The missing scene from Yowlers

Posted on | July 25, 2015

I wrote this scene a while ago as an explanation for (a) why magic works in the Yowler universe, and (b) how this answer solves the Drake Equation:

“The what?”

“The Drake equation,” Nick said. “It’s a famous formula. It says that if we look at all the stars in the universe, and calculate the odds of there being one that supports life, and run the numbers, there ought to be a certain number of radio-capable civilizations we can hear right this moment.”

“And what does this Drake equation say?” Tatia purred. Damn, she could get to him that way, couldn’t she?

“Right now, there ought to be between 200 and 400 radio-capable civilizations in the Milky Way But there aren’t. We haven’t heard from anybody. And now the Natural Philosophy people have an idea why.” Tatia stared at him, waiting. She wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of asking, which she knew was what he wanted. “Some four billion years ago, a star in our neighborhood of the galaxy went supernova and blew out a huge section of space around us. It may have contributed to the mass that makes up the Earth and stuff, since heavy metals are made by supernovas, but the big deal was that it swept space clear of something. We don’t know what.” Nick’s speech was speeding up. He was getting excited. “But the NP people think that whatever the star did, it suppressed a feature of the universe: the feature that will automagically becomes realization.”


“We know magic worked, right? Well, what if it works absolutely everywhere, naturally, except around our Solar System?”

“But it has worked,” Tatia pointed out.

“A few times. And very weakly. What if that were just mere shreds, dust, vapor of what the Universe is really like? What if all that observer stuff we see at the quantum level isn’t just weird, it’s just weakly weird compared to what the universe is really like? In most of the universe, the moment you will something it become reality. It’s just on Earth, which is privileged in this special way, where that doesn’t happen.” Nick was full in the grip of didactism.

“How is that priveleged?” Tatia said. “Don’t you want magic to work?”

“Hell no!” Nick said. “Just think about it. The second you evolve something with the intelligence of a lemur, the entire world is doomed. The mere thought ‘I want him dead’ or ‘I wish he would disappear’ becomes mutually assured destruction. That’s how it solves the Drake equation: we’re alone in the universe because we don’t have magic. Our ancestors didn’t blow this planet to rubble before we reached this level of consciousness.”

Which I think wraps everything up quite nicely.


4 Responses to “The missing scene from Yowlers”

  1. Sinus
    June 21st, 2016 @ 6:14 am

    Speaking of Yowlers – the whole /yowlers folder is currently down, due to some Django error. Aaand since I’m writing this comment already, may I request that the Journal Entries be searchable by date again? That option made it so much easier to find recently written works after a few months’ absence.

    Anyway, keep wrighting. 🙂

  2. Sinus
    June 21st, 2016 @ 6:18 am

    Correction! /yowlers are fine (though they redirect to the Wiki for Bastet, which, if I may remark, is hailing the rest of the world back from 1990) but the story URLs are not. crashes, for example.

  3. Sinus Pi
    June 22nd, 2016 @ 6:21 pm

    So I couldn’t help but notice that my two comments here have all but disappeared. Have I infringed upon some unwritten rule, forbidding one to report website errors and shortcomings?

  4. Elf Sternberg
    August 11th, 2016 @ 12:42 pm

    No, no, I’m just really inattentive these days. Sigh. I need to get more attentive to this website these days.

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