Time to Think About It
In my last post, I wrote about my problems with “damn wizards” and “bleeping gods.” With time to think, I’ve finally figured out how I want to approach those damn wizards, but those bleeping gods are still bugging me.
It was only recently that I finally managed to get a handle on my own thoughts about sorcery and witchcraft in fantasy.
Often, and increasingly, magic is used as a means to inject a sense of modernity or more advance technologies relative to the setting. In this way, magic becomes a technology substitute (with Clarke’s Law in mind).
To be honest, I don’t like this specific approach. Like I said in my last post, I’m far more partial to Howard, Smith, and Lovecraft’s approach to sorcery. For me, sorcery is dark and forbidden. It is an arcane and eldritch power. Not a substitute for a telephone. Or cheap parlor tricks.
For me, sorcerers and sorceresses should be suspect whether they are antagonists or not. The best example, for me, is Pelias in “The Scarlet Citadel.” While he aids Conan to escape and defeat Tsotha-lanti, Pelias is, himself, a very dark character.
So, what does that mean? Well, I think it means that sorcery has to be pursued. It has to be a choice, even if it is an inborn trait or talent. There is, inherently, darkness and corruption to the desire to be a wizard or a witch.
So, how does this relate to my problems with sorcery? Easy. I’m going to put all of that, all my thoughts and beliefs about wizardry, into a single work. But, that does not mean that I can’t use forms of sorcery ever again. I just won’t focus on it as the subject of the project. I can focus on some other subjects or questions that fascinate me, instead.
But what is it about sorcery that fascinates me, even as I, personally, view magic in a negative sense (or at least certain forms of magic)? Simple, power. I realized that my wanting a powerful young wizard to be my protagonist in a sword and sorcery influenced world (no matter how punk or modern it is) is a power fantasy. (Now that I think about it, I have to wonder why I’ve always been more partial to the sorcer(ess)er rather than the standard sword and sorcery hero).
Now, let’s move on to my god problem. In my last post, I had two options for how to play with gods. Now, I’ve got a third. Here’s a recap:
Option One is an alternate history/ universe that explores what our world would be like if all mythology actually happened. Would things be the same or would things be radically different? Would we still have the same level of technology? The same culture? The problems with this idea, honestly, are the potential for offense and the difficulty of reimagining all of human history (or explaining why everything is the same).
Option Two is a completely secondary world. My original idea was that gods would answer prayers in an organized way (like early Naruto and Fairy Tail). That’s why I have described the idea as having a shonen manga inspiration. The major problem is that I’m not very good with making up names and languages. And while Demeter may work, Mother Earth doesn’t. So I can’t use English or pan European names. Trust me, I’ve tried. They sound even campier than Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.
Option Three is a mix of the two, honestly. Rather than using our world or a secondary world, I can create an alternate world using as a base the mythologies of the ancient and classical world. I think that this one is a good mix of the two previous ideas. I just need to research non Greek Classical, Near Eastern, and Egyptian Mythology in far more depth.
Excepting for Option One, I haven’t given much thought to what type of world I’m going to create. Should it be more historically oriented or a schizo-punk world?
But that is a question for another time.