Not a witch?

Davdi Silverrock davdisil at gmail.com
Thu Jan 12 13:07:07 PST 2006

On 1/12/06, Jon_Lincicum at stream.com <Jon_Lincicum at stream.com> wrote:

> Yeah, well, I've always seen this as a case of plot convenience, more than
> anything else, since Brust never explains how a witch/familiar bond is
> different from normal psychic contact.
> There was an internal decision-making process  that said, "I need a way to
> shield Vlad from Psychic energy to hide him from the Jhereg, but I need to
> keep up the ongoing conversations between him and Loiosh while I do so."
> And rather than explaining a contrived difference between Vlad/Loiosh's
> conversations and normal psychic ones, Brust simply notes that there *is*
> a difference of some kind, and moves along.

Well, yes, but he always does that.

Actually, I could handwave a vague explanation: Regular psychic
communication is more like telephony or radio; there are formal 
magical connections made between individuals.  Vlad has essentially
put himself in a Faraday cage by donning the Phoenix stones.  Whereas
the witch-familiar bond is more like quantum entanglement ("spooky
action at a distance"), and thus cannot be defeated by the same

Now watch Philip Hart smack me down for abusing the word "quantum".

> This is not a criticism. In fact, it's a rather elegant way of preventing
> a piece of fairly meaningless minutae from getting in the way of a good
> story.
> However, this is one example of where the books cross out of Science
> Fiction (which generally offers explanations for things) into true Fantasy
> (which does not).

I am not sure if this is necessarily the best definition of the
difference between science fiction and fantasy.  But I don't think the
Dragaera stories could ever be described as being science fiction,
despite the addition of genetic engineering and such.

Hm.  Maybe it's time for another definitions thread.