November 22, 2019, 07:06:38 PM

Author Topic: Magic vs Technology  (Read 10726 times)

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #30 on: October 20, 2019, 03:50:32 PM »
I don't really see why so many see the 'vs' aspect of this. To my mind, magic and technology are best when they do very different things. If you want to kill a bandit, you grab a sword. if you want to see the future, you visit a prophet. or at least, that's the way I tend to handle things. Neither one is better than the other, because they're not competing in the same fields.

It's a variation of Science vs Religion theme.

Sort of. Depends on how you handle it. It could be a sort of Romanticism vs Enlightenment theme as well. Magic could stand for backwards superstition or chivalrous values, depending on how you frame it.

But I like the idea of a magic vs technology conflict because in most settings magic is only available to a select group born with magical powers. Technology isn't available to everyone, but everyone can, in theory, obtain it. It that way, technology is more likely to enforce equality, or at least equality of opportunity, and magic hierarchy, in particular a hereditary hierarchy.

Offline JMack

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Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2019, 04:16:32 PM »
I don't really see why so many see the 'vs' aspect of this. To my mind, magic and technology are best when they do very different things. If you want to kill a bandit, you grab a sword. if you want to see the future, you visit a prophet. or at least, that's the way I tend to handle things. Neither one is better than the other, because they're not competing in the same fields.

It's a variation of Science vs Religion theme.

Sort of. Depends on how you handle it. It could be a sort of Romanticism vs Enlightenment theme as well. Magic could stand for backwards superstition or chivalrous values, depending on how you frame it.

But I like the idea of a magic vs technology conflict because in most settings magic is only available to a select group born with magical powers. Technology isn't available to everyone, but everyone can, in theory, obtain it. It that way, technology is more likely to enforce equality, or at least equality of opportunity, and magic hierarchy, in particular a hereditary hierarchy.

That’s a really insightful er... insight. An interesting take would be to have magic actually available to all, while the powerful try to suppress that information.
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Offline Bender

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #32 on: October 21, 2019, 12:48:03 AM »
An interesting take would be to have magic actually available to all, while the powerful try to suppress that information.

Isn't that common? You have a magic guild who tries to contain/train users but actual users come from all classes of people. "Wilders" or variation of that is used in many books.

Not sure if "alchemy" is restricted in kingkiller. False dragons pop us everywhere in WoT. Common lots get access in Stormlight.

If you're looking at everyone having access, Perhaps Codex Alera? (Haven't read ,so guessing).
Not all those who wander are lost

Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2019, 03:53:52 AM »
An interesting take would be to have magic actually available to all, while the powerful try to suppress that information.

Isn't that common? You have a magic guild who tries to contain/train users but actual users come from all classes of people. "Wilders" or variation of that is used in many books.

Not sure if "alchemy" is restricted in kingkiller. False dragons pop us everywhere in WoT. Common lots get access in Stormlight.

If you're looking at everyone having access, Perhaps Codex Alera? (Haven't read ,so guessing).

That sounds kinda like how the magic world went in the original Mistborn trilogy as well. What with the Lord Ruler trying to suppress magic and all.

Offline Skip

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2019, 05:53:10 AM »
I'm struck by how clear the line is, not just in this discussion but in a great many fantasy books. Everyone in the fantasy world seems to be quite clear about what is magic and what is tech.

In my world of Altearth, the line is not at all clear. Many things are believed to be magic that we would call natural. And many things are taken as a normal part of the world that we would call supernatural. Moreover, elves have their range of opinions while humans or dwarves or orcs or gnomes each have their own ideas.

As for tech existing in this world, what's tech? A wagon? Flintlock? Being able to calculate longitude? A steam engine? What about a steam engine powered in part by magical forces as in so many steampunk books?

The division seems overly clear, overly simple, and not really necessary for telling a story.

Offline Bender

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2019, 03:39:12 PM »
The definition of science of technology by default covers magic too.

Science - the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Technology - the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area.

Assuming Magic is a natural phenomenon (presence of mana or similar in nature etc), having magical science and magical technology should be a acceptable standard. The whole purpose of magical schools and universities is to educate users on effects, limitations and science behind use of magic.

- A flying carpet is magical tech. So is a staff used as focus to wield magic.
- Potions and cauldrons are just magical chemistry.
- A flying car or sky keep is a hybrid which has a mechanical and magical aspect.

The divide gets more blurred only when source of magic is not explained clearly...esp in cases where the current science also does not provide explanation. Floo transportation Network in Harry Potter vs Transporters (teleporters) in Star Trek.

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What books focus on is non-magic science/tech vs magical science/tech. Guns vs fireballs which is quite interesting take on the aspect. Why bother spending years to be a trained battle mage when you can just pick up gun far more easily?
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2019, 04:37:47 AM »
The definition of science of technology by default covers magic too.

Science - the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Technology - the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area.

Assuming Magic is a natural phenomenon (presence of mana or similar in nature etc), having magical science and magical technology should be a acceptable standard. The whole purpose of magical schools and universities is to educate users on effects, limitations and science behind use of magic.

- A flying carpet is magical tech. So is a staff used as focus to wield magic.
- Potions and cauldrons are just magical chemistry.
- A flying car or sky keep is a hybrid which has a mechanical and magical aspect.

The divide gets more blurred only when source of magic is not explained clearly...esp in cases where the current science also does not provide explanation. Floo transportation Network in Harry Potter vs Transporters (teleporters) in Star Trek.

-----

What books focus on is non-magic science/tech vs magical science/tech. Guns vs fireballs which is quite interesting take on the aspect. Why bother spending years to be a trained battle mage when you can just pick up gun far more easily?

The guns vs fireballs part seriously sounded like The Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan now that I think of it. (Powder Mages vs Priviledged)

Offline Matthew

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2019, 08:34:17 AM »
The guns vs fireballs part seriously sounded like The Powder Mage trilogy by Brian McClellan now that I think of it. (Powder Mages vs Priviledged)
Spoiler for Hiden:

A little, but the central crux of that was the revolutionists had to murder the mages in their beds because going up against them would be suicide. There was a way of shooting them down at a distance but that in itself required special magic musket balls. Not to mention even they were powder mages, so had some magical ability themselves even though it was different to the royal mages.

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I can think of two good examples of mixing the pot.
Heartstrikers, where a modern society rediscovers magic and even though the grand magic of old is still lost, humanity essentially weaves what they have with technology to make things like smartphones etc.

Starship Mage, where interstellar travel is only possible by harnessing the teleport spell of a mage inside a ship designed as a giant focus, allowing them to 'jump' a lightyear at a time. In this world mages are also dangerous but only when properly trained. So to respond to some comments about why you'd learn magic combat instead of picking up a gun, is that even though a gun is deadly, a trained mage makes it irrelevant in that you can't actually shoot through their shields with it.

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Overall I like the combination, and I see it as a good way of avoiding power creep in long running series (of course it will still happen, but you could find a lot more variety in combat mechanics that didn't just rely on escalating the strength of the combatants. An example of this could be the Alex Verus series, which sees the main character dealing with everything from battle mages, to snipers, to mines, to alarm systems, to magical creatures, to elementals, etc. I will say that power creep has still sort of ruined the series for me at this point though, about half a dozen books in he retconned his own magic system to increase potential which just felt lazy and took that uniqueness out of it (like mixed discipline mages combining multiple powers which was expressly stated as impossible in the first half of the series, etc).

Offline cupiscent

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2019, 11:30:16 AM »
Melissa Caruso's Swords and Fire trilogy (first book The Tethered Mage) does some interesting blending of magic and technology, I think. The random bestowing of magic in her book shows up in three broad flavours - elemental mages, alchemists/potioneers (chemists, but imbued results) and artificers (engineers/inventors, but imbued results). The world is developed to a point where it's hard to see what the "raw" magic of the latter two would be, it's so bound up in the technology that it produces. (And almost all the real-world-equivalent technological feats are magically achieved.) As magic starts to become more acceptable for general use in the progress of the books, it's easy to see how the elemental mages might get harnessed to industry and technology as well. (Her next trilogy is apparently going to be same world, a generation or two later, and I'm curious to see how she develops that mix.)

Offline Bender

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2019, 03:40:32 PM »
Starship Mage, where interstellar travel is only possible by harnessing the teleport spell of a mage inside a ship designed as a giant focus, allowing them to 'jump' a lightyear at a time. In this world mages are also dangerous but only when properly trained. So to respond to some comments about why you'd learn magic combat instead of picking up a gun, is that even though a gun is deadly, a trained mage makes it irrelevant in that you can't actually shoot through their shields with it.

Sanderson wrote something similar in Skyward, though he has positioned it more as sci-fi. They have regular ships with regular engines but the novel refers to some people as "Cytonics" and they have ability to engage a "Cytonic hyperdrive"  which can transport them across huge distances FTL.
Not all those who wander are lost

Offline Matthew

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #40 on: October 23, 2019, 11:51:58 AM »
@cupiscent That reminds me of The Grimnoir Chronicles where the for lack of a better word, mages are often found in industry that their power helps with (fire to put out fires, electricity to redirect lightning from blimps, gravity to lift heavy things, etc.

@Bender It's on my list but I didn't know anything about it. Waiting for the full trilogy to be done (though I hope he finishes the mistborn one first, which now I think about it, starts meshing science and magic together in the 4th).

Online ScarletBea

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Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #41 on: October 24, 2019, 07:33:47 PM »
Interesting article by Mark Lawrence on magic/science:

http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-magic-of-science.html
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Magic vs Technology
« Reply #42 on: October 25, 2019, 04:44:58 AM »
Interesting article by Mark Lawrence on magic/science:

http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2019/10/the-magic-of-science.html

I think Mark is the best guy for this, haha. *Spoiler alert*

Spoiler for Hiden:
I could still remembered the scene where Jorg pulled out a gun to deal with his enemy.  ;D