J. Tynan Burke’s story “The Unlucky Few Who Must Not Cast” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 19 November 2021.
Addiction treatment focuses on sin—we have programs for alcohol, drugs, sex, overeating, gambling, and so forth. Overindulging in virtuous behavior, by contrast, is called heroism. But that can have negative outcomes, too, especially in speculative fiction—how many times have Marvel heroes wrecked Manhattan, to say nothing of their own bodies? Should people like that have a program, too?
These questions first came to me a few years ago and resulted in two ideas: an accountant who is also a hobbyist wizard, and a twelve-step meeting for magic addicts. I jotted down a line and moved on: “Hi, my name’s Dennis, and I’m a wizard.”
This year, I finally got around to writing the second sentence, plus a few more after that. I really enjoyed exploring what such a program might look like. What sort of fallen heroes would you meet? And what would the experience be like for somebody who had been ordered to attend? Giving up a vice can be hard enough—what’s it like when you’re told to give up a virtue? To stop doing the one thing that makes you special?
This being a short story, I didn’t have room to explore all the facets of this, but that’s okay. I have bigger plans for Dennis, and so does fate.
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