Rule the World with Math and Magic
Written by Anthony Huso
The Last Page came out two summers ago and I’m pleased that the second book in the duology, Black Bottle, will be available on shelves and e-readers this August. If you’ve been eager for a peek, read an excerpt from Black Bottle.
The setting for the books is decidedly dark and brutal, with the characters each sheltering their own little flames of hope. The brutality and the hope both stem from magic, which might save the characters, but it’s more likely to kill them.
In the books, magic is called holomorphy (a term I lifted from mathematics). It is a language that magicians (called holomorphs) use to argue against reality. Like a lawyer, a holomorph wrestles with logic to control outcomes; to persuade natural laws to bend.
Imagine that that there is no singular “spell” at your disposal for creating light in a room. As the holomorph, you must *create* an argument for light to exist. You do it on the fly, factoring in things such as the size, shape, and location of the room, and so forth. As with diagraming an argument, a variety of options exist. How will you build your argument? What facts will you take into account? Any holomorph brought into that dim room would similarly analyze the surroundings, but might construct an argument quite different from your own. Mathematically speaking, the more concise your argument is, the more powerful.
More importantly, when two holomorphs are fighting for the upper hand, brevity is synonymous with speed.
Sounds painless. Be awesome at persuasive math and you get to rule the world – except that you need blood to power your equation. You need to write your formula in red.
Blood sacrifice is old and primal. The idea of supremely ancient mysticism pulling against the forward momentum of science is compelling. Also, what if the two things, the old mysteries and the new science, were intrinsic? If the modern power of a world was founded in the bloody violence of things so ancient and hidden that people feared to talk about them at the risk of sounding foolish, well…that is essentially the foundation for magic in the world I created.
If you are Sena Iilool (a prominent anti-hero in the story) you are falling through a world that is the metaphoric equivalent of an abyss, and you’re screaming. What you want more than anything is to stop falling. You want to escape and make things less chaotic and terrifying. You want a fundamental change for the better. With holomorphy at your disposal, there is hope–but it is tied to your condition. Holomorphy is, by virtue of its bloody demands, a rope hung in the dark.
Grabbing onto it will break your fall if you are willing to endure the hemp tearing into your hands and the aftermath that leaves you whimpering; clinging desperately to the thing that bit you.
Sena Iilool finds herself both master and slave to holomorphy. Would you?
From the Tor/Forge August newsletter. Sign up to receive our newsletter via email.
More from the August Tor/Forge newsletter:
- The Best, Worst, and BESTWORST Stephen King Adaptations by Kendare Blake
- Scarily Timely: A Q&A with Edward Lerner
- London: The Ideal Setting by Carrie Vaughn
- The Wildness of My Head by Col Buchanan
- Cory Doctorow Collection Sweepstakes
- An Editor’s Dirty Little Secret
- On a Bus to New York
- Sister, Healer, Soldier, Spy
- Tor/Forge Blog is Moving to a New Domain
- The Week in Review
- Not at New York Comic-Con Sweepstakes
- Starred Review: Ask Not by Max Allan Collins
- New Releases: 10/8/2013
- Goodreads Sweepstakes: Watcher of the Dark by Joseph Nasisse
- Tor Books Announces Programming for New York Comic-Con 2013
- Don't miss out on the chance to add to your #TBR stack with nine fantastic reads! bit.ly/2nEE0el… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 1 day ago
- "I'll tell you what friendship gets you." Read an excerpt of @kenyonsherrilyn's new novel #DeadmenWalking!… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 1 day ago
- Read "Finnegan's Field," a dark fantasy novelette by @AngelaSlatter: bit.ly/1Zu6EQd https://t.co/8iqOnlTMRI 1 day ago
- .@ghostfinder's #StandardHollywoodDepravity is a "darkly funny book w/ compelling characters & an intriguing plot.… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 1 day ago
- RT @ChicagoRevBooks: We asked @scalzi to spill some writing secrets in this interview about 'The Collapsing Empire' from @torbooks. https:/… 1 day ago
- DC’s Greatest Heroes Come Together in this Trailer for The Justice League!
- Holy Rewatch Batman! “I’ll Be a Mummy’s Uncle”
- John Scalzi is Optimistic about Cockroaches, Novels, and the Future of Science Fiction
- Reminder: Download The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson Before March 25
- Plot Details From Han Solo Film Call The Character’s Name Origin Into Question
- How Many Times Does Braid-Tugging and Skirt-Smoothing Happen in The Wheel of Time?
- NASA Might Make High-Speed Space “Internet” a Reality
- Fabulous Despite Fascists. Lara Elena Donnelly’s Amberlough to Become Trilogy
- What Do We Want From Alien: Covenant?
- V.E. Schwab Expanding A Darker Shade of Magic With New Stories, Fan Art