Radical Themes in Magic. A Rough Guide
There are a number of very interesting themes in ‘Magic. A Rough Guide’. On the surface the story follows the adventures of two young adult magicians wrongly accused of murder and terrorism, but you don’t need to dig very deep to uncover some ideas that challenge conventions.
The premise of the story is that 50 years ago magic returned to the modern world. After a brutal war magicians were defeated and are now incarcerated, and experimented on until they die. The males that do not go into hiding or find refuge in the Recusant Zone, are captured and lobotomised into servitude.
Magicians have an innate power to cast spells. In ‘Magic. A Rough Guide‘, all magicians follow the teachings of a particular faith – with one significant difference, they adhere only to the words spoken by the Primary Religious Leader. So, for example, Jesus, Buddha, Bhagawan Nityananda, Krishna, Mohammed, Ad Da. Magicians totally disregard any and all other literature and institutions established around the core words and teachings.
This particular element of the story might not seem to be a big deal at first, but when you look at it alongside other themes things start to look a bit more interesting. Because of magic, reality is no longer a given; it can be transformed, matter can be created out of nothing, things can happen with no causality. Ordinary people are freaked out and rely even more heavily on brands and conventional, institutional religion to give them a sense of identity; to help them justify the importance of the things they believe make them who they are, the ‘real’ things that give meaning to their lives. They recoil from the uncertainty about reality that magic has introduced into their lives. Magicians are not fooled by material stuff, do not worship false idols. What’s more, unlike ordinary people, magicians cannot lie nor intentionally take the life of another person – But still they are persecuted by the state, just as Christians were in the past and, more recently, like people of other faiths are persecuted and killed now.
‘Magic. A Rough Guide’ may, on the surface be an urban fantasy adventure, but there’s a lot more in there to get people thinking.