One man’s science is another wizard’s magic

Kurt Vonnegut said, “Science is magic that works.” This is a true statement that has evolved our way of thinking for centuries. I mean, Copernicus and Galileo were condemned as heretics for proving scientific theory over popular belief. This trend has also been found through the writings of Jules Verne, Ray Bradbury and others.

Its one of the reasons I love “steampunk” so much. Yes, I know, it’s technically not considered magic, but combining modern technology with something “old fashion” is along that line. Magic is considered, by many, to be ancient so, in a way, they’re similar. Bringing science and magic together just seems like a logical approach. Think about it this way, in referencing the classic novel Frankenstein.

“Frankenstein’s chemistry is to, quote James Rieger, switche –on magic, souped-up alchemy, the electrification of Agrippa and Paracelcus…..He wants the forbidden…He is a criminal magician who employs up–to-date tools.” –Solanki Sardarsinh

In fantasy writing, we use magic as a science… Alchemy, astrology, etc. The elements of science–fire, water, earth, and air–are all a part of magic. Magic is, in a sense, science we can’t yet explain, and tha’s what makes it fun.

I think that’s why many science fiction writers often find themselves delving into fantasy and the supernatural. Terry Brooks is one of my favorite fantasy authors, and yet the Shannara series could be viewed as post-apocalyptic science fiction as well as fantasy. It has elements from both, like many novels. Think about Star Wars… Han Solo was skeptical of the Force when he said, “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.”

I mean, when you think anout it, what is magic? Well, magic is manipulating the energy of the universe. In science, a nuclear explosion can be accomplished through scientific method and practical use. In magic, it’s a level 50 fireball.

“Magic’s just science that we don’t understand yet. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke

Sure, if I had a few degrees under my belt with years of scientific research, I could explain magic as science, but why bother. Half the fun is reaching into the unknown and pulling back from it, curiouser than before. Let’s look at magic not from the evil, supernatural perspective but rather as a form of science that is just outside the boundaries of our understanding. That’s what makes writing about it so much fun.




Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The Heroic Spirits of the Fate anime series are the inspiration of fantasy writers

e32873a2b5cb427baed9a682d544b3c4Recently, another of my anime obsessions has led me to the “Fate” series (Fate/Zero. Fate/Stay Night, and Fate/Apocrphya). There are more than these three in the series, but that’s all I’ve watched so far. It’s not just the intricate storylines, the fast-paced fighting, or the beautiful animation that drew me in. As a fantasy writer, the heroic spirits are what truly facinated me.

To give you the basic background on the Fate series… Over the centuries, mages have been fighting for a chance to claim “the ultimate wish granter” … The Holy Grail. However, this is not some ordinary mages’ duel. They summon “heroic spirits” to fight for them. These spirits are pulled from history, with some changes to their capabilities, power, and even gender. They are broken down into seven classes:  Saber, Archer, Lancer, Rider, Caster, Bezerker, and Assassin. The spirits are controlled through “command seals” given to the mages when they are selected by the grail to compete in the Holy Grail War.

These anime’s have such unique and complex characters, in both the masters and the servants (as the mages and spirits are called respectfuly). The mages range from teenagers just learning about their powers as a mage to older, more experienced mages. The servants are from every possible time frame, from both history and literature. From Joan of Arc, King Arthur, Alexander the Great, Achilles and Gil Gamesh, to Mordred, Frankenstein, Jack the Ripper, Shakespeare, and Dracula, these spirits are transformed into amazing characters, beyond their original form into pure fantasy. These reimagined characters are what fantasy writers dream of.

Black_Berserker_full_2158619One of my favorites of this series was the reimagined Frankenstein monster. She (yes, I said “she”) was a beautiful creature with immense power. When I first saw her, I did not even think Frankenstein, and yet there are incredible subtleties within this character that you don’t expect. She doesn’t speak, except in grunts and groans. She wields a lightning mace (that resembles the equipment from Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory) that can release an electrical strike that can wipe out a forest. There are unusual attachments on her head, incuding something resembling a unicorn horn, that’s almost “steampunk” in nature. Yet, through all this power and ferocity (she is a Bezerker class) there is a delicate child inside. In one scene, she sits in a field, looking at flowers, reminding me of the monster from the movie, and yet, I don’t see the monster. And neither did her master. She was, at times, breathtaking.

They really enjoy these gender swapped characters in the Fate anime series, and to be honest, I don’t mind. Their gender may have changed, but the charater’s true pirit is still there. King Arthur, the King of Knights, is still the king haunted by his failures and his desire for justice. Mordred is even more complex and ever so serious as a woman, but you end up rooting for her. Jack the Ripper is a “loli” who dresses like a dominatrix and eats the hearts of mages for strength. Wierd, right? In the end, it’s not the gender that matters but the characters themselves.

One of the best episodes of the Fate/Zero series was a sit down between the three kings … Saber (King Arthur, King of Knights), Rider (Iskandar or Alexander the Great, King of Kings), and Archer (Gil Gamesh, King of Heroes). They all sat around, drinking, discussing what makes a great king. You get such a earful of Gil Gamesh’s arrogance, Iskandar laughing and drinking, and Saber pondering her role as king. It was a treat to watch this magical exchange of ideaology and philosophy.

My only complaint about this series is how overpowered some of the characters can be. They each exhibit what’s called their “Noble Phantasm” — a powerful magic that can overcome other servants and masters. Many of them don’t even show off their Noble Phantasm right away, because if they show their “trump card” to their opponent too early, they may lose their advantage. As fascinating as their Noble Phantasms are, they are so overpowered, it borders on ridiculous, even for anime (which has a history of overpowered characters).

If you haven’t seen any of the Fate anime series, I highly recommend it. They are available on Netflix, Crunchyroll, and other anime viewing sites. When you learn who some of these heroic spirits are, you will be surprised and inspired.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Classic monster movies are a necessity when Halloween is near

I can honestly say that I love classic sci-fi/horror movies. I grew up watching them on Saturday afternoons on TV or late at night as part of the “Doctor Demento” movie showcase. I really consider them an essential part of my development as a sci-fi/fantasy writer. Their stories may be a little campy, and somewhat dated, but oh so fun to watch.

I think everyone has their own opinion on their favorite movies, I have a few that, to me are essential for any sci-fi/horror fan to watch. Some of these have been remade and update with modern movie magic, but the originals are still the best.

them-movie-poster-1954-1020544319Them (1954) — The earliest atomic tests in New Mexico cause common ants to mutate into giant man-eating monsters that threaten civilization. This movie has an all-star cast, including James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus from Miracle on 34th Street). In the early days of the atomic bomb, scientists didn’t really know how radiation would affect people, insects, animals, etc. It wasn’t the giant ants that were scary in this movie, but the sound they made. When you heard that sound, it made chills run down your spine, kind of like the music from Friday the 13th when Jason Voorhees was near. The best scene was when they were talking to the little girl who survived the attack and, when she hears the sound of the ants, and shouts out “Them! Them!” It really makes the movie seem real and terrifying.

Dracula1931posterDracula (1931) — The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina. Before vampires became sparkly boy-toys, there was Count Dracula. Bela Lugosi is, and always will be, the one and only Dracula. This is the role that, unfortunately, typecast him so that he rarely did any other roles outside the famous vampire; but at the same time, it is a role he will always be remembered for. He doesn’t bare the classic fangs we see in vampires today, but he was terrifying none the least. It is amazing to see the huge sets and dark, scary places associated with the classic story. Though it’s been told and retold, time and time again, this is still the original and the best one there is.

4f153e3f1cf3c9f62bb2456bd2d1d857--gene-barry-classic-sci-fi-moviesWar of the Worlds (1953) — A small town in California is attacked by Martians, beginning a worldwide invasion. Though Orson Wells radio show started the hysteria around this adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel, the movie brought it to life. It even won an Academy Award for visual effects, influencing countless science fiction movies in the years to come. The death and destruction reigned down on the people of Earth was overwhelming. It also showed the ugly side of man, as they tear each other apart to escape the horror. Even in the end, when they died from something simple as bacteria, it demonstrated that we (human beings) are not the most powerful beings in the universe. This movie is always on the top of my watch list.

Thing-PosterThe Thing from Another World (1951) — Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost. Many think John’s Carpenters The Thing is the best version of this story, but I beg to differ. This is, without a doubt, the best and the scariest there is. When battling aliens, it’s hard to imagine a fight like this:  A crashed spaceship, a frozen alien pilot, alien plant-life that grows on human blood, and more. The creature itself was terrifying to watch. His bloodthirsty nature was an integral part of the story, as was the idiot scientist who thought he could control it. Battling the creature in the freezing arctic made it even more difficult. This is an essential science fiction classic for everyone to see, but my advice is don’t watch it alone.

Abbott_and_Costello_Meet_Frankenstein_poster-1-Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) — Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein monster and the Wolfman. Okay, it’s not a scary movie, but it’s too damn funny to ignore. Abbott and Costello ran into various classic movie monsters in a series of movies, but this one is the best. This movie has the original Dracula (Bela Lugosi), the original Wolfman (Lon Chaney, Jr.) and even a cameo by Vincent Price as the Invisible Man. It has so many great scenes that combined scary and funny. When Lou Costello was reading the description of Dracula and the coffin lid kept opening and closing, or when he goes into the Wolfman’s room and he keeps missing the monster’s attacks are side-splitting laughter to watch. This is a don’t miss movie.

There are a few honorable mentions like Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Time Machine (1960), The Wolfman (1941), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and Godzilla (1954). I’m sure there are a few I missed, so please add your favorites to the comments. Just pop the popcorn, turn off the lights, and put in the dvd. Just remember to watch it with a friend.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.