WoJ and stuff I didn’t put into other categories

Link back to the main Dresden Files WoJ compilation


Misc: (stuff I haven’t got a different nook to shove it into… yet)

2.) Please stop hitting us with the clue bat. In this case the “Mystery of Demonreach”. Why do we need three characters to comment on how special Harrys bonding is and how important the isle is? And all start to tease Harry (and us) with their knowledge about it, just to make lame backouts before spilling the beans. The Athame of Crazytude was introduced much better and we still go nuts about it^^

The clue bat is a tough thing to guesstimate.  I mean, I hit y’all with at least two other major things in this book that no one seems to have picked up on at all, so far. :)

And… three people commenting on the island is–feh, never mind, you’ll have to see how it plays out. :)

Gard is with Hendricks last we saw.

Well.  /Hendricks/ is with /Gard/.

A subtle but important distinction, maybe. :)

Our biggest issue: why don’t wizards just WIN (in pre-complex tech eras)? I argued for the sliding scale of “born in X, advanced tech shows up in Y” idea… but it’s not satisfying.

They kinda /do/ win.  It’s one reason the White Council thinks of itself as something so ohmygodmighty important.  But bear in mind a few things:

1) The White Council /exists/ in order to limit the power of wizards.  These days, it’s mostly about keeping wizards out of the black magic–but in the past, it was also to keep wizards out of politics.  They would show up as advisers, rarely (most “court wizards” were charlatans or underpowered schmucks), but the Council itself was very much against getting involved in things.

That’s mainly because if the Council threw its weight in anywhere, it was all but guaranteeing a civil war among its own members.  (Remember, it’s very Euro-centric.)

The original Merlin learned a lesson about wizards involving themselves in politics.  They already have too much power to use wisely, from his point of view.

2) Wizards were a hell of a lot more rare in centuries past.  Their numbers have increased along with the world population, but back then a given country was lucky if it had produced a single wizard-level talent more than about one generation in three.

3) Travel in general was a lot harder.  Disease, in general, was a lot more rampant and likely to kill you.  Yeah, wizards have the capacity to recover from things, but they don’t have any particular increased resistance to contracting a disease.  They just come back from it in better shape than regular folks.  For example, if you get a good case of pneumonia (like I did), you’ve got a reduced capacity to resist subsequent similar infections.  And that’s it.  In fact, having gotten pneumonia once gives you a pretty darn big mathematical probability that you’re going to die of pneumonia in the future.  (Pneumonia being one of the main things that actually does the killing when you’ve got cancer or other serious medical issues.)  Wizards don’t face that same danger.  If they beat it, they beat it, and it isn’t of any more consequence than getting over a cold.

But even so, before antibiotics, wizards were as worried about disease as everyone else was.  And a great way to not get diseases was to STAY HOME.  Which most of them did.  That kinda limited how much conflict they would actually get involved in.

4) The Inquisition.  Fact of the matter is that the Inquisition, for better or worse, made everyone REALLY aware of practitioners.  If a wizard started slinging his power around willy nilly, it would attract attention.  Probably /hostile/ attention, at that.  Which leads us to…

5) Wizards have to sleep.  Yes, an enraged wizard could probably kill just about anyone he wanted to, flatten towns, all the mighty wizard stuff.  But… there are about a million humans to every full-blown wizard talent.  A strong wizard can kill a mortal with about as much effort as it would take you to pick up a piece of gravel and toss it twenty feet.  Now, go out to a gravel pile and do that a MILLION times.

You aren’t going to finish that project today. :D

The appearance of overwhelming power is one of the only things guaranteed to make human beings unify out of sheer fear for their survival.  (Example: see Haiti.  Overwhelming power of nature drew a response of overwhelming relief efforts from fellow human beings.  Now, imagine that someone told those people that the earthquake was someone’s fault.  Someone real, and dangerous, but someone who you could punch in the nose.  Think about that.)

Wizards were certainly a force of nature.  One that would frighten people enough to go after them with overwhelming numbers and a vengeance.

Of course, that leaves many, many other things they could do to influence events.  The most powerful such was the gathering of information and rapid communications.  Their ability to travel rapidly, to gather information and send it elsewhere was something that didn’t really get beat until a Mr. Ford, Mr. Marconi, and some guys named Orville and Wilbur came along.  And they were basically in the information business, which is an excellent way to guarantee security.

They were also largely responsible for the Renaissance, in the Dresden universe.  Not directly, but by going out and finding the best and brightest minds and seeing to it that they got the education and the chances they needed to succeed in life.  Some wizards even did direct mentoring of various brilliant figures of European history (DaVinci and Gallileo were two prime examples).

But they stayed out of direct involvement in wars and politics, instead focusing on becoming involved in the intellectual progress of society.  Wizards from France and Germany, for example, would treat each other much the same way as opposing lawyers in a big case.  Even when their clients were tearing each other to bits, that didn’t meant that the two wizards were foes.  They were, in fact, professional colleagues, who were likely to go off and get a beer and roll their eyes at their clients’ foolishness.

(All of this is mostly focused on the White Council, which was centered in Europe.  Wizards in other areas of the world, such as the Americas, eastern Asia, and Australia have far different histories.)

But that factor–the sheer weight of numbers of mortals–dictated the role they had to assume to survive and prosper.  They hoped that a more advanced, less warlike culture would provide a better place for wizards to live. In fact, it did.  But it also robbed them of the extreme power they’d possessed until that time, relative to vanilla mortals.

6) PEOPLE BELIEVED IN MAGIC AND IT SCARED THEM.  I mean, there was none of this “but there’s no such thing as magic” nonsense involved.  And not all the witch hunters were in it for the money.  There was a class of men who knew all about the various forces of the supernatural, out there in the darkness, and who made themselves as able to contend with them as any mortal could be.  If a wizard went all kaboomy on mortals, he knew that there was someone who was going to hunt him, striking in a moment of vulnerability.

(I’ll leave it to you to deduce who they grew up into, eventually.  It isn’t complicated or hard to see.)

End of the day, even wizards bleed.  And as the wise Governor of California says, if it bleeds, you can kill it.

But they sure as hell enjoyed their centuries on top of the food chain. :)

2009 Lexington signing:
Q:  When will we learn more about the Black Council?
A:  There will be a little more in the next book, but really we’re not going to know it all until the very end.
2009 Independence signing:
Q:  If the White Council is so oblivious to things going on in the mortal world, how is it that Morgan knew exactly when the nuclear test was going to be (for when he nuked the skinwalker)?
A:  A couple of tests had happened, and those things are disruptive.  They send out a giant electromagnetic pulse.  So naturally, the wizards noticed it.  They did some research to figure out what it was, and once they understood, they made sure to know each time it was going to happen so nobody would get freaked out.  So Morgan just had to plan it, to lure the skinwalker onto the range at the right time.  Then he opened up a portal to the NeverNever, and barred the door behind himself.  Boom.

Senior wizards are actually fairly aware of big things going on with mortals.  They knew all about what was happening in the US and Russia during the Cold War.  In fact, they were the ones who realized that Russia really wasn’t a major power, and that everything they were doing was in fear of the US and in preparation for defending themselves.  Wizards planted the idea for the US to bug Russia.  When the US found out that Russia really was just scared of them, that’s when the peace discussions began.
2010 Lee’s Summit signing:
Q:  Is the original Merlin still alive?
A:  Kind of… life… death… it’s kind of a squishy line in the Dresdenverse.
2010 Powell’s books Q&A off of Youtube @8:20
Does Mister make it to book 13?
Mister is far too cool.  We haven’t really run into anything that could kill Mister at this point.
2009 Kansas City Q&A @44:02
So the Alpha’s have been pushed to the side and their numbers decreased, and Micheal’s no longer really in play so, is Harry going to be picking up other sidekick characters and allies as he goes?
Yah, were going to have a good time.  Just trust me on this one, it’s going to be fine.
RPG info @4:24  (sorry out of characters for post)
The 25th Hour interview (Track 7 @5:07)
Thoughts on Harry Potter being like Harry Dresden
The month before the book came out was the month that they put Harry Potter on the cover of Time.  It was the first time that I had ever heard of this Potter Person, and…  Harry Potter… What?!?   You know, I had already written three books by then in the Dresden series and I picked it up and I read about it and I go “Oh no, everybody is going to think that I stole Harry Dresden from Harry Potter, and that’s going to be awful cause this book is huge, it’s very successful, it’s going to be much larger than Dresden books are gona be.”  And then I stopped and thought about it and I said, “Five years from now, the 10 year olds reading Harry Potter are going to be 15 year olds wanting to read something else, and I’m going to be there.”  So I try and look at the positive side of things wherever I can.
2011 Marscon
Uh, where did MacAnally come from?
I basically just needed a neutral barkeep character where I could have a lot of things happen.  I wanted to have sort of a little microcosm Casablanca where I could have the Nazis and the French rubbing elbows.  I needed a name for the barkeep, ‘cause I was writing it fairly early in the Dresden…in Storm Front, so I named him after my friend MacAnally, who was a buddy of mine all the way through junior high and high school, and who liked his drink

Free Will

Very old, very long WoJ about free will

From: Jim Butcher
Date: Thu, Oct 28, 2004 at 12:25 AM
Subject: Re: [mcanallys] storm front question
To: McAnally’s Pub <mcanallys@jim-butcher.com>

No free will ever?  Or no free will to disobey when commanded?  I don’t know that it’s possible to have intellect without will.  Well, then again, most of us have to make decisions about what is true, and what isn’t, or what to remember and forget – but a spirit of intellect is mostly just a talking library, right?  A storehouse.  Although, Bob seems to also understand what he knows…  I’m getting over my head.

Well, I don’t want to hand out too much outside the context of an actual story.  But within the context of the Dresden books, Bob isn’t, like, an actual mortal person.

Mortals are the ones who have free will, the ability to choose what they’re doing, to choose between right and wrong.  Without getting too thickly into the underlying philosophy, that’s the thing that separates, for example, mankind from the angels–the angels didn’t get the same kind of choice about their existance, and what they would do with it.  Mortals get the chance to make all kinds of decisions, and can change their minds, well, at will.  Other creatures, though they may look like people, don’t get the same range of choices about who and what they will be.

Mab, for example, is Mab.  She /can’t/ show up and suddenly be merciful, generous, patient and kind.  It would never so much as occur to her to do so, because it isn’t a fundamental part of her nature, and she /can’t/ choose to change it.  She simply isn’t capable.  She doesn’t have free will in the same way that people do.  It’s related to the difference between having a soul and not having a soul, as well.  Without a soul, you aren’t free to choose how you will shape that soul.  You just stay what you are.

But that’s getting way off the subject of Bob.  I mean, don’t you think that if he had totally free will, he’d be out of the skull all the time, hitching rides in people’s heads on their way into strip bars or something?  There’s a reason he obeys Harry, and it’s not purely because Harry offers him shelter from a gruesome demise. It’s a part of who and what he is.

Another question: Does Bob know everything all the time, or just know when he is asked a question?  Can he ask himself questions? (wouldn’t that involve will?)

He doesn’t know everything.  He knows a LOT.  There’s a difference.  He’s been alive for centuries and worked with a lot of different wizards, and he remembers absolutely everything he is exposed to.  He’s an enormous source of information and practical experience, not a conduit to infinite knowledge.  He’s got limits.  He can ask himself questions and attempt to extrapolate answers based upon what he knows, or by asking other spirits for answers, or by venturing out and seeking the answers himself, but he doesn’t just pull knowledge out of nowhere.  He just LIKES having it, and getting more of it.  That’s what he is.  He’s innocent (more or less) of the whole question of good and evil.  His existance is focused on questions and answers, upon simply acquiring the knowledge, and that’s that.

Which is not to say that he could never become anything more.  Especially if he hangs around with mortals a lot.  Mortals, in their own possession of free will, have a tendancy to influence beings who don’t have it, in one way or another.  I suppose it’s entirely possible, for example, that too much association with mortals are what changed Aurora, former Summer Lady, and gave her a determination to destroy the natural order in an effort to change its very nature–for the better, true, but it would never even have occurred to any of the other Queens, Mothers or Lady that such a thing might be, until it had already happened.  It isn’t in their nature.

But perhaps I’ve said too much.  I’ll shut up now. :)


2008 ComicCon Playing God panel Q&A @~7:00
How do you come up with the bounds between Characters free will and the Divine Hand?
For the Dresden Files, the whole point of The Almighty positive good forces that are out there is that free will is important and they respect that and you’ve gotta have it and use it.  That’s the entire point.  They are a force of freedom.  And it’s the bad guys who are going around doing whatever they can to abrogate free will.  So for me, where you draw the line is what defines where good stops and evil starts is by how much you’re taking away free will and how much you’re enabling it.
2011 Marscon
Could you explain free will to us from Bob’s perspective?
Free will from Bob’s perspective? Bob thinks free will is a complete illusion, uh, since he doesn’t really have it. Um, it’s a conceit that mortals have to make themselves feel like they can be in control of things. Uh, but really, it doesn’t actually exist, that’s Bob’s take on it.  But then again, Bob doesn’t really have free will, he’s sort of…
He said that Lash got it.
Lash isn’t Bob.
Well, no, but he [Bob] said that Lash got, obtained free will.
Yeah, Bob doesn’t have to tell the truth to Dresden! (Laughter) I mean, come on! Bob offered it as a possible explanation, but you know, Bob’s essentially…he’s a theoretician. That’s what he does… ‘Explain this’ , ‘Okay, maybe it was this, I don’t know.’ But yeah, he tries to stay out of the whole, anything like, anything that verges on morality, Bob tries to avoid speaking with any authority on because he doesn’t have any compass himself. It all depends on who actually happens to be in possession of the skull at the time.
2011 Fast Forward, Contemporary Science Fiction interview
There is a rather long discussion as to what constitutes free will as an element in the back end of this book (Ghost Story).  Is what is presented and discussed as a concept, your own philosophy?  How did that come about, the idea that free will is making your choices based upon truth.
Right, and in the Dresden Files universe it’s a vital component.  It’s what devides mortals, human beings, from everybody else.  Is that we’re the ones that have elements of both good and evil inside us, we’re the ones who get to chose what to do.  And because that’s who we are, we make the world around us through those choices.  The forces of the universe, these cosmic forces are always ballanced against one another, and we’re the ones who can tilt that see-saw one way or another with our actions.  I think that is largely true in real life, but it is certainly a very fun, dramatic use of the concept of free will for writing with.  It’s very important in general, and that’s why Harry, as he’s gotten more mature, he’s striven so much harder to make sure that other people have a choice, you know, he’s not trying to make choices for people any more, he’s trying to make sure that they know what’s going on, and can make an informed choice.
2011 Bitten by Books Q&A
Lash was apparently able to gain free will from harry, a mortal. Can mortals potentially grant free will to other supernaturals like vampires and faries?”
That’s… a spectacularly complicated question, really.  :)
Lash didn’t gain free will, per se. Lash gained individuality, became a singular entity, self-motivated and distinct from the personality of Lasciel the Fallen. That personality was strongly influenced by Dresden, who believes very strongly in individual choice and responsibility, but doesn’t necessarily equate to free will in the sense of what mortals possess.
You might note that Lash essentially committed suicide with her “free will.” A choice which rather strongly resembles another choice a few books later in the series.
2012 Reddit AMA:
domino7: 4) Short of rewriting reality entirely, is it possible for a supernatural creature to become human? Or, barring changelingism/vampirism, vice versa?
Jim: 4) Case by case basis on that one. Some it might be, most definitely not.

Dresden Files Cosmology and Mantle stuff that can’t be assigned elsewhere

(some of the things above in Free Will blend into this, but will stay there)

2011 KC signing
Have you ever had the idea to have a short story of Dresden crossing over into another universe, like Star Wars?
No, because I don’t want to get sued. However, just so you’re aware the Dresden Files universe exists in a big, wide, spectral multi-verse. It’s not like there’s parallel Earths. There’s an entire broadcast spectrum of parallel Earths, and if you go far enough you’ll find the parallel that’s where ???. You’ll find the parallel Earth where Star Wars stuff works, and so on. Dresden could get there if he wanted to, but stop and think about that for a minute: Would you really want to go the Star Wars universe? Because you’re not going to be a jedi over there. Really jedi are a lot scarier on the ground level than they are from passenger seat view next to one. You know, “There’s a bunch of heavily armed fanatics with mind control powers here; they say they want to talk to you.” That’s kind of spooky.
2012 Reddit AMA:
Dudesan: What we’ve seen of the cosmology of The Dresden Files seems very Earth-centric. Is that because everything really does revolve around the Earth[1] , or because we’re seeing only a tiny slice of a much bigger picture? Are there other planets in real-space inhabited by extraterrestrial sentient beings? If so, do they have their own analogues of wizards, fairies, gods, etc? Are supernatural things influenced by their belief as it is by those of humans? If so, to what extent do these “spheres of influence” overlap?
Jim: 3) Everything revolves around /this/ earth, in the Dresden stories. But not necessarily around all (or even a majority of) the other earths that exist in the continuum of possibility created by free will. Other, parallel realities have other worlds playing a more central role, and some of them have earth in a nice quiet backwater, peaceful, relatively conflict free, and boring.
Dudesan: The same story [Backup] seemed to imply that entities could gain or lose power retroactively, in a wibbley-wobbly timey-wimey sort of way. For example, The Almighty is the Creator of the Universe, but He hasn’t always been the Creator of the Universe[4] . Is there anything to this assumption, and if so, might we see it explored in greater detail later?
Jim: 7) You’re assigning limits where there aren’t any. In the Dresden Files universe, what changes really isn’t the actual beings. It’s our understanding of who and what they are.
2013 KC signing Q&A
Are you going to explore where the mantles come from?
We’ll have to as we go on, in terms of, to a certain degree, some of them have always been there. If we’re talking about mantles in There’s all kinds of them. It’s not just Faerie, they’re all over the place. There are still mantles hanging around from Greek times. Greco-Roman mythology, **unintelligible** mythology. The gods are also around, in one form or another, most of them are around. Some of them got themselves killed. Because lets face it, some of those guys were idiots.
And I mean, you go back there and read, and it’s like, how could you possibly have survived that? The answer in the Dresden Files is that they didn’t. They *unintelligible* up til they died. Sorry, Hercules, you can only go slamming your head into walls for so long. And if your mantle passed on to The Hulk, it sort of exists in people’s minds and imaginations now.
Info about really powerful beings
The Mothers are extremely powerful beings, I mean, they’re really really well, you can tell because they hardly ever show up on the real world. In the Dresden Files universe if you don’t show up on the real world, it’s because you’re too big to walk around there. For instance,  I think in the third book, when the Dragon is talking about how the Earth couldn’t bear his weight, it’s not that the Earth itself would literally crack, it’s that reality would have issues trying to contain him, because every time he coughs, it would bend around like Neo in the Matrix. So, they spend most of their time NOT on the real world, they spend it hanging around in the Nevernever, all the really heavyweight guys do that. If you’re in the real world, well, the problem is that you’re in the world, and you’re kind of mortal, and something could come along and try and whack you, if they’re fast enough, or good enough, or lucky enough. Which makes Odin a kind of special guy, because he doesn’t mind it, he thinks it’s awesome. But anyway, you can always tell. If there’s folks who don’t show up in the real world, it’s because they’re super big. So, like, an angel shows up, and it’s just sort of a whispered presence that one person is aware of, that’s because he’s just too big to show up here, it’s a giant sandbox, and he’s got to be very very careful to not squash the sandbox. So, he just shows up for that one bit.
Kiama Austrailia Q&A
One of your more weirder scenes was the journey on the Chichen Itza.  That journey through the parallel universes, but mixed in with the physical ones. Where did you get the ideas? I think there was like the upside triangles of light. Do you use like random things or how did you…? 
As far as going through the parallel universes, to get somewhere else, that’s largely lifted from Zelazny’s Amber books. I don’t know if you guys read Amber but travelling through Shadow is much the same.
Mysterious Galaxy Signing Q and A
One of my favorite parts of your novels are the divine and the demonic, and kind of how they offer (?) each other, and how they have rules, and I wanted to ask, what made you decide that Chicago wasn’t enough, that all of Creation has to be at stake?
Well, it’s not all of Creation.  It’s just all of THIS Creation. We haven’t really pulled the camera back far enough yet.  There’s a lot of reality in the Dresden Files.  The Dresden Files is a universe that is driven by Free Will, and every time you make a choice, it creates a new universe.  So, there’s this vast spectrum of universe out there, and it’s not just ours, there’s causality going off in every direction.  So a philosophical war on that scale is something that is just so tremendous you can barely imagine it.  And while it dwarfs into unimportance our particular universe, at the same time, the only way to win that war is one choice at a time, one person at a time. And that’s really what’s going on at the level where the angels are operating, that’s what they’re concerned about.  On the level where Dresden’s operating, its like, “How can I survive until the next chapter?” and that’s sort of the problem that we’ve got, as people, how do we look out and try to fix the things that are wrong with our world, when we’re basically going, “How do I get to the next chapter?”  How can we have that longer view point, do we need it?  I don’t know the answers to questions like that, but I enjoy the hell out of torturing Dresden with them!  That’s really kind of the point of what I do.
2014 Dragoncon WoJ time stamped youtube link of a rambling WoJ about pandimensionality, extradimensionality (Outsiders) and aliens

WoJ on the mods:

Jim describes how he met Iago in detail in this time stamped video link
2009 Bitten by Books
“Are you amazed at how many fans visit your website on a regular and addictive time frame?”

Not “amazed,” really. STARTLED, yes. But it’s natural for people to form communities. It’s what we do. What we build the community around is often almost incidental to the community itself. I mean, I was once loosely connected to a Rocky Horror Picture Show community. If you can build a community around that, you can build one around anything. :)

“What I want to know is, how did you meet the goddess Priscellie and Fred/Iago and others? And thank her again for doing the butcher block pod casts.”

Fred and I played a text-based internet RPG together called AmberMUSH, back in the early 90s when the internet was just beginning to hit. We did not get along well. :) I was at odds with a friend of Fred’s, and Fred is the kind of guy who is fiercely loyal to his friends. We eventually worked things out, and when he came to grad school in the same general part of the country, he joined up with my semi-regular D&D or Warhammer games which I ran out of my teeny tiny little 20×20 rental house in Norman, Oklahoma. As I kept trying to write and get published, Fred gave me his unwavering support and plenty of encouragement, for which I have probably never adequately expressed my gratitude. Part of that was him volunteering to set up a basic bulletin-board style forum for fans of the books–which he did long before the books even SOLD, much less got published.

I thought he was insane. Enthusiastically and supportability insane, but INSANE.

Turns out he was just a lot more farsighted than me, I guess. :)

Priscilla hopped onto the forum at some point several years ago, and through her unflagging enthusiasm, willingness to volunteer her time, and general all-around niftiness became kinda indispensable. Several other folks have made similar, enormous contributions in terms of time they’ve given to the site, including Mickey Finn and ashton, and probably more people whom I am not remembering but should be.

I didn’t go out looking for any of them. I didn’t put out an ad in a paper asking for their help. These people have just /given/ it. Like Fred, they’re kind of insane, grotesquely supportive, and very, very encouraging to me in both a professional and personal sense. I’m grateful to them. I don’t quite understand why they do what they do, but I’m willing to take it on faith. I doubt I’d be where I am today without their participation.


Link back to the main Dresden Files WoJ compilation