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I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to start

  1. Sep 6, 2010 #1
    I am writing a story and one of the main themes is the discovery of magic. The story is set in the tenth century AD, somewhere in Europe.

    What I am looking for:

    - Questions that most authors don't bother answering when covering this subject.

    - Answers to these questions.

    One example of this lack of attention to detail: In Harry Potter, witches and wizards will say a word and *poof* from nothing comes something.

    Does this violate the laws of physics? If not, how?

    Anyway, I am not very well versed in Physics, I just think the mechanics behind my magic should be plausible in our own universe...

    Thanks for any input :D
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 6, 2010 #2

    Evo

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    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Questions about *Europe* in the 10th century? Also, back then, location really matters.
     
  4. Sep 6, 2010 #3
  5. Sep 6, 2010 #4
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Sorry, to clarify:

    Why does Magic not work?

    Is there any science that could support the reality of Magic?


    (Magic being anything from telepathy to teleportation to shooting fire balls to summoning a stack of 20 rations.)
     
  6. Sep 6, 2010 #5
  7. Sep 6, 2010 #6
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Well, it would be a fun feature that if your wizard, when summoning up a stack of 20 rations out of thin air (which is a great decrease in entropy), notifies his audience of the fact that he does this by using some ultra-ordered dense powder he carries in a bag with him, so that when you just use a tiny pinch of this powder for your summoning magic, the great increase of entropy associated with the disintegration of that snuff of powder balances the entropy decrease of the 20 rations, as to not disturb the 2nd law of Thermodynamics.

    Another thing you might want to worry about the is the law of conservation of energy, but I suppose he could carry a bag for that too ;) On the other hand, it might be more charming if the wizard says that all the elements needed for the rations are present in the thin air before him, but the elements are just really badly ordered, making the appearing of the rations something that would break the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and not the conservation of energy, but I've already said how you can "fix" that breakage of the 2nd law.

    To be honest, it wouldn't cost you any energy if you assembled the rations out of thin air infinitely slow, which is of course not what you want. So I suppose you can let the energy needed to push around those molecules come from the wizard: that's an amount of energy that a human can deliver (the amount of energy needed to actually create matter is of a whole other scale, but as I claimed, I don't think there's a need for matter-creation, which is of course allowed by the laws of physics, as long as you have a large enough energy source, i.e. E = mc²)
     
  8. Sep 6, 2010 #7

    Evo

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    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Don't authors all get away with it by taking the *magic* into an earth like world?

    Now the new Merlin tv series which is extremely succesful is based EXTREMELY LOOSELY on old Arthurian legends of the mythical Camelot, same names but roles drastically changed, but for even someone as unbending and stodgy as I am, changed it so much that it's a diferent story, and so well made that it's enjoyable as a different story.

    Two thumbs up.
     
  9. Sep 7, 2010 #8

    baywax

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    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Not all magic is of a physical nature... although, in my opinion, all phenomena are physical in nature.... what I mean is when certain classes of Egyptians migrated out of Egypt, they became known as Gypsies and after traveling through India on a long trip to the northern countries in Europe and the UK. Along the way they picked up a number of trades they could use to help feed the little Gypsy children etc...

    One of those was the practice of astrology and related reading exercises like phrenology (reading head bumps) and palmistry... etc...

    I can't vouch for the scientific prowess of these livelihoods but they may have a rudimentary foundation in the science of the ancients. The Gypsies would be carrying with them an oral tradition of "magic" from as ancient a time as the founding of Egypt, Mesopotamia, etcetra...
     
  10. Sep 7, 2010 #9

    Danger

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    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Jeez, but I'm glad to see you write that. I love that show. Sure, it's modernized in the same way that Hercules (the Kevin Sorbo version) and Xena were... but that is pretty much necessary to attract the attention of young audiences. I mean, really... there are only so many "verily"s and "forsooth"s that a guy can put up with.
    As Sir Arthur Clarke stated about 50 years ago... "Any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic." (Someone like maybe Hurkyl has that as part of his signature.)
    There's Larry Niven's approach. He's one of the most intelligent and well-educated hard SF writers in history (inventor of the "Ringword' as an example). He wrote several stories based entirely in a land of magic that preceded our own. "What Good Is a Glass Dagger?" is a favourite of mine. For those stories, he just tossed science out the nearest airlock, assumed that magic was real, and didn't let physics get in the way.
    A third approach is that of Jack Chalker. All of his stories deal with "magic", in particular people constantly exchanging bodies, but puts it off as an ability to manipulate quantum wave functions in order to warp reality into the user's ideal. Pure BS, of course, but an example of fantasy trying to masquerade as SF. (And until you realize that you've just read the same damned story 6 times in a row under different titles, they're pretty entertaining.)
     
  11. Sep 7, 2010 #10
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    How about diving into how commers routinely obtained metal knives for hunting and utility? Did they grind down swords captured after battle?

    And what about commoner's approach to disease? It couldn't have been all signs of the cross and bringing out the dead. Surely there were healers in each village, people who knew enough basic first aid (direct pressure) to offset the more common maladies. I know people have been sewing up cuts using needles and one's long hair for centuries.

    As for magic not violating the laws of physics, well... Until we discover an entirely new breed of physics, let's just say that despite the fact I'm an avid Harry Potter fan, it still does.

    Knowing this doesn't detract from its enjoyment. If anything, it enhances the mysetery and wonder of the fiction!

    Good luck.
     
  12. Sep 7, 2010 #11
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    This is very similar to what I have been thinking. Although, I sort of go off the deep end trying to link magnetism to the way the wands work... I suppose it could just be metaphorically. But, the idea is that there are artifacts which can manipulate specific elements...
     
  13. Sep 7, 2010 #12
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Jesus, why you wanna' mess it up with physics? What's wrong with it just popping right out of thin air? It's magic ain't it. Uther rides on the dragon's breath in Excalibur. That's exciting. "I have awoken him," Merlin speaks. Me, I'm ok with that and really don't care about what physics Merlin was using, but rather only that it was magic and exciting!

    Also keep in mind what Author C. Clark once said, "a technology sufficiently advanced from ours will appear to us to be indistinguishable from magic." or something close to that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  14. Sep 7, 2010 #13

    fuzzyfelt

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  15. Sep 7, 2010 #14
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    A friend and I were going to write a fantasy novel and I started coming up with ideas of how to work everything. I wouldn't want to taint you with my ideas, and wouldn't want you stealing them either ;-), but I'll say that I got plenty of inspiration from White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension role playing game. It is the most loose and flexible "magic system" devised in an rpg that I am aware of; taking into account differing world views, techno-magic, and everything under the sun.

    I am a horribly procrastinating wannabe aspiring writer. If you want someone to bounce ideas off of feel free to PM me. If I ever get off my butt and start writing I may call in a favour in kind.

    Edit: Sorry, I'm a bit sauced, I did not notice at first that you seem to be wanting a more authentic world view. I would suggest Paracelsus, Eliphas Levi, Alistair Crowley, and perhaps the Theosophical Society (Helena Blavatsky, William Judge, et al). They are all a bit more modern but will give you an idea of the "rediscovery" of "majick" and a more "logical" "scientific" view of magic which was the hallmark of renaissance and post renaissance "high magic".
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2010
  16. Aug 16, 2011 #15
    Re: I need some help with a story I am writing, and this seems like a good place to s

    Sorry for the necropost but I didn't want to make a whole new thread to ask you this.

    I am starting to watch the new Camelot tv series. Have you seen it? What do you think?
     
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