Why The Puppies Did It

I’m not a professional writer. I haven’t pursued the muse in the makings of the craft.  I’m an engineer and designer.  Because most of my work has been in rather eclectic things, the average person will not encounter what I create, but their lives will be enriched from them through better manufacturing methods and being able to detect toxins in foods.  I’m not sure what experiments have been run on the Free Electron Laser, but I imagine that something significant was learned.

In any case I’ve been asking myself why I’ve been devoting so much time to the Hugo Awards, science fiction and the future of  science fiction and fandom.  Then I saw this.

http://www.tickld.com/x/sp/most-people-know-how-magical-harry-potter-is

I think that each and every one of the puppies is to some extent the kid under the stairs.  We are the odds that instead of looking inward at our rage, try to look forward for better things. We need reasons to escape the messes that are our lives, the worlds where we don’t quite fit.  I think that we need the dream, as impractical as it is.  We need our Thorbys or Harry Potters. We need to know that there is magic in the world because otherwise there is nothing but despair.

The return for that is that we have to make some effort to make sure that the magic is there for the next ones to come along, whether it’s real thing like Space X and going to the moon or it’s the next Harry Potter.  If we don’t at least try we are diminishing ourselves.  We have an obligation to send the magic forward.

I don’t think that the puppy kickers understand that anymore.   A long time ago a clerk at a hobby store in NYC that’s long gone said that he didn’t model trains, that he kept his professional and personal life separate.  There are certain advantages to that in that if the work turns sour, you don’t lose what you love.  I think that that’s what happened to the puppy kickers.  They’ve spent so much time in the minutia of editing, producing, marketing and printing books that to a large extent they forgot why they were there in the first place. Everything has become about the business to them, not what the business is about.

That brings us to the awards.  If you are in “the business” the advantage of an award is obvious.  It’s the potential for additional sales.  Especially for that turkey that you just bought because it had the right message and 80% of the copies keep coming back from the stores. Given the numbers it’s much easier to get a Hugo than to block buy a best seller and it’s a little easy to do something like this.

http://www.jmarkpowell.com/the-bestseller-book-that-didnt-exist-how-the-author-of-a-beloved-christmas-classic-pulled-off-the-hoax-of-the-century/

Now I’m not saying that the puppy kickers are giving Hugos to imaginary books.  Well at least not yet, though some of the titles they have nominated or awarded require a vivid imagination to believe that they are readable.  That’s the problem with living in a bubble with cloudy walls.  They’ve gotten so wrapped in their own passions that they have forgotten what science fiction was supposed to be about.

I suspect that the corporatization of publishing made this easier.  In my experience the emphasis on numbers tend to mean that the product sort of disappears from the picture. People get so afraid of missing their quotas that they stop innovating and taking risks is right out. And it’s easier to squeeze talent, especially when there’s always somebody coming along with a book in the door.  And if the message is the “right” kind of message or the author has the “right” kind of “diversity” so much the better. For all the talk we got from the traditional publishers last year about the commoditization of the publishing industry, they people in the publishing industry have managed to a pretty good job of that themselves.  The whole business of the traditional publishing industry seems to essentially treat books, their product, like groceries.

This is what the business schools in the Ivy Covered Snob Factories teach and the managers that those schools crank out never seem to understand that in the real world, that groceries and literature have somewhat different customers, most of the time. At least everybody buys groceries, but not everybody reads a lot of books, let alone science fiction. As the people in charge of the publishing business don’t have the experience in publishing that the people who used to run it had, all they can do is manage people and move budgets around.  After all every book is the same, right? Just push the books in the stores, which had become chains run by corporate types and watch the sales.  Which means the shelves sort of look like this.

The problem is that as time has gone on the editorial staffs have recruited not from people in the book business, because the positions that existed in the past no longer existed and had been replaced by college educated people, English majors, mostly women.    Recently the senior editor at Tor Books UK cheerfully said that 90% of the staff was women, right before Tor Books UK was closed down.

The reason that Tor UK closed down is that same reason that all the SF imprints are in trouble.  The readership has deserted them, by and large.   The biggest problem is that the bigshots in the publishing industry don’t seem to actually read the dreck that they are pushing.  Their big problem is that nobody else is either. People by and large just don’t find the politically correct LGBT porn that the swells at the publishing industry are pushing attractive.   In an age where SF movies make a BILLION dollars and SF games sell in the millions a big run on a SF or fantasy book, unless it’s Harry Potter or some other YA title is 50,000 books.

Here’s the NY Times bestseller list. I find it amazing that the book at the top of the list is a found draft of a book that was published 50 years ago and pushed on us all in high school as great literature because of it’s take on racism, an issue that sort of disappeared in that earlier draft. Is there so little interesting readable  stuff being published that a first draft of a 50 year old book is the only thing noteworthy.  Looking at the rest of the list that might actually be the case.

http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/2015-08-16/hardcover-fiction/list.html

The problem has also come to SF, where I saw a recent complaint that the SF section in Barnes & Noble had “the same 20 stories by the same five authors.”  This comment was from a puppy kicker.  It is nonetheless true, as anybody who has gone to a Barnes & Noble lately knows. The same stuff keeps getting recycled over and over.  Good for Mercedes Lackey, Raymond E Feist and David Weber.  Not so good for the reader looking for new stuff.

Science fiction has always had a closer relationship between the authors and the fans than most of publishing.  The idea  of conventions where authors and fans get together doesn’t seem to happen for mystery or romance.  In mainstream fiction that idea is right out.  Readers are just supposed to read the books, not talk to the authors. Of course this makes it hard to communicate in any other way than just not reading the dreck anymore.  Which is exactly what is happening.

It’s not hard to figure out why. Here’s  Tor.com’s push for a new author and book they are selling.

http://www.tor.com/2015/08/13/wonderfully-weird-the-fiction-of-charlie-jane-anders/

Sorry, but sexual plays are not what the typical science fiction reader imagines when they pick up a book.  At least no without some thought and depth into why things worked in the alien world.  Depth is something that’s lacking in all too much modern SF. Much of that has to do with the effects of literary status envy.  The people in charge of the imprints at the Traditional Publishing houses tend to be far more concerned with literary stylings couple with Progressive maundering and PC groupthink than the kind of depth that good science fiction requires. Look at this list from Io9. The kind of literature love by English professors everywhere.
http://io9.com/5924625/10-science-fiction-novels-you-pretend-to-have-read-and-why-you-should-actually-read-them

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6085

In science fiction the fans historically have had a closer relationship with the creators through the magazines that produced most of the SF and the conventions. One reason this worked well is that many fans came from deep technical backgrounds and had jobs at such cutting edge places like Bell Labs.

By and large traditional publishing didn’t enter into SF in a big way until the 1970’s and 1980’s.  SF was always considered by the gutter by the proper literary crowd. It wasn’t until Star Wars and the Star Trek reruns being so popular that the big houses saw money in the gutter. So the big house set up SF imprints and brought in the heavyweights of SF to run them.  This worked out well for them in the beginning but after about fifteen years or so things started to change.

English majors from the Ivy Covered Snob Factories simply have no experience with the cutting edges of technology and the philosophies behind it to be able understand what it’s about. It’s worse than that.  The romanticism of the radical Progressive movement goes back to Blake’s “satanic mills.”  The prevailing view that comes  out of the Ivy Covered Snob Factories is that not only should elites never get their hands greasy, but that technology is evil. They seem to think that only the elites should have the benefits of human efforts and that the rest of us should live “sustainably’ in small villages or something.  They also seem to think that technology is indistinguishable from magic.

This led inevitably to editorial choices  that fit those prejudices.  Less David Brin, more Mercedes Lackey.  Fewer spaceships, more fantasy.  This hasn’t been all bad, but it’s resulted in the lost of a vision of progress.  In fact due to all the doomcrying that infected the colleges and Progressive movement back in the 1970’s, technologies and invention are more likely to be seen as evil than good. Straight from the romantics of the 19th Century that made up the reading of their  liberal arts education.

That editorial slant has taken SF in some strange directions.  Where, in the past, stories used to be about advanced technologies saving the planet, now stories seem to abound with people wreaking havoc with technologies.  More Frankenstein than I Robot.  That is when they don’t follow the latest doom fad from the progressive establishment. Science fiction had more or less become the stuff that college professors like.  It had gotten out of the gutter.  Literary status envy problem solved.

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/08/16/its-all-about-the-bling/

The problem was that it was style over substance. The problem with this is that it wasn’t what the readers expected from SF.   Historically though, SF has been about story and ideas over style.  What was being published turned that on it’s head.  As Brad put it, it wasn’t “nutty nuggets” anymore.  So by and large people went elsewhere for their nutty nuggets.  There’s a reason that the tie in and manga sections are larger than the traditional SF section, most of which will actually be fantasy.

https://bradrtorgersen.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/sad-puppies-3-the-unraveling-of-an-unreliable-field/

It would have been all too easy for the puppies to just give up and let the Hugos and SF sink into obscurity. Larry did Sad Puppies for fun, something the puppy kickers seem to be devoid of. He also did it to demonstrate just vacuous the nomination process had become and how closed the clique that seemingly runs SF had become.  Look, if a couple of hundred votes can get a book nominated in first place SF is in REAL trouble. Just for fun, the next year Larry proposed a few different things from authors he liked, which got nominated.  And then the screaming started.  “How dare the wrongfen come in and nominate books for OUR awards.”

Well here’s the thing.  The Hugo Awards don’t belong to Tor, Locus, or the NESFA as much as the people there like to believe they do.  The Hugos belong to fandom, all of fandom.  The Hugos are the one that fans can do to tell the powers that be what we, the  readers, want SF to be.  The CHORFs saw fit to not nominate The Martian for a Hugo, because of technicalities and because it wasn’t supported by the “in” crowd. This is the same crowd that nominated the ENTIRE Wheel Of Time series last year. This is the sort of thing that the puppies want to change.

The puppies don’t care about the bling.  We do care about having a future for SF.  The puppy campaigns are our way to create an affirmative campaign, showcase new talent and increase readership.  The Hugo Awards, while an important part, is only part of the activities, most of which involve pushing books on blogs and PJ media, raising awareness and going to cons.  All of which are typical fan activities.

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/08/02/the-piper-you-pay-may-be-your-own/

In the end we owe it to the future to keep the hope alive. The puppies aren’t going away because we feel that we owe it to the people in the future to ensure that they have the same sort of access to  dreams that we had.  SF was once in the gutter, but at least  it was there.  By taking it out of the gutter and giving it style the elites have forgotten what the substance was about.  The puppies want to bring the substance back.

The Hugo Awards Series.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/category/hugo-awards/

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39 comments

  1. st2coasty · August 16, 2015

    This is an excellent well crafted piece. Thanks for bringing several points into focus for me! B&N went from one of my favorite hang outs to a place I have not entered in five years!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. oldshib · August 16, 2015

    Well said!

    Like

  3. Pingback: More Hugo Kerfluffle… | oldshib
  4. Epobirs · August 16, 2015

    Spider Robinson tried to tell people this back in 1976 in his Asimov’s review column. He was asked why the best books seemed to be ignored at the Hugos and explained how the membership and voting worked. I expect him to be retroactively excommunicated any time now.

    Like

    • Dr. Mauser · August 16, 2015

      He’d been an unperson to them ever since he wrote Rah! Rah R.A.H.!

      Like

      • jccarlton · August 16, 2015

        Yup.

        Like

      • John Van Stry · August 17, 2015

        I think he’s still right on his nuclear war prediction, and events in the middle east seem to be rushing forward to keep it.

        Like

  5. tariencole · August 17, 2015

    Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    I’ll disagree about the less sci-fi, more fantasy part. Fantasy fed dreamers in the gutters for ages as well. And many of us liked to alternate between dreams of Middle Earth and looking on the stars. The nobility of Tolkien’s heroes appealed to virtue in an era where society seemed quite willing to purge independence and perseverance from us.

    Fantasy and Sci-fi traditionally were two parts of the same coin really. Fantasy asked: What price virtue? How far would one go to save what one loved? Would they sacrifice the noble for the personal? Would they put their people above themselves? And that traditional question has been put to the sword by traditional publishers just as much as sci-fi has. The Game of Thrones and its GrimDark minions hacked at all such questions with the cheerless smirk of the nihilist. And the publishing snobs exulted saying, “Here at last is fantasy in a REAL medieval world!”

    Sci-fi properly asked, “What price humanity?” Would that be lost in sea of technological progress and increasingly impersonal governance? Well, you’ve hit on what the Ivy League snobs did to it quite well. They don’t believe in technological progress, so they excise it from their stories. They don’t think the impersonal nature of government is a BAD thing, so they relish in faux-diversity enforced by the dictates of our so-called betters. That they produce a vision of the future as joyless as the present the kickers live in is hardly surprising.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. noelcwolters · August 17, 2015

    Reblogged this on Dark Earth Rising and commented:
    A very good read, with thoughts that apply to most of the fiction genres that exist today, if not all. Art is vital to being human, and works of fiction, especially things like science fiction that inspires the mind and fantasy that inspires the soul, are great sources of nutrition for the well being of that which sets us apart from the other animals – our ability to stretch and grow, now and always, potentially without end.

    Like

  7. fontofworlds · August 17, 2015

    Reblogged this on Margot St. Aubin.

    Like

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  10. gregm91436 · August 18, 2015

    There’s a whole lot of confusion in this essay. You’re using a once-in-a-lifetime publishing event—a novel/earlier draft from an author who swore she’d never write another book—being #1 on the NYTimes bestseller list, as some kind of data point. It sounds like you’re claiming because Go Set A Watchman is #1, nobody finds any of the other books on the list interesting, which is a little ridiculous (certainly, fans of GIRL ON A TRAIN would dispute that). This is a first. I’ve never seen a bestseller list cited as evidence that nobody likes the other items on the list. Regardless of whether or not GO SET A WATCHMAN is any *good,* it certainly shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s top of the charts.

    (I’ll note that the highest-ranking SF book on the list, Armada by Ernest Cline, is exactly the sort of fun, spaceship-filled ride that you imply isn’t being published anymore.)

    Other notes:

    * The Martian was plugged and given a “Big Idea” slot by none other than John Scalzi, suggesting there’s not really a conspiracy against it at all.

    * “This is the same crowd that nominated the ENTIRE World Of Time series last year.” No. Each Worldcon has a different voting membership; the fan base of Robert Jordan who got together to nominate The Wheel of Time were just that, fans of Robert Jordan (also, I thought fans banding together for popular stuff was good! Now it’s bad?) and were not the same people who sadly ruled The Martian ineligible. I certainly would have voted for The Martian for Best Novel.

    * “Sorry, but sexual plays are not what the typical science fiction reader imagines when they pick up a book.” a) The piece on Anders you linked to does not make that claim. b) Who is the “typical science fiction reader,” and how do you know what they imagine?

    “All the SF imprints are in trouble.  The readership has deserted them, by and large.” Citation? Clearly the people who publish Armada are doing just fine.

    “People by and large just don’t find the politically correct LGBT porn that the swells at the publishing industry are pushing attractive.” Which specific titles are PC LGBT porn? Who is pushing them?

    This has the same damn problem with just about every other pro-puppy piece I’ve read: “other people like different stuff from me, and that’s bad,” a large number of unsupported assertions, and a series of assumptions about people in traditional publishing also unsupported by even an anecdotal encounter. (Note: Before you try and turn around that “but that’s what the puppy-kickers/people opposed to slate voting are saying to us! No, no, it isn’t. The people opposed to slate voting are annoyed because of the unprecedented slate voting, and the attempts to justify slate voting by claiming a conspiracy that doesn’t exist.)

    I don’t know whether Brad and Larry ever fully appreciated the honor they got for being Campbell nominees, or, in Brad’s case, being a Campbell AND Hugo nominee, but the mere fact that they were finalists for Worldcon’s highest honor ought to have been enough to indicate that there was no conspiracy (Larry lost to Lev Grossman, who was going to crush anybody that year). If I were nominated for an award, and I turned around just three years later and said that that award was corrupt, and violated the social norms of the award by exploiting a rules loophole to get either my friends on the ballot or to get a guy on the ballot “out of spite,” (Larry’s words, about Vox Day), I would not in the slightest be surprised that people were angry with me. But it’s disingenuous to claim that the puppies were doing this “for fun” or “to save SF” when there’s a considerable amount of evidence (“out of spite”) (Brad claiming “affirmative action stories” were getting undeserved Hugos) to the contrary.

    Finally, the io9 article you linked to as evidence of “literary stylings, Progressive maundering and PC groupthink” has 1984 and DUNE on it—not books I would ever cite as examples of PC groupthink or too-literary SF. (Nor, for that matter, is Cryptonomicon any of those.) Maybe you want to edit that?

    There might be a persuasive essay out there on the puppies, but this sure isn’t it.

    Like

    • SPQR · August 18, 2015

      You assert that there is “no conspiracy” but there exist scores of explicit blog posts, twitter messages from people from Scalzi to GRRMartin urging concerted efforts to counter the Puppies, slanders from editors at major houses like Tor, and even libelous mainstream media articles in such venues as Entertainment Weekly (so libelous that the site took the piece down) and The Guardian calling for concerted efforts to defeat the Puppies and just coincidentally telling the same lies about those involved.

      Like

      • sfrazer2015 · August 18, 2015

        A bunch of people agreeing that the puppies are wrong about something isn’t a conspiracy.

        Like

      • John Van Stry · August 18, 2015

        But when they all use the same words, the same argument, and cite each other, it is.

        Like

  11. Francis W. Porretto · August 18, 2015

    — [The puppy-kickers have] gotten so wrapped in their own passions that they have forgotten what science fiction was supposed to be about. —

    I would argue instead that they’ve never been interested in “what science fiction was supposed to be about.” They came to the field for the same reason they infiltrated, colonized, and ultimately conquered the conventional publishing houses: they’re determined to control all expressive media of every kind, as they’re the most effective way of spreading an idea, regardless of whether it’s right, wrong, or indeterminate.

    The pattern should be clear by now. You cannot sincerely say you believe in freedom of speech if you relentlessly strive to silence those who disagree with you — and that’s what the “social-justice warriors” have done in every venue, whether it be journalism, education, pop music, cinema, fiction, or standing on a soapbox. Their idol isn’t Voltaire; it’s Herbert Marcuse.

    Like

  12. Dann · August 18, 2015

    I agree with the sentiment. However….

    The puppy campaigns are our way to create an affirmative campaign, showcase new talent and increase readership.

    and

    The puppies aren’t going away because we feel that we owe it to the people in the future to ensure that they have the same sort of access to dreams that we had.

    Unfortunately, most of the puppy related works that made it to the final round this year were nothing special. They certainly were not worthy of being showcased, nor did they represent any sort of “dreams” that might be missing for future generations.

    If they claim is that quality SF is being ignored in favor of less worthy works, then nominate some better works!!

    Like

  13. Brian Macker · August 18, 2015

    Back as a young man in the seventies I really did no understand what was going on in the scifi section of the bookstore. More and more fantasy was being stuck in with the scifi. Finally the sections merged and I had to wade through a lot of drek to find the hard scifi I liked. Even the award winners were crap. I stopped reading scifi sometime in the 80s.

    Like

  14. p-dawg · August 18, 2015

    World of Time should be Wheel of Time, no?

    Like

  15. Scott · August 18, 2015

    You had me at “Thorby”.

    Like

  16. Ellen · August 18, 2015

    The idea of conventions where authors and fans get together doesn’t seem to happen for mystery or romance.

    Not so. I’ve been to many science fiction conventions, including Worldcons. I’ve been to many mystery conventions, including Bouchercons. They feel much the same, except for the lack of Klingons at mystery conventions.

    Right now, I’m booked in to Magna cum Murder, which happens every year at Halloween. There are writers there, publishers, editors, and a lot of readers. Every Spring, there is Malice Domestic, which has its own award — the Agatha. And there are enough mystery writers who cross over into romance that I have good intelligence romance folk also have their own conventions — as do the bronies, the anime fans, and embroidery enthusiasts. All of these mix professionals and fans.

    Like

    • jccarlton · August 18, 2015

      Who am I to argue with Wasshu.

      Like

      • Ellen · August 19, 2015

        Could be worse. You could argue with Tokimi.

        Like

    • bu · August 18, 2015

      I’ve never been (honest!), but my wife has attended a couple of “Romantic Times” conventions that were as big as all but the largest SF cons.

      As to the major point of the post: I’ve been reading SF for more than 60 years, and, for my personal tastes, the dreck to gem ratio really hasn’t changed. The difference now is that the dreck has been created to impress their college professors, instead of to pay the bills. The guy writing potboilers for for a half-cent a word recognized what he was doing, but most of the dreck-writers today are not that realistic, and respond with vitriol when they are rejected.

      Like

      • Wat Tyler · August 27, 2015

        There’s a lot of truth in that. The other thing of note is that it’s the dreck rather than the gems which keeps getting nominated, and that hurts the field.

        Like

  17. James May · August 18, 2015

    I have a simpler answer:

    2009-11 and especially 2012-14, the sudden entrance of third wave gender feminism as the new shiny sheriff of SFF. That meant a deluge of hate speech; racial incitement and incitement to hate men. Result: pushback.

    Social justice crusaders rely on one single lie they tell again and again: that SFF was traditionally male, white and heterosexual in some sort of ideological sense. It wasn’t – it was just random marketing and culture. There’s no reason the Patriarchy would’ve allowed Ruth Fielding and Nancy Drew in contemporary settings but not SFF. No one published or read The Ship of Ishtar because the character or author were white or male but because it was a great fantasy novel. Why did the racist Patriarchy allow Merril, Russ and Delany? Could it be they were only just then trying to enter SFF?

    The net result is the racial and sexual animus of this brand of feminism’s irrational suspicion of men and white saw an analogy to Jim Crow where none existed and has sought to right a ship already on an even keel. Result: actual racist and sexist discrimination in the form of affirmative action accompanied by censorship when anyone complained. Lightspeed supports their reviewer Sunil Patel not reviewing white men and Mary Kowal’s triumphant Tweet about no white men winning a Nebula is seen as just revenge. Problem is, the act they are reacting to never happened. It’s just hate speech, all alone out on a limb and justifying the race and sex-hatred of those pushing this the most as “social justice.” I tolerate a lot but I draw the line at hate speech.

    Even the relatively mild 770 are censorship-happy morons who claim to dote on quotes. Problem is, they delete the ones they don’t like. Result: impasse.

    Like

  18. Ronnie Schreiber · August 18, 2015

    I’d say that with book signings and book fairs, the general book publishing industry has, in it’s way, encouraged interaction between fans and creators.

    I think that it’s interesting that the SJW’s gramscian advance has stalled in science fiction and video games. With hubris they thought they could win a war with people who play networked war games for a hobby and that book buyers prefer propaganda to stuff written by folks who can actually write.

    Like

  19. Lynn Wyman · August 18, 2015

    The statement that TOR Books UK is closed is one that I could not confirm. I read something but can’t find anything now. Does anybody have confirming source?

    Like

  20. SunSword · August 19, 2015

    I believe that gamers and SF/Fantasy readers overlap quite a bit. Perhaps the MMORPG gamers tend more towards fantasy, and the FPS/SF gamers tend more towards hard SF or military SF. For the SJWs to attack gamers was very foolish as gamers know how to form groups and alliances and to: attack, attack again, retreat, regroup, counter-attack; rinse and repeat — until they win. Gamers never give up. Ever.

    Like

  21. Chas C-Q · August 19, 2015

    Quibble: Science fiction was in the “ghetto,” not the “gutter.” There were “Get SF Back to the Ghetto” buttons and bumper stickers to go up against the British New Wave “literary SF” period.

    Like

    • jccarlton · August 19, 2015

      It depends on who you are talking to. Talk to the NY lit set with all their pretensions and “gutter” barely makes it.

      Like

      • Chas C-Q · August 19, 2015

        I’m not in the habit of letting my detractors choose or define my terms for me.

        Like

    • Andrew · August 21, 2015

      “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” – Oscar Wilde

      Like

  22. MadRocketSci · August 24, 2015

    They also seem to think that technology is indistinguishable from magic.

    You know, technology *is* indistinguishable from magic. 😛 But magic is a slippery word, and can mean different things depending on who is trying to use it.

    Magic can mean something that you don’t understand at all, and because you don’t understand it, you can tell yourself any story you want about it. Used this way, your world is “magical” when anything can happen because you don’t know enough to model it, or what to expect from a situation, which also places it well beyond your control. This is how the Romantics use “magic”. Magic as an unaccountable force that you are helpless against. Technology in particular, is black magic, to them. If you unwind a mystery to the extent that you can make use of it, well then that’s just dull and mundane.

    On the other hand you can use magic to refer to something deep and subtle – something that it takes effort and exploration to figure out, which exposes to view a hidden world that you couldn’t see before. Used this way, something is magical because you *do* understand it, or can aspire to understand it, and it is the promise that with enough discipline and learning and effort, you can understand your world and use those hidden subtleties to transcend your circumstances and solve your problems. It suggests that the deeper you go in your understanding of the world, the more interesting things you will find. This is the sort of use of magic that must appeal to science fiction fans, I think.

    Like

    • jccarlton · August 24, 2015

      Can’t argue with that. I like to say that any magic is technology that we don’t understand yet.

      Like

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