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September 06 2003 talks to SF author Jerry Pournelle. Pournelle mentions a Whedon/Pournelle/Larry Niven pitch that never came into fruition.

"Joss Whedon is very sharp. And he and I and Niven very nearly came up with a fantasy series, which I would have loved to have worked on, based on the notion "Suppose the magic came back. We live in this world right now, and all of a sudden, the mana is coming back, and nobody knows how to use it, because we haven't studied it in 15,000 years." But some people have natural talent, and it will turn out, and we had this storyline that there have been some wizards all along for thousands of years. They mostly make their living doing prestidigitation. Stage magicians. And that was going to be one of our major characters, this 30-something-year-old witch who learned to be a stage magician but has far more talent than her mother did, so she gets it right more often, and meanwhile, the magic's coming back; we're pumping oil out of the ground, we're bringing up ores from deep under the Earth, you know, most of those things have mana attached to it. We very nearly made a deal with Joss on that one, and that would have been fun. That one I would like to have done.'"

This sounds fab. Make it happen!

SOunds like an exciting concept. It would be really cool if it had fruition.
That sounds absolutely amazing, I wonder how long ago this was considered.
Maybe Joss should relook at the idea it seemed to have potential and with Joss's ability to give a project the added extra that takes it from another good idea to something extraordinary it could have been heaven for the deprived masses
that have to put up with so many mediocre productions.
"30-something-year-old witch..."

Now who could play the lead in this series in a year or two? Let me think...
I don't see how the WhedonVerse as it exists now is all that different from this concept. Oh, the basic gist of this Niven idea involves saying the magic went away but that something causes it all to come back with a vengeance. The WhedonVerse in which Buffy and Angel exist contends that actually magic never went away. It's not that it ever stopped working, but that it BECOMES real for each new individual. So for Kate the cop, her world was without magic and vampires and demons until she learned her father had been taking bribes from one. She learns about Angel, and the war he wages outside the jurisdiction of human law, and she can't cope.

How does each person come to grips with their world suddenly having stuff in it that had been outside their perception? Will they be like Anne and do her own small part to help people, or will they be like Kate and let the reality of an evil underworld tear her apart inside? Will one accept a soul as a gift like Angel, or a curse like Darla? It all boils down to how one chooses to accept reality, and whether or not they'd see this 'magic' as a part of reality or as something to pretend away. We each make our own reality. One may not be able to choose what one is, but we do choose what we do with what we are. But for each person, there's a time when their perception of reality is what you and I take for granted, and then one day, sometimes before our eyes, there's evidence presented, and there's a realization.

Whedon's already explored all this stuff. I don't personally see how creating a new world, in which magic went away during the dark ages and happens to come back at ten o'clock next Sunday is going to really be all that big a change. Okay. Maybe it'd be kinda fun. However, he's got enough irons in the fire.
Enough with the female empowerment, though - seriously. Can it be a male witch, please?
Strange that there was no mention of Frank Herbert in the article, the "true" SF master!!!!
Maybe Pournelle is partial to the mathier writers, instead of the wordier. Heinlein was an engineer, Herbert was a journalist. I'm just saying.

Of course, he obviously admires Joss, who is much more liberal artsy than Heinlein. <-- BIG OBVIOUS, right there. Look, an essay in the making: Heinlein and Whedon, Matter and Anti-matter.
What could be different is that the magic, in coming back in a vengeance, could be a very public thing, unlike how magic is played in the Jossverse.

Imagine advanced technology landing on the shores of a third world nation, very publically, and all the adjustments and power struggles that ensue, all the major re-writes of how society behaves. An epic transition milieue.

Niven has written stuff like that before, he could pull it off.

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