Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Spheres--A Fantasy Story World Based on a type of "Scientific" Magic
Taking a break from my Combat Realism series of blog posts for a bit, I've decided to share a concept for a new kind of fantasy story.
The kernel of the story idea came from Francis Godwin's 1638 book, The Man in the Moone, in which a Spaniard flies to the moon in chariot drawn by geese. Of course geese can't fly to the moon because there isn't air for them to breathe along the way. And even if there was air between the Earth and the moon, the distance is so far--roughly far enough to equal going all the way around the planet Earth in a circle ten times--the geese would never have the energy to make it all the way. (Of course Godwin was not writing with the lack of atmosphere or true distance in mind.)
"But what if," my mind was wondering, "What if there was a fantasy world in which you really could fly a goose-drawn chariot to another planet? What would that story world be like?"
I immediately seized on the notion that gravity would have to be different. You can't bring large astronomical bodies like the Earth and the moon too close together because gravitationally-caused tidal forces would rip the smaller body apart and do a great deal of damage to the larger. So I decided to change gravity so large astronomical bodies could be closer. I messed around with the equation for gravity in several ways to see if it could be strong enough at a short distance to allow things to seem more or less normal, but still allow major astronomical bodies to do things gravity as we know it does not allow.
I'm not a mathematician, but I wrangled with the problem for awhile and did not really find any solution that provided exactly what I was looking for. So I decided that gravity would have to be artificial in such a fantasy world, that is, deliberately altered on a case-by-case basis to make such an environment possible. And following that thought inspired the rest of this story idea.
Spheres (I intend to write stories in this story universe and will welcome other writers to join me) will feature a world that is Earthlike in most respects, orbiting a sun like ours. But nearby this planet will be a number of other planets, at least a dozen or so, all no greater than 50,000 miles or so apart, bodies from much smaller than the home world to significantly larger. All of these will be enveloped in an massive over-atmosphere of oxygen that all the worlds swim in, allowing travel between them by extremely hardy flying birds (most birds couldn't make the distance) and would allow special sailing ships between the worlds to chart the distance between the planets from the winds that flow between them.
This would happen because the force of gravity would be under the control of powerful wizards, who with effort, manipulate it at will. So the massive over-atmosphere does not slow down orbiting planets so they crash (wizards make adjustments to prevent that) and they also would be responsible to reduce the force of gravity between planets to keep them from rendering each other asunder.
In ancient Greek thought, everything was composed of the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air. My mind in a flash realized modern science has identified four forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Wouldn't it be interesting if the practitioners of "gravity magic" never though of it that way? Instead they would think of themselves as being in control of "earth" and their type of magic (gravity control) as being "earth magic." In like fashion, wizards that control electromagnetism would see themselves as being in control of "air magic" (because light and lightning flashes and even magnetism are easy enough to associate with air). Those who have the power to dissolve the strong bonds of atomic nuclei or manipulate those bonds in other ways would see themselves as practitioners of "fire magic," from something very much like inner fire that really IS at the center of all matter. The weak nuclear force, responsible for radioactivity, does not relate to water very well in truth (except for the ability to make water glow blue), but nonetheless, imagine those who manipulate radioactivity with magical powers thinking of themselves as performing "water magic."
Thus the story world of Spheres would be dominated by powerful schools of wizards at odds with each other, but ALL of their magic would be based on manipulation of the four known scientific forces, with the consequences of such manipulations occurring as modern science would understand, though described in radically different terms in the thought of the story world itself. Of course not everyone in the story world would be a user of magic at all, not even close, so the key feature of this fictional universe would not be the magic per se but rather the many worlds having a great deal of contact with one another, in an entirely different way from any other fantasy story I'm familiar with.
Like my recent Medieval Mars story world, I plan to write a base story for Spheres, then seek other authors willing to participate in an anthology of stories set in this fictional universe. Medieval Mars needs work first, so I'm not going to be ready to launch Spheres for several months yet.
But if you think you'd be interested in reading Spheres, or better yet, be interested in contributing stories to such a fantasy universe, please let me know in the comments below the post. Thanks! :)