Monday, April 23, 2007

International Pixel Stained Technopeasant Day

As my contribution to Jo Walton's "International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day" I am webbing the first two chapters of my new novel Salamander.


Mike Hammock said...

So far, I like it a great deal--much more than Harald. Of course, at this point I am mostly judging it on style, but it's very pleasant in that regard. I already find the characters more interesting than I found anyone in Harald.

Also, I look forward to a book that provides a sensible treatment of magic. I'm sure you will have considered the economic ramifications of magic as an alternative form of technology, and look forward to the ways this affects the story and the setting.

Matt Brubeck said...

Awesome! I haven't started it yet, but I liked Harald.

Any chance that Harald will end up in the Baen Free Library? It would be great promotion for both Harald and Salamander...

David Friedman said...

Matt is certainly free to suggest to Baen that they include Harald in the free library. I wouldn't object.

At the moment I am waiting to see if they like Salamander.

So far as Mike's comment, while I have certainly thought about the economic implications, I don't think I have any striking and non-obvious conclusions.

I thought more about trying to construct a believable "science" of magery noticeably different from ones other writers had used. An important element in the background is that the story is happening about fifty years after their equivalent of Newton made the breakthroughs that started the slow process of converting magery from a craft into a science.

Arthur B. said...

I really enjoyed reading the first chapter. I found the part on linear algebra of the elements funny and witty but a bit overdone although someone less familiar with it would probably enjoy it more that way.

Speaking of which (witch), since elements are not that big of a deal, something you learn to relativize very soon, how come do they still speak of "fire mage" and not of "hot mages" or "dry mages", why do the mage categories fit the elements if they are not that relevant? Maybe that's explained later. Anyway, I will grab a copy when it prints.

Mike Hammock said...

A few possibilities in regard to magic and economics that occur to me:
-Occupational licensing could be a source of conflcit (this is briefly hinted at in the free chapters, although a character rejects it, saying he wants more mages, not fewer).
-Government regulation of mages for safety or antitrust reasons. Or perhaps their competitors--those with mundane technology--don't like the competition. On the other hand, I suppose the "Ministry of Magic" has already been done elsewhere.
-What if magic creates negative externalities somewhere else? Every time a witch casts a spell, a plant dies somewhere, for example.

David Friedman said...

Arthur asks about labeling of mages. The question is discussed later in the book, and answered by Ellen:

"For one thing, mages get described both by what they do and by how they do it, sometimes the same mage by both.

"A weaving mage is a mage whose power is mostly in the weaving point of the combinatorial basis star. A healing mage is one who uses her power to heal people. One of the ways of healing people is by weaving, not weaving cloth but weaving damaged flesh back together, so a healer might be a weaving mage.

"But she doesn't have to be, because there are other powers that can be used to heal—including all of the points of that particular star. A mage with power to refine could use it to filter poisons out of someone's blood or to fuse the poison with something else that made it harmless; fusing is refining done backwards, like weaving and untangling. So a healer is someone who has learned ways of using magic to heal. A weaving mage or a refining mage is someone who uses that particular kind of magic."

David Friedman said...

Mike mentions occupational licensing; I'm afraid he is one book further than I am. The sequel, which I'm thinking my way through at present, occurs partly in the neighboring country of Forstmark. They have a mage's guild which at least attempts to maintain a monopoly over the practice of magery--and look with some scorn on Esland, the country Salamander is set in, for not having magery properly organized.