Sunday, 9 September 2012

Magic And Goetics

Poul Anderson's "Operation..." series began with the same premise as Robert Heinlein's "Magic, Inc.":

magic works and is practised like a set of technologies.

The series presents not any new premise but some new implications of Heinlein's premise. However, the concluding novel, Operation Luna (New York, 2000), changes the premise.

First, new terminology is coined. The characters practise "goetics"; magic was merely protogoetics.


"...goetic quantum-wave transference across a potential difference..." (p. 99)

 is a new energy source and all energy, whether from fuel, goetics, a waterfall etc, is conserved. Thus, Operation Luna,and retroactively the earlier "Operation..." stories, are science fiction (sf) whereas their inspiration, "Magic, Inc.," about supernaturally based magic, was fantasy.

Operation Luna presents a history of goetics.

The Stone Age

There were mammoths, bears and cave men but also dragons, centaurs, elves and even "half-world...plants..." (p. 126). Dead half-world organisms dissolve in sunlight and natural chemistry and therefore leave no fossils. This difference caused human fear or abhorrence so that Stone Age art shows little or nothing of the half-world. Some shamans contacted it but warlocks and witches mainly tried to control the elements.

The Bronze Age

Warrior aristocrats discouraged any magical challenge to their power but diviners etc practiced their arts and paranatural Beings flourished beyond areas controlled by humanity.

The Iron Age

As ferrous materials spread, ferromagnetism cancelled rheatic forces, the paranatural ecology withered and the Beings began their Long Sleep. European dwarfs withdrew underground because, although unharmed by iron, they had lost their trade with gods and Faerie and their goetically charged jewelry, weapons etc became unacceptable to human beings now abhorring paganism and witchcraft.

The Goetic Age

Instead of Einstein originating relativity theory and Planck originating quantum theory, they cooperated to originate rheatics. Moseley applied rheatics to degaussing the effects of cold iron, thus releasing the goetic forces from their electromagnetic inhibition. The Sleepers Awoke but to a changed world:

"...wilderness reduced to a few enclaves...goetics...essentially a new set of technologies..." (p. 48)

Some of the Fair Folk fled to the Moon. To avoid sunlight, they must travel back and forth between Earth and Moon only during an eclipse.

Thus, Operation Luna considerably extends the story as told in Operation Chaos.

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