21 Mar 2017

gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)
Ever thought about what you'd do with three wishes? Found that magic lamp or ring, got the djin in a good mood, and the universe is yours. Congratulations, you are so screwed.

See, traditionally wishes are the worst thing you can get in traditional folk tales and more modern fiction. Because magical creatures of such power tend to be either overly literal or annoyed at having to serve such inferior creatures as mankind. There's plenty of warnings in Irish folk stories about the insanity of dealing with the Gentle Folk in way other than backing away as fast as possible.

Let's take a great example from fairly recent (compared to the source material) story, Disney's 1992 "Aladdin". Once he realizes what is being offered, and being head over heels for a princess, his wish is "make me a prince."

This is where the movie goes wrong. See, there were so many ways to twist this wish. Aladdin becomes a prince of Agrabah, Jasmine's older brother. Since he's now the heir, Jasmine can be married off to some random noble in another city. It's not like Aladdin could marry his own sister! Oh, and since he's the heir, Jaffar is now going to be trying to get him out of the way as well.

Or Aladdin becomes the prince of a city that has warred endlessly with Agrabah for decades. Now not only is Aladdin more than likely going to be charged with killing his lady love, she's going to hate him on sight. Good times.

So many ways to twist these things. I'll admit that my experience with phrasing wishes comes from playing role-playing games with sadistic game masters who twist every word. I recall the player in our Fort Benning game who got a wish for his fighter. Unknown to us, during the week he went to the Army's legal aid office and got several Army lawyers to draft his wish for him. It was ironclad, they had fun, and the game master allowed it.

But that's the thing. A wish changes the nature of reality completely. There are plenty of stories about the unintended consequences of this sort of wish. You need to be very, very precise in your intent and wording. One slip and you face the aftereffects of an overwhelming power giving you exactly what you asked for.

There is a way to get a mostly risk free wish. That's to perform some service for an entity capable of granting one. But then you have to ask, if you are dealing with a being that can twist reality on a whim, what does he need you for? Beware the Sidhe that asks for help!

I've often wondered what I'd wish for if I was given the traditional three wishes. I haven't consulted any lawyers, but these are my rough drafts:

1. "I wish that the next lottery ticket I buy for the California State Lottery or the multi-state Power Ball be the sole winning ticket for the draw it is part of." Just wishing for money is bad, because the wish can be twisted. Wish for a million dollars and your spouse dies, and she had a million dollar life insurance policy. Or it turns out that the money was part of an embezzlement scheme. Wish for a sure-fire way to get the money in an accepted way.

2. "I wish that all the damage done to my body by illnesses, injuries, genetic disorders, and any and all treatments be repaired; bringing my body to normal health while not adding any new conditions." Wishing for perfect health and immortality is a fool's game. So many ways to screw with that. What if perfect health burns out your immune system? Immortality? Next day you're hit by a cement truck and paralyzed from the neck down. Stick with fixing what's wrong with you.

3. "I wish that I was a highly talented juggler." Always go for something simple. Juggling is cool.

That's it. Money, health, and a skill I can use on Playa at Burning Man. No Trump bursting into flame, no dirigibles coming back into style, just a couple of life changes. I could have wished for a more successful military career, or to have been a Hall of Fame ballplayer, but those would have eliminated parts of my life that I like. Like being married to Kiri.

If wishes were horses, dreamers would ride, so goes the old saying. But those dreamers would be screaming in horror as their wish-horses turned out to be dragons.

Put the lamp down. It's not worth it.


gridlore: Doug looking off camera with a grin (Default)

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