28 January 2011

Post 307 Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Sausages by Tom Holt. ISBN: 9780316080026.

I've always appreciated people who look at things a little off kilter, so I was rather tickled when one of the characters decided that magic had to be something inexplicable that still followed some set of rules or logic. It makes sense really, to think that magic might have some basis in scientific principles, only it hasn't been figured out exactly how those principles work just yet.

Holt didn't really take this as far as he could have. For instance, the only magic we get to experience in this particular novel revolves around an object, although it is hinted that there are additional forms of magic related to the Professionals (a group of people who deal with magic items and potentially other things, but as I stated that was mostly hinted at). The concept did get me to thinking about magic in the Harry Potter world, mostly because despite there being a school of witchcraft and wizardry, no explanation of how magic exists is ever given.

I don't think this is an oversight on Rowling's part. And I don't think knowing would add anything to the story; in fact it might take away some of the, ah, uh, magic as it were. Still, I do find it interesting that there apparently haven't been any studies into the physics and biology and what-have-you of magic in that world. It would be like taking gravity and saying, "Well, I know it works so I don't need to know how it works." Maybe magic is magic for exactly that reason, but I can't imagine that no one in the Harry Potter universe hasn't been even a little curious. It seems to be that there ought to be some enterprising squibs especially who would very much want to know why his parents could do magic but he can't so much as float a feather.

I suppose the fact that there is an academia based around magic in the Harry Potter world makes it stand out from other worlds with magic. It seems most of the other fantasy novels are set in some far away time before science was really formalized and so of course no one has looked into exactly what happens on the molecular level when someone does magic. I do have one theory about the rules of magic though: should anyone come close enough to solving how magic works it will change. The mere fact that someone knows how it works more or less precludes it from being magic. I think we need the mystery and the unknown for it to really be considered magic in our minds, and once we figure it out, it gets relegated to the realms of technology.

Anyone else have any rules or theories about magic?

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Free digital copy provided by NetGalley.

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