The Magic Goes Away
The Magic Goes Away is a fantasy short story written by Larry Niven in 1976, and later expanded to a novella of the same name which was published in 1978. While these works were not the first in the "Magic Universe" or "Warlock" series, they marked a turning point after the 1973 oil crisis and Niven's subsequent transformation of the series into an allegory for a modern-day energy crisis; the novella was also his first work longer than a short story. Niven's approach to fantasy (as with his approach to science fiction) is relatively logical and somewhat distinct from the high fantasy normally associated with the genre.[original research?] The setting was later used as a backdrop for a series of full-length novels, The Burning City (2000) and its sequel, Burning Tower (2005), which were co-written with Jerry Pournelle.
List of works in the series
This is a list of publications based on the setting of The Magic Goes Away.
|Not Long before the End||Warlock||1969||Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1969|
|Unfinished Story||Warlock||1969||Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1969|
|What Good Is a Glass Dagger?||Warlock||1972||Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1972|
|The Magic Goes Away (short story)||Warlock||1976||Odyssey, summer 1976|
|The Magic Goes Away (novella)||Warlock||1978||Trade paperback, Ace Books|
|The Magic May Return||(compilation)||1981||Trade paperback, Ace Books|
|Talisman||(none)||1981||Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1981|
|The Lion in His Attic||(none)||1982||Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1982|
|The Wishing Game||Warlock||1989||Aboriginal Science Fiction, May/June 1989|
|The Portrait of Daryanree the King||(none)||1989||Aboriginal Science Fiction, September/October 1989|
|The Burning City||Golden Road||2000||Hardcover, Pocket Books|
|Chicxulub||(none)||2004||Asimov's Science Fiction, April/May 2004|
|Boomerang||(none)||2004||Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy|
|Rhinemaidens||(none)||2005||Asimov's Science Fiction, January 2005|
|Burning Tower||Golden Road||2005||Hardcover, Pocket Books|
|Burning Mountain||Golden Road||in progress||in progress|
The Warlock, whose actual name is both unknown and unpronounceable, is a powerful sorcerer in excess of 200 years of age. He observes that when he stays in one place too long, his powers dwindle and will return only when he leaves that place. Experimentation leads him to create an apparatus (now known as the Warlock's Wheel) consisting of a metal disc enchanted to spin perpetually. The enchantment eventually consumes all the mana in the vicinity, causing a localized failure in all magic. The Warlock realizes that magic is fueled by a non-renewable resource, which would cause great concern among the magicians, as it was through their magic that nations enforced their wills both internally and abroad. The widespread diminishing of magical power in The Magic Goes Away triggered a quest on the part of the most powerful of the magicians of the time to harness a new source of magic (the Moon), resulting in the events described in the book.
It was eventually discovered (in The Magic May Return) that mana was originally carried to Earth and the other bodies of the solar system on the solar wind, replenishing mana slowly over time. However, at some point in the "recent" past (a few thousand years ago) a god created an invisible shield between Earth and Sun that intercepted the solar mana and caused the eventual decline of magic on Earth.
- The Warlock - One of the world's foremost magicians. He devised a simple experiment to explain why a magician's power would fade over time, a device called the Warlock's Wheel.
- Clubfoot - The Warlock's apprentice. A Native American named after a deformity of his foot that he could have cured long ago but it would have cost him half his power.
- Wavyhill - The first Necromancer. Exploiting the mana inherent in murder, he invented necromancy. His name comes from his practice of building his houses under magically supported overhangs; when the local mana is depleted by a battle, the hillside collapses, trapping his foe and eliminating the evidence at the same time.
- Orolandes - A Greek soldier, survivor of the sinking of Atlantis.
- Mirandee - A powerful witch, formerly Warlock's lover.
- Aran - A werewolf who assisted the Warlock in defeating the necromancer Wavyhill.
- Roze Kattee - The God Of Love And Madness. Its power lies in the taking away of love or madness. Enemy Berzerkers are suddenly rendered sane, those who do not worship Roze Kattee never find mates, etc.
- The World Worm - Its spine composes all the world's mountain chains, the Andes, Himalayas, Rockies, etc. It consumes its own tail, along with anything that might be living on it.
- Yangin-Atep - A fire god.
- Coyote, Loki, etc. - A trickster god for many cultures.
- Zoosh - Once a powerful patriarch.
- Left-Handed Hummingbird - A Mesoamerican god (Huitzilopochtli).
Richard A. Lupoff reviewed the 1978 novella unfavorably, saying that although the story "bristles with amusing devices," the writing itself was unsatisfactory: "Niven doesn't make any of it real for me; there's hardly a spark of humanity in the book. . . . [Niven uses] flat, dull, sterile narrative prose."
In her afterword to the novella, Sandra Miesel identified a number of influences on the setting: "The Wheels of If", The Incomplete Enchanter, The Blue Star, Operation Chaos, Too Many Magicians, The Dragon and the George, as well as Niven's earlier works, "All the Myriad Ways" and the Svetz series.
Graphic novel adaptation
In popular culture
- The collectible card game Magic: The Gathering has a card called Nevinyrral's Disk, which is a reference to the Warlock's Wheel. This card roughly has the effect of removing the effects of players' spells from play, while leaving their lands intact. 'Nevinyrral' is 'Larry Niven' spelled backwards.
- The collectible card game Netrunner (by Richard Garfield) has a card called Nevinyrral, which is a reference to the writer Larry Niven. This card roughly has the effect of giving the Corporate player an extra action each turn, but if this card goes away the Corporate player loses. 'Nevinyrral' is 'Larry Niven' spelled backwards.
- Known Space Bibliography
- Niven, Larry (2005). The Magic Goes Away Collection. New York: Pocket Books. p. 98. ISBN 0-7434-1693-7. "We will call him the Warlock, as his name is both forgotten and impossible to pronounce."
- Niven, Larry (2005). The Magic Goes Away Collection. New York: Pocket Books. p. 102. ISBN 0-7434-1693-7. "'Everyone in the village knows your age,' said Hap. 'You're two hundred years old, if not more.'"
- Niven, Larry (2005). The Magic Goes Away Collection. New York: Pocket Books. p. 98. ISBN 0-7434-1693-7. "He found that when he had been ten to fifteen years in a place, using his magic as whim dictated, his powers would weaken. If he moved away, they returned."
- Niven, Larry (2005). The Magic Goes Away Collection. New York: Pocket Books. p. 99. ISBN 0-7434-1693-7. "His last experiment involved a simple kinetic sorcery set to spin a metal disc in midair."
- Niven, Larry (2005). The Magic Goes Away Collection. New York: Pocket Books. p. 107. ISBN 0-7434-1693-7. "'The disc? I told you. A kinetic sorcery with no upper limit. The disc keeps accelerating until all the mana in the locality has been used up.'"
- ""Lupoff's Book Week," Starship 35, 1979, p.76.
- Sandra Miesel, "The Mana Crisis", The Magic Goes Away, pp. 196-97, Ace Books, 1978.