All posts by Alma Katsu

[GUEST POST] Alma Katsu on Alchemy: Science or Magic?

Alma Katsu is the author of historical fantasies but has worked in telecommunications, encryption and computer science for most of her life. She is currently a senior analyst with the RAND Corporation, advising US federal agencies on technology policy. The Descent, the final book in The Taker Trilogy, is now out. The first book, The Taker, was named one of the ten best debut novels of 2011 by Booklist and the series has been published in over a dozen countries. For more information on these novels or the author, please visit

Alchemy: Science or Magic?

by Alma Katsu

It seems many novels these days use alchemy as the device by which magic is introduced into the story, my Taker Trilogy included. Well, why not? Alchemy was hugely popular in the real world, studied and practiced for over four millennia across half the planet, from China to North Africa. I find that readers are generally confused about what alchemy is — not that I blame them; it’s not a subject taught much in schools these days. Not that I am an expert, either, though I have done a fair amount of research on the subject, as you can imagine.
Continue reading