The final book in Benjamin Myers’ YA series, The Bad Tuesdays, has just been released. So to celebrate the release of this book, I was lucky enough to snag a place on Myers’ blog tour through his publishers, Orion, and have a fabulous post about Magic vs Science: Making the Fantastic happen from the author himself. These books are described as Philip Pullman meets Dr Who, which sounds an amazing combination. The publishers were kind enough to send me a set of the books and I am really looking forward to getting stuck into them!
So without further a due, I shall hand you over to the very capable Benjamin J Myers!
SCIENCE vs MAGIC: MAKING THE FANTASTIC HAPPEN
Most of us know the difference between fantasy and reality and that’s the problem. What we want is a reality where fantastic things can happen. Really happen. Who hasn’t wished that they lived in a world where it was possible to travel through time, or to be invisible, or to wield eye-wateringly powerful weaponry or just to move about the universe at the speed of thought? But as a general rule, reality doesn’t work this way. So imaginative fiction is the place where we have to find that amazing blend of reality and fantasy.
I wanted The Bad Tuesdays books to be set in a world where everyday, urban reality would be as close to a world of extraordinary creatures, multiple universes, spirits and arcane mystery as possible. I wanted Chess, and her brothers, Box and Splinter to be as shocked and mystified as we would be when they discovered, bit by bit, that what they thought was their world was only the outer shell of something altogether more dangerous, unpredictable and fantastic. But for this to be exciting, for this to hit us with the force that it hits them, the reality of their world was crucial and that is where you hit the problem with magic.
In fact, for me, there are two problems with magic. The first is that magic has been so well written about already. We all know about the Boy Who Must Not Be Named and he follows a fabulous heritage of magical writing. For me, Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea quartet describes brilliantly a world where magic is a genuine force requiring steely discipline and hard- won knowledge. But the truth remains that it’s difficult to say anything new about magic.
However, it’s the second problem that made me steer away from spells, wands and incantations. What are the limits of magic in a real world? Why aren’t we all doing it? Why don’t we use it to win the National Lottery? Every week? Why limit ourselves when magic can enable us to do anything? For a story that is rooted in reality, this is a problem
This is where science comes in. I don’t mean the stuff from school: measuring electric currents, learning lists of chemicals, discovering how to make dead frogs twitch. I mean parallel universes, bio-engineering, robotics, multi-dimensional travel . . . maybe even time travel. You don’t need to consult spell books to discover how to make fantastic things happen. Just take a look in any of the books about the rapidly exploding boundaries of modern science. Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace is a good place to start. It’s an easy read and will leave you in no doubt that we live in a universe (or is it universes?) where extraordinary things are only just tucked out of sight.
So in The Bad Tuesdays, when the bad guys talk about using energy to stop time by packing the universe back into its starting point, that’s not one of Myers’s mad moments: that’s how it works. And the hiding of places, or faces, by spin symmetry? The grafting of bionic prosthetics onto damaged limbs? Using wormholes to travel from one world to another? Slipping secretly through a city by using all those hidden dimensions? It’s all in the science, a science that’s as much a part of our reality as we are. Which means that the weirdness in the Tuesdays’ world can burst out of anywhere – a night club, a tourist information centre, even a supermarket. I love that sense of anything happening, even in the most ordinary places. It gives an urgency and startling reality to the fantastic.
Spiral Horizon, he final book in Benjamin J Myer’s thrilling YA series, The Bad Tuesdays, is now out and to celebrate I am very pleased to be able to share you with a fabulous post by Benjamin Myers himself about magic and science and how it all works in his series. I have been lucky enough to receive a whole set of the books from the publishers, Orion, and it’s described as Philip Pullman meets Dr Who – who
Maybe it should come as no surprise that science can be as fantastical as magic, after all, a lot of what was once ‘magic’ has become ‘science’: the gowns might be white rather than wizardly, but look at what our white-gown wearers do – healing the sick, creating light, transforming energy, sending us further and further at greater and greater speeds and making things go BANG. So you can take your pick – white gown or star spangled robe. But for The Bad Tuesdays the magic of science is what makes the fantastic happen.