the nature of magic

Dorian E. Gray israfel at
Mon Jan 15 15:21:25 EST 2001

Robyn said...
> >Oh, I so agree!  I've been having dreadful trouble with the shapeshifters
> >the book I'm writing, because they *must* obey the Law of Conservation of
> >Mass, but then what happens when a 2' long dragon transforms into a 5'6"
> >human?  (Or vice versa)
> There are a couple of okay books by Mercedes Lackey and someone (Andre
> Norton?) called Elvenblood and something similar

"Elvenbane" is the other one; I actually own both!

> ANYWAY, the books deal with shapeshifting dragons and they have
> some cool solutions to the mass thing. When they go down in size, the
> mass goes into the 'out' which seems to be a spirit plane or similar,

Yeah, David Eddings uses a similar notion for his shapeshifting.  But I just
don't like it; it feels like a cop-out to me.

This is why I'm so pleased with myself about remembering that matter =
energy; when going from dragon to human, the dragon just has to absorb extra
energy which it then uses as matter to make the new body, and going the
other way, the excess matter can either be discharged as energy on the spot,
or stored for later discharge, hence fire-breathing.  It's just so neat and
tidy, and conforms at least vaguely to the laws of physics.

> The books are
> not great but they are full of interesting ideas about magic,

Yes, that's rather how I feel about them. :-)

> including an
> exploration of the difference between being able to do big powerful magic
> and little fine detail magic.

Which, now that I think of it, is something that I haven't really gone into
in my books; magic comes in four "brands" (witchcraft, wizardry, sorcery and
enchantment), but I've never really thought about big and little stuff
within those divisions.  Hm.  This may need some consideration...

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at

"Fashion exists for women with no taste, etiquette for people with no
--Queen Marie of Romania

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