Fairy Tale Magic

Was just thinking that magic in fairy tales of all sorts has this wonderfully surreal quality to it, that exists with a more poetic, dream like logic. It works more in an intuitive way, kind of like how some concepts of magic work in our world (Shamanism, occult lore, etc). It’s more symbolic, and in a way, more wonder-laced.

Take, for example, the heartless giant. Who placed his heart in an egg in a duck in  a dragon on an island. And replaced his heart in his chest with a wasp’s nest. Or the brother and sister being chased by a witch, and throw down a comb and it turns into a mountain,  and then they throw down a mirror and it turns in a lake.  And tears, always tears, seem to have a mystical power of their own. They heal blinded princes, they bring back the ghost of a mother buried under a tree.

I read stuff like this, and I wonder if video games and role playing games somehow codified magic too much, and when they began influencing novels (esp Epic Fantasy) they took away some of this wonder. I mean, I can appreciate the complexities of a cool magic system, but at the same time- what is the cost? The wonder is replaced with mechanical complexity and plots revolving around it’s use. It’s basically Hard Science Fiction, were the narrative functionality of science is replaced with a complex and mechanical magic.

There are some writers who still have magic act in such a strange, odd, and less game-y way. James Enge comes to mind, as does Patrica McKillip.


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