A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama


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Post August 08, 2004, 03:09:27 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

For anyone who might not have made the connection, the concept of mana sinks (although not uncommon in some fantasy computer games) in this case was suggested by Kevin E. in a post re: A Matter of Faith. He speculated that if Prufrock was so lethal to magic users, objects from his world might be dangerous, too (but in a more controllable way). So -- if you don't like the idea, blame him! ;)<br><br>Mizu Ash, who got to read this one earlier, found Morgenstern's 'mercy' less plausible. I attributed it to (a) his ego, which would not be well served by killing Al when he was already helpless and unable to fight back, and (b) a little bit of fear. Consider: Morgenstern thinks of himself as practically a god, invulnerable and far beyond any wizard's ability to harm him. Then Al appears out of nowhere through no means that Morgenstern can identify (no trace of an apportation spell) and HURTS HIM. For all Morgenstern's bluster, he now knows that he CAN be injured by those he believed to be beneath him, and a flying squad of Magisters might be closing in to finish him off. So -- yes, there might be a little nobility in the Big M's withdrawal from the scene, but not much!<br><br>(The spell that Githros gives to Al, incidentally, is completely ungrammatical Rumanian -- i.e., Walachian magic, unfamiliar to Morgenstern.)<br><br>Just to whet your appetite for the Final Battle -- it ISN'T mana sinks that will decide the outcome ... (and no, I don't know yet how many stories there will be before then).<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 08, 2004, 10:57:30 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

This is a good effort, but I have to admit that I liked the last one better.<br><br>There were some parts that I really liked:<br><br>Janine and Al's dialog in the beginning, for one. I've been married over ten years, and yes, sometimes the male of the species just can't get enough of his mate. Also, I liked how she wanted to be there in the final battle. It goes toward the whole 'till death us do part' thing. Thumbs up there.<br><br>I thought there was a lot more description and detail than in previous stories. The dialog had better pace and flow because it had more description and actions in between the sections of speech, especially in Al's 2nd trip to the College.<br><br>I do like that there is _some_ mixing of science and magic, in that just because his body is fast, doesn't mean that it's less subject to friction. One would assume that there normally is another spell for that.<br><br>As for the rest of it... Well, I've read it three times to see if it would 'grow on me.'<br><br>
...the concept of mana sinks (although not uncommon in some fantasy computer games) in this case was suggested by Kevin E. in a post re: A Matter of Faith. He speculated that if Prufrock was so lethal to magic users, objects from his world might be dangerous, too (but in a more controllable way). So -- if you don't like the idea, blame him!
<br>Bad, naughty Kevin! ;)<br><br>Does this mean that water-borne beings have yet another kind of magic? Are there naga, mermaids, kelpies, or any of the more common aquatic magical beings in Al's world? How do they do their magic in water? Wouldn't The Wild be held back by the same anti-magical effect?<br>(I mean, if the items were in alcohol, I could see it. We all know alcohol has numbing effects. 8) )<br><br>
Mizu Ash, who got to read this one earlier, found Morgenstern's 'mercy' less plausible... )
<br>I've have to go with Mizu Ash on that one. Here is a dead, god-like wizard, who planned his takeover of the world since before he died. He's in a battle against his archenemy where if he wins, he takes the world in a cakewalk. All he's got to do is win, (just win, not win by a couple of touchdowns) and we're all his zombies, forever. He takes a hit, a good one, but rebounds. AND THEN LEAVES!<br>Does he insist that he only fight his greatest enemy when his enemy is at full strength? I thought his goal was the world, not beating Al.<br><br>I went back and re-read A Matter of Faith. It doesn't say that Profrock came from another world, a world drained of all mana, just that he REALLY didn't believe in magic. His disbelief drained magic, and Al's belief finally sent him away. (BTW, by that line of logic, shouldn't Al just have to convince himself that Morgenstern can't do magic? Wouldn't that nullify Big, Green, & Dead's spells?)<br><br>When all is said and done, the story didn't actually progress very much. Al's still getting better. The College is still working on more magic "Q" gadgets. Morganstern is still PO-ed and howling for Al's head, but isn't ready to go the distance over him. I hate to sound overly negative, but this yarn comes off as a 'teaser'--a "tune in next week for more" TV spot. <br><br>I admit I'm a stick in the mud by nature, but I was looking for more, especially after how high you've set the bar in previous stories.<br><br>Nate
Last edited by kailhofer on August 08, 2004, 11:24:04 PM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 09, 2004, 01:23:00 AM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

Re: 'Bad naughty Kevin!'<br><br>The idea that water and glass (the combination thereof) would moderate the flow of mana was mine, not Kevin's. In an earlier draft, Sciavone explained to Al that in Prufrock's world*, glass is known to block harmful wavelengths of light, and water is used to moderate the flow of new-trons in new-clear generators. (Or nukular generators, as Dubya would put it.) The College found that glass and water together dampened the mana-draining effect; hence water alone would not have the same effect. Undines and water sprites and the like would only be hampered if they were in a glass tank -- saaaay, there's another story idea). (*Prufrock did come from another universe, if that wasn't clear in A Matter of Faith ...)<br><br>Walachian magic and the power behind werewolf transformation use mana -- but it may be of a slightly different kind (wavelength?) than the type used commonly by wizards of Kabbalistic and Hermetic traditions. This energy (called The Wild by the inner circle of the Baldies) is more chaotic than the usual kind -- easier to tap if you have the talent, but harder to control. It is actually unusual for a purely human wizard to use it -- for one thing, werewolf transformation is due to a contagious curse (the Fast Anthropo-Canine Transformation, or F.A.C.T. curse) rather than being something that can be learned, for another, the Walachians (vampires) don't share their magic books with just anybody. In spite of this, mana sinks DO affect magic based on The Wild -- note that Billy reverted to human form once the mana sink spheres were broken.<br><br><br>Robert M.
Last edited by Robert_Moriyama on August 09, 2004, 01:38:50 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Post August 09, 2004, 01:26:12 AM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama


Uh oh, I've been found out, I'd better go hide behind Githros... Er Githros, why are you turning pink and losing horns? :o

Kevin
<br><br>Hmm. Apparently Kevin sucks -- mana, that is ... :P<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 09, 2004, 01:35:46 AM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

This is a good effort, but I have to admit that I liked the last one better.
<br><br>Aieee! My sword -- I must throw myself upon my sword! (I tried throwing myself on my keyboard, but it just wasn't the same.)<br><br>
Here is a dead, god-like wizard, who planned his takeover of the world since before he died. He's in a battle against his archenemy where if he wins, he takes the world in a cakewalk. All he's got to do is win, (just win, not win by a couple of touchdowns) and we're all his zombies, forever. He takes a hit, a good one, but rebounds. AND THEN LEAVES!
Does he insist that he only fight his greatest enemy when his enemy is at full strength? I thought his goal was the world, not beating Al.
<br><br>I explained this the best I could in my earlier post. Morgenstern is a god, or likes to think that he is. As such, his ego demands that he defeat an enemy when that enemy is at full strength, not when he is curled up in a ball on the floor. Then there's that niggling little Fear Factor (TM NBC) ...<br><br>Also, it is not entirely a sure thing that Morgenstern would have been as destructive as he has been if his original plan had worked out. Githros, way back in Grave Matters, suggested that Morgenstern had never been exactly a nice guy, but that it was being resurrected after decades of being dead that had made him insane.<br><br>'Sides, he's never said that he wants to rule the world -- he just reserves the right to demolish anyone or anything that gets on his nerves.<br><br>
When all is said and done, the story didn't actually progress very much. Al's still getting better. The College is still working on more magic "Q" gadgets. Morganstern is still PO-ed and howling for Al's head, but isn't ready to go the distance over him. I hate to sound overly negative, but this yarn comes off as a 'teaser'--a "tune in next week for more" TV spot.
Nate
<br> Cary had somewhat the same criticism that the story didn't have a plot of its own -- it is, alas, a chapter in the longer saga, as a lot of the stories in the series are. The major developments -- the introduction of mana sinks and Morgenstern's penetration of whatever magic the College set up to hide Al and company from Morgenstern (while not preventing clients from reaching them) -- advance the main plot, but there really is no self-contained story here. (Sigh) Think of it as the modern equivalent of a Dickens novel, published in installments, if that helps ...<br> <br>Robert M.
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Post August 09, 2004, 11:19:29 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

Before reading these comments, I took Morgenstern's premature exit (thankfully he wasn't smooth and pink!) to be him escaping because the attack had weakened him very much- but he didn't want to admit to that, hence his speech claiming to be allowing them a second chance.
<br>As Sciavone or Blackstone (even I'd have to look it up) told Al, Morgenstern relies almost entirely on his overwhelming capacity to channel mana. Having penetrated the masking spells that hid Al's home from him, how does Morgenstern attack? He phases in and tries to incinerate Janine and Billy with the sheer power of his aura -- the same thing that Al and Githros escaped back in A Matter of Degrees. When he was alive, Morgenstern was a wizard of superior if not supreme skill, at least in the Kabbalistic tradition largely contained in the books he gave to Al. But since his resurrection, he has never thought it necessary to use skill when strength alone was enough. Now, he may be wondering if he IS strong enough ... So far, you're the only one that felt that Morgenstern might have been more shaken by being injured than he would admit.<br><br>
Morgenstern doesn't seem that powerful when he is encountered, but there has to be a fight or the series would be over before it started. Moreover, it is intruiging to watch these underdogs battle against his might by thinking up new tricks. Morgenstern seems too arrogant to fight back in the same way; he thinks he is already a superpower.
<br>This could have been a very short series (like the classic very short cartoon, Bambi vs. Godzilla (I am not making this up; it exists)) if Morgenstern were as unbeatable as he thought he was. But the College has (until now) been able to block his attempts to find Al, again because Morgenstern has relied on power instead of skill.<br><br>Morgenstern is definitely strong and skilful enough to destroy any wizard alive if he uses his skills instead of just blasting away or trying to light-bulb them to death. Now that he knows that he is still vulnerable, he will probably use spells instead of raw power in any future confrontation. But the Good Guys now have a number of tricks (Al's unfamiliar-to-Morgenstern Walachian magic, including the blackout spell, the change-to-mist, and the superspeed spell; mana sink spheres) in addition to Al's possible partial immunity to Morgenstern's power. Will it be enough? Stay tuned to this Bat-channel ...<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 12, 2004, 09:40:21 AM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

Here are my quibbles:

... However (that's really just a big BUTt), I didn't feel drawn into this story from the beginning.  Yes, we have a wizard, he solves crimes with magic, he has a pet demon (who wasn't there, but was painted in well [PINK? LOL]), yes he schmoozes with magical professors who let him in on cutting-edge research. . . but where's the story?  Where's the hook?

..._A Matter of Urgency_ (a little ironc comparing title and first scene) ... 

-- david j  
<br>Oddly enough, the earlier draft of the story started with Al and Janine testing the protective properties of the 'naked' (not enclosed in glass and water) mana sink. However, Cary Semar thought that there was too much backstory (in the form of a long and awkward narrative paragraph) and had other objections to how the scene was handled. Adding the scene with Sciavone allowed the mana sinks to be introduced in a more 'natural' way, but did delay the start of the action (burying the lead, in journalistic terms). I would have hoped that the reference to Morgenstern's destructive acts in the first paragraph would have whetted the appetite of the reader, but I guess it didn't work!<br><br>The title refers (obliquely) to the 'urgency' of Janine and Billy's situation, and the speed spell Al uses to reach them in time, but might also refer to the overall Morgenstern situation. The Big M has escalated from spectacular but 'harmless' demonstrations (he carved an earlier demand for Al in meter-high letters on a mountainside) to major property damage (destroying a school); the next step might involve mass murder, since he views himself as a god and mere humans as unimportant.<br><br>I'm glad that you liked the story overall, and am grateful for the constructive comments. Learning what DIDN'T quite work is useful (and confirms that the reader was paying attention).<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 12, 2004, 09:48:53 AM

Re:  A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

...i love the names you choose, like Prufrock, which i assume relates to the origin world's lack of faith in magic and fixation with so-called scientific reality. am i correct?

Lee
<br>Prufrock is actually a character from another story of mine (well, three stories) in which he stubbornly refuses to believe in paranormal phenomena in spite of having them happen to him. (In 'Prufrock's Problem', he does mental gymnastics of Olympic quality to rationalize the otherworldly qualities of an alien whose ship crash-lands in his back yard.) He is named after the title character of the T. S. Eliot poem, 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' (although the name has been bent a bit into Albert J. Prufrock), mainly because the Eliot character seems like the epitome of prissiness and stubborn adherence to cherished beliefs.<br><br>'Prufrock's Problem' appeared in the long-defunct Titan webzine some years ago; a revised and expanded version appeared in 'Planet Relish' last year. Planet Relish then folded. Hmm. Could the story be cursed???<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 13, 2004, 01:18:20 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

There's only one item that I didn't care for.  The ending.  The villian should have blown them away.  Egotistical in strategies is one thing, egotistical in tactics is another.  If you have your enemy down, you finish him.  I lost a lot of respect for Morgensterm, feeling he was incompetent.  He took on a comicbook flavor at that point.
<br>If you read all the posts you'd have seen my earlier remarks -- fear may have played a part in Morgenstern's hasty departure.  Besides, the series would end on kind of a grim note if the final scene had the College Masters (the senior and, aside from Morgenstern and possibly Al, the most powerful wizards) arriving only to find three piles of ashes on the floor (all that would be left of Al, Janine, and Billy)!  Morgenstern will probably regain the respect of those who think he wimped out this time when he next appears, as he will be more than 'a big green lightbulb' -- he will show that he is a skillful and knowledgable wizard who happens to wield enormous power.<br><br>Would you readers have been happier if Morgenstern had killed (say) Billy on the way out, just to be mean?  Since he HAD defeated Billy himself (whereas Al had been exhausted upon arrival), he might have felt that doing so was acceptable under the Supervillain Code of Conduct ...  You would?  You're just prejudiced because Billy's a werewolf -- or maybe because he's a lawyer ...<br><br>(Grumble grumble critics mutter mutter)<br>Robert M.<br>
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Post August 13, 2004, 10:02:16 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

And no, I don't have anything against werewolves. Elves, maybe, but not werewolves. ;-)
<br>
I'd avoid saying that to Trixie if I were you, Jaimie.
LOL!
Dan
<br><br>Trixie, the Mare Inebrium waitress, is an elf? Man, I really have to check out the Mare bible again ...<br><br>(Or did you mean that Trixie likes elves?)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 22, 2004, 12:56:14 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

For anyone who found the character of Prufrock (from A Matter of Faith) interesting, the story that introduced him to the world (not Al's world!) may be appearing next month or the month after, assuming that Cary accepts it. The story, "Prufrock's Problem", originally appeared in Chad Cottle's Titan Webzine some years ago. An updated version appeared last year in Planet Relish. (Both Titan and Planet Relish are now defunct. Must be a coincidence, right?) So, if Cary is brave and open to expending electrons and server space on a retread, ...<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>This is, of course, a cheap way of getting the A Matter of Urgency topic back onto Page 1, and a shot at creating advance interest in the Prufrock story. It's a two-fer shameless plug, a first for this lettercol!
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Post August 22, 2004, 04:08:09 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama


Are there other stories in the Al Majius continuum, (realizing that Prufock was not originally part of Al's world) that have appeared in other Webzines, but have not appeared here, and if so, any plans to submit them here?

Kevin
<br>I will admit that the first two Majius gang stories were submitted elsewhere (specifically, Strange Horizons and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) before coming to Aphelion. Neither of them made it. After the first few stories, when the Morgenstern plotline became a dominant factor, I really couldn't peddle the subsequent entries elsewhere because they did depend to some extent on What Has Gone Before. So, no, there are no 'lost episodes'. The complete Al Majius series (at least until the Morgenstern problem has been resolved) will appear here, as long as I can satisfy Cary's (or Jeff's, if the stories cross the 7,500 word limit) requirements ...<br><br>Robert M.<br><br>PS Why do you ask? Do you have the feeling you've missed something?
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Post August 22, 2004, 06:13:38 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

It's a two-fer shameless plug, a first for this lettercol!
<br>Shameless, indeed.<br><br>At least I managed to bring up "Just Another Day at the Office" in two other threads now, legitimately. ;D<br><br>Nate
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Post August 22, 2004, 08:51:27 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

Shameless, indeed.

At least I managed to bring up "Just Another Day at the Office" in two other threads now, legitimately. ;D

Nate
<br>"Legitimately". Uh huh. Suuure. (I prefer to mention my stories as shining examples of what some other author has failed to accomplish in their work. You know, purely for their benefit.)<br><br>Robert M.
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Post August 22, 2004, 09:22:12 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

"Legitimately". Uh huh. Suuure. (I prefer to mention my stories as shining examples of what some other author has failed to accomplish in their work. You know, purely for their benefit.)
Robert M.
<br>"Hello, Mr. Kettle?"<br>"Mr. Pot here. Just wanted you to know that you're looking a little black today." :)<br><br>Nate
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Post August 29, 2004, 05:52:29 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyama

gr8 story, but yeah - 'a matter of urgency'? I love the conversations between Al and Janine/Githros, and you surpassed yourself on this one with dialog. <br><br>PS A challenge! See if you can plug your own work with every post. Advance interest in Prufock's story has definitely been generated.
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Post August 29, 2004, 06:38:28 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyam.

gr8 story, but yeah - 'a matter of urgency'?
<br>Hey, you try coming up with a "Matter" or "Matters" title and tying it into the story somehow. As I said in another post, 'urgency' refers to the speed spell and Janine and Billy in peril and ... not buying, it, huh? Rassumfrassumarglegrmph.<br><br>
PS A challenge! See if you can plug your own work with every post. Advance interest in Prufock's story has definitely been generated.
<br><br>I didn't mention my stuff in my comments on March to Motherhood? Damn, I'm slipping!<br><br>Robert M.
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Post September 11, 2004, 11:44:10 AM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyam.

(Doing my best to get the next star AND have my name showing as the last message poster in that month :) )
<br>Good plan, but it's so easy for someone to come along and put their name after yours. :)<br><br>Nate
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Post September 11, 2004, 01:36:24 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyam.

True, but I do have April, May, June, July, and as of this message, August again :P Today the months, tommorrow, Administrivia, bwaa haa haa haa.
<br>Fame is fleeting. :)<br><br>Nate
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Post September 11, 2004, 08:42:17 PM

Re: A Matter of Urgency by Robert Moriyam.

Fame is fleeting. :)

Nate
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