Making the Filler Episode Work: “Magic 2.0”

Magic 2.0 is a series where I feel at home. It’s one of those things where you’re so familiar with a set of characters and a particular setting that it just makes you happy to immerse yourself in that world. In large part, this is because of the amazing work of Luke Daniels, who narrates the audio versions of the novels, but that’s a post for another day.

Fight or Flight is the fourth novel in the Magic 2.0 series by Scott Meyer, and was released in May. The series, for those unfamiliar, follows an average dude named Martin who discovers a hidden computer file that seems to control all of reality. He can manipulate the file to change his appearance, his location, or even his bank account balance. Naturally, having discovered these new abilities, he decides, after causing trouble in his own time, to go back to medieval England and live out his life pretending to be a wizard. Only, Martin’s not the first person to discover the file, and he’s not the first one to have thought to go back in time and become a wizard through its power. The novels follow the adventures of these “wizards” as they suffer at the hands of villains who use their omnipotence for evil.

Needless to say, it’s a really silly premise.

And I absolutely love it.

As I finished Fight or Flight, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Wow. This novel had basically no purpose.” While the first three novels challenged our heroes with relatively high stakes, or at the very least helped to further develop the world of the novel, the fourth installment was really just a bunch of nonsense. The wizards decide they’ve had enough of getting caught unprepared for danger, and decide to train themselves up by… creating… dragons to fight? (Considering they’re all omnipotent, it’s just ridiculous that they’d think that fighting some dragons would prepare them to fight omnipotent wrong-doers. But hey! Dragons are fun!) Of course, the dragons get loose, and everyone’s stuck trying to hunt them down and keep them from terrorizing the poor peasants of 12th century England.

At the end of it all, nothing really changed, either for the characters, or the universe they lived in. I didn’t even really know anything more about this mysterious computer file than I did previously.

It felt like a filler episode of a serialized TV show.

As you can imagine, that’s not ideal for a novel series, where you get one book every six months, at most, and every twelve years, if you’re a Song of Ice and Fire fan.

However, despite all that, I wasn’t disappointed, I wasn’t upset, and I wasn’t even displeased.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and had a really great time reading it.

That’s because Magic 2.0 serves a very particular role for me.

I read Magic 2.0 when I want something funny, light-hearted, and ridiculous. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s not a criticism of Scott Meyer, the book, or the series in general. Even when it isn’t full of high stakes, mysteries to be solved, or a great plot, it’s just plain old fun to read.

In fact, I give Scott Meyer a ton of credit for creating a world in which I feel so at home and relaxed when I’m reading about it that I don’t care that the story isn’t that great.

It’s a lot of like visiting with a group of close friends—you get to sit back, immerse yourself in the familiar personalities around you, unwind in a comfortable environment, and laugh your ass off.

I’d even go so far as to say that Meyer gets away with entertaining me for nine hours with a book that basically had no point because he’d done such a great job making these characters feel like old friends.

When I first started listening to Fight or Flight, the moment I heard Luke Daniels begin to speak as Philip, Martin, Gwen and all the others, it was kind of startling. Even though it had been over six months since I’d last listened to the series, I was instantly thrown back into the universe of Magic 2.0 with just a couple of words.

Would I have liked more world-building and some actual development? Sure. But it really wasn’t a deal-breaker for me in the slightest.

There are only a handful of novels, movies, and shows that have had that magic ability to completely wrench me from reality (no matter what I’m currently dealing with) and immerse me in their worlds. Magic 2.0 is definitely one of them.

What about you? Are there any series where you feel right at home when you’re watching or reading it?

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