May 19, 2019, 05:46:11 PM

Author Topic: Magically mutable worlds  (Read 548 times)

Offline Yora

Magically mutable worlds
« on: January 20, 2018, 09:40:31 PM »
Recently I've been fascinated with the concept of fantasy worlds in which supernatural forces are changing the environment or even reality and where these forces can be influenced to some extend by people. Either through active magical influence or just the believes or conditions of the people or special individuals. The most explicit examples I can think of are from RPGs and videogames, but the concept does shine through in The Last Unicorn and The Neverending Story, at least from what I remember. It's also in Andersen's Snow Queen (don't know the English title) and the legend of the Fisher King, whose realm is sick and depressed because he is.

I'm always somewhat tired of stories where the heroes have to go on a dangerous adventure because of a villain who simply enjoys destroying and enslaving everything. These often don't have much room for meaningful reflections on what to do about the situation and which of the many options are actually desirable. You got to straight up murder that guy and that solves everything. And at the same time I often feel underwhelmed by protagonists who simply want glory and riches. They are fun in the moment but tend to lack meaningfulness in the long run.

But making or keepin the world more livable is a cause I can totally get behind. It's also one with potentially a lot of different options what to change specifically, of which many are no more or less correct than the other and all of them will have very serious consequences. It also comes through in Princess Mononoke where the antagonist wants to buy off the emperor to leave her outcast sanctuary alone by getting him the head of a forest god that possesses such a power over the land. Everyone wants to improve living conditions for their people but the consequences are nightmarish. A great source for complex conflicts with deeper meanings, that at the same time allow for a lot of very fantastic stuff to appear or happen.

I think it kind of relates to the classic fantasy image of the cosmic forces of Order and Chaos, as in Elric, Lodoss War, and a whole lot more. Does anyone know of good books that have this element of supernatural forces altering the environment in dramatic ways that go beyond the simple Order and Chaos opposition?
« Last Edit: January 24, 2018, 03:33:00 PM by Yora »
Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

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Offline ArhiX

Re: Magically mutable worlds
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2018, 01:04:54 AM »
I am actually amazed that there are no answers. I have somethinkg like this in my world but I won't speak about it as the subject is about actual book. To be honest I can't think of anything particulary notable. It seems like any big fantasy series speak in some way about magic changing the world in some way (Malazan and Wheel of Time) - but usually it's just a distant danger etc. It's somewhat easier to think about video games (Dark Souls and fading of the Flame and White Frost from The Witcher) but books... Now I feel like I'm not reading enough, because I can't think of any...
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Re: Magically mutable worlds
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2018, 06:21:41 PM »
Ian McDonald wrote a book called "Evolution's Shore" that really explores the concept of heroes getting involved in environmental change in a way that goes beyond causing or trying to stop it. The story really works because in the narrative, the heroes are faced with an environmental change that threatens to change, but not destroy, their way of life. It also can't be stopped. As a result, they're forced to move through the story trying to explore, understand, and cope with what's happening, rather than taking on a more classically decisive role. It's science fiction though.

Offline xiagan

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Re: Magically mutable worlds
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2018, 08:49:22 PM »
I actually read the title as "Magically mutable words" and was quite curious about them. ;)
Worlds makes more sense actually and I share your sentiment.
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