Science Fiction Writing
“Science gets cooler the more you explain it, and magic gets cooler the less you explain it.” – Stephen Blackmoor
Magic Refresh was my first panel of the con, so I was very excited to get it underway. The four panelists were Beth Cato, Brian McClellan, Greg van Eekhout, and Stephen Blackmoor.
When asked why they decided to write about magic, the authors agreed it was mostly about escapism. Cato answered emphatically, “Wish fulfillment. I wish magic really existed.”
There was a brief discussion on magic versus science. Stephen Blackmoor referenced Ted Chiang in his answer:
If you do something one thousand times and the results are always the same, that magic functions like a science. If you can’t then there is a freedom from predictable results that gives a lot of latitude to the author.
When I got home, I looked up Chiang and found a very informative, interview-type blog on science versus magic, featuring Chiang and a few other authors that is definitely worth a read: http://io9.com/5021701/science-versus-magic–is-there-a-difference-in-the-world-of-fiction.
An audience member asked McClellan if the black powder in his novels was supposed to be similar to heroin. He answered affirmatively, saying: “Magic is going to be addictive. Any time you can do something other people can’t do – you’ll want to do more of it.”
The other authors also agreed that magic has to have a cost. Just as heroin has an addictive nature, magic has to have a physical or emotional sacrifice to the characters or to the world. That cost largely depends on what metaphor you pick for magic. If you pick money, it becomes a limited resource. If you pick love, it has an emotional cost.
I found it interesting that all of the authors know where the magic in their worlds comes from, even if the characters and readers don’t. In fact, they said it was better only to give the reader what they need to know and that the best types of magic are the ones where you see the magic at work without necessarily having an explanation.
One of the final audience questions was hilarious – he asked if they had ever gotten to the end of a book and realized it was wrong. They all spoke at the same time and the answer was a resounding ‘YES!’
all this time, I’ve just been too blind to understand
what should matter to me
my friend, this life we live it’s not what we have,
it’s what we believe
As I writer, sometimes I tend to see romance where it doesn’t overtly exist. This song is one of those that I will use to put me in the mood to read or write dark romance for many reasons, the lycis, the beauty of the video, and the themes it evokes, to name a few.
The story told in the video brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it. A beautiful angel, played by Gabriel Nunez, does parkour across Cincinnati to save a young mother and her child from being hit by a truck at a streetlight. The video is wonderfully shot, using buildings, an angelic fountain, and a skywalk as the background for the stunts.
The idea that a guardian angel is watching out for us, that they would go to extraordinary lengths to protect us from harm, is very close to several themes that philosophers have struggled with as long as philosophy has existed. Where do we come from? Are we alone? Is there anyone out there who watches over us?
It isn’t hard for me to bring romance into this scenario. In my mind, the woman is a single mother, and the angel is her protector. He fell in love with her, but was busy being lectured by another angel until the last minute, when he realized she was in danger. Normally, he would have interfered to move the truck out of the way, or urge her into a different route, but because of the lack of time, he was forced to simply run in front of her car, showing himself.
You know where this story is going to go next, don’t you, lover of dark romance?
Yes, this is the beginning of a wonderful story where the angel is going to sacrifice his wings to live a human life, and she has to come to terms with feeling worthy of that sacrifice, just by being herself.
And no, she isn’t going to be hit by a car the next day for all of you naysayers. 😉 They are going to live happily ever after.
Well, whether you agree with my dark romance or not, this video is wonderful and if you haven’t seen it, you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpfhcljJ9bQ
there might be more than you believe
there might be more than you believe
there might be more than you can see
Written and Performed by 3 Doors Down
On the Album 3 Doors Down