How Science Fiction Books Have Influenced My Magick
by George Jackson
Like a lot of people, I have a group of favorite authors whose style and subject matter have a great appeal to me, particularly in the genre of science fiction and fantasy. This genre is intended to stretch the imagination and suspend disbelief concerning all kinds of strange goings-on. Many of these stories are based on regional myths and legends, the skills of the writers bringing them to life for us. Occasionally, original spell-craft techniques or the concepts underlying them are held up for view. An Adept, reading some these books, may suddenly be stirred to attempt a new approach or delve into an area previously ignored, thanks to these masters of imagination.
An example of this are three books written by Lyndon Hardy, a Ph.D. in physics who is a partner in a consulting firm that explores artificial intelligence. These books could be called his “Five Magics” series. In them, he defines five areas of magic and the principles underlying them:
- Thaumaturgy: The Principle of Sympathy — Like Produces Like; and The Principle of Contagion — Once Together, Always Together
- Alchemy: The Doctrine of Signatures — The Attributes Without Mirror the Powers Within
- Magic: The Maxim of Persistence — Perfection Is Eternal
- Sorcery: The Rule of Three — Thrice Spoken, Once Fulfilled
- Wizardry: The Law of Ubiquity — Flame Permates All; and The Law of Dichotomy — Dominance or Submission
When I read these about 20 years ago, I said to myself, “These should work!” Through the years, they have worked, over and over and over again. The following are some other science fiction authors that have significantly influenced my magickal work.
David Drake is best known as a writer of military science fiction. He is a Vietnam combat veteran and writes this kind of fiction from the point of view of one who has been there and done that. However, when he writes about magick it is well to pay attention. His first book in the supernatural vein that I am aware of is From the Heart of Darkness, which can generally be classed as horror and was published in 1983. This was followed by Old Nathan, which deals with classic American back-country witchcraft much in the vein of Manly Wade Wellman, to whom the book is dedicated.
Drake’s present effort is the Lord of the Isles series, which to date includes Lord of the Isles, Queen of Demons, Servant of the Dragon and Mistress of the Catacombs. The general religion and magickal practices are Sumerian. I will quote from the novels’ notes to the reader. “The magical phrases (voces mysticae) quoted throughout the novel are real. I don’t mean that they really summon magical powers; personally I don’t believe that they do. But many men and women did believe in the power of these words and used them in all seriousness to work for good or ill. Individuals can make their own decisions on the matter, but I didn’t pronounce any of the voces mysticae while I was writing Lord of the Isles.” David researches his work from classical Roman and Greek sources.
Barbara Hambly has a master’s degree in medieval history and a black belt in karate. She has written 20 novels to date that contain a magickal theme. A basic premise that runs through her work is that there exists a group of people who are genetically endowed to perform magick (the mage born), but these abilities must be honed through education and practice to be brought to full fruition. In short, an Adept never knows enough. The subjects of ethics and responsibility are discussed at some length throughout her books. Another theme that runs through Barbara’s writing is the compulsion to practice and learn more about magick. It is an obsessive drive to add to magickal power and knowledge. Once the would-be Adept recognizes her or his magickal Will, it becomes a life-long need.
The first book that I read of Barbara’s was Dragonbane. From there, I went to The Darwath Series, Sun Wolf and Starhowk, The Windrose Chronicles and Sun Cross. In the end I have read and recommend almost all of her books, though in my opinion her latest have strayed from the magickal thread.
Roger Zelazny, Hugo and Nebula Award winner, died in 1995 a true master of the imagination. When I read that he had passed away, I felt as if I had lost a family member. He had written or co-written over 40 novels. He had a talent for taking a religion or mythos and writing a story using a god or hero from it as his principal character. The first book of his that I read was Lord of Light, in which the Hindu pantheon and a certain amount of Buddhism are central to the plot. Within this book, Roger defined what it was to be an invoked god, which can be extended to what it is to be a practicing Adept:
“Being a god is the quality of being able to be yourself to such an extent that your passions correspond with the Forces of the Universe, so that those who look upon you know this without hearing your name spoken.
“Being a god is being able to recognize within one’s self those things that are important and then to strike the single note that brings them into alignment with everything else that exists. One rules through his or her ruling passions.”
Zelazny’s Amber series consists of 10 novels beginning with Nine Princes in Amber and ending with Prince of Chaos. They all deal with magickal forms. Two of his novels, Changeling and Madwand, have been combined under the title of Wizard World. These novels contain a very interesting concept of magickal energy.
If you have had some personal instruction or have read some of the how-to books readily available and put this knowledge into practice, some of these books may not only entertain you, but also they may give you some new magickal directions and ideas to pursue. The world of science fiction and fantasy is an open book. Enjoy!