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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Magic . . . in Space!

   
Author Topic: Magic . . . in Space!
Pyre Dynasty
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For my nano I've decided to rewrite a story I wrote in my youth. The characters still bug me to write their story after all these years. I've decided this would be a good time to give them a little more attention. It's also my most worked on story so I feel quite prepared to write it in a month (as long as I can figure out which novel out of the planned series to write.)

Looking at it, though, I've found that I have an issue I didn't even think about as a child. It's solidly a fantasy in terms of themes, tone, and the presence of magic, but it also takes place in space and the characters are often flying spaceships. These are magical ships, in other words the means of propulsion is supernatural. (No, it's not a magic can do everything situation. I'm pretty system based.)

My question is how do I establish this as a fantasy even to the kind of readers who think that setting is genre? I'd really rather avoid people thinking they are starting a sci-fi and then rejecting it because it's not. Also people who think fantasy is strictly the realm of elves in a forest rejecting it the moment they launch.

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extrinsic
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Setting is time, place, and situation. Since fantasy is very much about the awe and wonder of fantastical settings, magic being in space seems ripe for the situation feature. Vessels grown from magic beans or domesticated from wild beings, vessel compartments set aside for growing and husbanding needed fuel and supplies, life support, vessel motor tenders who are elf or gnome analogs, weirdling pilots with necessary talents, navigator mages and high priestesses, exotic passengers and freight from exotic settings, etc.

Avoid rivets and chrome, and fantastical technology and science, then magic in space is your fantasy mischief to manage.

Fantasy or metaphysical being supernatural, paranormal, and spiritual motif crossovers into the mundane realm. A central theme then might be that out there space is more complex and dynamic and contentious than science currently believes.

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Unwritten
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In my experience, it's important to establish the fantasy aspect in your readers heads right off the bat. Once they know it's fantasy, the fact that it's set in SPACE will just be the icing on the cake. I think it sounds like a fantastic idea! Good luck.

(On a more selfish note, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only person considering rewriting something that already exists in some form for Nanowrimo. It's a little unorthodox, but sometimes an author's got to do what we've got to do.)

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Robert Nowall
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The notion that "Any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" does lead us SF types into creating things that cross the line into magic---and risk losing the SF reader in the process. (I abandoned a novel after a hundred thousand words because, among many other problems, I'd given the herione too many superpowers derived from nanotechnology---I was just waving a magic wand over it, really.)
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genevive42
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I think if you establish magic-propelled spaceships from the outset, the audience will know what they're getting. Just make sure that gets mentioned in the cover blurb.
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babooher
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Have a crazy old wizard in the desert find a boy and give him a sword of light...oh wait. Never mind.
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Pyre Dynasty
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Thanks guys. You've helped me realize where to start and what story I need to tell.
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Robert Nowall
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Remember, too, that a lot of what SF does is just to establish a situation. Faster-than-light travel is believed impossible under the laws of physics, but FTL travel is something the SF writer must use to get their characters somewhere where something interesting will happen to them---it can be left in the background once the story.

(I say "believed impossible," because, likely, there's a lot left to be discovered---an infinite amount, likely.)

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