Literature: The Magic Goes Away
"When the mana runs out, I'll go like a blown candle flame, and civilization will follow. No more magic, no more magic-based industries. Then the whole world will be barbarian until men learn a new way to coerce nature, and the swordsmen, the damned stupid swordsmen, will win after all."
's The Magic Goes Away
stories tell of an ancient civilization based on Functional Magic
powered by "Mana", but there's only a finite amount present on Earth. That nobody seems to be aware of or acknowledge this fact causes the magi, magical creatures and gods that use mana to eventually "go mythical" (a very obvious allegory
aimed at modern civilization's reliance on fixed resources).
The device that first proves this effect, and later becomes the most dangerous weapon in the world, is the "Warlock's Wheel", a simple copper disk with two spells on it: one that makes it spin ever faster without limit, and a second that makes the disc indestructible so long as there is mana available. This rapidly uses up all of the mana in the area. Small versions of the device can be used to block scrying by making a wall of magic-free areas around a fortification, but a sufficiently large one could ruin an entire nation. In later books, the Warlock's Wheel becomes a sort of Memetic Badass
, as a mage refuses to even draw a picture of one because even a drawing of one would suck all the magic out of him.
The short stories and novels include:
- Not Long Before the End (1969) — the short story that started it all
- Unfinished Story #1 (1970)
- What Good Is a Glass Dagger? (1972)
- The Magic Goes Away (1976, expanded into a novelet in 1978).
- Talisman (1981) with Dan Girard
- The Lion in His Attic (1982)
- The Wishing Game (1989)
- The Portrait of Daryanree the King (1989)
- The Burning City (2000) with Jerry Pournelle
- Chicxulub (2004)
- Boomerang (2004)
- Rhinemaidens (2005)
- Burning Tower (2005) with Jerry Pournelle
Also 2 collections of stories by other authors were published in the early 1980s:
This series influenced the following tropes:
This series provides examples of: