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According to Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. And by that token, these days we’re surrounded by the mystical – from particle accelerators underground to the smartphone in your pocket.
That could be why we’re so comfortable with the idea of magic, however inexplicable the situation – we had more submissions for this issue than we’ve ever had for any theme. Over the past month, we’ve met elves and changelings and witches and warlocks, experienced spells and potions, listened to myths and fairy tales, had conversations with stones and animals, worshipped gods and goddesses. There’s a lot of magic out there.
But there’s more to its popularity than familiarity. Magic offers chaos and darkness, mystery and fear, discovery and triumph. In a world of tax returns and shopping lists, financial crises and political divisions, reality TV and micro-celebs, perhaps we need magic more than ever. Perhaps magic actually offers us something science can’t.
In this month’s Litro, we bring you Into the Woods, a dark, subtle tale by Amelia Boldaji, at its heart one of the great motifs of European folklore: the forest – a magical place of transformation, danger, and adventure, which is also the setting for J.A. McCaroll’s fantastically fantastical Sniff – featuring the otherwise unlikely meeting between a man and a troll, or possibly, his destiny. Ruth Brandt on the other hand shows us a more scientific, yet no less delightful approach to the magical in Superstitions; while Jane Wright’s The Amazing Rain explores the all too-often hidden cost of magic – and the dangers of getting what you wish for. To round things off, we offer you Mike Scott Thompson’s The Real Miracle, a story of a stage magician learning the difference between magic and trickery.
Perhaps the one thing these, and many of the stories we read this month, have in common is the idea of escape – that magic can somehow take us away from that world of tax returns and shopping lists, financial crises and political divisions, reality TV and micro-celebs – into a world in which we are surprised, challenged, amazed.
So escape with us. And though any magician worth their salt never reveals the tricks of the trade, we’ll bend the rules this once and tell you how: give yourself a break, find a quiet place, clear your mind. Then turn the pages and start reading.
Litro Magazine Editor