Halloween is the perfect day for the publication of Tom Williams’ book Dark Magic and I am thrilled to welcome him to my blog today to give us some background on his book and the subject that inspired it.
What is magic?
Arthur Clarke, the science fiction writer, came up with the idea of the geosynchronous communications satellite but didn’t patent it because he didn’t expect anyone to develop the technology to make it a practical proposition in his lifetime.
What was bad news for Arthur Clarke’s bank manager was good news for the rest of us as it meant he had to keep on writing books for a living. In his many productive years he not only wrote several classic novels and short stories (and co-wrote the screenplay for 2001: a Space Odyssey) but he gave us Clarke’s Three Laws, the third of which states that:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Of course it’s also true that:
Any sufficiently cunning trick is indistinguishable from magic.
A cynic looks at something they can’t understand and either says, “That’s the product of some geek at Google,” or, “It’s all done with mirrors.” In neither case do they have to tell you what the technology is or how the trick is worked. They just look superior and explain that only fools believe in magic.
But what if they are wrong? What if the rabbit really is magically produced inside the hat? What if the girl really does float across the stage and no wires are involved? How would you ever know? Here’s Williams’ law:
Any genuine magic is indistinguishable from a currently unknown technology.
Sometimes the technology isn’t even unknown (or that technological). I know a magician who can put four dice into a dice cup – the long thin container that gamblers will shake dice in before throwing them down on the table. The dice will rattle around loose in the cup as he shakes them a couple of times and shows that they are ordinary dice in an ordinary cup. He then turns the cup over on a table, trapping the dice inside and starts to move it back and forth, round and round. You can hear the dice rattling inside. When he stops and lifts the cup, the four dice are arranged in a column.
There is no trick at all. A very nimble wrist and a careful ear lets him shake them into place and then reveal the column with a flourish. It’s magic!
But perhaps when the beautiful assistant is cut in two, there’s no trick there either. Perhaps that’s magic.
How would you know?
In Dark Magic we meet two groups of magicians: the Maestros of Magic, and the Carnival of Conjurors. The Carnival of Conjurors isn’t playing fair. They have magic that is rather more magical than it has any right to be, but how can anyone in the audience know that? The Maestros know, but what are they going to do about it? It’s going to get nasty, and soon “dying on stage” isn’t just a figure of speech.
Baby’s blood??? Virgin’s tears??? Chainsaws??? It’s remarkable what some magicians keep back-stage.
Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic ??? Black Magic ??? to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage ??? but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?
A darkly humorous thriller by a writer who knows the world of magicians and stage magic.
TOM WILLIAMS has published six books of historical fiction but this is his first contemporary story and his first novella (33,000 words). He has spent far too much time hanging round with magicians.
You can read Tom’s blogs most weeks on his website http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk.
You can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTomWilliams and he tweets as TomCW99
Buy Dark Magic on Amazon