A Shared Universe
anthology series edited by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull
. The other contributors included, among others, Steven Brust
, Pamela Dean
, Charles de Lint
, John M Ford
, Nancy Kress
, Megan Lindholm
, Alan Moore
, Caroline Stevermer
, Walter Jon Williams
, Gene Wolfe
, Patricia C. Wrede
, and Jane Yolen
. The series begun with an eponymous book in 1985, followed by four more anthologies. A couple of individual Liavek stories have also appeared in other venues.
Liavek is a city-state with both a fairly detailed magic system
and technology on the edge of the Industrial Age- for example, there are railroads, but no factories.
Liavekan magic is based on the concept of "birth luck", inherent magic that most people can use only on their birthdays, and then only during the hours that correspond to the time their mother spent in labor. In order to become a magician, a person must put their magic into an object, a process called investiture. If they succeed, they are able to practice magic as long as their luck object is nearby and isn't destroyed. If they fail, they die.
Magicians have to reinvest their magic every year. If their luck object is destroyed, they're Brought Down to Normal
until their next birthday. If it's destroyed on their "ill-luck time", the day of the year opposite their birthday, they're Brought Down to Normal
All spells come undone on the birthday of the magician who created them. Permanently magical objects do exist, but they're extremely rare, since the magician has to sacrifice their magic in order to create one, and if it's destroyed during their lifetime, they die.
This series provides examples of: