Being the demure, passive, unobtrusive member of the writers’ group that I am, I asked, “Why the hell doesn’t your magical world have modern conveniences?” — just snatched from Clair Croxton’s blog
A writer friend of mine posed that question at our crit group this week. It made me think, because I hadn’t paid attention to it before, but she’s right. And then I wanted to know why.
Why is it that there is no electricity or modern conveniences in most books where the characters utilize magic? Why are they always set in a time or place where electricity doesn’t exist? (I’m sure always is too strong a word…)
Now, I know why it is so in my own book, but I wondered if other writers of magical realms have considered the question and drawn the same conclusion, or if it just is what it is because it’s always been… you know the type of reasoning I mean. Status quo.
The main answer pertaining to SYMBIOSIS, and probably everything else I might write that has magic or some form of it, is because a modern power-grid would interfere with the ability to manipulate and track energy in the way it is manipulated and tracked in my story. Characters called pulse-readers, in particular, would have a hard time keeping track of which emissions came from the microwave oven in use down the road, versus the one from a slaughtered chicken in the voodoo queen’s back yard.
And since, in my story, the pulse-readers are the ones keeping tabs on the comings and goings of energy into and around the system at the heart of SYMBIOSIS, I’m sure they would have eliminated interferences or impedance that tried to crop up along the way. In fact, that’s one real danger the MC, Kali, has to learn to evade as she learns to use her power. She has to be careful to not alert the pulse-readers of her whereabouts or even her existence.
That evasion is much easier in the farther realms where electricity is common, and her growing up and living there is part of the reason she escaped notice for so long.
In SYMBIOSIS, magic is only a manipulation of energy, not really magic, and it can’t happen as easily in conjunction with a power grid. That’s not to say it can’t or won’t be done, but that it’s easier to track and cleaner where no electricity exists.
In real life I have examples too. Not of magic, but of energy manipulation. If you’ve practiced Reiki, or heard of Reiki, it is a manipulation of energy used for healing. This is much easier to work with in a quiet, natural location. It’s much harder to focus the mind, a use or manipulation of natural energy, where appliances hum and our loud urban lives dominate.
So. Those are my reasons. What are yours? If you do use magical powers in an electric world, do you account for interference at all, or is it just part of the modern world and the magic and electric are separate and apart?
Keep a watch on Claire’s blog, where she will be posting the opposite viewpoint, in favor of magic in the mundane world.