F&H and retrospective magic

Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk Philip.Belben at powertech.co.uk
Tue Aug 20 12:00:21 EDT 2002

I meant to tack this onto my F&H reply, considering how that hangs on
retroactive magic.  Oh well.

Kathleen wrote:

> This next questions starts from F&H but isn't really about it. In Australia,
> it is unconstitutional for  laws to operate retrospectively. But how does
> this apply to the laws of magic. Can magic operate retrospectively?  It's
> one thing to magically KNOW something that has always been, but can someone,
> at a definite point in time, CREATE something that has always been? I
> suppose there'd be a fair tangling up of Here Now and Nowhere for this to
> happen. Certainly time-travel stories dabble in this. Any thoughts/ideas

We had a wonderful discussion about changing the past and/or tangling the chain
of cause and effect wrt Time of the Ghost not too long ago.  I suppose that's a
time travel story.

(For a great time slip fantasy, I have to recommend Nicholas Fisk's "Time Trap".
The universe there gets into a circular cause and effect situation.  Then one
must add Tanith Lee's "The Winter Players", in which the universe gets out of

One piece of retroactive magic I liked was in Donaldson's chronicles of Thomas
Covenant (Can't remember which book.  Don't want to wade through all that
verbosity again to find out, either...).  They summon the horses and the horses
immediately appear.  It then transpires that it had taken the horses weeks to
get there in response to the summons.

Anyway, as I said in my previous reply, I think retroactive magic has to be
explicit in some way, as in Witch Week.  I also believe that you cannot change
the past, but that this condition does not preclude events in the past having
causes in the future.  My interpretation of fantasy will often be coloured by
these ideas.  FWIW.


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