December 05, 2019, 02:30:33 PM

Author Topic: Magic vs Technology  (Read 10987 times)

Offline lyrastern

Magic vs Technology
« on: March 12, 2011, 03:35:24 PM »
There is often no place in fantasy for magic and technology to coincide. Fantasy usually occurs in a world that isn't our own, where the people don't even have plastic let alone a mobile phone. I suppose it would take away a lot of dramatic irony if the hero could just call his lady and ask if she needs him or if he got a text message warning him that an ambush was coming.
Fantasy that does occur in our world such as Harry Potter or the Dresden files still find no way to mesh the two worlds together. Magic always seems to 'interfere' with technology and send it haywire.
There is always the rare exception such as American Gods, but that's a different type of magic altogether.
I suppose what I'm asking is, with the world being as technologically advanced as it is nowadays and with the thousands of fantasy books all seeming to follow similar patterns, is there a place for magic and technology to co-exist?
Does it already exist and I'm missing it?
Would technology ruin a good fantasy story?

Offline Autumn2May

  • Word Mage
  • Administrator
  • Khaleesi
  • ***
  • Posts: 2850
  • Total likes: 29
  • Gender: Female
  • Does the noise in my head bother you?
    • View Profile
    • The Write Way To Type - Writing Blog
Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2011, 04:06:04 PM »
There is often no place in fantasy for magic and technology to coincide. Fantasy usually occurs in a world that isn't our own, where the people don't even have plastic let alone a mobile phone. I suppose it would take away a lot of dramatic irony if the hero could just call his lady and ask if she needs him or if he got a text message warning him that an ambush was coming.
Fantasy that does occur in our world such as Harry Potter or the Dresden files still find no way to mesh the two worlds together. Magic always seems to 'interfere' with technology and send it haywire.
There is always the rare exception such as American Gods, but that's a different type of magic altogether.
I suppose what I'm asking is, with the world being as technologically advanced as it is nowadays and with the thousands of fantasy books all seeming to follow similar patterns, is there a place for magic and technology to co-exist?
Does it already exist and I'm missing it?
Would technology ruin a good fantasy story?

Actually the book series I'm writing is fantasy that takes place in another magic based world, and there is some technology as well. :)  As a matter of fact they have their own equivalent of smart phones. :)  Magic in a story can exist anywhere, you just have to think about it differently.  As long as technology is used for different things then magic is used for, it works.  The reason my world ended up with smart phones and magic at the same time is there is no magic for communicating over distances, so technology filled the gap. :)

AJZaethe

  • Guest
Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2011, 05:13:42 PM »
Actually the book series I'm writing is fantasy that takes place in another magic based world, and there is some technology as well. :)  As a matter of fact they have their own equivalent of smart phones. :)  Magic in a story can exist anywhere, you just have to think about it differently.  As long as technology is used for different things then magic is used for, it works.  The reason my world ended up with smart phones and magic at the same time is there is no magic for communicating over distances, so technology filled the gap. :)

I have the same thing going on as Autumn here, except nothing like that at the same time.  In my own story there are periods of time where tech nology makes Star Trek look like child's play and other times almost non existent.  The point is.  Is the tech needed or not? 

I have seen stories with advanced technology.  But nothing ever really with a "cellphone," and I personally would be against something such as that.  A communication device as Autumn described doesn't exactly sound the same as a cellphone, so it is ok, but my point is this. 

To have simple tech such as a cellphone, sounds tacky and silly to me.  I wouldn't be able to take the fantasy seriously.  I wonder if this is what others feel and that is why it is not seen in fantasy?


Offline lyrastern

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2011, 05:21:22 PM »
yeah I agree, I'm not suggesting that every hero wanders around organising armies by text message. Its obvious there is no place for technology in those worlds.
But could a convincing Fantasy story happen in a tech-friendly environment? or is it right that it is limited to sci-fi?
I suppose you could say that Fantasy that occurs in a Tech savvy world like ours wouldn't really be fantasy at all.
I'm just curious as to the boundaries of the genre really. what everyone thinks would be too far.

Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2011, 05:45:08 PM »
I get irritated with the whole "magic>physics" thing for stories set in this universe. I can accept it when it's actually part of the hook of the story (see "Age of Misrule" trilogy by Mark Chadbourn), but not when it behaves inconsistently and only to ramp up dramatic tension ("O noes! Mah phone won't work!"), or to give the hero/ine a reason to do their fighting with a sword or battle axe ("Beware! The presence of magic arbitrarily halts the oxidisation occurring inside bullets by dint of its mere existence. Don't ask why it doesn't do the same thing to your body. It just doesn't, OK?"). Magic as plot hanger, by-product of inter-dimensional mingling, or manifestation of the divine (or at least, Godlike in power), I'll have. Magic as deus (diabolus?) ex machina  I won't have, not even if you wrap it in a pretty bow and give me a kiss on the cheek as you hand it over.

I'm also happy to accept secondary worlds in which the presence of magic has made a great deal of scientific progress grind to a halt. Historically, science was a pursuit for the wealthy. Something which those with the resources and ample time not dedicated to mere subsistence could indulge their fancy for. In a world in which magic is readily apparent it makes sense that people of an investigative turn of mind would study this prominent and widespread phenomena before the more invisible influences on the world; especially when you factor in the practical application of magic. It would be cool to see an Elf/Dwarf/Goblin with a flintlock now and again, though.

Have tech, have magic, have both, but please don't make the mere existence of one destroy the existence of the other. Give sten guns to Orcs, have mages firing bolts of magic at Abrams tanks, have Dragons fighting aerial battles with Harrier jets. Just stop using it to make the hero/ine's phone stop working at dramatic moments, or to give them a reason not to put a bullet or a shotgun round into the villain.
I am NOT short. I'm further away than I look.

Offline Autumn2May

  • Word Mage
  • Administrator
  • Khaleesi
  • ***
  • Posts: 2850
  • Total likes: 29
  • Gender: Female
  • Does the noise in my head bother you?
    • View Profile
    • The Write Way To Type - Writing Blog
Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2011, 06:23:03 PM »
I get irritated with the whole "magic>physics" thing for stories set in this universe. I can accept it when it's actually part of the hook of the story (see "Age of Misrule" trilogy by Mark Chadbourn), but not when it behaves inconsistently and only to ramp up dramatic tension ("O noes! Mah phone won't work!"), or to give the hero/ine a reason to do their fighting with a sword or battle axe ("Beware! The presence of magic arbitrarily halts the oxidisation occurring inside bullets by dint of its mere existence. Don't ask why it doesn't do the same thing to your body. It just doesn't, OK?"). Magic as plot hanger, by-product of inter-dimensional mingling, or manifestation of the divine (or at least, Godlike in power), I'll have. Magic as deus (diabolus?) ex machina  I won't have, not even if you wrap it in a pretty bow and give me a kiss on the cheek as you hand it over.

I'm also happy to accept secondary worlds in which the presence of magic has made a great deal of scientific progress grind to a halt. Historically, science was a pursuit for the wealthy. Something which those with the resources and ample time not dedicated to mere subsistence could indulge their fancy for. In a world in which magic is readily apparent it makes sense that people of an investigative turn of mind would study this prominent and widespread phenomena before the more invisible influences on the world; especially when you factor in the practical application of magic. It would be cool to see an Elf/Dwarf/Goblin with a flintlock now and again, though.

Have tech, have magic, have both, but please don't make the mere existence of one destroy the existence of the other. Give sten guns to Orcs, have mages firing bolts of magic at Abrams tanks, have Dragons fighting aerial battles with Harrier jets. Just stop using it to make the hero/ine's phone stop working at dramatic moments, or to give them a reason not to put a bullet or a shotgun round into the villain.

Very well said my good man. :)  I agree, "Must defeat main bad guy with sword instead of gun because it will be cooler!" is so annoying. :)

Offline MTMaenpaa

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2011, 06:57:02 PM »
I go to sleep and like magic, fun new threads appear.  Wait, the internet is magic!

Its not, is it?  You guys just got up before I did.  Damn.

I'm going to point at the infamous Arthur C Clarke quote: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

And I'm going to chuck a little, because he's right.  And I think that it makes things difficult to have advanced sciences alongside magic.  It isn't that they couldn't coexist, in so much as they would appear indistinguishable from each other without hefty chunks of exposition.  And as was mentioned before (by someone else who doesn't sleep as late), Science and Magic don't often overlap in purpose.  But who says they can't?

Suppose that the world is magical, yet not every person has magic.  Eventually, there would be those who disdain to rely on magic.  Social stigma, unreliability and lack of trust can push this person in the direction of the sciences, natural and physical, to attempt to produce the same results as with magic.
Foodie, Chef, Writer, Reader, Father, Geek

http://laughingcook.wordpress.com/

Offline Corvus

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2011, 08:43:19 PM »
The Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine game setting is one where tech and magic do work together - and is all the more awesome for it.

I like the idea of tech and magic working together and never understood why they are at odds with each other so often.
The Lands of Mist and Shadows - http://mistandshadows.com/
Tales from a Thousand Worlds - http://talesfromathousandworlds.com/

Offline missoularedhead

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2011, 12:49:16 AM »
I think one place where magic and technology coincide is in books where the tech is seriously advanced, and at some point, something catastrophic happened, and people forgot the tech and now it's 'magic'.  Peter Hamilton, who most would consider a sci fi writer, has his Void trilogy, where the tech outside the void is beyond the tech inside, and the stories alternate between the tech-heavy outside and the low-tech inside.  It's actually interesting, because it's classified as sci fi, yet half the books are distinctly fantasy (trying to not provide spoilers to explain is tough!), and when the collide, it works.
"Well behaved women rarely make history" ~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Offline The Mad Hatter

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2011, 03:23:02 AM »

The idea that the two cannot coexist is bullshit. The author of a particular book may decide that they can't, as Jim Butcher did, but that was his choice. Jack Vance mixed them, as did Andre Norton, and many other classic authors. For that matter Illona Andrews is currently mixing them.

Now I'll admit from a plot and back ground stand point it may simplify things for the author... And that does have it's points. We aren't all as good as Jack Vance or Andre Norton after all.

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter

Offline Fellshot

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2011, 03:29:00 AM »
As long as the magic is working according to rules and physics are still in place (and if there are things like trebuchets and ballistas, better be!) you should be able to mix the two. What is alchemy after all but early chemistry? Maybe' I just see it as less of an "instead of" and more "in addition to."

Offline Overlord

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2011, 06:21:43 AM »
I think that 'usually' when magic and technology mix people shout 'Sci-Fi' and therefore Fantasy authors try to avoid it for fear of their work being palmed off into another genre. There are examples of it though... Look at Star Wars - that is probably the most popular one. I know the latest Mistborn novel will have some technology in it (it comes out later this year).
Founder: http://fantasy-faction.com
Editor: Fantasy-Faction Anthology (Aug 2014)
Author: "Son of…" in 1853 (2013)
Host: Fantasy-Faction's Grim Gathering

Offline Bryndled1

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2011, 07:41:09 PM »
I think Roger Zelazny did a really good job of blending Technology and Magic in the Amber series. I also thought Piers Anthony did I great job in the Adept Aprentice series.

Offline The Mad Hatter

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2011, 09:20:35 PM »
I think that 'usually' when magic and technology mix people shout 'Sci-Fi' and therefore Fantasy authors try to avoid it for fear of their work being palmed off into another genre. There are examples of it though... Look at Star Wars - that is probably the most popular one. I know the latest Mistborn novel will have some technology in it (it comes out later this year).
Actually with minor changes Star Wars makes admirable Science Fiction. And no, I won't go into details. I'm thinking of writing a book about it :)

Wayne aka The Mad Hatter

AJZaethe

  • Guest
Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2011, 04:50:12 PM »
I do not label Star Wars, as much as I hate it, sci fi.  It is High Fantasy or just Fantasy/scifi mix.  Once you add magic or some kind of mystical system to the whole thing, then you go off and make it fantasy.  Annoys me like how they labeled Warbreaker a Sci Fi essential book.  WHERE IN THE HELL DOES THAT COME FROM?  Did they not read it before plastering that on the book's cover?

There wasn't a drop of scifi in there.  And I looked hard.