Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why destroy the magic?

I've long been a fan of fantasy author Terry Brooks, and his epic Sword of Shannara is still a personal favorite. In recent years my reading habits have moved away from his newer efforts towards more political, philosophical and classic writings, but something strange has come to my attention:

The Four Lands, with it's elves and dwarves, magic and high fantasy, is Earth, far in the future after a nuclear holocaust.

Seriously, was that necessary? Practically speaking, it doesn't add anything significant to the storyline, waving around in the air like some random, mutated appendage on an otherwise aesthetically pleasing creature.

It reminds me of George Lucas using the Phantom Menace to explain that the magical powers of the Force were the result of a high concentration of microorganisms in the blood stream. Nobody was screaming for a rationale behind the Force; It's the answer to a question only Lucas asked. It instead caused a backlash, because fans like the mystery and mysticism, the spirituality behind it.

This entry is a little bit disjointed, bore more out of frustration than any serious attempt at analyzing the trend of authors to turn their magic into the mundane. So it goes, I suppose - the Sword of Shannara remains my gold standard, even if I have to block the later absurdity out of my head.


Charles Martin Cosgriff said...

Sadly, I believe that such gyrations to explain what needs no explanation is merely an attempt to secularize the mystical. That attitude only serves to make dry the most magical aspects of the human spirit.

ShinChuck said...

If secularizing the mystical results in asinine plot twists, we need to ask ourselves, is it really worth it?