Friday, August 27, 2010

Interview with a Wizard

The wizard in my book, The Shard, is a bit of an enigma and also a real headache for me. I wished to write the book with him as one of the POV characters, thus allowing me to present the science fiction aspects of the story to readers, but this would have made the book far too long (it is 130,000 words without his chapters) and adding the sci-fi elements would have made selling the book more difficult. So, I decided to make the book stand-alone as fantasy, with only hints within the story of its more complex underpinnings. I can't say I'm happy about having to do it that way, but agents these days seem pretty hard-line about book length.

I did a post that described my wizard Xax, but I figured it could be fun to interview him also. Everyone knows this, but I want to reiterate that all of this is my copyright. (I'm normally not paranoid about these things, but this particular post contains some important things from my WIP).

Me: Pardon me for saying so, but you don't look much like a wizard.

Heh! Yeah, well, that's because I still don't think of myself as a wizard. Strange, I've lived more than six thousand years here on this planet, yet those first 63 years lived on Earth are what made me feel like my true self. I still see myself as a Russian and a scientist. I'm a wizard here because I have little choice. Much of what I knew from Earth doesn't apply here, and my friends and I who landed here happened to be the only ones who can overtly manipulate the energy that they call magic.

You don't view it as magic?

I don't know. I have so many thoughts on all this stuff. You know, all of us scientists were agnostics, but arriving on this world threw everything out of whack. Evolution just doesn't work this way. If there is life, it should have evolved along its own distinct paths, not mimicked that of Earth. Seeing wolves and elm trees and so on really messed with our minds.

Then, once we began to 'see' this energy flowing through everything, it gave us ideas. It appears to run through every atom, so in theory it must flow between everything in the universe. Our first inclination was to default back to Earth-think and imagine that we were wrong about God or gods. It seemed like there was a pattern, so it must have been purposely created, right? Later we decided that we were being foolish. It seemed far more likely that there is simply a resonance or echo of some sort transmitted through this energy, such that any habitable planet will follow this similar pattern of life.

But there are some living things here that are different from Earth...

True, but we still see resonance involved. Whatever happens to live here does in fact appear on Earth in some form, most of it in actual life but some merely within our legends. Therefore we posited that there are some people on each planet that are more attuned to the energy resonance and can have visions or dreams of other habitable worlds. Thus, the stories on Earth that appear to be strictly legends in fact came from the minds of those more closely attuned to what was happening on sister planets.

And magic?

We found that we could manipulate the energy in some minor ways, though it was exhausting to do so. The greater the feat, the more draining it was. There were no guidebooks on how to do this, so we had to experiment and make everything up on our own. We are far weaker as wizards than any fictional wizard I ever read about back home.

Okay, tell us about your name. You weren't called Xax on Earth, right?

No, but I used to spend a lot of time playing Web-sim role playing games, and my favorite character was a wizard named Xaxanakis.

How did you pronounce that?

It only looks hard. It's pronounced zax-AN-a-kiss. They just call me Xax here.

So, you took the same name of one of your gaming characters? What year was this?

The last year I recall from Earth was 2138. Yes, we decided that our original names simply didn't fit in well with the linguistic tones of this world. Since we were being forced into the role of wizards, it seemed appropriate to take on a name that sounded like a wizard's name. I already had one. One of my friends wanted to call himself Gandalf, but I convinced him that the Tolkien family would track him down across the universe and kill him.

You're probably right! Can you tell us how you came here?

Back home on Earth our group perfected a couple of critical things needed for a relative immortality. We first perfected cloning. It was meant for military purposes. We also perfected the capture of information from the mind and digitalizing it through our slot interfaces. Essentially we proved that a soul doesn't exist. Once we overcame the body’s inclination to reject certain things, we could successfully imprint mind data back into a younger cloned version of one's body.

We not only saw this as providing a form of immortality where the original body still ages and dies but you get to continue living on in a new copy of your own body, but we saw the means to win the race to the first habitable planets. While China and the U.S. were building massive generation ships, we beat them to the punch by building a small, fast ship with no one manning it. The ship had a set of automated creches that could clone our own bodies over a twenty year period. Once it arrived and confirmed that life indeed existed on the planet, it kicked off the cloning cycle and reconstituted our group...only young again.

Later we found that our bodies interacted with this world entirely differently than it does with the natives. We found that we weren't aging. Or, at least it seemed that way at first. When we met the elves and found that they didn't age, we assumed that the magic energy interacted with our bodies in some way to rejuvenate them. However, the elves never seem to age, while we actually do but very slowly. After six thousand years, I look like a middle-aged man, though I was twenty years old physically when I landed here.

This is fascinating stuff, and I could go on forever, but I think my readers will find it overwhelming. Perhaps we can continue another time. Thanks, Xax!

You are most welcome!


  1. This is fascinating! Thanks Ted (and Xax).

    One thing that confused me though is that in the beginning he says he spent 63 years on Earth, but he was only twenty when he landed on The Shard planet? Was there a space-time continuum wormhole put to use or something?

  2. That is some first-rate world-building! I love your take on the Science/Magic comparison. Keep us posted on when it's out...

  3. Thanks, guys. Matt, he was 63 at the time they captured the mind recording that was sent on the ship. It was then infused into a twenty year old clone body (using his own DNA of course).

  4. Fascinating! Maybe you need to do a separate book on Xax alone.

  5. Hah, thats a fantastic idea to interview your character. Xax sounds amazing :)

  6. ted- that is so so so cool! i'm with alex on this one! you must def work on a xax book! and LOL about tolkien's family tracking the guy down!!
    i love this kind of science fiction! the kinds that are more biology-related than machine!
    super super cool!

  7. Intriguing! I like the sci-fi/fantasy blend you've got going here. Kinda reminds me of Terry Brooks' ideas about a far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far post-apocalyptic future with druids and river gods and such.

    Makes me think I should hurry up and finish critting your manuscript too. *sigh*

  8. I like that idea of immortality. It's brilliant.
    Great world building in there. Way to go!

  9. Lydia, that's the part I worry about someone else using. Maybe it has been used before, but I have never seen it. I've always seen immortality done within the original body, while I think my method is more likely. I do see the possibility in the not too distant future of being able to digitalize what we have in our minds. Thus, the ability to make us 'live' again within another container, perhaps even our own reconstituted bodies, seems very realistic to me.

    I've also never seen anyone do the colonization of another planet the way that I suggest, by having a ship with no living beings on it do the travelling and only upon reaching the destination then recreating the colonists.

  10. This is such a great idea to do with a character -- especially where magic and world building are involved. Thanks for sharing!

  11. How enlightening!... and a fabulous idea. Mind if I steal it?

  12. Interesting character interview. I may have to try that.

  13. I love this deeper look at the ideas underlying your world! I had heard the broad strokes of it, but you really have a well-developed plan here! Fabulous!

  14. Oh, Hart, you wouldn't believe how much background info I have. I have four books laid out for now, and an entire history for everything. I could have gone on for hours just interviewing this character and never even come close to running out of material. I just hope I get the chance to publish someday.

  15. Now, Ted, this is good writing. This was so easy to read. And, with regard to length of your story and not getting to certain things - you know you could just give him his own book, explore what you didn't get to.

  16. Wendy, that is the plan for my third book. The WIP takes place on Earth and is a sci-fi action/suspense story that details some of what is written above. The next story is also a prequel to my first book, and Xax would be the main character. The fourth book is the only sequel I have planned, and details the arrival of one of the generation ships from Earth, sort of like Christopher Columbus landing in the Americas.

  17. Awesome exercise! I'll be doing this w/my characters.

  18. Great interview...tons of fun. Thanks for sharing. :)