First, as I write this it’s the last day of 2010. So Happy New Year to all my readers. Second, this may turn into a rant. Hey, I’m sure I’m the first blogger that’s ever happened to.
The weeks surrounding the holidays have thrown me a little off track, so I haven’t really been keeping up on either my blogging or my writing. As a result, The Illusionist's House has hit something of a stall. I have also taken on another writing project, a (theoretically) short web-comic script for a sister-in-law.
Looking back on my work-in-progress, I see it suffers from a modern condition that I have chosen to call, for want of some other equally stupid name, Post Mutant Magic Syndrome.
Long-time readers will probably have gotten the impression that I like superheroes. They would be right. One of the interesting traits of the genre is that superpowers are frequently (though not always) well defined. Readers like the heroes with clearly defined limits – it cuts down on the Deus ex Machina endings you get if a hero can pull any power out of his hat.
Marvel Comic’s mutants are a good example – the usually only have one or two very specific powers. This one has wings, that one can walk through walls.
Now the fantasy genre relies heavily on magic and magic, as a general rule, defies easy definition and classification. Only not so much, any more.
I’ve been reading a collection of werewolf short stories but current popular urban fantasy authors. As is the modern trend in dark fantasy, there is more than one thing out there going bump in the night. In a world of demons and vampires, a werewolf can actually be the good guy. And who doesn’t like to see werewolves and vampires at war?
This leads to more definition for the supernatural element. I’m okay with different stories defining the monsters differently – these werewolves turn into wolves, those turn into wolfmen. I’m a big fan of doing what serves the story. But some of these worlds are becoming so populated with magical beings that rigid scientific principles of taxonomy are starting to apply. I recently read a story by an author I really like where the hero (a vampire-hunting werewolf) paused to explain the difference between the powers of witches and wizards.
It’s starting to take some of the magic out of things. I mean, these stories still work for me on the level in which I enjoy superheroes, but the trade-off is a level of mystery.
Which brings us back to my current work in progress, which hinges on defining the limits on illusion magic as distinct from several other forms. I’m writing what I’m ranting against and I’m not sure how I feel about that.