…and in the end, corrupted them
Ok, kids, today we start a series of Doclopedia entries that tie in with my fiction blog.
The Doclopedia #290
After The Change Came: The First Year
From a series of articles by Mr. Robert “Doc” Cross, that appeared in the Times of Luna in 2000.
It has been just over a year since Magic came (returned?) to the planet Earth and, for those first 5 days, to the Moon. I have been asked by Ms. Kohladi, the editor of this fine publication, to write a few words about both my own experiences when the Change came and the general effects Magic had upon the world.
To begin with, the quick story of where I was when that first Wave hit.
My wife (Grace) and I, plus a recently adopted Basset Hound puppy (Roscoe) and white American Longhair kitten (Lily), were camping in the back country of Glacier National Park. It was our last night there before moving on to the big GenCon gaming convention in Milwaukee on Labor Day weekend, which was happening at the same time as the Chicago World Science Fiction Convention. Some people think that having that much geekery in one part of the world is what brought magic back, but I’m not one of them.
We were just drifting off to sleep when we heard and felt a strange noise all around us. It was like a very quiet and sped up version of somebody popping bubble wrap. Then our skin began to tingle. Grace and I sat up and exclaimed the same profanity, Roscoe began whining, Lily started to meow and things got very strange very quickly.
I could see Grace, whom I was facing, but I could also see myself from her vantage point, both of us and Roscoe from Lily’s point of view on Grace’s shoulder and a similar view from Roscoe’s position on my side. This all happened very quickly, but during that time I could see my wife’s skin turning green, my own hair turning a bold metallic red, my eyes turning yellow and we could all hear each other’s thoughts, which can be summed up as “What the hell?”
I’m told that the First Wave lasted all of 30 seconds, but it sure seemed a whole lot longer to us. When it was over, my wife was a Green Lady, I was a Mutant who could speak with any creature that had an advanced enough language and Roscoe & Lily had gained intelligence equal to Grace and I, plus the ability to speak via telepathy. Plus, Grace & I were 20 years old again and pretty weirded out. Happy, but still weirded out.
The odd thing was that we, and in fact nobody on Earth, panicked. This was in part due to everybody having gained knowledge of what they were now (for example, Grace knew everything there was about being a Green Lady), but it also helped that the Wizards popped into our heads a few minutes later and told us what was going on. That part went pretty much like this…
“We are the Wizards of Earth and we want to give you a quick rundown of what just happened. Magic has come to the Earth and most of the Human race, as well as many of the more common animals, have been affected. Many of the races and creatures of myth, legend and story are now real. Some people can cast spells, some are mutants who possess a single magical power and some are just plain humans. We also made all of you over the age of thirty 20 years old again, so as to have a nice young population. We’ll tell you more in the coming days, but until then, just go on about your business and welcome to an exciting new world.”
Not exactly the detailed report most of us would have liked, but it did have a very reassuring effect, so the four of us, at least, went back to sleep.
After hiking back to our pickup truck the next day, we started driving to Milwaukee as we had planned. We stopped at the first gas station we came to for fuel and to make phone calls. We found out that most of our family members had become gnomes, with the exception of those who had become giants or Mages (or, in the case of my cousin Wendy, a witch) or centaurs or other New Races or the few that remained human, but everybody seemed to be ok.
Over the course of the next week, we also learned that…
A whole lot of humans turned into gnomes. On the order of a billion, to be exact. And when they breed (just the one time for most couples) they have from 4 to 6 babies. My
mom recently gave birth to 5 babies, 3 boys and 2 girls. This massive increase in the gnomish population is offset by the fact that they don’t hit sexual maturity until they are about 25, they will seldom live past 60 and only about a third of them will reproduce. Still, that’s a hell of a lot of gnomes. Good thing they are so darned happy, friendly and productive.
The Magic had an influence that included the Moon, so the Wizards had got to work building huge domes and L5/L4 colonies and…well, I guess you folks know all that. Suffice it to say that before the Magic retreated back to just covering the Earth and a bit beyond our atmosphere, Luna went from a population of 32 at the International Moon Base to a population of 6,000,000, counting the colonies and the various space stations.
Much of what built the lunar colony up came from the great cities and other human constructs here on Earth. The wizards just recycled all of the materials from cities, dams, military bases, vehicles, etc into nicely separated piles of raw materials, then used those to make what they needed. After they were done with the Moon, they rebuilt things here on Earth where, I should point out, the human population went from 6 billion to about 750 million. Even with all of that building and stuff, there are still huge piles of materials from steel to concrete to wood to glass sitting in thousands of warehouses just waiting to be used.
While science is still with us, much technology has been changed or just rendered impossible. Computers are now organic and alive. Nuclear weapons are gone and even if you could build one, it wouldn’t work. Petroleum products are limited and will eventually disappear entirely, but solar power is much more efficient and cheaper than ever before. Cars are still around, but most folks travel by bus locally or train for longer distances. If you need to go where trains or buses can’t go, you can travel by airship, Wizard Portal, teleporting (if you are brave), seagoing ship or, just recently, the new solar powered airplanes. Sorry, no jets, but if you are on good terms with a Dragon, they might give you a lift.
The Wizards have cleaned up the environment and restored many ecosystems, including the restoration of thousands of extinct or endangered species…including dinosaurs in some limited areas. A ban on most ocean fishing still has 4 years to go, at which point most fish populations will be booming. In most areas on land, the enchanted borders (Ring Roads) of Towns & Cities are mostly there to keep out large predators. In California, where I live, that is mostly the recently not extinct California Grizzly Bears, which are huge and always hungry. Awe inspiring to look at, but I’m glad they can’t come roaming through my back yard.
As you might expect, with fewer humans around, things like government, the military and religions took a big hit. Truth to tell, most of them just collapsed. Like gardening, politics was always local and it became truly local after the Change when most Cities and Towns were created. The need for a Big Daddy government just wasn’t there. Oh sure, here in the US we still have a President, Congress and Supreme Court, but they don’t really have much power. Mostly, they just meet for a couple of months and ask people what we think they ought to do. By and large, we encourage them to create National Parks or overturn laws that either don’t apply anymore or everybody ignores.
As for religion, in some areas the religious fundamentalists that still survived rejected the entire Change as the work of Satan or America or some other thing they could point a finger at. Because of this, there are places in the southern United States, Arabic Africa and Eastern Europe where the fundies took over entire Cities and drove out everyone who wasn’t a “normal human”. They reject Magic and pray a lot and mostly do not trade with the rest of the world. The Wizards, having a wicked sense of humor and not a whole lot of sympathy for fools, often appear in these Cities and do a bit of magical mischief. The fundies hate that.
There isn’t much need for a military when folks can band together to fight a threat on the local or regional level. It also helps that such threats are very rare. As in, so far, none.
The single biggest thing to change the world was the one two punch of the New World Wide Web and the new worldwide (worldswide, I should say, since you Loonies also use it) monetary system. I’ll write a whole piece on the NWWW and computers, but let’s talk about how the manure hit the fan when actual money went away.
As you know, at the start of the fiscal year (on Change Day, August 29) everybody gets their monetary account reset to 100,000 credits. No more, no less. Spend all that in a month or two and you are seriously hosed. But then, that would be very hard to do, since housing is cheap or even free and if you have no food, your neighbors will feed you. Oh, you need to EARN money, because in a couple of more years, things will reset so you only receive what you earned the year before…except that you still can’t have more that 100K in your account on August 29th. Additionally, we all given up 5% to the General Fund, which covers all the things taxes used to, like infrastructure repairs and such. All this is still driving the few remaining Libertarians nuts, which is pretty fun to watch…almost as much fun as watching the few remaining Republicans in elected office looking for rich people to suck up to or a war to start.
Earning money is pretty easy. The internet and our computer guides are making it easy for anybody to write and sell books, games, movies, music, television series, etc. You can also sell other items easily by advertising on the Net. My mother, who is a Gardener Gnome, has just started up a seed selling website and in the first month has earned 3,500 credits. Nowadays, everyone is an entrepreneur, which is is why there are so few large companies. Why buy your hamburger from some chain when there are plenty of small local food vendors? Ditto clothing, tools, whatever.
One last note on money: Aside from gnomes, house elves and a few other races, most of the New Races do not need or want money, they trade for what they need or, in the cases of the more savage races, take it by force. An example of this trading would be the fact that I recently traded 5 dozen duck eggs for a couple of cases of Trollish beer. Both of us got a good deal and went away happy. Such trades happen every day
In future articles, I’ll go into more depth on some of the subjects I touched on in this one. I hope you enjoy them.