A couple of my friends tried to read my blog for a while before tapping out. I don’t blame them in the least. I try to keep blog talk to a minimum with them because I don’t want to be one of those people who drones on about their hobby that no one else gives a shit about. But the other day I was bouncing some ideas off one of my pals about a Grace storline and he says to me he says “People don’t know about magic in that story?”
That was a bit of a kick in the chest. I know I’m not a great writer but I thought that much would be evident in the story, such as it is.
Anyway, that got me to thinking about magic in fiction. Someone once told me that if you have magic in your story you have to answer why everything isn’t different. Their example was that in Harry Potter there are some kind of magic police that make sure no one knows about magic.
Now first of all I don’t think that’s true. I think you can tell whatever story you want and you don’t have to explain anything. If the details of magic aren’t important to the story there’s no reason to address it is my theory. Not everything has to be spelled out unless it has something to do with what you’re trying to talk about.
So how does magic work in the world of Amazing Grace? It’s the question you’ve all been dying to know.
Why haven’t the magic people revealed themselves to the world? Why would they? What would they stand to gain? Setting aside any opinions about politics or money or conspiracies or what have you, I believe that the people who have the most influence are in the world are largely anonymous.
“They” like to talk about how there’s five companies that control everything. Do I know the CEOs or any of them? Is Jeff Bezos one of them? Or Elon Musk? I don’t know. The rich and powerful people are out there doing rich and powerful people stuff and I’m sitting here writing stories. I don’t know who they are any more than they know who I am. So that’s part of it, if there’s powerful magic people out there influencing the world why would anyone know about it?
But the other part is that there aren’t. One of the crutches of the AG world is that magic may or may not have been a powerful force in the world once but not anymore. Which sounds like a line I stole from Game of Thrones but the genesis of the AG story, at the kernel level, is a short story I wrote in college about a modern wizard who was just a sad old man constantly being hounded by cultists who wanted to cut him open because they thought it would make them magic.
I lifted one a line from that story for a conversation Grace had with Huddie, why would anyone bother to spend time and effort leaning a farseeing spell when telescopes exist. And satellites, which are better than ant spell. Magic is like steam power, it used to be cool but now there’s better stuff.
Related to that I lean on, maybe too hard, the idea that no one buys the magic that is out there. If someone used magic to stop a tsunami and everyone saw it, that would be one thing, everyone would freak out about that, but my premise is that magic is kind of lame. There’s nobody around that can do shit like that. The magic Grace does is slotted into the same category as clickbait about aliens found in Antarctica.
Aside from the people who had no choice but to believe because magic screws up their life (thanks Grace!) the only people who believe in magic are the ones who believe it in the real world. Which no offense, I’m going to say does not have magic in it. Like my aunt.
I think what I’m saying in this ramble, is that the Grace world isn’t different from our world because there are real people that believe in weird shit and mostly you just ignore them and hope they don’t sit next to you on the bus. And that’s the same space magic occupies in the Grace story.
For instance, let’s set you get into a fender bender with someone and you’re beefing and you yell at them and then they make a hand gesture and your tires all explode. Are you going to think “whoa, that was magic!” Probably not. You’re going to assume they threw something or had a weapon that you didn’t see. Or maybe you’ll be like, da fuck? And wonder about it for the rest of your life. But you probably won’t think magic.
And even if you do so what? What are you going to do about it? Call the cops and tell them that a magician fucked up your car? If you do that’s the kind of thing that gets you not invited to Thanksgiving anymore.
I’ve tried to stick with the idea that people who find out about magic either get obsessed with it and try to learn more or they do their best to forget about it so it doesn’t drive them crazy.
Here’s quote from another book that I haven’t read –
The trouble with magic is that there’s too much it just can’t fix. When things go wrong, glimpsing junkyard faeries and crows that can turn into girls and back again doesn’t help much. The useful magic’s never at hand. The three wishes and the genies in bottles, seven league boots, invisible cloaks and all. They stay in the stories, while out here in the wide world we have to muddle through as best we can on our own. — Charles de Lint, The Onion Girl
I wish I was a good writer and came up with that. That fits the AG world of magical mystery to a tee.
Stan Lee used to have a show called “Stan Lee’s Superhumans” and it featured real world people doing supernatural things (my favorite was a guy who could somehow manipulate animals to fall asleep by waving his hands around at a distance.) I firmly believe that stuff like that is real, that most people have at least a minimal exposure to stuff like that (family story, saw it on TV, etc.), and that it largely has no bearing on most people’s every day life so they just shrug and move on. It makes total sense to me that a world with magic could exist and that the magic people would not need to reveal themselves or be a big part of the daily discussion even if they did. Nobody writing about real life has to spend any time explaining how that old Japanese man made the bison fall asleep or what the deal is with the US government and the UFOs. That’s all background noise.
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