Posted on Fri 31 May 2024

it was magic all along

There’s a game which you have probably played in some form, possibly not even knowing that it was a game. It goes like this: an author writes fiction, and the reader comes across an interesting element and asks how it works, in-universe.

And people come up with answers…

Some of which are plausible in this universe but not in the fictional one, some are plausible technologically but the economics can’t be worked out; sometimes it’s a great answer but people are a problem. Often there are multiple good answers which conflict with each other.

They are magic and work the way they do because that’s how the author wants them to work.

This is pretty much the only bad answer in the game.

The point is to figure out the puzzle, sometimes tangentially, for the general pleasure of creativity and discussion. Even multiple conflicting answers can be fun.

If an author is asking for help pre-publication, it’s valid but kind of useless to say “it works the way you want it to work” – yes, of course it does, but how should it be explained? They might or might not show the how, but knowing the how allows them to more room for fun. Usually, the better version of that statement is a question: “What plot or character or style elements do you want it to have?”

When discussing an already completed work – which is usually the case – it’s absolutely useless to say “it works the way the author wants it to work”. That’s not fun. It doesn’t illuminate anything. Nothing new comes from it.

So, the remaining proposal is “It’s magic.” What are the limitations of the magic? What deductions can the reader make based on the existence of magic in this one aspect? Those are the fun questions.

© -dsr-. Send feedback or comments via email — by continuing to use this site you agree to certain terms and conditions.

Built using Pelican. Derived from the svbhack theme by Giulio Fidente on github.