I've been thinking about battle in SF and Fantasy.
In SF onscreen, it's usually rubbish. Star Wars has fighters that behave just like planes in World War I, dogfighting around planets. Space: Above and Beyond was the same. Moonraker and others feature marines who drop from orbit into battle. But all these things are nonsense. Our technology is already so advanced that we can pick aircraft off from miles away with homing missiles, so why use lasers that miss even from a few hundred metres? Why drop assault infantry from orbit when micro missiles would shred them high in the atmosphere?
Fantasy is bad too. Partly that's the LOTR tradition, in which the Good Guys come through massive battles without a scratch, leaving a trail of dead Orcs or generic Bad Guys behind. I know a bit of history, and nobody comes through a battle that way. You suffer burns where your shield ring rubs, or blisters, or bruises from your armour taking a hit. In medieval days people died when their armour was driven into flesh and jumbled up their organs. No scratch? That means no one hit you, so you're either luckier than gods or faster than light. Silly either way.
As for magic, mostly we find what I think of as the Terry Brooks approach. Mages who throw spells around, usually beams of red or green like lasers, sometimes illusions. And this, friends 'n neighbours, is the one that really annoys me. Is that really the best way a mage can think of to fight?
I have a new WIP which involves a good bit of magic. It's used to fight, which means I need to work out how. I don't want to have this mano a mano approach. I'm looking at illusion, mages changing their appearance or fading into the background, so you don't know they're there until they strike. But what else could a sorcerer do? Slice time, perhaps. Divide a second into smaller and smaller segments, allowing himself to move more quickly than an opponent and so counter his moves before they develop. They might win by crushing the rival's mind. Someone watching would see the figures blur, and not much else, except that maybe the ground around them bubbles or cracks with the force unleashed.
These are broad strokes, and I don't have details yet. But I like the direction of ideas. It's a little different from the usual, and that's a good thing I think. Let's give the reader something new to look at. It might be better, might be worse (that up to me, so no pressure, then). But at least it will feel new, and that matters.
That's all for now. Pip pip.