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Discussion: Magical Realism


Today’s topic comes from QSFer John Marshall:

Magical realism. When we include magic in our paranormal settings, do we look to the real word or do we seek something totally original? If we do choose to use real world cultural traditions, how can we both indulge in poetic licence but also be sensitive to the history of white authors sensationalizing non-western cultures in really shitty ways?

This topic is near and dear to my heart, as I often include magical realism elements in my stories. I love how it can add a different element to an otherwise run-of-the-mill contemporary tale.

So as a reader, do you like stories with a bit of magical realism? What are some of your favorite examples? And as a writer, how have you used it in your stories? Do you appropriate magic from other cultures?


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1 thought on “Discussion: Magical Realism”

  1. I’m not sure that anyone can be totally original when including magic in our stories, since the essence of magic is empirical in spite of cultural manifestations. It took me a year to develop my metaphor of the Great Web of All-that-Is in Traveling Light, but the basic idea is hardly original to me. My version of it, I believe, was respectful to other traditions where that metaphor is part of the cosmology.

    I stick to western shamanic and Wiccan, for the most part, since they are part of my personal heritage and experience. I haven’t found that at all restrictive. Quite the opposite, I’ve found those traditions offer unlimited material for magic in my stories.


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