I'd love to read fantasy novel in which the system of magic would be inspired by the IT world:
Spells are nearly free, don't require any sacrifices, nor conservation of energy - that's not the issue. The issue is: to be able to super-precisely, down to the atom, describe what exactly the given spell is supposed to do. Sorcerers are needed, who can specify what exactly is meant by "turn a city to ashes". If you prefer, you can try to omit this step, but next thing you know is that your touch turned your whole family into gold statues, or the enemy's city turned into a plasma-filled hole sucking atmosphere with you, and/or paperclips. Spells are by necessity very complicated, multi-layer and modular, therefore mages spend years in libraries and conferences. Most importantly though, they need to cooperate to create anything substantial. Wizards, despite their absurdly high power, do not represent big threat to the rulers, because on their own, a mage can only use whatever they've learned and understood and it would be difficult for a single person to surprise an organized army of the ruler with something new, at least not consistently over and over again. Subordination of the wizards comes chiefly from bribing them, where implicitly the big part of the offer is that the employer is capable of motivating the other mages to work on the same enterprise - there is no natural, convergent goal which wizards would naturally gravitate towards, except perhaps a longing slowly developed over the years to describe something huge. Sitting in their libraries, watching battlefields and factories only telepathically through eyes of their gnomes, they lose more and more the grip on reality and what used to be means to a goal, became the end goal in itself: to precisely describe what's difficult to describe - and the question of it being good or bad, or even useful at all - doesn't matter that much anymore. Obviously, in a population this big, there are also mages, who dream of creating something, who have ambitious vision - the truth is, though, that if you train yourself for years in "HOW?" - not "WHAT?" - your ideas rarely turn out to be good at any other axis than being a spectacular use of your talent of description, and tend to flop, even if they temporarily gain interest of a group of wizards. Nonetheless, it happens - extremely rarely - that a mage, either through inborn talent, or luck, or hard work, figures out not only a path to a given goal, but also the goal itself. These are the most dangerous kind, because their twisted through years of working on "HOW?" brains guarantee that they'll succeed in reaching their goal, and even worse, their "WHAT?" tends to be completely not optimized for the needs of average peasant. Obviously, realization of such a goal requires that day after day they turn from mages to rulers - you can't keep up with being the best at both "WHAT?" and "HOW?" at the same time. That's how Warlocks are made.
Some books that I've read have some of that, but none of them seems to show this dynamic of "coordination and vision as the limiting factors":
- "Unsong" by Scott Alexander Siskind
- "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" by Eliezer Yudkowsky
- "Worm" by Wildbow
- "Ruch Generała" by Jacek Dukaj (closest in spirit, but in Polish)
Do you know some other books which would explore this idea?
The revelation in later chapters of why magic works like programming was especially nice