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Got A Job in Magicland?

By L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

While I always wanted to be a writer, I didn’t start out writing either science fiction or fantasy. In fact, my first published works were poems, and my primary collegiate fields of study were politics and economics. For the record, writing was third. But when I left the Navy, after a tour as a pilot and after the realization that the life expectancy of wartime search and rescue pilots was less than optimal for a man with a wife and children, I returned to the boringly practical and became an industrial economist, followed by other fields required by economic necessity, until I ended up in Washington, D.C., still dealing in economics and politics. By then I was writing science fiction on the side, and my first published story was about, naturally enough, a junior economist in Washington, D.C., followed by more stories and then novels, all with characters who had what I’d call “real jobs” and no desire to be heroes.

Several years later, after attending my first SF convention ever, I came to the realization that very few SF writers dealt with economic structure in their stories and that, at that time, almost no fantasy writers did. So when I began to write The Magic of Recluce, I made a deliberate decision to continue the approach I’d used in my science fiction, and I centered all of Lerris’s problems on his need to fit into his society economically.  That is, Lerris needed a job! Yes, he’s exiled from Recluce, but he still needs to make his way, to pay for what he eats and where he lodges, and even to pay for that mountain pony he needs.  And, as is the case with most successful people, the key to his eventual understanding of life and success in it comes from his mastery not just of magic but of the skills and understanding required in learning how to do a meaningful job well and professionally.

More than twenty years ago, when I wrote The Magic of Recluce, my “economic” approach to fantasy was anything but common, but readers liked it well enough that the book has been continuously in print, and they’ve bought fifteen other Recluce books over the years.  I’d like to think it’s at least partly because I required Lerris, and all the characters who followed, to have a real job in magicland.


From the Tor/Forge July newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.


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  1. July 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    L E Modesitt is our favorite author, by far.

    I’ve read over 10,000 novels to date, from Asimov to Clarke to Heinlein to Sanderson and Modesitt is the ONLY author where we buy the hardcovers sight-unseen.

    The Parafaith War, The Magic Engineer and The Magic or Recluce are fantastic reads and re-reads.

  2. July 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I really liked the Recluse books, probably read seven or eight of them, maybe I should go back and find the rest. I liked the almost scientific approach to magic, and the characters were very relatable, probably because of the economic approach Mr. Modesitt has mentioned here. The order vs chaos dynamic was very cool as well.

  3. Kath
    July 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I Love the “Saga of Recluse” series. They were the first books I replaced after our house fire. I re-read them whenever a new one comes out. I just wish that they would become available on audiobook.

  4. Ron Brown
    July 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Mr. Modesitt is indeed a master story teller and while there are those who may disagee,he should be ranked right alongside Isaac, Bob, and Arthur. I have been reading SF/F since the middle 1940’s (when all that unpleasantness was transpiring) and it was a constant companion during my ten year tenure in uniform. I currently have at least one copy of his published works on my bookshelves except for three…..his latest on the Corean world, (which I didn’t or couldn’t get in to), his latest book which I haven’t been able to find yet, and the one yet to be published. His imagination, research, and enthusiasm leave nothing to be desired. Yes, I am a partial reader and a choosy one,too.

  5. July 12, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I’m 30. I’ve been reading two series of books for 20 years, and few others. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and L.E. Modesitt’s Recluse series. Both can be summarized with the phrase “epic adventure” – I’m very glad to have had characters like Lerris in my life.

  6. July 12, 2011 at 6:55 am

    And I’m glad to see I’m not the only one to throw an “s” in Recluse. No edit button, it seems…

  7. July 12, 2011 at 6:56 am

    dangit! Just did it again.

  8. July 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I just finished re-reading the entire Recluce series from the beginning to the end, and I’d really, really like more in this series!

  9. Dee
    July 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Love the Recluce books, and the Corean chronicles (the ones I’ve read so far).

  1. July 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm
  2. July 11, 2011 at 12:17 pm
  3. July 11, 2011 at 12:30 pm
  4. February 3, 2012 at 1:52 am

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