Four ways we get drawn in by magical literature

At least 20% of my current to-read list...
At least 20% of my current to-read list…

Shadowed figures stare at lit boxes
Power of knowledge from all ages at their touch
Feline pleasures instead feel their eyes
And the story will continue without them.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, working my way through the Story of Fire and Ice series (aka. Game of Thrones books). I realized a trend to this series which seems to be overwhelmingly common amongst most science fiction and fantasy literature. A “trope,” if you may – A character or some all knowing creature who presents cryptic clues to the protagonists or antagonists which hints to future events to come.

This acts as a driver of interest for the reader, but leaves them guessing about what is going to happen next. I know that I enjoy this style of literature, but I am left wondering, why do I find this so fun to read? Why does it work so well as a story structure and keep me coming back for more?

Most importantly, how can a potential writer use this to their advantage to make interesting books?

Why does partially spoiling a book make that book so appealing?

It allows a small bit of the author’s real person to enter the story

When an author adds mystical clues to their story, they are subtly spoiling it for you. They want you to know what is coming, but they cannot just outright tell you. If they did, then they could skip the entire series that leads up to that release. However, by using an omniscient character in the novel, the author enters into the story, speaking directly with their own characters and the reader.

The writer has been dropping these clues throughout the book  like hidden treasure, giving all of the readers something to talk about around the water cooler. I have read tons of theories about Game of Thrones specifically because there are tons of cryptic clues hidden throughout the book and TV show. Each one built up from these cryptic clues and prophecies.

Note though, the prophecies must be cryptic. If they are not, then the book would be spoiled and boring. So remember that…

Most wrapped boxes are fun and exciting, until they are opened.

This is simple way to explain why LOST was so awesome until it wasn’t. The big problem with LOST was it felt like a Christmas tree, every episode being  loaded with more and more awesomely shaped and sized gifts, each of them hinting at some very cool and deep underlying universe where all of the bat shit craziness made sense. Each one a prophecy of something mind blowing to come. Yet, around season 4, viewers started getting a bit pissed, the piles of boxes kept piling up, but no one was opening them, there was no release.

Then, the worst came to past and it was clear why they weren’t being opened. They contained garbage and disappointment. Most of the prophecies were answered in a way tangential to the overlying story, and when they were found out, it felt more like seeing the wizard behind the curtain, than learning something foundational that made all of the other pieces fit together in a satisfying way.

If the wrapped box is a puzzling prophecy, that almost implies that the answers should not be lame or silly. Why? Because they are the structural answers to the story. Regardless, a puzzling prophecy is a mystery and…

Mysteries are cool and fun to figure out

Everyone loves mysteries. You can talk about it with friends. Come up with theories, each one progressively more complex. Yet, no one loves mysteries when you have to bang your head against the wall every page of a book.

I think cryptic prophecies are a fantastic halfway point for this. They give you just enough pieces to come up with intricate theories, but then reel it in every once and a while so you are brought back to the main story thread, and generally you learn the solution to the prophecy in pieces, not with one grand reveal (a la Sherlock Holmes.)

If you spread this out over multiple books, I think you pretty much guarantee yourself a fan club. If the book is good, people will find others online and create communities solely dedicated to trying to figure it all out. This works particularly well because they know the writer already has an answer to it and is slowly revealing it.

I’ve seen this happen with reality TV shows even. People love to try to suss out the intentions of the writer. We, in a way, enjoy being spoiled. As long as we are doing the spoiling to ourselves.

It gives the appearance of magic and purpose to our lives

This is deeper and more metaphysical. When we read stories, we find it easier to write our own story of our lives. The integration of prophecy and magic in a storybook seems to open prophecy and magic in our own lives. I don’t mean that people who read Harry Potter will suddenly discover how to cast spells and fly, nor do I mean that people who read Game of Thrones are going to see dragons flying around London.

Instead, it gives the seed of the child in our psyche. The possibility of a grander narrative to our lives. We read stories, sometimes of grand characters and sometimes of peons, but in the process we take on a bit of those characters, if only for an instant. We become the warrior, the maiden, the smith, the crone, the father, the mother or even the stranger, and while that moment is fleeting, it gives us a bit of magic ourselves. Those prophecies only apply to those characters in the book, but possibly there is some prophecy we don’t know that applies to us.

Some sort of magic that might give us purpose.

It draws us in to solve the cryptic prophecy, but in the end that didn’t even matter. It was only a dance between the reader and the writer.

The transcendence of being

It takes a couple of reads to understand, but it’s a good analysis of some pretty major philosophical structures underlying the idea of God.

Just Thomism

Hypothesis: Physics and mathematics are those discourses in which Nominalism involves no immediate contradiction. 

By “Nominalism” I mean the claim that predicated natures are beings of reason.* When we say “John is a man” then the predicate can be viewed without immediate contradiction as an ens rationis, abstracted from the concrete reality of “John” or “this man”.

But there is an immediate contradiction in assuming the same thing about “John is real” or “a being”. The real is divided by contradiction from the unreal or the being of reason. One is free to see “being” or “real” as the limit of abstraction, but the limit is not homogeneous with what leads up to it – at the most general level one hits something that does engender a contradiction if it is seen as merely logical, abstract, or ens rationis. 

But to leave it at this would give us the universe…

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IBM and Apple Team Up – And here’s why we’re excited!

This is huge.

Blog - Panda Rose Consulting Studios, Inc.

We here at Panda Rose have been involved with developing for the IBMi and IOS platforms since we opened up shop back in 2009.  We love the power, security and options we get for the IBMi Systems and we love the ease of use and accessibility of IOS apps. We’ve utilized IBMi technology for large, enterprise level companies, as well as for our own business, and we’ve developed some pretty fun apps for clients, including the newly launched Pageqlip app. That’s why we were so excited when both Apple and IBM announced today that that they would be teaming up for IBM to create over 100 enterprise grade-apps for the iPhone and iPad.

From the IBM press release:

IBM Screen Shot


How big a deal is this? Well, it’s being reported everywhere, from medium scale tech trades like The Next and Engadget to heavy hitters like Gizmodo

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The IBMi – almost 26, and still “Future Proof”

Every business we end up bringing an IBMi into is amazed at how powerful it is and how quickly their business processes improve. It’s definitely not for a small business, but if you are growing, or planning to grow, IBMi’s are still one of the best long term investments you can make.

Blog - Panda Rose Consulting Studios, Inc.

The IBMi system turned 25 in 2013. This system has been through many iterations, from Silverlake in the 80’s to the AS/400 platform in the 90’s and 00’s, to the current iteration of IBMi which runs on IBM Power Systems and IBM Pure Systems. The following video presents a brief history and some of the key points of the IBMi platform by the chief architect, Frank Soltis:

The IBMi was developed as a midrange server for small to medium sized businesses and departments in large enterprises. Over the years it’s been redesigned so that it will integrate within distributed networks and with web applications. In fact, the final“I” in IBMi stands for integration.

It features a Java virtual memory platform to allow for simplified mixed language coding and multi-terabytes of disk storage. IBM developed it with the intent of creating a server that will replace PC servers and Web servers for businesses, Wintel and UNIX servers. With this change, the…

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Did HeartBleed affect you? Then donate to OpenSSL to keep it from happening again.

For everyone who heard about the Heartbleed vulnerability. OpenSSL is the foundation that develops this encryption standard used by a very large chunk of the web. Here is a note from them about how many donations they get in perspective to how important they are.

In a typical year the OpenSSL project receives about US$2000 in donations.

This week we have received roughly 200 donations totaling nearly US$3000. Amounts have ranged between $0.02 and $300, and I notice that some individuals have made multiple contributions.

For the larger donations and multiple contributors I like to send a personal note in addition to the canned response message. I apologize for not doing that this week due to the unusually large volume of E-mail correspondence (donations and otherwise).

Please know that these contributions are greatly appreciated, as much for the show of support as the monetary value. 100% of all donations (minus the hefty PayPal fees) will go directly to OpenSSL team members.

-Steve M.

You can donate here if you want your banking, taxes, and other online services to remain secure for the future.