The genie Fatima, right out of the lamp. Cropped image. Cover art and all interior art by Commotion22
Fatima and Marvin, seconds later. Cropped image. Cover art and all interior art by Commotion22
Fatima at the Pool Party. Cropped image. Cover art and all interior art by Commotion22
Virgilia (a stripper in Marvin’s harem) watches as Marvin is magically attacked. Cropped image. Cover art and all interior art by Commotion22
There are certain tropes that are in every three-wishes genie story. Have you ever wondered why they’re in there?
• The lamp is found in an out-of-the-way place. Example: sealed up in the wall of a centuries-old house.
The writing explanation for this is that you need for the hero to find the lamp accidentally, you don’t want the reader wondering why somebody else didn’t find the lamp first, and you don’t want other people in the story to expect that the hero has the lamp.
Oddly, the stories never address the question of locator spells. After all, if genies exist, then magic works, so locator spells should work. So why didn’t someone come along before the story started, using a locator spell, and grab the lamp before our hero could?
Another thing that the stories don’t mention is how the lamp came to be in that out-of-the-way place in the first place.
But note: In Three More Wishes, I tell the reader why nobody grabbed the lamp with a locator spell, and why Warren (the genie-master at the beginning of the story) found the lamp in an out-of-the-way place.
• The owner of the lamp unwittingly summons the genie by rubbing the lamp.
The writing explanation is that rubbing allows someone who doesn’t know a genie is in there, to summon the genie.
After all, if a genie would come out only if you knocked on the lamp with your knuckles, that means he wouldn’t come out if you didn’t know he was there. Who goes around knocking on brass oil lamps with their knuckles? In any case, in this kind of story, the story doesn’t really get started until the genie comes out.
The stories never really explain why the lamp has such a strange way of summoning the genie.
But note: In Three More Wishes, I explain why the “rub the lamp to summon the genie” rule is in place.
• The genie has magical power enough to grant wishes, but not power enough to escape the confinement of the lamp.
One explanation I keep reading in stories is that a super-powerful human sorcerer trapped the genie in the lamp.
But that doesn’t wash.
If the sorcerer was powerful enough to trap and to keep confined a genie, why does he need to bother with the genie at all, in order to get the things he wants? Can’t this sorcerer hocus-pocus whatever he wants into happening, without bothering with wishmaking? And if there are spells that the captive genie can cast that the sorcerer can’t, but somehow the sorcerer can capture and compel the genie, why stop at three wishes granted?
In three-wishes stories set in ancient times, you can claim that the hero is the first guy to rub the lamp, and so he’s the first guy to release the genie. In those ancient-times three-wishes stories, the genie grants the wishes out of gratitude, then goes on his merry way. But in stories set in modern times, it’s really stretching believability to claim that our hero is the first guy to release a genie who’s been trapped for over a thousand years. Which argues that whoever put the genie in the lamp didn’t just trick the genie into the lamp one time, but fixed it so that the genie went back into the lamp after every three-wishes session. But who could be that much more powerful than a genie that he could shackle a genie to a lamp for eternity?
Note that in Three More Wishes, I answer the question of who managed to lock Fatima into the lamp, and why he did that.
• The genie grants three wishes, not one, to the guy who rubs the lamp.
The writing explanation for this involves the creation of what is called suspense, or what I call “hero-can’t-win-ness” (even though it’s awful grammar). For a story to be exciting, it must contain a part that says, “No matter how much you want the hero to win, or you think he should win, he can’t win.” Look at any James Bond movie—one man against an entire evil organization, so obviously the hero can’t win. A farm girl from Kansas taking on an evil witch? Obviously the hero can’t win.
How does that apply here? If the hero were given only one wish, we would have no expectations about him, either good or bad. But in a three-wishes story, it always plays out like this—
The wisher wastes the first wish, because he thinks the whole “genie routine” is a joke that someone is playing on him. He might say something like “I wish I be served a steak dinner, served on a white tablecloth.” Imagine the shock he feels when his wish is granted. Then the wisher hunkers down and thinks carefully about his second wish. But either he doesn’t think carefully enough, or the genie twists the wording. In either case, after the wisher is granted his second wish, he is in big trouble.
And that is when “the-hero-can’t-win-ness” kicks in. Now the hero has proven he’s a very poor wisher, but he has only one more wish to get what he really wants and to dig himself out of the hole he’s in.
I mentioned earlier, gratitude as an explanation for why the genie grants three wishes instead of one wish. Supposedly the wisher rubs the genie out of the lamp, and gets rewarded by the grateful genie.
*Buzzer* I’m sorry, but that explanation doesn’t track.
Imagine that you rescue Donald Trump from a burning automobile.
What’s the most likely outcome? That Trump would say “Thank you,” but in a tone of voice that would say, “I don’t mean what I’m saying.”
There’s a small chance that Donald Trump would say to you, “Thank you,” and actually sound grateful.
It would be possible, but highly unlikely, that Trump would show his gratitude by giving you a cash reward.
Donald Trump would have to be more grateful than I can imagine Donald Trump ever being, to hand you one blank check.
So what are the odds that Donald Trump would be so grateful over you rescuing him that he would hand you three blank checks? Zero, that’s what the odds are.
So I conclude that there is simply no way that a genie would choose to give three wishes to the human who rubbed the lamp and released the genie. Something else must be making the genie offer this.
Note that in Three More Wishes, I explain why the genie must grant three wishes instead of one wish.
• The wisher shoots his mouth off, not considering the working of his wishes at all. The genie twists the wording of the wishes.
The second part makes perfect sense. The genie presumably hates being a wish-granter, and takes it out on the wish-maker as much as he can.
In any case, the wisher’s being wrongly granted wishes adds conflict, complications, and the-hero-can’t-win-ness.
Still, it’s stupid to write a story this way, by making the main character, the wisher, do something that no person would be stupid enough to do in real life.
So I don’t bother. In Three More Wishes, Marvin thinks a lot about his wishes, and the wording of them, before he says them. Still, at least once in the novel, Fatima gets tricky in how she interprets wishes, because she really doesn’t like the wisher!
My novel sounds intriguing. Want to know more?
For those of you who haven’t already read the novel but you’re curious, here’s the cover blurb for Three More Wishes: Be Kind To Your Genie—
Eighteen-year-old Marvin Harper was a good kid: He didn’t make trouble for other people, and he tutored Anna Kay in Trig for free.
Admittedly, Marvin didn’t cause trouble for others because he couldn’t. At five-foot-two, Marvin was always the kid bullied, never the bullyboy. As for Anna Kay, she was a big-breasted cheerleader, and Marvin figured tutoring was the only way he could spend time near his goddess.
Then he inherited a genie lamp. Now goody-two-shoes Marvin Harper had Choices to make.
Marvin also was given a mystery. What was the rule that the genie couldn’t tell Marvin about, till after he’d made his three wishes?
Okay, so why the subtitle, Be Kind To Your Genie? The main reason is to distinguish my book from Amazon’s other Three More Wishes title. The other TMW is a gay-male version of Fantasy Island; and while I hope the author gets sales, I don’t want any of those sales coming from people wanting my book!
The other reason I used that subtitle is that it ties in with a plot point I like, and that has given appeal to stories for centuries. As I wrote in yesterday’s post—
A long time ago, I read a book that had summaries of children’s stories from all over the world—England, Ireland, France, Germany, Japan, Native Americans, and many more countries. The thing that struck me was that certain things appeared in children’s stories everywhere.
One common plot was this: A person does something mean to a supposedly helpless stranger, but the “helpless stranger” is actually a person of great magical power, and so the nasty person gets an awful punishment. The flip side of this is that a person does a kindness for a stranger who supposedly can’t return the kindness, and then the kind human is magically rewarded.
Marvin is kind to Fatima twice, because he’s a nice guy, and each time he’s rewarded for it. Another master is nasty to her genie, and winds up suffering a nasty penalty.
If nothing else will persuade you to buy my novel, how about this: It’s the best novel or short story I’ve ever written. Now, who on Earth makes such a claim about a soft-core porn novel?
P.S. Just to remind you, the novel comes with four full-color illustrations inside.
EDIT: Added 2013.05.03—
Buy Three More Wishes: Be Kind To Your Genie now! You know you want to.
EDIT: Added 2013.12.22—
Apple iTunes Bookstore
EDIT: Added 2014.06.27—
Page Foundry/Inktera EPUB