The magic coin

I’ve been mulling over the concept of “the magic coin”. In my thinking this is the sort of fantasy story where a stranger gives you a magic coin, and says “use it wisely”.

At first you don’t know what it’s for, or even if it’s all a joke. But then one day something happens and you realize that the coin is giving you a super power.

In order for this concept to really work, the super power cannot come for free. Every time you use the magic coin, there is a cost.

In really good versions of this, there would be something poetic about the relationship between your super power and the price you pay for using it. For example, the coin might let you repeat any day — and thereby fix any mistakes you had made on that day.

But then an appropriate price would be that you lose two days off the end of your life. It seems like a fair trade: one special day for two regular days.

So that is the basic set-up, the space in which to play. What is the super power? What is the price it will exact? Is the benefit of the former worth the cost of the latter?

I could imagine an anthology TV series, “The Magic Coin”. In every episode there is a different super power and a different corresponding price.

Each episode would be written by a different guest writer, and every writer would have a chance to create his or her unique vision. I don’t know about you, but I’d watch it.

4 Responses to “The magic coin”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    Sort of reminds me of the lifetime = financial currency premise.

    I first saw it in the Price of Life (1987)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRurZ7TlACc

    Apparently it was revisited in In Time (2011)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Time

  2. admin says:

    Great example!

    Of course the myth of King Midas is an origin story for all such tales. I strongly suspect there were many other such tales in antiquity.

  3. Half Magic, published in 1954 and written by Edward Eager, features a magic coin that grants half of any wish uttered in its presence. Some kids find it and get in all sorts of trouble until they learn to double their impulses.

  4. Adrian says:

    Makes me think of the Twilight Zone episode, “A Penny for your Thoughts.” A banker tosses a coin into a newspaper vendor’s box, and it lands on its edge. The rest of the day, he can hear the thoughts of those around them. Hilarity ensues. At the end of the day, the coin is knocked over, and he loses the superpower.

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