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Today is the start of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. The idea is to post something on your blog every day throughout April except for Sundays which gives you 26 blog posts in total-one for each letter of the alphabet. This year will be my second time participating and so far more than 1500 people have signed up for the challenge! My A-Z theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series.
But first, I want to mention something else that starts with A: Arlee Bird! He is the founder of the A-Z challenge and I would like to offer him a massive thank you for starting it. I’ve had so much fun joining in, and am really grateful that Arlee came up with the idea and made it happen. Thanks again!
Today’s post is all about Alchemy. Alchemy was an ancient philosophical practice that involved attempting to turn base metals into gold and silver using a mixture of early science and magic. Some alchemists sought to discover the legendary ‘philosopher’s stone’, believed to be an elixir of life which would grant immortality.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
Before he endeavoured to create the ‘monster’, Victor Frankenstein was searching for ‘the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life’, which was believed to be capable of ‘bestowing animation upon lifeless matter’, (what he eventually achieves). Chapters 2-4 describe how as a boy he read the work of several different alchemists and became fascinated with their ideas. He tries to wed the methodological aspects of science with the metaphysical visions of alchemy to discover the answer to the questions and mysteries that plague his soul.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels
In the Discworld novels, alchemy is mocked somewhat as a fool’s occupation. The Alchemist’s Guild is ‘known more for its failures than its successes.’ They are known for producing regular explosions, even blowing up their own building and accidentally killing themselves off. They dabble with all sorts of chemical reactions including developing ‘octo-cellulose film’ which led to the discovery of moving pictures and transmuting things into artificial ivory. They are wary, though, of dabbling in anything ‘magical’, instead favouring science.
Alchemy – this was going to be my first word (I love the occult) as well but did not know how to write about it! Well done on all the references here too. Excited for whats next! Cheers
What a thorough tidbit on alchemy. I never knew exactly what the word meant! Great references to make it even clearer. Thanks so much for sharing this!
Terri @ Scribbler's Sojourn
Oh, man–I delved DEEPLY into alchemy stuff when five of the Harry Potter books were out–I was part of discussion forums using alchemy to try to predict what would happen in the next couple. It was very fun stuff–I love books that use stuff like this. I still need to read teh disc world books.
I'm so excited to see what you come up with this month. I just found you through the A-Z Challenge and I'm pretty sure we might be long lost twins (or so your bio leads me to believe). I can't wait to be inspired by your posts. I've got a bit of alchemy in the MG novel I'm working on 🙂
Well done…in one fell swoop you managed to list three excellent and disparate stories. Resolved: I shall have return to your blog more frequently.
Best of luck with A to Z!
Great minds think alike! Glad you enjoyed the post, I'll hop across to your blog shortly.
Hi there, I'm here from the A-Z challenge. Love this post…my ASCENDANT series (coming out this June) is based on the practice of Alchemy. So glad I found your site!
I'm so glad you took something from it, Terri. I'm really interested in stuff like this but not always sure if others are!
Wow, I'm impressed that your knowledge is so in-depth. I have a vague understanding of how there's a whole alchemy metaphor that can be applied to the structure of novels themselves, but I thought I'd better not get into all that.
Yay, I'm glad I found a kindred spirit! I'll be sure to check out your blog, as your MG novel intrigues me. Thanks for visiting, Kate!
Thanks a lot, Daniel. Really glad you enjoyed it!
Hi Rebecca, thanks for popping over. Oooh Ascendant is such a great title. I just looked up the synopsis and it sounds right up my street!
This looks like a fun theme. I'm especially fond of SciFi.
Nice to meet you ! I love your B post…birds of a feather do flock together ;D
I think I might be part crow, as I collect bits of this and that to create poems and art, lol
Thanks, Patricia. I love sci-fi too, it's total escapism.
Nice to meet you too, Ella. Maybe I'm part crow too. I like to collect shiny things, as well as bits and bobs from places I've visited which I keep in big 'scrap boxes' (as there's too much for a scrap book) in my loft.
The Septimus Heap books also contain a lot of alchemy.