Worldbuilding & Magic

Today, I received eight pounds of books in the mail. The downside, they were all the same book. On the upside, they are the book that I started writing in the summer of 2019.

It’s currently available from McFarland Books directly, but should appear on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. over the next few days or week.

Semi-Magipocalypse Intro Play 2

There were always rumors of programs.


During the last world war, they said the Nazis and Allies tried to develop supersoldiers.


During the Cold War, both sides tried remote viewing, like Project Stargate, and superspies.


After the Cold War, into the War on Terror, the focus remained on creating enhanced soldiers and operatives. In the U.S., three secret facilities worked on the most promising avenues: exoskeletons, nanotech, and bioengineering. The old occult research facility was forgotten, but never shutdown.


Rather, it was almost forgotten.


Some bioengineer got the idea to take promising but ultimately dead-end research and shop it to the magic researchers. Somehow, they got it to work in rodent test subjects, and preliminary human trials. All of this was done quietly, unofficially, and off the record, referred to in communications as “Greygem”. The results later became known as the Lansing-Myer Treatment/Virus.


Effects of the LMT varied by subject. Some exhibited external, physical changes, and others did not. Some showed the ability to manipulate energies, others enhanced mental and physical capabilities.


Supposedly, Lansing and Myer decided they did not want this to be entirely in government control or to be weaponized by a government. They brought in a like-minded engineer, Harding, who had made promising advances in nanotech. As we now know, Harding became the mother of the nanobot field.


Together, the trio let their “Project Greygem” loose in the world.


Within a couple months, Harding nanobots carrying LMT/V had saturated North America and spread to every continent except Antarctica. A week later, the first symptoms showed: fever, nausea, mild flu-like symptoms. After a further week, people woke up with pointed ears. Or a foot shorter. Or as wolves. Or said the wrong word and blew up a toaster. Or cut themselves by accident and felt a rush of power.


That was fifty years ago, when magic was unleashed on the world.


Since then, of course, it has become safer and more controlled. Government regulation has been enacted around the globe. And both nanotech and bioengineering have exploded.


Socially, the backlash was violent at first, at least until people realized that only about 20% of the populace didn’t get some ability. These few were naturally immune to the LMT/V. But the rest saw at least minor magic ability, or altered DNA. Not everyone learns to use the ability, of course, but the companies leaped on the profit potential, the government tried drafting every magic person but it was too widespread, and the populace eventually settled and began to benefit from the new normal.


Of course, not everything is perfect. There are those who resent or still fear the new normal. And there are new crimes. New rights movements formed very quickly and rumors of “shadow” governments of magicians and cults have sprung up everywhere.

Post-Magipocalypse Intro Play 1

Maybe fifty years ago, the world was going on its business, probably killing itself twenty different ways. Then, about then, someone made a serum.


I don’t know who, man. And who the fuck cares? Ancient history.


Anyway, maybe it was supposed to kill a plague, end a pandemic, or something. Doesn’t really matter. Didn’t do whatever that was. Maybe killed some test subjects or whatever, but at least one had a side effect.


Dude could open gates.


Not fence gates.


Gates to other worlds, or one world.


No one’s done it since, and good thing.


Dude opened one gate and magic flooded into the world like a tsunami. Overloaded all the tech, shut down society as people back then knew it. Factories went dark, planes fell outta the sky, whole nine yards.


They say they got it closed again, fast, but the damage was done.


Societies that relied on electricity for everything had none. Cars stopped working, guns jammed, phones bricked, everything gone.


Bad days.


Riots.


People fleeing cities.


Breakdown of law and order.


And that was the first three days.


Local governments and corps did what they could, with some other less official groups. But the feds, and even old state, folks were out of contact. In a couple weeks, man, things mostly settled in most places, from what I hear. Not great, but no more riots and a lot fewer murders and stuff.


Figures that’s when they started showing up.


People with powers.


People who could see and control ghosts. People who could make trees grow overnight. People who could curse at someone and really hurt them.


I hear they used to say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”


Ain’t true anymore.


Riots and hangings by mobs started right up again, least until the corps and some others started protecting the witches, wizards, whatever. The corps saw a profit and a resource, the others, who knows. I guess some places were a lot worse, where really conservative religious types took over.


Anyway.


Over the next couple years, the magic people found a niche and the tech started to come back. People started mixing them. The governments were never the same. Too long with local and corp control of areas.


You know the corp areas, got their signs, wards, fences, and cops . . . and armies. And you know all the magic people now, the ghosties, the shapers, the bloods, the crafters, all of them. And the ones the shapers made, and the necros and crafters. People literally in all shapes and sizes now, whatever they can imagine, almost. Just watch out for the other factions, boss.


Keep your eyes open, your knife sharp, and your magic cutting edge.

Star Wars: Thoughts

After watching SW: Attack of the Clones the other night with our son, I was thinking about the different trilogies and side movies/series. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen most of the animated series (Rebels, Resistance, or the recently released Bad Batch), and haven’t seen Clone Wars in order (or perhaps even the complete series, I caught it sporadically when it first aired).

Although there is, obviously, a lot that has been said about all three trilogies, particularly negatives regarding the prequels and sequels, some of it warranted and some simply the whining of interweb trolls & (generally white male) “fans”, I think all three trilogies have their strong and weak points. So, just to throw out my own opinion on the strengths (with brief comments on the down sides):

First Trilogy (eps 4-6)

This trilogy gets “Best Overall” simply because of being the first, and childhood nostalgia. Was it the best written? No. Was it the best acted? Heck no (even Carrie Fisher mocked her “floating English accent” repeatedly). But, it was the first, without which the rest would not exist. And it did some clearly groundbreaking things for the late-70s and early-80s in sci-fi. In terms of filming, Lucas stitched together scenes from WWII movies and Kurosawa movies with filler, that somehow worked.

Prequel Trilogy (eps. 1-3)

This trilogy, I give “Best Choreography” and “Best Space Battles” . Let’s face it, the original trilogy lightsaber choreography was . . . not the best. It’s often pretty clear that Vader and Luke are swinging at each other’s swords, rather than at each other. For this trilogy, they had great choreographers and the SFX had reached a level for excellent space battles to be composed. This despite the lack of chemistry between Christensen and Portman, and the “Best Future Plotholes” award.

Sequel Trilogy (eps. 7-9)

“Best Character Deaths” for Han and Luke. Both were, I think, satisfying and fit both within the plot and the character growth. I’ll also add “Best Fanservice”, because there’s nothing especially wrong with giving fans what they want. These three, despite their flaws, did a good job evoking the feel and sense of the original trilogy and had enough back references to the original to give a strong “feel good” vibe. Frankly, no one goes to SW movies looking for deep meaning and high drama (deeper meaning can certainly be found, but that’s not generally the goal in going to see them).

Others

Solo, Rogue One, and Mandalorean, I put down as “Best Writing” and “Best Acting”. As prequels in the first two cases, they had a difficult job in setting things up that already happened. In Rogue One‘s case, this was especially difficult, as we knew they would succeed in getting the plans (hence Ep. IV), but also that there was high likelihood of character demise (although not assured, since the team that got the plans is never mentioned in Ep. IV; the death of the Bothan team/s was getting Death Star II plans before Ep. VI). Mandalorean has done an excellent job as well, so far. Probably up there with Clone Wars on writing, and acting, in terms of character development, lore development, and clicking into the setting of the other movies/series.

Updates

Unfortunately, I realize that I’ve been neglecting this blog lately. I can only blame myself for that. 🙂

A few updates seem in order at least.

The latest book is past the copyeditors and headed to the layout department. Page proofs should be in my hands in a couple months, with release scheduled for sometime in the upcoming Autumn.

My employer (a community college) is taking a very careful approach to re-opening campus. Currently we’re at something under 5% of classes being face-to-face (F2F), and even those are largely the ones that require hands on work (ex. some nursing courses). Summer, the plan’s 10-15% with potential for some limited offices. Autumn, about 25-30% F2F with a comparative services opening. All of which is good and smart (unlike the approaches in some other states and institutions; one friend’s CC has been open F2F continuously through the pandemic).

In the meantime, I put pen to paper for a third book. Just starting notes for an introduction so far, but it’s started. Reviewing a few things, I think there are definitely two, possibly three, books left in me. The first (third) is built out of old posts here. The second is a hybrid of what my dissertation was going to be at the start (before I narrowed focus for time) and a few articles I thought about writing years ago. The third is more nebulous at the moment, as the rough idea occurred to me and I haven’t developed it yet. I’m not even sure if the last is a “book” or a collection of essays (edited anthology), e.g. me alone or a collaborative effort.

To explore the last option, I’m thinking I’l probably put together some posts here, to organize and mess with my thoughts on the subject. Eventually.

Manuscripts Away!

And the manuscript has been delivered to McFarland Pub. Well, uploaded to their ftp server.

Either way, it’s out of my hands for a month or two and that’s another stage of the publication process complete.

Just their editorial review, revision based on that, proofreading page proofs, and indexing to go.

TIL Academic History

TIL:
In the 1360s, annual tuition at Glouster College, Oxford was equivalent to the annual income of a master craftsman or lawyer.

In the 1360s, people were bemoaning the declining standards at Oxford.

In the 1360s, people were excoriating the behavior of Oxford students, particularly their treatment of books.

(Related & quoted in “The Light Ages: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science” by Seb Falk)