Conservation of mass by shapeshifters

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Wed Aug 30 13:38:09 EDT 2000


On Wed, 30 Aug 2000 11:39:53 -0400 (EDT), Mary Ann Dimand wrote:

>I think Melissa *could* have been thinking of Power of Three, in which I
>think there's a suggestion of mass-energy conservation.

Wait, sorry, I was not clear here.  The person was talking about
conservation of mass *not* being an issue for shapeshifters and I'd read
something like that recently--it was actually something someone said, about
how humans had these ideas about shapeshifting not being possible because of
the mass issue, and they just didn't get it.  It was possibly _Changer_ by
Jane Lindskold (which I read by recommendation from this list) but it seems
a more recent memory than that, like in the last two weeks.

> When Hafny morphed
>into a full-grown Dorig warrior, he was spread out so thin he could scarcely
>speak. And it gets cold nearby when Dorig morph.
>
>I also liked it in Sheri Tepper's Game novels when it was mentioned that
>using one's gamesmanly powers took energy, which could be swiped from
>civilians. (And of course sorcerers were sort of power batteries.) It wasn't
>appealed to much, though, and I'm not sure that use was consistent.

I personally think it's interesting when authors come up with "scientific"
explanations for fantastic/magical things, or explore the ramifications of
their magic (like with the Dorig morphing and making the area colder).  I
also like it when it's purely "magical" and things like normal physical law
don't apply.

This makes me realize why certain kinds of fantasy don't exist on a planet:
that's an extended model that implies the existence of a universe and
physical laws.  If you have, to stick with the above example, a story about
shapeshifters who don't conserve mass, you can either simply take it for
granted or you can evolve a new set of fantasy rules.  If the former, then
the story is taking place in a world--a polder, maybe--because you have no
framework in place to create the larger universe beyond the confines of your
story.  One of the best examples of this is Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster
books (also a case of non-conservation of mass).

And now you've got me not doing what I *should* be doing, which is going to
the store for food....the discussion is not only recreational, but
addictive!

Melissa Proffitt
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