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December 14th, 2002, 07:02 PM
after finishing a rather conventional fantasy novel, i've began another story. this one, however, i suppose you could call science fantasy. i'm a little dubious as i'm writing it because i am mixing science with magic.

the story is set in the future, after an experiment reopened the gateways to the otherworlds and sucked their ocupants into our world. These people, which include minotaurs, satyrs, and lots of creatures from our myths and legends, are called Beyonders collectively.

The most powerful are the Fey, but they are also the most few. The leader is Oberon and his magic is accentuated by a machine (the thaumaturgic amplifier).

i won't go into detail here, but i've pretty much thought out the magic system and how it melds with technology and all that stuff.

what i want to know is if i'm playing with fire. has anything like this ever been written, and if so, was it written well?

i believe it can work because i've thought through it. but its just that i've never read anything in which magic has been complimented or combined with technology. just to reassure me, could anyone think of some examples where this has worked, just so i can see how to go about it.

December 15th, 2002, 02:42 AM
So, Asraloth, we meet again. ;)

Without any evidence to back me up, I'd be wary of melding technology and magic. It might be worth going into detail on the system you've come up with, if you want specific feedback.

I read a story a while ago which I thuroughly enjoyed called The Last Hot Time (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0312875789/qid=1039940823/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/102-7049298-6653722?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) (link is to Amazon). It had fantasy elemtents in a contemporary setting (somewhere between the 20s and 50s as I recall... it's been a while since I read it :).

Anyway, my point is that while magic and technology both existed, the t'wain ne'er did meet. (Except maybe for magic to suppliment technology... I have a vauge memory of magic being used by the mechanic to fix cars from time to time, when it couldn't be avoided.) I'd give you more details if I could remember them. I highly recommend you read the book.

That's personally how I would approach it; letting the two co-exist without giving technology any sway over magic. My reasoning is that as soon as technology can influence magic, magic would have to have a scientific explination. Then it isn't magic anymore. :) To stay sanctified, magic cannot be under the control of technology. Magic is something to be harnessed or tapped in to, not controlled, is the way I think of it.

I will however reitterate that I have little to back up my personal opinion here. :) Just some of my own dogmas that might influence you one way or another.


December 15th, 2002, 06:35 AM
well, basically, the machine in no way control's magic, only accentuates it. it is just a tool, like a wand or a staff. that is the only time in which magic meld with technology, so to speak.

Hereford Eye
December 15th, 2002, 07:37 AM
The book for December up in the Fantasy thread is Perdido Street Station. It mixes magic and technology and works..extremely well.

Sci Fantasia
December 15th, 2002, 04:44 PM
Sci-fi and fantasy can't mix? May I remind you of a little film, made some time ago, that was fairly popular with quite a lot of people.

It was called Star Wars :p

Go for it Asraloth, it sounds very interesting. As long as you have your bases for the magic and the technology worked out, you shouldn't get yourself in a tangle.

Fanta :)

December 16th, 2002, 06:16 PM
Originally posted by Sci Fantasia
Sci-fi and fantasy can't mix? May I remind you of a little film, made some time ago, that was fairly popular with quite a lot of people.

It was called Star Wars :p

Truthfully, I am not one of those people. I dislike Star Wars, and the further it goes the more I hate it. Midiclorians? MIDICLORIANS!?


Of course, it is just my opinion, but I still don't believe magic should ever be under the control of technology. Which isn't the same as saying they simply shouldn't be mixed, either. (Which I was pretty careful not to say.)

I think that's one of the reasons I do dislike Star Wars so much now. Before, the one aspect of SW I liked was The Force. It was cool... and I don't think you'd see a computer manipulating the force. Then come midiclorians and give it a (at least partially) mundane explination. As you can tell, my dislike for midiclorians is great.

And yes, it's just my opinion. ;P I'm sure a good writer could write a melding of technology and magic.


December 16th, 2002, 11:35 PM
This is a rather dumb example but the role playing game Final Fantasy 10 wonderfully combines technology and magic in a most exciting way. The machines (or machina, as they are called in the game) fit it quite well with the magic element.

Also, define magic for me. What is magic?

If you went back in time and introduced a television to the Egyptians it would be magic to them.

If you met a man from the future who had learned to override the law of gravity and fly without mechanical assistance it would be magic to you.

Think about it.

December 17th, 2002, 06:27 AM
Not sure if this counts, but I'll throw it in anyway....
J Michael Straczinski (sp) the creator of B5, Crusade etc had the "Techno-mages" who were like space-age magicians who used technology to create magical illusions etc.
However how much of there magic was fake and real was always unknown as some of their "illusions" could physically affect the real world, such as throwing people around etc.
I like the idea of melding them and I think it's a bold step.
I say GO FOR IT matey.

December 17th, 2002, 11:09 AM
Hmm, perhaps Piers Anthony's "Mode" series?

It's been done well.. and it's been done badly.
An example of bad, IMHO, would be the story for Might and Magic 7 where they just throw in the technology at the end. (Yes, I'm sorry. I too must use an RPG example :p)

I don't think it's the blending science and magic that can make a story bad. Only how you use it.

Like Fyre said, how would you define magic? Aren't science fiction and fantasy usually lumped together anyways? I say, use whatever you need to tell your story and it will be fine:)

The only time science would ever ruin a fantasy story (or vice versa) is when it sounds contrived. Particularly when it sounds as if the author has just thrown it in as a novelty and it really doesn't belong there.

Your idea sounds pretty interesting, though. Good luck with it:)

December 17th, 2002, 10:38 PM
In my continuing life-long effort to always get the last word in, I feel compelled to continue in my role of devil's advocate. ;) (I hope I don't offend anyone by continuing my ranting.)

The question of magic's definition is an important one I think. It ties in with the point about showing a TV to the ancient Egyptians. As Arthur C. Clarke worded it (a quote I'm sure many of you have heard), "Any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic."

So, does it work in reverse... is any magic simply advanced technology? I think that's just up to you as the author.

One of the older and more traditional philosophies which we studied in my recent Philosophy 1 class ('m just a lowly freshman in college) is Dualism, which centers around the idea that the Universe is made up of two distinct substances, one material and one immaterial. What we see in everyday life is the material substance, objects and such. The immaterial substance is what our mind or soul and our thoughts are made of.

Of course there are competing views. Physicalism says everything is material and can be explained as such, while Idealism says that everything is immaterial.

To draw parallels to each philosophy, I would see my idea of magic as being like Dualism. But there are obvious problems with Dualism. If the two substances are totally dissimilar, how can they interact? Where do they interact?

David starts to mutter to himself: Maybe magic could be seen as that force that connects the material and the immaterial. Obviously, magic could have physical consequences. There must be some way for the two substances to interact with each other. If magic was the force that linked the two substances, then it would not be effected by either directly but simply be the force that causes the effecting to occur on other substances. ...In which case the answer to why we would be able to influence magic to act on physical substances and not vice versa is that we have will to do so and an immaterial object wouldn't.

Anyway... Arthur C. Clarke's position would be akin to Physicalism... everything is explainable in a purely scientific context. Others would argue that all the world is spiritual and magical and that we just perceive physical things to exist.

I don't think what you choose to do is as important as to how well you think through exactly what it is you're doing.

The generalization I have come to use when working with magic is that it is a force wholly separate from the physical. As a reflection of my own romantic views of the Universe, I guess, my magic is generally an omnipotent force with a will of its own towards Good. It can be forcibly misused to some extent, and it might lead to something which seems in the short term to be bad, but in the end it's for the good. I guess it's like Fate's nice twin, that we have some access to.

Ahh... the life of a romantic...

Anyway, I invite you to answer Fyre's question "What is magic?" for yourself, as the answer will probably lead you to the correct mix of science and magic. It's obvious from my explanation of my magic why it could never be subjugated by science. But then, as long as you have an internally consistent explanation of your own, you can do anything that's appropriate and the reader will accept it. :)

That's all for now. I need to learn to exercise some restraint in the length of the messages I post here...