Self-replicating Talismans

Here’s the text:

In books like Garth Nixon’s Abhorsen, and even in Spellwright, some person (human, spirit, or god) has to read the magical signs and understand them in order to “translate” them into magical action. That’s magical-as-human-language.

In Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris and S. Andrew Swan’s Broken Crescent, magic works like computer programming language, so the spell-caster submits a magical sign to a mechanism that cranks out a magical action. But that machine was still made by someone (usually a god). That’s magic-as-machine-language.

A spell system based on biology would have to be one with no person (human or god) involved. Magical signs are not signs at all, but objects (call them “talismans”) that interact with each other to produce effects. String together talismans in the right order, and their effects combine into a higher-order “spell.” Make the string long and complex enough, and you start getting emergent properties that you couldn’t have predicted.

Talismans, then, are another order of life that exists alongside familiar humans and their kin. Humans have “domesticated” some spells and can use them reliably, but others and wild and dangerous.

Hm. Have I just invented a fantasy version of Petrolea?

@exxos-von-steamboldt : I am picturing the taxonomical tree and wondering if magic exists as a domain or being non-cellular, if it might be over with the viruses and viroids. Or maybe yet on the level of “life…” Superdomains Life and Magic?

A fireball spell is Pyroprojectus spirii? It’s spores live in dry wood and coal nuggets.

Eccentric spell breeders try to interbreed spells like toy dog breeds and get gradually crappier and crappier, but more showy and eccentric spells.

“I combined a perpetual wax spell with a scented air spell!”

“You created an air wick scented refill with anxiety is what you did!”

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