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Literature / The M Universe

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An Urban Fantasy series by Stevie Barry. Quite abruptly, the magic comes back via a fever pandemic. Since almost nobody knew it had ever existed in the first place, this initially goes poorly.

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The magic came back. Then the real trouble started.
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Humanity is resilient, however. After a brief wobble that doesn’t quite manage to descend into societal disruption, the world adapts and soldiers on as best it can. The Gifted and the normals reach an occasionally uneasy coexistence that’s bolstered by the fact that the spread of magic didn't end with the fever (bit hard to muster up any effective anti-magical resistance when half the members might well wake up Gifted one morning). The ensuing years bring both struggles and triumphs, as the world tries to figure out the best way to move forward while weathering (literally and metaphorically) the ever-unfolding consequences of humanity’s initial reaction to the return of magic.

Many of them are caused, directly or indirectly, by Doctor Raoul von Rached, one of a relatively small number of people who were born with their abilities long before the fever smacked the globe with a slightly sweaty tsunami of magic. A powerfully telepathic, borderline sociopathic Insufferable Genius, his curiosity and disregard for human life create a decade-long domino effect beyond anything he might have anticipated. (He truly is the gift that keeps on giving.)

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Opposing him are humanity in general, and a handful of extremely disgruntled Gifted in particular. The head of their unofficial Anti-Von Rached-Appreciation-Society is Lorna Donovan, an Irish ex-con with more reason than most to want his head on a plate (and that’s really, really saying something). Unfortunately for everyone, he manages to unseal a creature that’s an even greater threat than himself.

The books so far:

  1. The Curse of M (2017)
  2. The Storm Of M (2018)
  3. The War Of M (2019)
  4. The World Of M (2020)
  5. The Years Of M (2022)

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The series as a whole provides examples of:

  • Blessed with Suck: Quite a number of Gifts come with massive, massive downsides, ranging from potential addiction, potential insanity, or even death if overused. Many also can't be controlled without training.
  • Fantastic Slur: Those with magical abilities are sometimes referred to as the Cursed (even by some of themselves at first).
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The cast of characters has grown as the series progresses, leading to multiple (usually interconnected) plotlines.
  • Functional Magic: Of the Inherent variety. A small minority were born with their ability, but most are Randomly Gifted.
  • Hostile Weather: Excessive magical use tends to discharge itself in the weather, which can result in some mega-storms.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: There are things it can do, and things it can't do; both are consistent.
  • The Magic Came Back: The books deal with the magic coming back as a very widespread surprise.
  • Magic Misfire: Tend to happen a lot, especially to the untrained.
  • One Person, One Power: Multiple Gifts are extremely rare.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They come from the Other, and are intelligent undead children that don't decay. They were created by the Other’s deity of Undeath who they call Mama Tanya (whose real name isn’t actually Tanya. Her true name was too difficult for her children to pronounce, so one of them called her Tanya and it stuck.)
  • Power Incontinence: A big problem among the Randomly Gifted, since most Gifts are not naturally intuitive.
  • Power Limiter: Iron is the only known thing that can dampen magic, so prisons rapidly learn to build cells with walls of iron. Hospitals often have a few iron rooms, too, in case of non-malicious Magic Misfire.
  • Shared Dream: Exactly what it says. The Gifted are capable of massive dream-sharing, meeting in an astral plane known as the Garden.
  • Small, Secluded World: The Other, a parasite dimension that tends to steal things (and people) from properly-developed dimensions like Earth. Only a small portion of it is actually inhabitable, and once you’ve been sucked in, it’s very, very difficult to get out again. It also has a habit of yanking things from different time periods, though nobody, including its deities, understands how or why.
  • The Unmasqued World: Prior to the fever, keeping the Masquerade was pretty easy: the population of magical people was comparatively small, and most of them inhabited a Pocket Dimension safely away from the world of the normals. The fever blew the lid off that in a big way, since the natural-born Gifted were the only chance many of the Randomly Gifted had of learning how to control their new abilities.
  • The X of Y: All the titles so far.
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