Anne B. Walsh - Do you believe in magic?

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Anne's Randomness

The Internet

It's really, really great. And not just for the things the song talks about. (For anyone who's lost, check my Twitter feed, or just go look up "Avenue Q". Not if you're easily offended, though.) It is, as my NaNoWriMo pep talks keep pointing out, both the most wonderful and the most awful thing to happen to writers in probably ever.
The Internet is wonderful because it puts loads of information right at a writer's fingertips, and some of it's even accurate. It's awful because of its easy access to procrastination. Who wants to sit down and write a boring old novel when there are games to play, statuses to update, and arguments to be had with strangers?
Because of this, I can be ambivalent about the place of technology in my stories. It's been a big part of my own life, and most of my readers', but often it meshes oddly with a fantasy world, unless the writer is very good. Sci-fi, such as Killdeer (halfway through the final section!), is another story, but I'll save that for Saturday's post.
On Trycanta, as I've mentioned before, the three continents in which I plan to set novels or series are at different levels of technological advancement. Anosir, setting of Homecoming, is quasi-medieval, though certain things have been remembered from humanity's past and reinvented through magic, in a bit of a nod to steampunk.
But in Anosir, one of the most important things that technology did historically has already been accomplished. The sending of messages faster than a living being can carry them, done on Earth by such things as the telegraph and telephone, happens in Anosir through the locally known human gift of Speech, what we might call telepathy.
On one of the other two continents of Trycanta, Speech is known to certain people to exist, but hidden from the public; children are taught the technique of the mental wall very young and told to never let it down. On the other continent, Speech is blocked by aspects of their power source, and considered mythical in most population centers.
Thus, these two continents need other methods of sending messages, and they've found them. One of them, the Celitar Confederation, may even have developed an equivalent to the Internet, though I'm honestly not sure. It would certainly help with the feeling I want to promote in my readers, that this setting feels like home, but...
Well, but a lot of things. But an Internet-capable society is harder to trick. (Not really; just because people have access to tons of information doesn't make them smarter.) But hidden knowledge is harder to keep hidden in such a society. (See above, and also reference hiding in plain sight/making things too obvious from my other works.)
And possibly my biggest but of all: but I, as the author, don't understand how the Internet works, what's necessary in the world around it to keep it running. How much energy, what kind of support system, what economic and social and technological prerequisites must be in place before such a thing as an Internet can arise?
But then, that's part of what the Internet is for, isn't it? Research. Learning. Finding out the answers to those questions, or at least reasonable facsimiles thereof. Besides, I'm very fond of a scene in the third book of my projected Celitar quartet which would be very difficult, if not impossible, without an Internet-like presence.
So, at least for now, the Internet is indeed really, really great. (Fill in Trekkie Monster's refrain at your own leisure, people, this is a family-friendly blog. Hi Mom.) And yes, I did just say that I have a projected Celitar quartet. I'm planning one in Dulia too, and Homecoming was always meant to be the first of four Anosir books.
What are those stories about? Oh, the same thing as most of my others. Family, friendship, growing up, finding home. Striking a balance between where you came from and where you're going. Being yourself without hurting others in the process. I'll be very glad to share them with you, and I hope you'll be very glad to be shared with.
For now, though, I'm off to continue my work on Killdeer. More information on my various streams of communication as things happen, so stay tuned to as many as you like, and thanks, as always, for reading! Info about when I'll truly get back to Playing with Fire coming up on Thunder Thursday!

3 Comments to The Internet:

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Geoffrey on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 2:36 AM
So, the topic is… “The use of internet like substances in fantasy literature”? Aright, I’m game. Fantasy does tend to produce analogues for most technological contrivances in one manner or another, so why not information.

I suppose it’s impossible to come anywhere close to the subject without mentioning Diskworld’s Going Postal, a satire of the modern telecom industry within a fantasy setting. Then again, the book is a little out of date, at least as far as modern advances in social media go, so I’ll assume everyone’s read it and move on to say I’m not sure I like the idea of internet in fantasy. At least, not something identifiable as such.

I could see a world where everyone shares a massive group dream whenever they sleep, and the dreamscape allows access to information and communication in ways the waking world cannot allow. That actually sounds kind of fun. But should everyone have access to tumblr, twitter, and reddit all the time? I dunno. Feels clunky to me. The thing is that the internet is build upon information processing. There would have to be some great thinking machine (or maybe not so much machine) that organizes and dispenses information to everyone as they desire it. Maybe. It works so much better in sci-fi, though.

Hmm. Maybe the “internet” is something that has to be inhaled to use, like some kind of drug. It opens your mind, and you have access to mountains of information until it wears off. Okay, so the social commentary there might be a little heavy-handed.

Anyways, I think the “tech” should follow the needs of the story, unless it’s a story about the technology/magic/etc. Hard sci-fi is like that, so why not have “hard” fantasy? But that’s not what you write, Anne. You write about people, so the tech must needs play a supporting role. I’m sure you’ll find the answers one way or another.

Oh, a question. I’ve been (re)reading a fair bit of Jane Austen lately, and I got wondering: Which of her characters do you most closely identify with? That is to say, which do you think you are most like? The oft-rendered Lizzy B. (whom I hate seeing on camera or stage, because she’s always portrayed badly), the lovably silly Catherine M., your namesake, the ever-stable Anne E., the always-meddling Emma W., …or another? Or will you prefer the craven path of defining yourself as your own archetype?

(As for us males, we prefer to see ourselves as an ideal mix of Mr. Knightley and Mr. Darcy. Of course, there is no such person: he’d be too perfect. I think I'll instead describe myself as John Thorpe. Yes… that's very much me.)
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Anne on Thursday, November 21, 2013 12:31 PM
The craven path, hmm? I'll take a mixture of Elinor and Marianne, please: a large dollop of sense and a few brisk dashes of sensibility. As for writing about people, why yes, yes I do, and people come up with ways to get done what they want done. I like your point about the tech following the needs of the story, as I try to make everything I write about do that, especially my messages (nothing drives readers away faster than preachiness). And I enjoyed Going Postal very much, though it was certainly structured differently than a lot of the Discworld novels to date.

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