Netflix Cancels “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” After First Season

Netflix announced on Sept. 21, 2020, the cancellation of its series “#TheDarkCrystal: #AgeOfResistance”. The internet series was a prequel to the original 1982 Jim Henson film and told the story of a group of young Gelflings who discover that their overlords — the evil Skeksis — are duplicitous and plan to consume their subjects’ life energy via the dark crystal in order to fuel their own.

News of the cancelation comes mere days after the show won an Emmy for best children’s series. Executive producer Lisa Henson said,

“We can confirm that there will not be an additional season of ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.’ We know fans are eager to learn how this chapter of ‘The Dark Crystal’ saga concludes and we’ll look for ways to tell that story in the future. Our company has a legacy of creating rich and complex worlds that require technical innovation, artistic excellence, and masterful storytelling. Our history also includes productions that are enduring, often finding and growing their audience over time and proving again and again that fantasy and science fiction genres reflect eternal messages and truths that are always relevant. We are so grateful to Netflix for trusting us to realize this ambitious series; we are deeply proud of our work on ‘Age of Resistance,’ and the acclaim it has received from fans, critics and our peers, most recently receiving an Emmy for Outstanding Children’s Program.”

From Variety.
“The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance”


“Willing Suspension of Disbelief”: When it Works, When it Fails

An immutable requirement that impacts the success of any work of #ScienceFiction or #Fantasy is the audience’s ability to be able to willingly suspend their disbelief, which can be defined as follows:

The willing suspension of disbelief refers to an individual willingly suspending their critical faculties, logic and realism in order to believe something surreal for the sake of enjoyment.

It can also be defined as “a literary term of art referring to one of Aristotle’s principles of theater in which the audience accepts fiction as reality so as to experience a catharsis, or a releasing of tensions to purify the soul.”

Before sci-fi or fantasy were recognized literary genres, poetry and fiction involving the supernatural had gone out of fashion to a large extent in the 18th century, in part due to the declining belief in witches and other supernatural agents among the educated classes in favor of science. However, the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge sought to revive the use of fantastic elements in poetry and developed a concept to support how a modern, enlightened audience might continue to enjoy such types of literature.

In 1817, Coleridge introduced the term “suspension of disbelief” in Biographia Literaria and suggested that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative. The term resulted from a philosophical experiment, which Coleridge conducted with William Wordsworth within the context of the creation and reading of poetry. It involved an attempt to explain the supernatural persons or characters so that these creatures of imagination constitute some semblance of truth.

Who’s Responsible?

The individual(s) most responsible for enabling and maintaining an audience’s ability to willingly suspend their disbelief is the author(s) or creator of the work. It’s not the responsibility of the audience and any author or creator who fails to understand that isn’t going to have a successful work.

What Allows it Work?

Any creative endeavor is only successful to the extent that the audience offers their willing suspension of disbelief as they read, listen, or watch. It’s part of an unspoken contract: the author or creator provides the audience with a good story; and in return, the audience accepts the reality of the story as presented, as well as the characters in the fictional universe as they seemingly act on their own accord.

But the author or creator has the important responsibility of enabling and maintaining the audience’s ability to willingly suspend their disbelief, and they key to doing this successfully is internal consistency.

Internal consistency means being consistent with itself.

Any rules, events, settings, or characters that have been established within a fictional work (as well as sequel or prequel works) are expected by an audience to continue to exist and function as they did previously, unless otherwise indicated.

What Causes it to Fail?

Suspension of disbelief can be broken when a work breaks its own established laws or asks the audience to put up with too many things that come off as contrived.

A common way of putting this is as follows:

“You can ask an audience to believe the impossible, but not the improbable.”

For example, people will accept that the Grand Mage can use a magic spell to teleport across the world, or that the spaceship has technology that makes it completely invisible without rendering its own sensors blind; but the audience won’t accept that the ferocious carnivore just happened to have a heart attack and die right before it would have killed the main character, or that the hacker guessed his enemy’s password on the first try just by typing random letters.

A respondent to a question posed on the website “stackexchange” wrote an excellent response to the question, “What breaks suspension of disbelief?” in 2011:

“Basically, anything that the reader considers implausible when he’s already suspending disbelief, can spoil the illusion and break that suspension. The key issue to understand is that up to a certain point, your story is exposing the world of the story, and explaining what’s allowed and what isn’t. Anything you establish clearly, the reader will be willing to accept, and suspend disbelief over. Anything implausible that you don’t explain, or suggest can be explained (perhaps later), is not ‘protected’, and can prompt readers to feel that the story is nonsensical or contrived – not in the agreed-upon, ‘protected’ premise, but in the reasonable flow of events and consequences from that premise.”

The respondent then provided some specific cases. We’ll share two of them:

Setting rules are inconsistent or unclear: An SF/F reader will generally be willing to accept bizarre and impossible world constructions, as long as they are internally consistent. But if your stardates don’t match up with each other, or if something impossible turns out to be possible with no real justification, then the reader senses that your rules are arbitrary and that the author does not feel bound by his own rules. The same thing happens if he can’t figure out what your rules are meant to be to begin with. It’s like playing a game somebody invented where he gets to change the rules all the time, and then declare himself the winner if he’s losing anyway.”

Coincidence as a plot development: If anything immensely unlikely happens, it’s best for it to happen at the beginning – as part of the premise. Using coincidence as a plot development can feel contrived – since it’s not really a coincidence, but fiat on the author’s side, the reader can sense that the author is deliberately manipulating the story in implausible, artificial directions, and he loses faith in the plot as being plausible, natural, and thus significant.”

Additional Causes of Failure

Here are some additional causes that can cause an audience to lose their ability to suspend their disbelief.

  • Character derailment. When an established character becomes largely different, exhibiting behavior contrary to what has been previously shown that is not a matter of organic growth. Rather than gradually changing in response to events and experiences, a derailed character will exhibit shockingly unusual behavior that implies malfeasance or incompetence on the part of the writers.
  • Dues ex Machina. A Deus ex Machina is when some new event, character, ability, or object solves a seemingly unsolvable problem in a sudden, unexpected way. It’s often used as the solution to what is called “writing yourself into a corner,” where the problem is so extreme that nothing in the established setting suggests that there is a logical way for the characters to escape. If a bomb is about to go off, someone finds a convenient bomb-proof bunker in easy reach.
  • Fridge Logic. This refers to some illogical or implausible plot point that the audience doesn’t realize during the show, but only long afterwards. This naming is highly subjective, since not every person follows the same train of thought. Some people will never even realize there was a problem, while others will call it a plot hole, since they already noticed the problem during the show. The phrase was technically coined by Alfred Hitchcock. When asked about the scene in “Vertigo” when Madeleine mysteriously, and impossibly, disappears from the hotel that Scottie saw her in, he responded by calling it an “icebox” scene, that is, a scene that “hits you after you’ve gone home and start pulling cold chicken out of the icebox.”
  • Plot Hole. Plot Holes are those gaps in a story where things happen without a logical reason. When a Plot Hole involves something essential to a story’s outcome, it can hurt the believability, for those who are bothered by such things.
  • Retcon. Short for Retroactive Continuity, this is the reframing of past events to serve a current plot need, meaning that the new plot need was not intended from the beginning. A retcon is considered by many to occur when current events contradict the past continuity of the series, and is often evidence of authorial intrusion.



Magic in Fantasy Fiction

#Magic is often a key element in many works of #Fantasy fiction. How it is defined and used varies considerably, though, depending upon who authored the fantasy fiction.

What is Fictional Magic?

There are a variety of definitions for magic and it’s important to distinguish magic in terms of how it is used and defined within fantasy fiction as opposed to how it may be viewed from a religious context or when used by magicians within the entertainment industry.

In this article, we will focus on how magic is defined an used only within the framework of fantasy fiction, or, more precisely, fictional magic. That being said, here’s our definition of fictional magic, which is derived from several sources (see our References at the end of the post):

  • Fictional magic is an ability or power that a wielder has to use supernatural forces to make the wielder’s intent manifest, often in an extraordinary way.
  • By supernatural force, we mean a force that is beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.
  • By extraordinary, we mean something that is very unusual, strange or unexpected.

Systems of Magic

Authors of fantasy fiction often create a system of magic (a set of rules or guidelines that applies to magic) for the fictional world in which the fantasy fiction occurs. Once created, any magic used has to fall within that magical system. Several examples of magical rules & guidelines are listed below.

  • What is the nature of the magic?
    • Does magic originate from within or without?
    • What powers or abilities can be performed by magic?
    • Is magic natural, mystical or arcane?
    • Is magical power limited to specific items and the possession/use thereof?
    • Does magic have limitations? If so, what are they?
  • Who can wield magic?
    • Is magical ability hereditary or acquired?
    • Can anyone perform magic with the proper knowledge & training?
    • If magic is hereditary, do they still need proper knowledge & training to use magic?
    • How does someone obtain the proper knowledge & training?
    • Do specific magical abilities vary from wielder to wielder?
    • Are there magical creatures?
  • How is magic wielded?
    • Are magical implements (such as wands, staves or crystal balls) required?
    • Are there magical potions?
    • Are incantations required?
    • Are pacts with supernatural creatures required to wield magic?
  • Is there a distinction between “good” and “evil” magical wielders?
    • Do good and evil magical wielders fight each other?
    • Is there a magical judicial system to punish evil magical wielders?
  • How many people know about magic’s existence?
    • Is knowledge of magic’s existence broadly known to everyone (both magical & non-magical people) or only to those who can perform it and possibly a few who are ordinary?
  • Who do magical people interact with?
    • Do magical people tend to only interact with each other?
    • Is there a distinct magical society separate from the ordinary world?
    • If there is a magical society, is it hierarchical?
    • If there is a magical society, how developed is it?
  • If society at large has an opinion about magic, what is it?
    • Is magic accepted, rejected, believed in, not believed in, etc.?
    • How are magical users treated by society at large?
    • Do magical users work in harmony with society at large or are they at odds with one another?

Fantasy Fiction Authors that Include Magic

There are many authors of fantasy fiction that have incorporated magic into their works by varying degrees. Some of the most well known authors are listed below:

J.K. Rowling reading one of her favorite passages from “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”: