The Shibboleth

A Shibboleth, like a spell, is a word that has incredible power. It is a cultural signifier of both belonging and division. Creating a shibboleth doesn’t mean bringing more meaning to a word, but rather removing meaning from a word. Nearly every shibboleth is nonsense. The word Shibboleth comes from ancient Hebrew and means either the head of a wheat stalk or other grain, or a storm, torrent or tempest.

The word “Shibboleth” was the first word transformed in this way, stripped of it’s meaning and used to identify an alien culture, separating the Ephraimites from the Gileadites in the book of Judges:

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;
Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. read more

Alice’s Story is Here

I just ordered my copy, and I can’t wait to read it. From the Amazon previews it looks like it starts at the beginning, and gives us a deeper look at one of the most interesting characters in the Magicians. It definitely speaks to the power and complexity of these books that there are really no supporting characters, and every character can be seen as a protagonist in their own story. I can see this simply becoming a series, as I would be equally interested to read Elliot’s or Janet’s story.

You can buy it here:

https://www.amazon.com/Magicians-Original-Graphic-Novel-Alices/dp/1684150213

Interview with Lev Grossman

This week we caught up with Lev Grossman, author of the Magicians trilogy and many other great works to ask about his future projects, go in-depth on the books, and find out what is Magic in his life.

You’re a family guy, a full-time journalist and you have a tv show. Do you have a slot for fiction on your schedule? How do you maintain your connection to fiction and fantasy?

I quit my job! So at least I’m not a full-time journalist anymore. Though I was for almost 20 years, give or take. But I quit to focus full-time on my own writing. I still do other projects besides writing novels though — lately I’ve been dabbling in writing for TV and movies, but nothing that’s been announced yet.
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Horomancy part 1

Blue-green sparks jumped from finger to finger as Maeve wove the complex spell around her Turing smartphone. The phone was securely cryptographically encoded, it could only be used to place calls to another Turing unit that had the matching key, and her spell would ensure that it was magically unhackable as well. A component of the spell was a cypher cube, a magical object holding both the cryptographic and magical keys to the phone.

She and Bleddyn were the only ones who could manifest the identical cubes, and they could not decode the keys from the magical structure. It was a complementary system, an interchange between logic and magic. The cryptography scrambled the spell and the spell deformed the cryptography until it was both unbreakable and illegible. The magic cube was a toy, one of the first spells she had learned at Brakebills. They were used nearly universally to transfer data, such as when they had had to hand in reports and class assignments, but Maeve and Bleddyn had broken and reformed the simple spell into something much more powerful.

The green cube enclosed the phone and rotated around it as she dialed, releasing it’s keys so the signal could transmit. Finally he picked up.
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Looking for site admins

Hey Free Trader Beowulf community, I created this site and I’m not finding the time to do the administration well. If you’d like to be an admin, let me know by commenting on this post. You can also send me an email through the contact page. I really want to see the site flourish, and that’s possible through creating more content. Please let me know if you have the skills time and interest and would like to admin this site, then we’ll talk more.

 

All the best, Isaac

The Blind Palm

Gunpowder in the tray. A flash of light. Face obscured.

Suddenly I’m awake. Same dream again. The bedclothes twisted around me, drenched in sweat. Glance at my father’s watch loose on my wrist: Late for school again. Fuck it.

Aunt Maude’s solution to my problems. The Gravesend prep school.

I pack my bag. Reach out to touch the book on my nightstand. The World in the Walls. I should just leave it here, but I can’t put it down. Some addictive flood of strength from riffling the pages.

I step from the platform onto the Gravesend train, thirty minutes late. So I’ll miss assembly. I’ll miss them shouting and clapping in unison, miss the stupid shuffling mascot, felt feet building up static on the polished gym floor. It’s supposed to be a goshawk. Looks like one of the filthy city pigeons.