Indistinguishable From Magic

Arthur C. Clarke

I'm a child of wonder. I love to feel that superstitious awe when I see a new scientific discovery or development, and think to myself, "Whoa! How did that happen?" The wondering is always more pleasurable to me than the answers (although I always want to know them, too).

Because, just like the quote, to me that stuff is magic. And I want to believe in magic. It's why I write fantasy. I want that sense of wonder, of amazement at the world around us. Yes, believing in magic has its dark side--unnecessary superstitions, unhealthy rituals we all perform due to a misguided belief that it'll ward off an unwanted effect. Take the ritual of drinking diet soda as a way to lose weight, because we believe in the myth of the beverage god named Diet instead of the science of caloric intake and the effects of sugar on the body. Not a good magic.

Believing only in magic, and not in science as well, can be bad like that. That's why I'm interested in the scientific answers to my magical questions. But there's never going to be a time at which humanity will have discovered all the answers. I will always have something to wonder about. And that's a magic all its own.

I write fantasy, not science fiction (well, I dabble). But I'm such a science geek that I pull some kind of science/magic switcheroo, a la Clarke, in all my worlds, on one level or another. Is it cruel to inflict an Earthlike level of science on poor, unsuspecting fantasy characters who lack the scientific study, or even the terminology, to grasp the concepts? 

Hardly so. I'm a cruel taskmistress with my worlds, inflicting all kinds of drama and chaos upon their denizens. I don't write for my characters' benefit. I write for yours. So sit back and enjoy the magic, and if you see a little science peeking through here and there, don't tell my characters. They'd only try to burn you at the stake.

No comments:

Post a Comment