Book: Nolander (Emanations) by Becca Millscategories: Book, Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Fantasy Series, Speculative Fiction, Female Protagonist, Bildungsroman, Magic, Parallel Universe, Alternate Worlds, Urban Fantasy
Becca Millsabout this book: Like a lot of speculative fiction, NOLANDER was inspired by a "what if?" In my case, the "what if?" is, specifically, "What if it were real?"
One way of separating the two biggest genres of speculative fiction -- sci-fi and fantasy -- is to say that sci-fi deals with the non-existent-but-plausible whereas fantasy deals with the non-existent-and-impossible. My "what if?" has to do with bridging the divide between fantasy and sci-fi: could fantasy be positioned as being about the non-existent-but-plausible, especially if we treat "plausibility" as a somewhat stretchy concept (which is something plenty of sci-fi does)? Could science at least suggest an explanation for phenomena that seem "magical"?
And so the alternate world of the Second Emanation took shape in my mind. I won't go into the science undergirding the "magic" of that world; it's something my main character, Beth Ryder, discovers as time goes by. But I will say I've read quite a bit more about theoretical physics in the last year than I ever expected I might!
The attempt to rethink "magic" through the lens of plausibility seems to have rubbed off the whole endeavor, making realism a high priority all around. For instance, when my characters make shocking discoveries, they are ... well, shocked. They don't adjust immediately to discovering that the world is radically different than they thought. In addition, they operate under meaningful constraints. Even the most powerful characters are not free to do whatever they want. It's also important to me that animal characters remain animals rather than thinking and behaving as though they had human minds in animal bodies. They may form attachments with people, but they remain fundamentally different, fundamentally other. Depth and texture of setting matter also a great deal to me. So does moral nuance. In short, the realism of the characters, their experiences, and their world(s) is central to the series.
In the end, my most ambitious hope is that the series prompts folks to wonder, "If it were real, what would I do?" -- and to ask that question not just about magic, but about all the struggles and decisions the characters face.
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