Levels of Magic

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Akhi Pillalamarri
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While the fantasy genre is often associated with the need for a presence of magic or the supernatural, I would argue that need not always be the case. Could a fantasy novel not, instead, solely feature complex world-building with different lands, societies, and customs without the presence of magic? I believe so. Recently, several members of Backroom Whispering Productions read The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson, a 2015 hard-fantasy novel from Tor Books that features neither magic nor the supernatural, nor are there strange beasts or creatures. It is, instead, merely a fictional world entirely separate from our own, with customs, cultures, and technologies not found on Earth. And, yet, it is fantasy, especially if one assumes that certain seemingly supernatural elements or sentient races can be explained by the physical laws of their respective fictional worlds.For example, the otherwise magic-free 2014 fantasy novel The Goblin Emperor contains species such as Goblins and Elves, which for all we know, could have evolved naturally in that world.

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