Magic that was used to
> defeat it before does seem like a reasonable thing to try. Hey, it
> worked last time, didn't it?

If the Ancient Evil can be stopped with readily-available modern
weapons or tools or steam engines or whatever, it's not so much an
Ancient Evil as an Ancient Hassle.

--Z ("chap with the wings, five rounds rapid")

--
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
*

JimboCat

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Sep 29, 2010, 11:55:33 AM9/29/10
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On Sep 29, 11:29 am, Kurt Busiek <k...@busiek.com> wrote:

> On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgaert...@tx.rr.com> said:
>
> > 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> > rediscovering the Ancient Magic?
>
> Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
> essentially a Science Fiction trope?

Vinge's _A Fire Upon the Deep_ is pretty Science Fictiony, but uses
the Ancient Evil fought with Ancient Magic trope. Even though both the
Evil and the Magic are technological in nature, they are technology
that is far beyond human understanding and therefore, by Clarke's Law,
magic. IMHO, YMMV, etc.

Jim Deutch (JimboCat)
--
"My homework ate the dog" -- Nanotech 101 excuse

Kurt Busiek

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Sep 29, 2010, 12:05:09 PM9/29/10
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On 2010-09-29 08:55:33 -0700, JimboCat <10313...@compuserve.com> said:

> On Sep 29, 11:29 am, Kurt Busiek <k...@busiek.com> wrote:
>> On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgaert...@tx.rr.com> said:
>>
>>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?
>>
>> Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
>> essentially a Science Fiction trope?
>
> Vinge's _A Fire Upon the Deep_ is pretty Science Fictiony, but uses
> the Ancient Evil fought with Ancient Magic trope.

I don't think I meant the above to imply that SF limits itself to one trope.

But it's often fun to see classic tropes from one genre or subgenre
reworked in another genre's setting. I'm enjoying THE SIXTH GUN, which
is very much a Classic Epic Fantasy, including the "one ring to rule
them all," but while it's full of magic and fantasy structures, it's
set in the Old West, and the "rings" are cursed revolvers.

Michael Stemper

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Sep 29, 2010, 12:51:03 PM9/29/10
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>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first

>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic? =A0Was there nothing invented in the
>> past several thousand years that might be useful? =A0


>
>I would say more and more fantasy authors are ditching this trope
>lately, or at least cautiously poking it with a stick. But it did
>reign unquestioned for a few decades. As to why... I think the same
>reason as for so many other fantasy tropes: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TOLKIEN
>DID IT.
>
>Nothing new was invented in Middle Earth in thousands of years, at
>least nothing new of any consequence, so that's how Tolkien imitators
>(which is what fantasy pre-1990 pretty much was) have been doing it.

I think that your window's too wide. There was a lot of non-Tolkien-
imitating fantasy before the early 1970s.

--
Michael F. Stemper
#include <Standard_Disclaimer>
This email is to be read by its intended recipient only. Any other party
reading is required by the EULA to send me $500.00.

Juho Julkunen

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Sep 29, 2010, 1:07:45 PM9/29/10
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In article <186bf7ec-a3c4-4d8d-8651-0a1e78531af4
@l20g2000yqm.googlegroups.com>, il...@rcn.com says...

>
> > 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> > rediscovering the Ancient Magic?  Was there nothing invented in the
> > past several thousand years that might be useful?  
>
> I would say more and more fantasy authors are ditching this trope
> lately, or at least cautiously poking it with a stick. But it did
> reign unquestioned for a few decades. As to why... I think the same
> reason as for so many other fantasy tropes: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TOLKIEN
> DID IT.

Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out to
find to defeat Sauron with?

The reason it's done is that western fantasy authors are part of a
literary tradition originating in medieval Europe where ancients who
could do marvellous things no longer possible were a common trope.

What inspired the idea for lesser kingdoms living amidst relics of
great ancient civilization now passed is... well, bloody obvious,
really.

--
Juho Julkunen

Dorothy J Heydt

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Sep 29, 2010, 12:53:21 PM9/29/10
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In article <186bf7ec-a3c4-4d8d...@l20g2000yqm.googlegroups.com>,

Ilya2 <il...@rcn.com> wrote:
>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?  Was there nothing invented in the
>> past several thousand years that might be useful?  
>
>I would say more and more fantasy authors are ditching this trope
>lately, or at least cautiously poking it with a stick. But it did
>reign unquestioned for a few decades. As to why... I think the same
>reason as for so many other fantasy tropes: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TOLKIEN
>DID IT.

But the reason Tolkien did it that way was that he was following
a medieval theme, that there had once been a Golden Age and ever
since things had been degenerating. Old buildings were better
built than new buildings, old swords were better than new swords,
et cetera. And for a long time during the Middle Ages, that was
true.

Indeed, the trope started up in classical times, but then it
referred to morals, not technology.

The real difference between Tolkien and his imitators -- other
than the fact that he was a better writer than they were -- is
that he was following original sources and they were following
him. It's been described as "the work of the third artist"; do
you know that metaphor? If not, I'll expound it in a later post.

Michael Stemper

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Sep 29, 2010, 1:21:33 PM9/29/10
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In article <i7vm05$jof$1...@news.eternal-september.org>, Kurt Busiek <ku...@busiek.com> writes:
>On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> said:

>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?
>
>Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
>essentially a Science Fiction trope?
>
>At least, there's gotta be an argument made along those lines.

That is certainly a valid distinguishing characteristic of the
two genres. It also reminds me of a thought that I got from
_Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_:

The spell that was used to
<rot-26 for spoiler protection>
re-incarnate Voldemort
</rot26>
seemed to have been designed for the occasion. Looking back, the spells
that were used to pass Deryni powers from King to heir were also
custom-designed.

Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people (or a
lone, mad genius) designing and creating new spells?

--
Michael F. Stemper
#include <Standard_Disclaimer>

This sentence no verb.

David Johnston

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Sep 29, 2010, 1:38:12 PM9/29/10
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On Tue, 28 Sep 2010 18:25:26 -0500, Konrad Gaertner
<kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

>I just finished Brandon Sanderson's _The Way of Kings_, which has me
>thinking a bit about some common tropes of epic fantasy (Sanderson
>didn't really do anything new with this book).
>
>1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>rediscovering the Ancient Magic?

Because whatever was used to defeat it before has a proven track
record.

> Was there nothing invented in the
>past several thousand years that might be useful?

Several thousand years of significant technological advancement is
likely by its nature produce something that isn't epic fantasy. You
are more likely to end up with modern or science fantasy. That being
said, in the Elenium the Ancient Evil deploys pseudo-Spartans from its
time, who are fairly promptly ripped apart by pseudo-medieval knights.
In the Warded Man, while the wards themselves may be old, the way he
is using them is decidedly novel. In the something of Shannara
series, while the Druids may be thinking of the stuff they are coming
up with as being a revival of something, the truth is they are
fundamentally inventing it from scratch with no idea whether anyone
had their specific inventions before. (Something that is very common
in occult circles where innovators gives themselves legitimacy by
pretending their stuff is age-old wisdom.). And then in A Song of Ice
and Fire...well nobody cares about the Ancient Evil. They're all too
busy being evil themselves.

>3. Why would anyone think uniting warring nations be easier if you
>first assassinate their rulers?

Because the first step to taking over a government is to create a
power vacuum.

>
>4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
>lengths?

My town has seasons of unpredictable length. Why wouldn't a fantasy
world?

Remus Shepherd

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Sep 29, 2010, 1:41:24 PM9/29/10
to
Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
> past several thousand years that might be useful?

Two reasons, in my opinion.

One is Tolkien. His Middle Earth was a world where most of the great
things had passed away, and what remained was destined to vanish by the
end of the LOTR. There's a powerful sense of loss through all of his
books. All of that probably comes from Tolkien's experiences in WWI,
which brutally disillusioned him about human beings and war.

The second cause of this trope is that it was a common sentiment
during the dark ages. The Roman Empire represented the height of
technology and (in its later years) the power of God's church, and when
it fell its loss was felt for a thousand years. A lot of technological
knowledge was lost, and during the Middle Ages those countries that
rediscovered Roman-era technology had an edge over their neighbors.

So the value of rediscovered knowledge that had been long lost is part
of our history and our psychology. It's no wonder it shows up in our
literature.

... ...
Remus Shepherd <re...@panix.com>
New Webcomic: Genocide Man http://www.genocideman.com/
Life is funny. Death is funnier. Mass slaughter can be hilarious.

Stewart Robert Hinsley

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Sep 29, 2010, 1:41:20 PM9/29/10
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In message <i7vsit$thh$2...@news.eternal-september.org>, Michael Stemper
<mste...@walkabout.empros.com> writes

Are the Lord Darcy whodunits fantasy?
--
Stewart Robert Hinsley

Kurt Busiek

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Sep 29, 2010, 1:56:12 PM9/29/10
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On 2010-09-29 10:21:33 -0700, mste...@walkabout.empros.com (Michael
Stemper) said:

> In article <i7vm05$jof$1...@news.eternal-september.org>, Kurt Busiek
> <ku...@busiek.com> writes:
>> On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> said:
>
>>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?
>>
>> Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
>> essentially a Science Fiction trope?
>>
>> At least, there's gotta be an argument made along those lines.
>
> That is certainly a valid distinguishing characteristic of the
> two genres. It also reminds me of a thought that I got from
> _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_:
>
> The spell that was used to
> <rot-26 for spoiler protection>

rot-26?

> Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people (or a
> lone, mad genius) designing and creating new spells?

As noted, my ARROWSMITH series had military research wizards in it.

I think there was similar stuff implied in THE MISENCHANTED SWORD, at
least. The idea that wizards develop new spells (that are then named
after them) is a part of Ethshar.

I'm sure there are other examples.

Joel Olson

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Sep 29, 2010, 2:06:06 PM9/29/10
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"Cryptoengineer" <treif...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:Xns9E026D24677ADt...@216.196.97.131...

>

If by window glass you mean clear glass, it wasn't developed until way
late in the day. All those stained glass windows - in those days, ALL glass
was some color.

Michael Stemper

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Sep 29, 2010, 2:10:32 PM9/29/10
to
In article <w$RIkNnAp...@meden.invalid>, Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> writes:
>In message <i7vsit$thh$2...@news.eternal-september.org>, Michael Stemper <mste...@walkabout.empros.com> writes
>>In article <i7vm05$jof$1...@news.eternal-september.org>, Kurt Busiek <ku...@busiek.com> writes:
>>>On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> said:

>>>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>>>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?
>>>
>>>Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
>>>essentially a Science Fiction trope?
>>>
>>>At least, there's gotta be an argument made along those lines.
>>
>>That is certainly a valid distinguishing characteristic of the
>>two genres. It also reminds me of a thought that I got from
>>_Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_:
>>
>>The spell that was used to

>>re-incarnate Voldemort


>>seemed to have been designed for the occasion. Looking back, the spells
>>that were used to pass Deryni powers from King to heir were also
>>custom-designed.
>>
>>Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people (or a
>>lone, mad genius) designing and creating new spells?
>
>Are the Lord Darcy whodunits fantasy?

That's a very good point, and also a worthwhile question. I'm not
sure how to address both the point and the question independently,
because they're very intimately tied together.

If they're SF[1], they are (to me, duh!) SF because they treat magic as
something amenable to rigorous analytical study. In _Too Many Magicians_,
we have people presenting academic papers at conferences (with pre-prints
available, IIRC). We have people -- incapable of using magic themselves --
doing mathematical modeling of magical structures.

So, being able to analyze, design, and synthesize a new spell (with
peer review, yet!) seems to say "non-fantasy".

Yet, there are examples of stories that play by more pure fantasy
rules (such as the examples that I gave previously) and also have
(behind the scenes, at least) creation of new spells.

Maybe it's the "behind-the-scenes" that allows these stories to
remain fantasy. Food for thought.


[1] In the exclusive sense, this time.
--
Michael F. Stemper
Product Manager
#include <Standard_Disclaimer>
Economists have correctly predicted seven of the last three recessions.

Joel Olson

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Sep 29, 2010, 2:12:13 PM9/29/10
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"Michael Stemper" <mste...@walkabout.empros.com> wrote in message
news:i7vsit$thh$2...@news.eternal-september.org...

>

Stile, on Phaze.


Michael Stemper

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Sep 29, 2010, 2:12:34 PM9/29/10
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In article <i7vujs$sm5$1...@news.eternal-september.org>, Kurt Busiek <ku...@busiek.com> writes:
>On 2010-09-29 10:21:33 -0700, mste...@walkabout.empros.com (Michael Stemper) said:
>> In article <i7vm05$jof$1...@news.eternal-september.org>, Kurt Busiek <ku...@busiek.com> writes:
>>> On 2010-09-28 16:25:26 -0700, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> said:

>>> Because fighting the Ancient Evil by building Something New is
>>> essentially a Science Fiction trope?
>>>
>>> At least, there's gotta be an argument made along those lines.
>>
>> That is certainly a valid distinguishing characteristic of the
>> two genres. It also reminds me of a thought that I got from
>> _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire_:
>>
>> The spell that was used to
>> <rot-26 for spoiler protection>
>
>rot-26?

If once is good, twice is better! It's like two-thirds of triple-DES.

>> Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people (or a
>> lone, mad genius) designing and creating new spells?
>
>As noted, my ARROWSMITH series had military research wizards in it.

Oh, yeah, you did mention that.

>I think there was similar stuff implied in THE MISENCHANTED SWORD, at
>least. The idea that wizards develop new spells (that are then named
>after them) is a part of Ethshar.

I was wondering, in the back of my mind, if such things did go on
in Ethshar.

--
Michael F. Stemper
#include <Standard_Disclaimer>

Stewart Robert Hinsley

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 2:27:17 PM9/29/10
to
In message <i7vveo$j7j$1...@news.eternal-september.org>, Michael Stemper

There's another "engineering magic" story with the magic research more
up front in the story - Poul Anderson's "Operation Chaos". I don't
recall whether Heinlein's "Magic, Inc." or Turtledove's "The Case of the
Toxic Spell Dump" have any research on or off stage.

Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
into magic?


>
>So, being able to analyze, design, and synthesize a new spell (with
>peer review, yet!) seems to say "non-fantasy".
>
>Yet, there are examples of stories that play by more pure fantasy
>rules (such as the examples that I gave previously) and also have
>(behind the scenes, at least) creation of new spells.
>
>Maybe it's the "behind-the-scenes" that allows these stories to
>remain fantasy. Food for thought.
>
>
>[1] In the exclusive sense, this time.

--
Stewart Robert Hinsley

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 2:44:47 PM9/29/10
to
Here, Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
> Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
> into magic?

Some. I just read, I think it was _Magic to the Bone_, where magical
technology is being developed (and stolen, and litigated about, and
regulared by the government) by new magic-tech companies after It
Comes Back. It's the underlying plot thread.

Pratchett has an occasional off-hand remark about research wizards
(and witches) in his fantasy novels. They're not protagonists, but
they occasionally whiz past the protagonists (at high velocity,
smoking).

--Z

Stewart Robert Hinsley

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 2:53:20 PM9/29/10
to
In message <i801ev$8uq$1...@reader1.panix.com>, Andrew Plotkin
<erky...@eblong.com> writes

>Here, Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>>
>> Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
>> into magic?
>
>Some. I just read, I think it was _Magic to the Bone_, where magical
>technology is being developed (and stolen, and litigated about, and
>regulared by the government) by new magic-tech companies after It
>Comes Back. It's the underlying plot thread.
>
>Pratchett has an occasional off-hand remark about research wizards
>(and witches) in his fantasy novels. They're not protagonists, but
>they occasionally whiz past the protagonists (at high velocity,
>smoking).

Ponder Stibbons (of the High Energy Magic department) is a significant
and recurring character. You've also reminded me that Ankh-Morpork's
Alchemists Guild practices research - is alchemy magic?
>
>--Z
>

--
Stewart Robert Hinsley

Ted Nolan <tednolan>

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Sep 29, 2010, 3:00:40 PM9/29/10
to
In article <YjQCzZqF...@meden.invalid>,

Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
>There's another "engineering magic" story with the magic research more
>up front in the story - Poul Anderson's "Operation Chaos". I don't
>recall whether Heinlein's "Magic, Inc." or Turtledove's "The Case of the
>Toxic Spell Dump" have any research on or off stage.

Turtledove's magical WWII series had a magical Manhatten project -- I bailed
before the final book(s?) but presumably given how closely all his other
protag nations mapped into our world, they would have come up with
some sort of magical A-Bomb.

>
>Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
>into magic?

It's not research, as such (ie using the scientific method) but people
come up with *new* *stuff* in a number of UF series.


Ted
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..

Dimensional Traveler

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 3:35:55 PM9/29/10
to

And he got it from folklore and stories from societies heavily
influenced by all the ruins of a more advanced civilization around them.
(Roman ruins, BTW.)

Yes, yes, I know that Europe didn't actually fall all that far
technologically during the Middle Ages but the peasants still lived
surrounded by ruins of things that were being built or even maintained
anymore.

--
"There's something that doesn't make sense. Let's go and poke it with a
stick."

erilar

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 3:37:03 PM9/29/10
to
In article <4CA27966...@tx.rr.com>,
Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

> 4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
> lengths?

That's realism 8-)

--
Erilar, biblioholic medievalist


http://www.mosaictelecom.com/~erilarlo

David DeLaney

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:22:34 PM9/29/10
to
Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
>3. Why would anyone think uniting warring nations be easier if you
>first assassinate their rulers?

That one's easy - it DOES unite them. ...against YOU.

>4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable lengths?

Not all of them have gods that understand the laws of physics and math, and
where they should be left alone to do their thing.

Dave
--
\/David DeLaney posting from d...@vic.com "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
http://www.vic.com/~dbd/ - net.legends FAQ & Magic / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.

David DeLaney

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Sep 29, 2010, 4:24:07 PM9/29/10
to
Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out to
>find to defeat Sauron with?

...This small round piece of ancient magic that fits on a finger, maybe?

Dave "and it blowed him up REAL good" DeLaney

David Johnston

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:14:19 PM9/29/10
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 17:41:24 +0000 (UTC), Remus Shepherd
<re...@panix.com> wrote:

>Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
>> past several thousand years that might be useful?
>
> Two reasons, in my opinion.
>
> One is Tolkien. His Middle Earth was a world where most of the great
>things had passed away, and what remained was destined to vanish by the
>end of the LOTR. There's a powerful sense of loss through all of his
>books. All of that probably comes from Tolkien's experiences in WWI,
>which brutally disillusioned him about human beings and war.

I'd say it comes from his Christianity, which portrays humanity as
being in a constant state of decline with shortening life expectancies
and miracles becoming fewer and farther between.

David DeLaney

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:25:08 PM9/29/10
to
Robert Carnegie <rja.ca...@excite.com> wrote:
>> 4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable lengths?
>
>Huh? I think that only arises on planets of star systems with
>complicated orbital mechanics, or when Evil has an effect on the
>weather, such as in Tolkien (Mordor: very cloudy) or C. S. Lewis
>(Narnia, Faunsicles) or Norse mythology (frost-giants).

Or Donaldson (the Sunbane).

Dave

Wayne Throop

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:18:39 PM9/29/10
to
::: 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first

::: rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
::: past several thousand years that might be useful?  

:: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TOLKIEN DID IT.

: Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com>
: Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out


: to find to defeat Sauron with?

Mt Doom. Had powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal mountains,
and was the only thing that could unmake the One Ring, onaccounta it
was what was used to make it in the first place.

And in general, nobody has developed any new Ring-making technology for
eons. I suppose that's partly because if they used anything building on
the Three Rings, they were subject to the One. But even if that weren't
so, in general, the Elves weren't doing New Stuff at all. And nobody
else was close to their technology.


Wayne Throop thr...@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw

Remus Shepherd

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Sep 29, 2010, 4:28:23 PM9/29/10
to
David DeLaney <d...@gatekeeper.vic.com> wrote:
> Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> >Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out to
> >find to defeat Sauron with?

> ...This small round piece of ancient magic that fits on a finger, maybe?

Or the mithril armor, the elven cloaks, the dagger Sting, the Light
of Earendil, the Palantirs, or just the help of the Ents? Hell, one could
make a case that the whole journey would have failed if not for the Lembas
bread.

David Johnston

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:28:39 PM9/29/10
to

Yes. For example the Deryni develop new spells in the course of the
series, like for example the healing technique that can switch off
someone's Deryni powers and make them immune to merasha. They just
forget as much as they learn although that can be blamed on the pogrom
killing most of those of who knew the old stuff. I recently read a
modern fantasy novel which pointed out part of the problem. The
heroine who has a powerful and highly trained magical gift encounters
a hero who balks her attack using a method of creating a a magical
shield. She learns how to copy his shielding technique and combines
it with having learned how to make super-precise attacks to create a
superior shielding techique that lets her attack at the same time she
shields herself from attack.

She's invented a new spell, one the hero has never heard of before, he
having to drop his shield and quickly put it back up again if he wants
to attack and defend. But...nobody who was less trained and powerful
than she is could learn the spell she's invented. Most likely her
trick will be lost to the ages when she dies because the next
generation is unlikely to contain anyone with her olympic athlete
combination of talent and training who will have the opportunity to
learn from her. It's less about what she knows than what she can do.

David Johnston

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:33:17 PM9/29/10
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 19:27:17 +0100, Stewart Robert Hinsley
<{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>There's another "engineering magic" story with the magic research more
>up front in the story - Poul Anderson's "Operation Chaos". I don't
>recall whether Heinlein's "Magic, Inc." or Turtledove's "The Case of the
>Toxic Spell Dump" have any research on or off stage.
>
>Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
>into magic?

Harry Dresden does research into magic, and he isn't even one of the
more scholarly magicians of his world. In the Rogue Agent series by
K.E. Mills, one of the leads is a research and development magician
genius.

Wayne Throop

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:24:04 PM9/29/10
to
: Kurt Busiek <ku...@busiek.com>
: I think there was similar stuff implied in THE MISENCHANTED SWORD, at

: least. The idea that wizards develop new spells (that are then named
: after them) is a part of Ethshar.

Yes indeed. And research wizards are exceedingly rare, because
in the normal course of events, messing with variations on use
of chaos is very *very* risky. Fendel the Great is the only one
we've seen onstage; some of the other ones we've heard of came
to bad ends of various sorts, iirc.

: I'm sure there are other examples.

How about Tinker (Wren Spencer's technomage)?

Wayne Throop

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 4:49:43 PM9/29/10
to
:::: Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people (or a

:::: lone, mad genius) designing and creating new spells?

: thr...@sheol.org (Wayne Throop)
: How about Tinker (Wren Spencer's technomage)?

Or, perhaps better, Rick Cook's "Wizard's Bane" series,
or (imo better) Swann's "Broken Crescent".

Michael Stemper

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 5:44:24 PM9/29/10
to
In article <slrnia6mqv....@melkki.cs.helsinki.fi>, Ilmari Karonen <use...@vyznev.invalid> writes:

>On 2010-09-28, Konrad Gaertner <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

>> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first

>> rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the

>> past several thousand years that might be useful? Steven Erikson is
>> the main exception to this rule, and of course urban fantasy is happy
>> to test tasers against vampires. It's possible Sanderson will
>> subvert this later (apparently 1000 pages isn't enough to give anyone
>> a chance to try the new tech against the old enemies).
>

>I'd say this is just one specific manifestation of a more fundamental
>trope, namely that of the Golden Age (a.k.a. "it was all so much nicer
>before..."), which so widely permeates the fantasy genre. The trope
>itself is ancient: the name dates back to ancient Greece, and I
>wouldn't be surprised if the idea itself was much, much older than
>that.
>
>In any case, if you accept the premise of an Ancient Evil, once
>banished but now returning -- seemingly unstoppable -- to threaten
>civilization, then looking for the Ancient Magic that was used to
>defeat it before does seem like a reasonable thing to try. Hey, it
>worked last time, didn't it?

FSVO "worked". If the problem had been solved instead of postponed
last time, they wouldn't need to deal with it again. Gandalf argues
this persuasively in (I think) the Council of Rivendell.

--
Michael F. Stemper
#include <Standard_Disclaimer>

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

Michael Stemper

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 5:45:32 PM9/29/10
to
In article <i801ev$8uq$1...@reader1.panix.com>, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes:
>Here, Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>> Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
>> into magic?
>
>Some. I just read, I think it was _Magic to the Bone_, where magical
>technology is being developed (and stolen, and litigated about, and
>regulared by the government) by new magic-tech companies after It
>Comes Back. It's the underlying plot thread.
>
>Pratchett has an occasional off-hand remark about research wizards
>(and witches) in his fantasy novels. They're not protagonists, but
>they occasionally whiz past the protagonists (at high velocity,
>smoking).

Which was how Luna Lovegood's mum bought it, right?

--
Michael F. Stemper
#include <Standard_Disclaimer>

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

Michael Stemper

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 5:48:35 PM9/29/10
to
In article <slrnia767...@gatekeeper.vic.com>, d...@gatekeeper.vic.com (David DeLaney) writes:
>Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>>Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out to
>>find to defeat Sauron with?
>
>...This small round piece of ancient magic that fits on a finger, maybe?

They weren't trying to find, or rediscover, that. If you look upstream,
you'll see the complaint is about people needing to rediscover old magic
to use against the enemy, not about people needing to destroy the enemy's
old magic.

You are Boromir, AICMFP

Andrew Plotkin

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 6:09:49 PM9/29/10
to
Here, Michael Stemper <mste...@walkabout.empros.com> wrote:
> In article <slrnia767...@gatekeeper.vic.com>, d...@gatekeeper.vic.com (David DeLaney) writes:
> >Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> >>Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out to
> >>find to defeat Sauron with?
> >
> >...This small round piece of ancient magic that fits on a finger, maybe?
>
> They weren't trying to find, or rediscover, that. If you look upstream,
> you'll see the complaint is about people needing to rediscover old magic
> to use against the enemy, not about people needing to destroy the enemy's
> old magic.

It's _Sword of Shannara_ that fits this pattern, actually. So if you
thought that Brooks lifted *everything* from Tolkien... :)

He does the trope reasonably well. The Ancient Magic wasn't actually
lost; it was carefully preserved beneath an "open in case of Ancient
Evil" sign. The heroes only have to go off questing because the
Ancient Evil, not being completely fucking stupid, steals it first
thing.

--Z (thank you Wikipedia. I've forgotten all this stuff.)

Konrad Gaertner

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 6:31:34 PM9/29/10
to
David Johnston wrote:

>
> On Tue, 28 Sep 2010 18:25:26 -0500, Konrad Gaertner
> <kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:
>
> >I just finished Brandon Sanderson's _The Way of Kings_, which has me
> >thinking a bit about some common tropes of epic fantasy (Sanderson
> >didn't really do anything new with this book).
> >
> >1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> >rediscovering the Ancient Magic?
>
> Because whatever was used to defeat it before has a proven track
> record.

>
> > Was there nothing invented in the
> >past several thousand years that might be useful?
>
> Several thousand years of significant technological advancement is
> likely by its nature produce something that isn't epic fantasy. You
> are more likely to end up with modern or science fantasy. That being
> said, in the Elenium the Ancient Evil deploys pseudo-Spartans from its
> time, who are fairly promptly ripped apart by pseudo-medieval knights.
> In the Warded Man, while the wards themselves may be old, the way he
> is using them is decidedly novel. In the something of Shannara
> series, while the Druids may be thinking of the stuff they are coming
> up with as being a revival of something, the truth is they are
> fundamentally inventing it from scratch with no idea whether anyone
> had their specific inventions before. (Something that is very common
> in occult circles where innovators gives themselves legitimacy by
> pretending their stuff is age-old wisdom.). And then in A Song of Ice
> and Fire...well nobody cares about the Ancient Evil. They're all too
> busy being evil themselves.

>
> >3. Why would anyone think uniting warring nations be easier if you
> >first assassinate their rulers?
>
> Because the first step to taking over a government is to create a
> power vacuum.

>
> >
> >4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
> >lengths?
>
> My town has seasons of unpredictable length. Why wouldn't a fantasy
> world?


--
Konrad Gaertner - - - - - - - - - - - - email: kgae...@tx.rr.com
http://kgbooklog.livejournal.com/
"I don't mind hidden depths but I insist that there be a surface."
-- James Nicoll

Konrad Gaertner

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 6:36:05 PM9/29/10
to
(Sorry about the lack of new content in the previous post.)

David Johnston wrote:
>
> >4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
> >lengths?
>
> My town has seasons of unpredictable length. Why wouldn't a fantasy
> world?

Seasons that last no more than a couple weeks and it's really hard to
predict which one comes next?

Lawrence Watt-Evans

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 6:48:09 PM9/29/10
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 17:21:33 +0000 (UTC),
mste...@walkabout.empros.com (Michael Stemper) wrote:

>Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people (or a
>lone, mad genius) designing and creating new spells?

The research wizards in Ethshar do that.

--
My webpage is at http://www.watt-evans.com
I'm serializing novels at http://www.ethshar.com/TheFinalCalling01.html
and http://www.watt-evans.com/realmsoflight1.html

David Johnston

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Sep 29, 2010, 6:45:59 PM9/29/10
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 17:36:05 -0500, Konrad Gaertner
<kgae...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

>(Sorry about the lack of new content in the previous post.)
>
>David Johnston wrote:
>>
>> >4. What is it with fantasy worlds having seasons of unpredictable
>> >lengths?
>>
>> My town has seasons of unpredictable length. Why wouldn't a fantasy
>> world?
>
>Seasons that last no more than a couple weeks and it's really hard to
>predict which one comes next?

Not especially common among fantasy worlds.

Dimensional Traveler

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 6:49:59 PM9/29/10
to
Sorry, that should have been "things that weren't being built or even
maintained anymore." *sigh*

Quadibloc

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 7:04:54 PM9/29/10
to
On Sep 28, 5:25 pm, Konrad Gaertner <kgaert...@tx.rr.com> wrote:

> 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> rediscovering the Ancient Magic?  Was there nothing invented in the
> past several thousand years that might be useful?

Some fantasy stories have magic working like science, where wizards
apply basic laws of magic, try to think up new spells and see if they
work, and thereby add to the knowledge of magic.

In general, though, because magic doesn't seem to work *at all* on
_this_ prime material plane, there's no opportunity to research it
empirically. Instead, our legends about magic tend to talk about a
bygone age when gods and spirits walked the Earth and shared their
magical knowledge with certain wise men. And then, over time, this
knowledge was lost... and no _new_ knowledge was added, because the
gods and spirits didn't walk on the Earth any more.

Magic isn't something we find out about by research, it's something
revealed to us in its perfection from the beyond.

Of course, there's still the possibility of finding out about some of
the old spells by summoning up the spirit of an ancient wizard, or
doing astral travel to where the gods and spirits are walking now. But
in general, only a very few very powerful wizards can do that... and
what they add in that way is still only a fraction of what once
existed in the ancient times.

John Savard

Sea Wasp (Ryk E. Spoor)

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Sep 29, 2010, 7:15:53 PM9/29/10
to

I've remembered it all. Brooks almost completely INVERTED LotR, actually.

--
Sea Wasp
/^\
;;;
Website: http://www.grandcentralarena.com Blog:
http://seawasp.livejournal.com

W. Citoan

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Sep 29, 2010, 9:09:16 PM9/29/10
to
Remus Shepherd wrote:
> David DeLaney <d...@gatekeeper.vic.com> wrote:
> > Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > >Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out
> > >to find to defeat Sauron with?
>
> > ...This small round piece of ancient magic that fits on a finger,
> > maybe?
>
> Or the mithril armor, the elven cloaks, the dagger Sting, the Light
> of Earendil, the Palantirs, or just the help of the Ents? Hell, one
> could make a case that the whole journey would have failed if not for
> the Lembas bread.

None of which "did the heroes set out to find to defeat Sauron with".

- W. Citoan
--
Whatever you choose, do not seek to carry out easy tasks.
-- Adolf Von Baeyer

W. Citoan

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 9:18:46 PM9/29/10
to

The "Ancient Magic" did work, the people failed. Had the ring been
destroyed the first time, Sauron wouldn't have come back. That it
wasn't was not a failing with the magic itself.

Juho Julkunen

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 9:44:30 PM9/29/10
to
In article <i807h7$rhe$1...@reader1.panix.com>, re...@panix.com says...

>
> David DeLaney <d...@gatekeeper.vic.com> wrote:
> > Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> > >Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out to
> > >find to defeat Sauron with?
>
> > ...This small round piece of ancient magic that fits on a finger, maybe?

Have you, in fact, read the book?



> Or the mithril armor, the elven cloaks, the dagger Sting, the Light
> of Earendil, the Palantirs, or just the help of the Ents? Hell, one could
> make a case that the whole journey would have failed if not for the Lembas
> bread.

Sure, they stumbled into some old toys, though the cloaks and lembas
were, I think, of current manufacture.

Which of those things did the heroes set out to find to use against
Sauron?

--
Juho Julkunen

Juho Julkunen

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 9:46:00 PM9/29/10
to
In article <12857...@sheol.org>, thr...@sheol.org says...

>
> ::: 1. Why do the heroes always have to fight the Ancient Evil by first
> ::: rediscovering the Ancient Magic? Was there nothing invented in the
> ::: past several thousand years that might be useful?  
>
> :: BECAUSE THAT'S HOW TOLKIEN DID IT.
>
> : Juho Julkunen <giao...@hotmail.com>
> : Tolkien did it like that? What ancient magic did the heroes set out
> : to find to defeat Sauron with?
>
> Mt Doom. Had powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal mountains,
> and was the only thing that could unmake the One Ring, onaccounta it
> was what was used to make it in the first place.

When you're right you're right.

--
Juho Julkunen

Greg Goss

unread,
Sep 29, 2010, 11:03:21 PM9/29/10
to
Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>>If they're SF[1], they are (to me, duh!) SF because they treat magic as
>>something amenable to rigorous analytical study. In _Too Many Magicians_,
>>we have people presenting academic papers at conferences (with pre-prints
>>available, IIRC). We have people -- incapable of using magic themselves --
>>doing mathematical modeling of magical structures.


>
>There's another "engineering magic" story with the magic research more
>up front in the story - Poul Anderson's "Operation Chaos". I don't
>recall whether Heinlein's "Magic, Inc." or Turtledove's "The Case of the
>Toxic Spell Dump" have any research on or off stage.
>

>Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
>into magic?

Niven's early "Magic goes away" stories had a certain amount of
engineering feel to them. The first of the Pournelle collaboration
books in that series had less of it, and I didn't read the following
book (books?)

I've been away from much of the genre to the point that I have little
feel for what's even meant by "urban fantasy". Lord Darcy's stuff
took place in cities ...
--
Tomorrow is today already.
Greg Goss, 1989-01-27

Brian M. Scott

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Sep 29, 2010, 11:48:25 PM9/29/10
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 19:15:53 -0400, "Sea Wasp (Ryk E.
Spoor)" <sea...@sgeinc.invalid.com> wrote in
<news:i80hba$tkc$1...@news.eternal-september.org> in
rec.arts.sf.written:

[...]

> Brooks almost completely INVERTED LotR, actually.

Exactly. And it was bleedin' obvious early on that he'd
done so. I was thoroughly unimpressed and never bothered
with any of the sequels, though I think that I did finish
Sword.

Brian

Brian M. Scott

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Sep 29, 2010, 11:53:58 PM9/29/10
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 18:44:47 +0000 (UTC), Andrew Plotkin
<erky...@eblong.com> wrote in
<news:i801ev$8uq$1...@reader1.panix.com> in
rec.arts.sf.written:

> Here, Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:

>> Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre
>> have research into magic?

> Some. I just read, I think it was _Magic to the Bone_,


> where magical technology is being developed (and stolen,
> and litigated about, and regulared by the government) by
> new magic-tech companies after It Comes Back. It's the
> underlying plot thread.

It could have been any in Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom
series, but that one is the first. (They're distinctly
above average.)

[...]

Brian

Brian M. Scott

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Sep 30, 2010, 12:02:58 AM9/30/10
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:24:04 GMT, Wayne Throop
<thr...@sheol.org> wrote in <news:12857...@sheol.org> in
rec.arts.sf.written:

[...]

> How about Tinker (Wren Spencer's technomage)?

Definitely. Also Kelly McCullough's Ravirn (in _WebMage_,
_Cybermancy_, _CodeSpell_, _MythOS_, and _Spellcrash_).

Brian

Brian M. Scott

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Sep 30, 2010, 12:06:18 AM9/30/10
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 17:21:33 +0000 (UTC), Michael Stemper
<mste...@walkabout.empros.com> wrote in
<news:i7vsit$thh$2...@news.eternal-september.org> in
rec.arts.sf.written:

[...]

> Is there any fantasy out there that actually shows people
> (or a lone, mad genius) designing and creating new
> spells?

Quite a few of Modesitt's characters do so.

Brian

Andrew Plotkin

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Sep 30, 2010, 12:51:08 AM9/30/10
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It is not surprising that the books with *detailed* descriptions of
spell-creation often use computer-programming metaphors of magic.
(Usual rant, hackers as wizards as hackers.)

Unfortunately, I'm good enough at programming to get annoyed at even
small holes in the metaphor. I've never managed to get into any of
those books, or Rick Cook's books, or... I'm sure there are others
I've bounced off of.

--Z

William George Ferguson

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Sep 30, 2010, 1:29:31 AM9/30/10
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On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 21:45:32 +0000 (UTC), mste...@walkabout.empros.com
(Michael Stemper) wrote:

>In article <i801ev$8uq$1...@reader1.panix.com>, Andrew Plotkin <erky...@eblong.com> writes:
>>Here, Stewart Robert Hinsley <{$news$}@meden.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
>>> Tangentially, does any of the modern urban fantasy genre have research
>>> into magic?
>>
>>Some. I just read, I think it was _Magic to the Bone_, where magical
>>technology is being developed (and stolen, and litigated about, and
>>regulared by the government) by new magic-tech companies after It
>>Comes Back. It's the underlying plot thread.
>>
>>Pratchett has an occasional off-hand remark about research wizards
>>(and witches) in his fantasy novels. They're not protagonists, but
>>they occasionally whiz past the protagonists (at high velocity,
>>smoking).
>
>Which was how Luna Lovegood's mum bought it, right?

In front of Luna, when Luna was about 8.

Actually, the poster children for research magic in the Potterverse are the
Weasley twins. In the background of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th books, they are
constantly conducting experiements, tracking the results on test subjects,
and, basically, practicing the scientific method in developing the
inventory for the future Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.

--
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
(Bene Gesserit)

Brian M. Scott

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Sep 30, 2010, 1:37:08 AM9/30/10