My original interlocutor made a comment on my last piece, so we have some more to go on this week! Pontifus’s original question (which, shamefully, I have not even approached answering), was about the connection between magic as practice and magic as plot device. Specifically, magic as practice is the use of metaphor et al to reconstruct oneself, the world, and everything else. Magic as plot device is a way to produce a metaphor for something else. Therefore, highly systematized fictional magics are pointless if not actively stupid, since they systematize what’s meant to be interpreted.
I’m fulfilling requests now, in a way. Pontifus has asked me about the difference between magic in theory and practice and magic as found in fiction of all sorts, particularly when it’s a plot device. My knee-jerk answer was that there doesn’t have to be an effective difference, but there does usually seem to be. So here’s another of those exploratory posts I know you love so much.
Let’s talk about Thomas Covenant. I nearly don’t know how to start. My emotional experience of the first three Covenant novels is up there, rivaling nearly anything I’ve enjoyed in my life. I remember reading the third book in two days, and I stumbled out of my dorm room upon finishing it feeling as though I’d been stoned for being a witch. I met friends in the cafeteria and couldn’t understand why they were going on as though nothing had changed.
So this week’s post is inspired by a twitter conversation. Those are always the best, right? This one was between me and J_Marshak on fandom, and very specifically on what I have noticed in contemporary Harry Potter fandom. That is this: despite the overt signs in the books and movies themselves, there seems to be an increasing number of HP fans – within the fanfiction community at least – who are disturbingly fascist in their views of things.
I had no idea where to go after nine (sort of ten) weeks of Batman awesome. So let’s just talk about the latest SF novel I read, hey? That’s Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama.
It is nearly here. Halloween has come upon us like some wet, cold creature rubbing its fur against our legs while we scratch its gills and wonder which is real. They’re both real, and your pants are wet now. Let’s declare this a somewhat sacred tradition, this upcoming post. I wrote about Lovecraft last year, and I’ll probably write about him next year. So here you are, the 2013 WW post on Lovecraft. I’m sure you’re excited. It’s on At the Mountains of Madness.
You might remember Roger Zelazny from my Chronicles of Amber post. Here is another thing of his you absolutely have to read: “Damnation Alley.” Not the novel, the novelette. What’s the difference? According to Zelazny, he was talked into “fixing up” his short piece to resell as a novel, and he just wasn’t happy with it. I’ve read both, and the short version is definitely better, with no padding or extraneous stuff. Just amazingness. Now, what am I actually going to talk about, regarding “Damnation Alley?” It’s the purest expression of American SF.