Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

Deus Ex Machina and a spoiler

More and more I am becoming convinced that the majority of people do not understand what the term “Deus Ex Machina” actually means.

Literally it is the “God in the Machine.”  The machine originated in ancient Greece.  It was a platform on which a “god” was lowered onto the stage to resolve the plot at the end, rescue the protagonist, or settle disputes.

Wikipedia’s take on it.

What it is not:

When something is properly foreshadowed then it is NOT a deus ex machina.

Case in point.

I gave Talons a magic horn that summons help or stirs up people to act.  The horn had featured in a series of other tales.  And Dynarien gave the horn to her in order to both help her and gain some favor with her.

When Aejys is in trouble and Talons can’t reach her, she blows the horn to get help.

Three people answer the call to rescue Aejys from the hands of  Lord Hoon: Pieface, Dynarien, and the Mad Lich Carloff.

Foreshadowing to go along with this spoiler.

1) it had been made clear that Hoon knew he was risking the possiblity that the Lich King of Norendel would notice his presence in the lich’s territory.

2) Pieface had been following Talons around for two books already trying to get her to kiss him.

3) Dynarien had been trying to get a kiss (and a bit more) from Talons, so that demi-god was lurking about as always.

4) Talons had been looking for Aejys in the first place, so it was logical for her to give the horn a try right then.

Yet, I have been accused of using a deus ex machina there.

What do you think?


6 comments on “Deus Ex Machina and a spoiler

  1. SirOtter
    April 13, 2009

    Who accused you of such a thing? They’re incorrect. It would be a Deus ex Machina if Zeus dropped out a of a cloud on the last page and presented a previously un-mentioned horn to someone in order to pull their fat out of a fire, but you’ve got an established artifact being used as intended all along – definitely NOT a DxM. If it were, any magical item from Thor’s hammer to the Ring of Mordor would constitute a DxM. Poppycock, I say!

  2. susie hawes
    April 13, 2009

    You’re writing about gods. Some of the logical actions in your stories, and the way you’ve written them, are going to be mislabled. By idiots.

  3. susie hawes
    April 13, 2009

    btw and totally ot, you have to see bluejack’s latest:

  4. Mike Brendan
    April 13, 2009

    I’ve always attributed the Deus Ex Machina as a sort of “bail-out” ploy when writers are nearing the end and realized they’re written themselves into a corner (IMO the case with Brian Aldiss’ “Non-stop”).

    That does not look to be the case here.

  5. CritGit
    April 13, 2009

    Russell T Davies, Mr New Doctor Who, is the master of DEM. Pisses me right off.
    Writes his characters into a corner one episode, then it’s press a button and the Daleks go nuts. Bollocks.

  6. Rusty
    April 14, 2009

    I agree with you and Otter on the definition of deus ex machina that dates back to ancient Greece. Foreshadowing an event isn’t the same as a god swooping down out of the skies, unannounced, to save the day.

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This entry was posted on April 12, 2009 by in Janrae Frank.

Janrae Frank

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