Forum:Requesting fiction writing feedback; what would make you "believe in magic?"

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I'm writing some superhero prose stories, emulating the "kitchen sink" approach of classic Marvel and DC. Aliens, robots, alien robots, etc. Naturally, one of the components is magic. Part of the backstory is that sorcerers have been around basically forever, but, Harry Potter style, hide evidence of the magical world.

However, this masquerade eventually gets broken. Now, I want it to happen in a big, public, undeniable way. My idea at the moment is that my Dr. Strange ripoff is forced into battle with a five-story-tall demon in the middle of Times Square with lots of property damage and injuries, although no fatalities. In this age of the Internet and social media, the story spreads uncontrollably, and the sorcerers give up hiding the magical world and come out in public.

As the fiction continues, governments, businesses, and universities all start pouring research into magic, and eventually it comes to be seen as basically a different branch of science with different rules, but ones that can be understood, and even melded with more conventional science.

What I want to know is, do you think this would be enough to convince the world in general and you in particular, or should I use something else? I grew up believing in all the paranormal stuff, and I still wistfully wish it was real, so I don't want to just use myself as a test bed. All feedback appreciated, thanks! Thanos6 (talk) 06:42, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

In the words of Tim Minchin, show me that it works and how it works. Personally, the second half of that statement is the most important. "That it works" can be faked (happens all the time in stage shows) but "how it works" is a lot more compelling. That being said, be careful to keep the technobabble to a minimum in any work of fiction. I seem to recall that there was a short story that had faster-than-light travel that was embarrassingly easy and our scientists had just missed it until spacefaring aliens with muskets tried to conquer the planet… the story had scientists talking about how silly the felt that they’d missed it and in retrospect they should have figure out hyper-warp-whatever drive centuries ago all without going into the specifics. It was compelling and believable… maybe something like that is your best bet. AlvidBarza (talk) 18:08, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Oh, I'm not going to go into too much technobabble. Just enough to provide a reason, without going into too much detail as to how it actually works; "genetic tampering," "nanobots," "experimental compounds," "exotic radiation," basically nothing more in-depth than any of those. Magic itself will remain unexplained; some of the characters figure out how it works, but the readers never do. (That summary you posted reminds me of Discworld's "Slood" which is easier to discover than fire and would completely change the world.) Thanos6 (talk) 18:28, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Aha! I found the story. The Road Not Taken by Harry Turtledove.AlvidBarza (talk) 18:40, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
Ah, Turtledove. I think I'll pass then; his counterhistory can be decent but I don't care for how he writes characters (when there comes a point where you're actively rooting for the aliens to crush humanity and conquer Earth, the author has probably failed :) ). Thanos6 (talk) 18:43, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
I totally understand but I would encourage you to read this one. Its a short story so isn't much of an investment, raises some interesting ideas, and isn't much like the rest of his stuff. I feel like there is a version that is downloadable somewhere (probably not legally, but there you go) might be worth a lunch break or something.AlvidBarza (talk) 19:03, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

"and eventually it comes to be seen as basically a different branch of science with different rules ..." Wouldn't it stop being "magic" at this point? Or perhaps you need to define your terms a bit more?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:50, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Well, it starts out as (for lack of a better term) pure, if comic-booky, magic. Your typical Dr. Strange type stuff: "By the All-Seeing Agamotto, the Omnipotent Oshtur, and the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, I command you be gone!" But when the sorcerers start cooperating with the scientists and let themselves be rationally studied, they start going through and winnowing out the theatrics and anything else unnecessary, and slice it down to what's actually required to get the desired result. And they start refining it; the pure magic way of throwing a fireball can have a thousand unintentional minor variations that produce a thousand unintentional minor variations in the fireball. But then they get the "formula" for how to get exactly the fireball you want every single time. I'd say it's by this time that it's merged with science. Does that help? Thanos6 (talk) 21:02, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

I am intrigued by the idea of mixing 'kitchen sink' with likes of superheroes and harry potter. I shouldn't think you would need to go into detail about how magic or for that matter science fiction elements work. Probably best to keep it vague to prevent science types missing the point and declaring your fantasy/science fiction as unscientific. Just keep the logic consistent to the world you are creating with clear limits. Superheroes are essentially magicians made to look science fictio already. Nothing done in harry potter hasn't already been done in x-men. AMassiveGay (talk) 21:48, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Wow magic must be closer to math then sports because, people suck at doing the same thing twice that's for robots. a simple example would be how few perfect games of bowling get played. In any event there are always people more and less receptive to ideas. As we know well here, the world has a lot of people able to deny anything that doesn't directly happen in from of their face, and believe in things that don't even make sense. That said a five-story-tall demon is strong evidence. It is a somewhat well known fact that biology can't support something that large, and giant robots are awesome but impractical(for some of the same reasons+balance is hard). Possibly the largest moving objects are boats and those aren't exactly agile, and also are supported by water, which helps too. If the demon leaves a corpse that's more physical evidence. that said one event is one event, it's easy to dismiss something that happens once and never intrudes in daily life again. I can understand why someone would find it hard to believe in something like relativity for example. It's not exactly easy to find everyday examples of relativistic effects. In the beginning your going to get a fair amount of skepticism about a five story tall demon especially in unfriendly nations half way around the world. Side note: I'm dieing to hear what countries that refer to America as the "great Satan" make of this. or Religious fun-dies in general there might be some large hostility. Even if people accept it depending on the rarity of magic it might not make much of a difference. I believe in kangaroos but it doesn't really matter my life would be similar if I didn't(bad example but you get the idea). Also an interesting question is how the law would handle magic. Does it count as assault with a deadly weapon if someone uses magic? Probably, the fists of a trained boxer are a weapon. Can you copy-write or patent a magic? not sure what the law says exactly. As to weather or not magic is science maybe. some of the tools in science give incompatible or incomplete answers when combined so it's not really a problem if magic contradicts the laws of physics, it could still be science. For example if you have a very large amount of matter in a very small place you start having to drag in Newtonian mechanics, relativistic effects, quantum effects and then some. needless to say these laws aren't exactly meant to be used at the same time and some of the answers are truly bizarre. Also you know it's only a story, you only have to take it as seriously as you want. I don't think the societal effects of the reveal of magic are going to be your main focus, though you could probably write a book on that. --NonPerson (talk) 01:02, 18 July 2014 (UTC)
It won't be my main focus, but it'll definitely be a running background theme. Thanos6 (talk) 02:01, 18 July 2014 (UTC)