This week on the podcast, Ryan and Taylor meant to talk about fantasy weapons, but it didn't go quite how they expected. Instead they ended up talking about the intersection of magic and technology, and debated whether or not the two can coexist.
Full Transcript Below:
Ryan: Top of the morning, everyone. And welcome to another episode of the Waterstone media podcast. As always, I am joined by my good friend, Taylor crook. Taylor, how are you doing today?
Taylor: I'm good. I did not manage my time very well. So I am not showered or prepared in any way for this. There was outside. I usually like to run the dogs for a little bit before, so they'll leave us alone.
So I was out there running the dogs and then you sent the link and I was like, oh yeah, no, I did not have a shower or anything. So I. This is, uh, you know, just roll, just woke up. Is that what they say? I just woke up. I woke up like this. That's what I'm looking for. I woke up like this,
Ryan: but you are here and that's what counts
Taylor: That is what counts. That's what I tell them. I work all the time. Like, listen, I'm here. [00:01:00] That's, that's what you're getting from me.
Ryan: I was making fun of one of my friends. I was watching something on YouTube with them and they were doing a camping gear get demonstration or something, but the lady who was demonstrating it, woke up and stretched on the video and just, you know, perfect hair, perfect makeup, everything looked like she'd already worked on it for an hour.
Ryan: I just thought to myself the height of reality.
Taylor: Yeah. That's exactly what you look like when you're camping of all things.
Ryan: But I I'll just say it. Taylor, you always look great, you always look great.
Taylor: Stop it. Don't stop it. You can keep going. Anyone that wants to comment about how great I look. I also appreciate those. That's where the comments are for.
Ryan: That's all the comments are far. Actually.
Taylor: We will delete any other comment that is not a positive comment about Taylor's appearance.[00:02:00]
Ryan: Uh, so tell me, sir, what have you been up to this week in the worlds of words and literature?
Taylor: The words and literature. Yeah. This week has been editing of sentinels two. And then, uh, are working on. Our little new project as well. So yeah, it's been pretty good. We got together and did a joint edit session, which was a lot of fun.
I enjoyed that thoroughly. And I think I probably speak for both of us when I say that the hour, I guess the hour that we spent doing, editing that just nailing down some things that were little loosey goosey and tightening them up. Uh, and then the chapter that we edited, I feel about 20 times better.
The editing process moving forward than I did before we did that, I think you'd probably agree.
Ryan: It's actually a very nice call back to our previous episodes on collaboration, where [00:03:00] I will admit I was a little bit nervous coming back to the story because I knew once again, just the scope of changes we were going to have to be. But after sitting down w we were together for an hour, and I think we spent almost the first half hour to 35 minutes, not even editing, but just discussing some of the changes that we needed to make and straightening out some of the story.
And when we were done, I was similarly excited to tackle this project.
Taylor: Yeah. And to the point that this morning I just, I went through and the next two chapters, which to be fair, did not contain a lot of the issues that we were ironing out anyway. But. Going through those two chapters was, was a pretty quick process, hit the points you needed to hit.
And then I got to the next one that did contain a little bit more of that stuff. And I was still able to do a pretty good cleanup of that, you know, before some of the bigger issues that we want to tackle together are there. So it definitely [00:04:00] set us up, I think, to, to have this edit process move nice and smoothly.
So for those of you that are excited about the next book in the Sentinel saga, that's all good news for you guys.
Ryan: One of the benefits of collaboration that we didn't really talk about is also that emotion and satisfaction piece with the process where it can be really difficult to push through those dips and those valleys when you are writing on your own, but having somebody else who you can lean on for support is very, very powerful in those moments.
Ryan: Um, so this is actually not going to be collaboration part three or four or five or whatever we're talking about when we were thinking about what do you speak on today? The subject that came to mind was weapons [00:05:00]probably specifically in fantasy. We discussed about doing rolling sci-fi into that, but we think that's a different beast.
And we were just briefly talking before we started recording today that my first question to Taylor was going to be about favorite fantasy weapons. And with the expectation, that would be an easy question to answer, to get us going. But we realized that that is actually not an easy question. And Taylor, why is that true for you?
Taylor: Yeah. So when I was thinking about that, you have this idea that fantasy, that weapons and fantasy are the unique weapon. The magic sword are this really prevalent thing, but when you really think about it, that's not always the case. The, you know, the one ring in the Lord of the rings while it is a magic ring.
And it does have a demonstrable effect in making one person, [00:06:00] you know, when the, the one who wears it invisible, that's not the point of the ring. The ring serves a much greater purpose. So I don't really think I was like, oh, that's a neat thing to have. No, it's like evil incarnate. It's not, it's not a cool thing to have.
So, and that started the most. So you think it was something like. I guess in going back to the sword of truth series, the sword of truth itself is a pretty cool magic weapon. It, and it has a lot of it does a lot of things. And, but if I were to say that was my favorite magic weapon, it would almost be by default because it's, I have a hard time really thinking of a good example of another thing that is, is central that way to it.
So it's cool because when Richard wields it, he. Gets he gains the abilities of every previous owner of the sword. So he's goes from not knowing how to fight at all to being a, you know, a master swordsman. But sometimes when I reflect back on the series, that feels a little, [00:07:00] I mean, it's obviously unearned because he didn't learn how to fight.
He didn't, you know, he was a star, but it works because as a character, he was this pacifist guy and it really does. Lend itself to the internal struggle that he has with all of the killing that he has to do as the main character of a fantasy story. So. In that sense, it works. And then, you know, the magic of the sword is pretty cool.
You know, you gotta be, it sort of feeds on your rage. You use the rage to protect yourself from the cost of the sword takes when you kill with it. But by doing that, you can cut through like other swords. It's really powerful that way. So, you know, as an item, it would probably come top of mind, but it is not like.
Oh, I love the sort of truth. It's a really cool thing. It's just, it works for that story in a vacuum. It's a sword that makes you good at fighting. So I kind of struggled to find something else. And I, and I think it's just because of the idea maybe of magical weapons is prevalent and fantasy more than [00:08:00] the actual application of it.
I think magical weapons are far more, and this makes a ton of sense, but they're, they're far more easy to find in fantasy based video games. You know, that's where you tend to see your enchanted weapons and your magical weapons and things like that. So that's, that's my thought. Did you have something in that came to mind quickly at all?
Ryan: When I think of favorite fantasy weapons, I think that my mind actually went. Immediately to fantasies that use a variety of different weapons. And the one that immediately popped to mind for me was I think the title of this book depends on where in the world you live, but it's either the warded man or the painted man by Peter V. Brett. In which in many ways it is your [00:09:00]typical medieval fantasy with, um, swords and Spears and shields and whatnot, but the most powerful weapon against the demons who are the antagonists are not sharpened steel at all, but actually wards. And the study of the wards and recovering the lost wards from the great age in the past is actually the primary quest of the protagonist of the story.
And that idea of something like wards being the greatest weapon in the world is something that I find really intriguing.
Taylor: Yeah. That's interesting. And I'm assuming the wards, they have a defensive application as well.
Ryan: Yeah. So when the story starts, um, the story almost feels like a, almost [00:10:00] a fantasy. Post-apocalyptic just not our, our world apocalypse, a secondary world apocalypse. And at one time there were defensive and offensive wards, but only the defensive wards have trickled down through the ages. And so the story is about a character who is trying to recover the offensive wards.
So humanity can start fighting back against the demons. And I just liked the idea of something beyond swords and Spears being the primary weapons in a world.
Ryan: Um, So, I guess I was going to ask you actually, in Epic Fantasy in particular, there is a tendency to rely on swords and shields and Spears.
Uh, [00:11:00] I know that for me, that is deeply satisfying because I find sword play to be one of the. Entertaining ways to write a fight and to read a fight, uh, is the same true of you or do you prefer other types of weapons in your stories?
Taylor: No, I think, I think that's, I think that probably is the reason for it.
That swords take such scale and really we're going to, we can say swords, but it's any weapon, any medieval weapon, any melee weapon that you're using, it requires such a skill and time to become good at that. When you. Run into a character who is the quote, unquote, greatest swordsman out there. That means something like that's really, and the closest modern equivalent that you get are like duels in the, in the west, like gunslingers dueling in the west, the quickest draws.
So you're drawing you fire. [00:12:00]The reality is that guns by their very nature, reduce, combat down to the mean. Right. It's it, it averages out everybody's ability. That's that's the impact that guns have is that you can, okay, well now everybody's got guns and it just the better guns, the better fight it. So while there is obviously some application of skill to using a gun, If you took 30 guys and gave them guns and a day to learn them.
And the same 30 people, I shouldn't say guys, people and gave them swords for example, and a day to learn how to use them. They're going to be far more effective with the guns after that day than they will be with the swords after that day, whether they're fighting someone with stores or not. So it's it.
I really do think that that gunplay reduces combat to the mean, and therefore. It's far more impressive to see somebody martial scale than it is to see that. And now there's ways that you can obviously handle [00:13:00] that. You know, the, you know, Roland in, in the gunslinger dark tower saga, he , the gunslingers were something really special.
And that works, but I think regularly speaking nuts that the martial weapons are just, and you're right. It's more satisfying to see somebody fight that way. I think it also, there is a lot less danger of your hero being picked off by an errant gunshot. If you are not using things like guns, even, even a bow and arrow or a crossbow requires a certain level of skill.
Like, so I think it. You are as an author, it there's less burden on you to create situations where the randomness of a fight I gunfight. It was an end up killing your, your main character. So I think there's a couple of factors in there.
Ryan: It seems to me that there is something very personal and almost character driven [00:14:00] when it comes to the martial fights that involve swords or Spears or medieval weaponry, because of what you're talking about.
It is the result of years of practice. Most often, unless you've got a magical do Hickey that allows you to win immediately, but. You know that when two people fight with medieval weapons that, uh, at least in our fantasy world, I suppose this wasn't always the true in reality, but it was a contest of skill and it was perhaps even reflective of a person's character because of the dedication and time it takes to master your weapon.
And so I can understand that. Why I enjoy both writing and reading, uh, sword fights and knife fights and spear fights and [00:15:00] bow fights as much as I can. I I'm always reminded of a friend that I have, who is an exceptionally skilled martial artist, um, black belt and more styles than I can count and has studied several different sword schools.
And he often complains about being born, uh, both in the wrong country and in the wrong era. He's like for all of my skill, like I can beat most of the people that I come across in duels, he's like for all of my skill, it doesn't matter. Cause any random person with a handgun can come up and beat me. Pretty much every time.
Ryan: And yeah. So all of that training and dedication means nothing when the weapons are as effective as modern weapons are.
Taylor: Yeah. And I, and I think they're there in lies the other, which could be a discussion for another day as well, but they're, there always does seem to [00:16:00] be a scientific ceiling in terms of progress.
Technological progress when there's magic in a world, you're getting to a crossbow and that's about it. And I think it's because magic's then steps in for that. And. Again, there's a modern weapons is going to even replace magic at a certain point because magic is generally something that few people have and modern weapons are mass produced.
So there's, there's all these sort of equalizing factors when it comes to a fantasy world and the magic in the weapons, they're in the threat. They're in.
Ryan: Um, I mean, this is probably as good as time as any, do you just touch on a little bit, the series that you and I are writing because we actually did decide to include firearms in this new series [00:17:00] and. What were some of the things you were excited about with the addition of firearms and what were some of the things that you were nervous about, including that technology in our world?
Taylor: Uh, I was excited to not have to write the word parry a million times, parries the blow. He parried the strike. His parry was a little early. He was late on the parry. The parry nearly knocked the blade from his hand. Like when you, when you've written enough about swords, it's like, how do I keep this fresh? So I think there's just sort of a built in rejuvenation there because I'm writing about something that I have not before.
So that was exciting. I think we, um, I like the idea of having to change my perspective on what a fight looks like. What, what is, what is this conflict look like in this chapter? If our hero is using a six shooter instead of a broadsword and what [00:18:00]does that look like against inferior skill? What does inferior skill look like?
What does it look like against inferior weaponry? So it just there's, there's some things you have to. Change the way that you, that you look at. And I think my big concern was something that I touched on previously that is, uh, you know, bullets and guns are the great equalizer and it is just so easy to.
You know, this guy gets in your blind spot. You don't see him, he lines you up. And that is that's it it's over really quick. So there has been kind of to sort of figure out some factors to make that believable, because obviously there's people that live their lives. In a situation where there are guns and they survive.
And so it's, it's not like it's impossible, but it's just, you got to write a story where there's a lot of action happening and make sure that that action doesn't [00:19:00] result in a, how is this guy alive kind of feeling, which, I mean, I guess you get that with every action movie, you know, Rambo is fighting, you know, 20 guys at a time when assault rifles, and he's fine.
But I would like to think that we can come up with something that's a little more in-depth than an action movie, which I will say I love a good action movie taking nothing away with it. It's just not what we're writing. So was there anything that you were sort of trepidatious about when we jumped into this?
Ryan: A little bit. I think that what really was interesting to me was how deciding to include firearms in our story immediately made us ask a lot of questions about the world and the world building that we need to do. Because the addition of weapons means the addition [00:20:00] of new technologies. You need to have a certain level of metalworking.
You need to have a certain knowledge of combustion and black powder. And all of these have trickle down effects in the world that don't just stand alone. Like you can't have guns and not. All the other things that come with guns. And so it was fun having the discussions with you over the days slash weeks that it took to figure out the world.
Um, because it really challenges right off the bat with new questions that you wouldn't have to answer in a world that has less technology. And so that was really fun for me. It was a lot more work, but I also really enjoyed a deeper understanding of the world, which actually directly led to some of the plot conflict.
That [00:21:00] will be center stage in this new work. So it was really fun. I really enjoyed it.
Taylor: Yeah. I agree with that. And I, and I D I also thought it was cool. How quickly the technology itself, one little decision let's have guns instead of swords led to a change in what the story is really going to look like.
So, yeah, that was cool.
Ryan: I was going to ask, have you read much in the way of urban fantasy where modern technology does live side-by-side with magic?
Taylor: Honestly, no, I haven't seen, I haven't seen a ton of that and it's something that I've always thought would be fun to write, but I haven't read much of it. I think the biggest one I saw was there was a pretty mediocre Netflix movie with will Smith.
I think where he was a cop and he was partnered with, and there was like elves and I can't even remember what it was called, but it was like, right. I think. Yeah. Yeah. Blight. Yeah. Bright that's right. [00:22:00] Yeah. So it was Brett, it felt like they missed an opportunity to make that a TV series. I feel like that that show would have, or that concept would have done a lot better if it was able to breathe over the course of 10 episodes in a couple of seasons.
Right. Yeah, we had felt a little cobbled together and forced, but the concepts were pretty cool. So yeah, that's, that's about my experience.
Ryan: I will confess that I have not read a lot of urban fantasy, um, but I do find it really interesting how the authors who do it very well, find different ways to blend. The modern world with ancient magics. And it's really fun. I really. I really like it. It's not a world-building skill that I'm very good at, but I do think that [00:23:00] including guns in this series that we're doing now has made me think a little bit more like an urban fantasy author about how magic and technology can work well together.
Um, which maybe leads me to an interesting question. For you Taylor. And that is, um, when thinking of epic fantasy, and this is purely speculative and you're not ready for this one at all. Um, but do you, do you think that magic and technology can co-exist, uh, uh, a higher, more moderate level of technology?
Can they co-exist in the secondary worlds that we create an epic fantasy? Or do you think that there is going to be a natural displacement of magic? If technology advances beyond the medieval stage? [00:24:00]
Taylor: That's a really interesting question. And my, my gut response, I think is. Sort of influenced by the fact that all I've ever wanted in my life was to be like a wizard and have magic.
So I would say, I hope that yes, the two things could coexist and to a certain extent, I don't understand why they couldn't. Right. Like, it's not like there's. Written law somewhere that says, just because we can create a superconductor means that you, you know, you wouldn't be able to conjure a fireball or a lightning bolt.
And you know, it just, it seems like the two, like the only reason I would see that one sort of dying off is if the efficacy of the things that magic does. Is greatly reduced in compared to, in comparison to the things that technology does. So if it's, if [00:25:00]it takes years of study for just a few people to be able to do magic, but technology allows that those things to happen.
Anyway, you can understand why the majority of people would move to the technology. And then those that are interested in the magic, it might die out, but it's magic. So why wouldn't you want it?
Ryan: I realize this is not what we initially started discussing at all, but I just think it's just a fascinating tangent with, um, the way that magic and technology have so much in common in a way, because really at the root, both magic and technology seek to transform the world in certain ways. And I think you're, I think you're absolutely spot on if, I mean, we can even think of something about something as simple as creating light.
If creating a globe of light takes you, you know, four [00:26:00] years of diligent study at your local wizard school, or you can get a light bulb or a flashlight, then by nature, technology will simply overtake magic. I mean, it's the same way that technology, newer technology overtakes older technology, right? Like very few people are using flip phones anymore.
Even though 15 years ago, 10 years ago, those used to be the height of technology
Taylor: and they still work the function for what you want it to do. But one thing just functions better. Now let's take it to let's let's extend that thought. And say that similarly, similar to being an electrician requires work and not everyone can do it, but we all use electricity.
We all use light being a mage that can create in chanted, sconces. Create takes time and we cannot do it. So then it becomes then. Okay. So what does it look like to the consumer? Is it cheaper and easier to [00:27:00] buy a $2 light bulb and a home that automatically comes wired for electricity? Or is it cheaper and easier to buy a sconce?
That is enchanted and do whatever the thing is. And you need to do to make that enchanted sconce light your house. And what's better. Is the light bulb as bright as the sconce or is one was one better than the other, you know? And then I honestly think you would get to a point where you're like in the same way that I, as a kid out of, you know, moving out for the first time, bought all of my crappy furniture at Ikea.
Because that's what I could afford now that my wife and I have a home that we stay in, we are willing to spend more money on the nicer things. So is that what happens? You walk into as an old man, this, this guy has got, he doesn't have a light bulb in the place. It's all sconces. That's nice. Like, is it, is it that kind of thing?
Because if that's the case, I guarantee you magic wouldn't die [00:28:00] because there's always going to be a market for those, you know, handcrafted, one of a kind items they're just more expensive. So is that what it looks like?
Ryan: Hmm, it seems to me that magic can co-exist with technology so long as magic can confer some benefit that technology can not. Yeah. Like if the two products are indistinguishable from one another, then yes, technology would probably eventually win. And so long as it's cheaper, unless you're magicians are really, really good at creating sconces.
I think that so long as magic allows you to affect the world in ways that technology can't, they can co-exist, but it does seem that otherwise the technology would take over at least the majority, if not all of the world.
Taylor: Yeah, I, yeah. And I think it's just because magic by its nature. You [00:29:00] know, the, the example of enchanting something and chanting as a magical ability, or maybe, and I guess maybe something like potions, some kind of alchemy, those are things that you can pass on as a service.
But outside of that magic is something that you do for yourself by yourself or for other people, but you need to do it like it needs to be the magic user itself. Whereas technology by its very nature allows people like you and I, that don't have the technical skills. To put together the hardware required for this computer to run the software.
That's required for us to record this and publish it. It allows us to do all that with the touch of a button, because other people that did take the time are then able to mass produce the things that allow us to, to use that service. And that's not the nature of magic. I don't think for the most part, right.
If, and if you're like, okay, so combat and I can get a major because he can throw fireballs and he supports your infantry. All right. Well, I can make guns and then all of my infantry is throwing fireballs. So [00:30:00] Y Y yes, of course. It's going to, okay. So I think there's, there's, I think if you're trying to make that comparison, 'cause even in fantasy worlds, very rarely is everybody able to do magic proficiently at a high level.
So they become unique even in the, even in the fantasy worlds. Whereas technology is for everybody. It's again, it's not great equalizer. So I think that's the reason that the two wouldn't be able to coexist. Or if they did, it would be what are the, okay. You need to be registered to own a firearm. Do you need to be registered to throw fireballs?
And, but you're a human being. Should you be registered because they did the whole mutant registration act that X-Men, or, or, or the superhero or the civil war, uh, storylines in all of its different incarnations for Marvel, right. Where you're there, you're registering superheroes, you're human beings. So there's, there's a lot of questions that is.
So that's a can of worms that's for sure that it opens up.
Ryan: You mean like our discussion today [00:31:00] that started on weapons and ended up with a mutant registration.
Taylor: Yeah, that's pretty good. eh?
Ryan: uh, would you call that a pretty good way to wrap up this conversation?
Taylor: Yeah, I think we, yeah, I think that sort of puts a bow on it nicely. That's that's pretty good. So yeah, we also talked about one magical items specifically, just watching. Do you, I guess, because the ring was in there.
Ryan: Yeah, I, I liked, I liked this. How are we meant to discuss one thing and ended up completely in a different place? It seems very much like most of our conversations, which I,
Taylor: yeah, exactly. If you, if you guys are wondering the percentage of how much work Ryan and I get done when we're together versus how much of this happens, this is a pretty good example of a
Ryan: pretty good example.
Okay, well, we will, we will call it for today and we will see what wandering conversation we will have, uh, next week. But [00:32:00] for everyone listening, thank you so much as always transcripts and links and all of that will be in the show notes. And yeah. Thank you for joining us yet again.
Taylor: Thanks everyone. We'll talk to you soon.