300: A Kind of Magic

A Kind of Magic

Magic and technology are virtually indistinguishable in the realm of videogames, where talents like invisibility or fireballs can be the product of mechanical augmentations or mastery of the arcane.

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Nice article, I can't help but think of the quote from the opening of the LOTR movies: "And nine rings were given to the race of men, who, above all else, desire power." It is interesting to see this theme work out in both SciFi and Fantasy. These two genre's might not be so different after all.

Francis Cressotti:
A Kind of Magic

Magic and technology are virtually indistinguishable in the realm of videogames, where talents like invisibility or fireballs can be the product of mechanical augmentations or mastery of the arcane.

Read Full Article

Great twist on the topic! I always like seeing a mix of articles--you get your classic description, your historical game overview, and always (hopefully) at least one that makes you go, "Hmm... I didn't even think of it that way". While I love reading all of them, my favorites are the twisty ones.

Seeing this twist go in the "technology begets magic" direction is becoming a bit more common, but one that I think could make for an interesting spin would be to go the other way. And while this will seem like a mistake, I'd like to cite the first Michael Bay Transformers movie plot (or at least part of it):

Megatron was found in the Antarctic after falling to Earth from space. Cybertron's own origins are never dealt with in the movie, so there's a certain amount of supernatural still present. John Turturro's character, heading a secret government organization, reveals that most of the technological advances of the last century were created by reverse engineering this alien robot. In a sense, technology came from something supernatural. Not the best example, but it's a recent nod in the direction I'm thinking.

It's similar to the belief that aliens showed the Egyptians how to build the pyramids. It's technology, but from a supernatural force. To me, the innermost workings of computers are so mysterious that a large part of me believes the inventors were a cabal that made a pact with the devil for the ability to create magic machines that could store stuff with magnets and 1's and 0's, so that might as well be an example, too.

Your feelings? Is it possible for this sort of thing to work effectively in the opposite direction as well?

An excellent article with an excellent point. Thank you so much!

It makes me think of the old game Arcanum, a game that I played a little but could never find a legitimate copy of. Of course, the point of Arcanum was exactly the opposite of this article - magic and technology are not just separate, but diametrically opposed.

Nevertheless, I thought of it because it had a very definite method that belonged to both technology and magic. Magic worked by bending or just plain breaking physics, making bridges across difficult scientific points and assembling effects from the building blocks of shattered physical principles.

Technology on the other hand relied entirely on a holistic system of physics, and if the area around a mechanism was distorted by magic, it wouldn't work as effectively. Conversely, a sufficiently complicated machine could reinforce physics in a certain area and make magic less effective.

The implication was that physics itself was sort of a field, not unlike the field theories proposed by modern scientists. It could be manipulated or reinforced, but in any case the schools of technology and magic - though opposite in many many ways - sprung from exactly the same source.

This was an idea I found fascinating. When I closely examined the system of magic in my D&D campaign world, I decided I would take a similar approach with a personal twist. Magic and Science weren't opposed but were rather simply two different results of the space-time continuum. Magic didn't break physics, it was just a separate part of it; another dimension, if you will, to add to space and time. Magic had an effect on gravity and inertia, and someone sufficiently skilled in calculus could mathematically quantify this effect.

So when I finally decided to join the in-crowd and write a steampunk D&D campaign, I decided that magic and technology would be very closely intertwined. A scientist who was making a steam powered gatling gun might use a rune of heat to generate the steam needed to turn the mechanism, or magician making the same type of gun would use a rune of motion to get the same effect while using a mechanical firing mechanism.

Once again, a wonderful article. It's given me a lot of insight into the narrative purposes of magic and technology. I plan on using it in my D&D campaign to fortify the apparent power of the villains. Thank you.

It was Disney's Gargoyles that first started me thinking about a confluence of magic and technology (seriously, the best cartoon Disney's ever put together. Greg Wiseman is a bloody genius). That world operated on a premise, stated by one of the characters, that magic and technology were essentially two sides of the same coin - enough study, design, know-how, etc., and the same fantastic things could be done with either one, and either one could reinforce the other. I've enjoyed running with that idea in the past, and I liked the spin this article put on it.

I've also always enjoyed finding some way to explain magic, in various guises. Perhaps it's the engineer in me (my electronics prof in college always said "We're engineers, we want to know why something happens, and it wasn't until later that I understood), but I've always loved to see some sort of explanation, even if it's eventually going to come down to a handwave. The more reasonable the handwave sounds, the more believable the whole construction is. And I got a much better idea of how this works in various games that I haven't yet played (I know, I know, I haven't played most of the recent games mentioned here. I'm a retrogamer.)

Thanks for the fun read, this was a good one!

Tyynn_Kaann:
Arcanum, a game that I played a little but could never find a legitimate copy of.

GoG.com will happily fix you up if you're still looking. I believe it's one of their best sellers.

GGood article.

Of course, this is true in real life too. Real life zombiefocation was magic until we found out it was due to being drugged by tetrodoxin. I would imagine that most things described in history as fiction due to being described as magic is in fact just scientific phenomena prefermed by indiviuals who did not understand the exact mechanics of it.

After reading the article one thing in particular came to mind for me, the magic system in Shadowrun.

The Art and Science of Magic

Magic is an art in the singular way that it's not a tool that everyone can use, like a gun, hammer, or flashlight. Magic is something that comes from within, allowing one the ability to do things that people wouldn't be able to do on their own. Things like shoot fire from you hands, levitate short distances off the ground, or even slow down a human metabolism to the point where medical services can arrive, even in far off areas.
Magic is the science of following a specific set of rules in the universe. The rules of magic prevent things like paradoxes, you can't travel through time with magic. You can't teleport with magic. The very effects of magic are the same, even if the methods of casting them are the same. When two individuals of identical skill perform magic, you can get solid, quantifiable results. If you treat it like an experiment, then it would solidly conform to a very specialized science.

vxicepickxv:
you can't travel through time with magic. You can't teleport with magic.

I'm assuming you're only talking about Shadowrun here?

Just gonna save a spot right here and get back to this. I wanted to say though that it was this realization that ultimately lead to me ditching my stigma against fantasy settings.

Great article. The Mass Effect mention was surely warranted. It can safely call itself 'hard' sci-fi while there are people casting magic spells around, because those spells are called 'biotics' and work by 'generating mass effect fields'. It's even better because the basic physics behind the titular mass effect fields - that they are used to change the mass of an object so that it can travel faster than light by traveling so fast that the universe shrinks around them - is what scientists believe is the most likely way to travel faster than light. And when I write it like this it looks a lot less likely than just punching people from across the room.

It's true that magic and technology are just two sides of the same coin as far as using them as plot devices (or gameplay elements) is concerned. I mean, if the answer to an unexplicable event is 'MAGIC!' or 'SCIENCE!' is there a difference, if the person shouting that has a long enough beard?

And of course there are the dudes that take this metaphor to the next level, like that character in that series that was almost Babylon 5 but not quite that actually wore robes and talked in riddles because he was totally a technowizard. (SFX: Daft Punk soundtrack) And on the opposite hand we have the Force, a mystical and ancient force of the universe that's caused by microorganisms in one's bloodstream (naturally).

I always liked better magic that is just poorly explained science, and only recently I've realized what I lose by taking that approach and turning magic into just another science. I still choose that approach, but it's now an informed choice.

Naturally, magic and science are very closely connected, as you write in your column, and in games they are practically synonymous. Consider for instance Bioshock, where you literally walk around with your hand bursting into flame or filled with stinging insects that you 'point' at your enemies to put them on fire/whatever. If you'd take the Bioshock arm and put it into the middle of, say, Morrowind, no-one'd blink an eye. Hell - the Bioshock 'Eve' resource is even blue, the traditional colour of mana! The -only- discernible difference is that you 'shoot up' on Eve, rather than drink it.

This is all fine and good, especially when you consider (as you point out) that sufficiently explained magic is indistinguishable from science - BUT, and here's the big but...where do you think this need to explain magic comes from? Sure, there's always been cabals of alchemists and wannabe wizards who've written down complicated formulae and intricate celestial power relations and the like in an attempt to codify magic, but that's really just another expression of the Baconian desire to understand the world.

Because that's basically the difference, however slight, however ephemereal, between magic and science: a desire for rational explanation. Consider time travel: there's always been time travel narratives, but up until Wells' The Time Machine, this time travel had basically taken place through magic: a bunch of people fall asleep in a magic cave and wake up a thousand years later; cue social critique. Wells' time machine is, for all intents and purposes, magic, BUT it posits a rational explanation for how it works nonetheless - and even makes it a part of the narrative in the sense that he can dismantle his machine on arrival, making it inoperable. That's what distinguishes it from fantasy, and turns it into science fiction.

Rationality, in short, is the main distinguishing factor. And rationality is the way we understand the world since, well, quite a while. We still have the desire for mythical explanations, but rational ones seem to appeal to us more. And why not? Science fiction is here right now, we're living it every day, and it's just going to get wilder from here on in. Bioshock appeals to us more because, despite the practically-magic of its plasmids and whatnot, it's still making a comment on some very real-life issues like genetic modification, drug abuse and, well, Randian economics (although that's outside the purvey of the magic-science thing). Same thing for Deus Ex and Crysis. This is what science fiction DOES, it comments on the present via extrapolation and analogy.

Fantasy, though? What does fantasy do? Pine after a nostalgic past when things weren't explained, when the concept of 'magic' was applied on everything unknown, and thus turned into something more-than-real? Sure, I can dig that, but I also think the Marion Zimmer Bradley-styled magic is going the way of the dodo soon enough, to be replaced with...say...D&D or Dragon Age-styled magic, where everything is explained - where we can basically say "well, this alternative dimension has slightly different physical laws and/or other properties that can nonetheless be explained just as well as the laws of our universe". Ergo, science fiction.

Lol wall of text. Anyway, good article! TL;DR: I agree with the article writer and I'm writing the same thing in slightly different words here. Lol.

Sabrestar:

Tyynn_Kaann:
Arcanum, a game that I played a little but could never find a legitimate copy of.

GoG.com will happily fix you up if you're still looking. I believe it's one of their best sellers.

Christmas. Came. Early. Six dollars? Yes please! I can't wait 'till I have the time to play through this. I'm gonna crib _so many_ awesome ideas from this for my D&D campaign. Thank you, thank you a hundred times!

Oh, and also on topic: I would like to debate Wolfrug's point that the only difference between magic and technology is that one relies on the irrational while the other is wholly irrational.

Wolfrug:

Sure, there's always been cabals of alchemists and wannabe wizards who've written down complicated formulae and intricate celestial power relations and the like in an attempt to codify magic, but that's really just another expression of the Baconian desire to understand the world.

So... the next time you're wandering around in the 17th century can you do something for me? Walk up to a member of a hermetic brotherhood and tell them that when they say magic, they actually mean science. I guarantee that they will argue with you. They would say that although they understand that the motions of the planets is a science, they are more interested in the mystic metaphors underlying their motion, and that is why they study them.

Next tell them that their method of investigation doesn't rely on the rational. I'm betting they would either whack you with their Zoroaster-stick or calmly explain that the research they do concerning the layers of earth and heaven may be mystical, but that it is grounded in experiments and research. Even if you would be inclined to call experiments "magic tricks" the Hermetic would believe that his Aristotelian logic and reason were more than sufficient to explain his practice.

Next experiment: Walk up to a physics undergrad that doesn't have any evidence for believing in String Theory or Higgs particles but is a firm follower of the theories and tell him that his meta-science is actually magic because he has no rational proof to support it. Then start running, because I can guarantee he won't be as calm as a Hermetic.

Tyynn_Kaann:

Snip

You should re-read the thing you're quoting: "the Baconian desire to understand the world". Baconian as in the Baconian method, AKA the scientific method, AKA the underlying principle of all scientific inquiry :)

But I can understand that you got a bit confused, since I never properly defined my terms. Basically, "magic" to me is everything that is grounded in irrationality, for which there can be no scientific proof, and which even AVOIDS any attempt at a rational explanation: most Cthulhian horrors fall under this umbrella, as do lots of Stephen King's supernatural works, and so on. The Hermetics in your example are, as you say yourself, perfectly scientific in that they were working off their understanding of how the universe works and were attempting to come to rational conclusions about things - exactly as you say no different from physicists today pondering string theory.

Science fiction, or science fantasy, then, is a situation where a rational explanation for a fantastical occurence is offered - whether the answer lies in super-advanced technology (Clarke's law) or in very well-defined laws of magic (Niven's law). Therefore, the magic as it functions in the examples offered by this other Escapist article of the week: The Source is not in my definition really 'magic' per say, since it's so well explained and...well...actually works! If magic were really a part of our universe, it wouldn't BE magic - it'd be scientific fact. See where I'm going with this?

Today, supernatural stuff like the aforementioned Stephen King ouevre is what constitutes 'magic' - with the caveat that there are plenty of series, novels, etc. where everything is given a rigorous framework which turns it from 'magic' into just another part of everyday life. Anyway, the reason we find these things spooky or vaguely threatening (or terrifying in the case of the Cthulhu mythos) is -exactly- the fact that it's inexplicable and does not function within our scientific frame of reference.

So, I repeat: the difference is rationality, whether the rationality explains science or 'magic'. I hope I was clearer this time :)

As an avid reader of both fantasy and sci-fi novels, this article made me giggle. I had this realization myself a while back while reading 'The Flying Sorcerers' by David Gerrold and Larry Niven. One would hope that folk muttering darkly about magical dragons and fuzzy gnome stories would take a moment to recognize that antigravity and FTL travel are currently just as likely/unlikely as pixies. :P

I quite like the way magic systems have become so complex and well-reasoned, it forces me to think in terms of that world's rules when forming a strategy. I also enjoy the less-than-well-defined 'scientific' gadgetry because, let's face it, blasters and jetpacks are just way too fun.

Arcanum! Of course! When I was planning the article I had originally conceived of Arcanum to be one of my major points, but when I wrote it I completely forgot. Hmph- oh well. Arcanum was a brilliant game that really synthesized some of the things I'd been thinking about that inspired me to write this. My computer is practically held together with scotch tape and voodoo rituals right now, but once I have one that can do more than process words, I plan on getting back to Arcanum.

I'm glad everyone enjoyed the article so much. And I'm thrilled that the resulting discussion has resulted in mentions of Bacon and Hermetic brotherhoods.

Wolfrug:

snip

You were more clear, but I'm still not quite satisfied with your definition of magic for a single reason:

If we go by your definition then we lack a clear nomenclature between the effects of magic and the effects of modern technology as we perceive it. This isn't important in some settings (For example, a reader of Western fantasy would still say that Fullmetal Alchemist displayed acts of magic even though in the diegesis alchemy is the definitive science; it doesn't matter what you call it because there really isn't any other type of science to compare it to,) and this article is clearly written from the perspective that it doesn't matter.

But in other settings, where "magic" and technology are rubbing elbows, that nomenclature is really, really important. We don't refer to biology and chemistry collectively as "science," we refer to them with separate words. Both are based on the same physical laws, but each deals with different aspects of the physical law. This is where my definition of magic comes from. I wasn't raised on the idea of magic as irrational and explainable. I was raised on the more analytical D&D concepts of magic, like the Planes and the Weave and the Wave. Add to that the fact that my Grandfather was a stage magician and it becomes really apparent that, for me, magic was something that you could always explain.

But because of 1)the way the article uses the words "magic" and "technology" and 2)because you brought it up first, I might relabel my own terms for the future so that they match your definition of magic. In place of my definition of the word I suggest the word "Arcana," which would be the science/art of manipulating energy via personal communication with a physical system, even if that system might be deemed supernatural under other terms.

I never got the impression that magic and sci-fi were at odds with each other.

So...this article is about Shadowrun?

Ahh, but George Lucas showed you could combine magic and sci-fi a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away Star Wars had spaceships, blasters, droids, and cyborgs, which it married perfectly to the mystical force. Obi wan could move objects with his mind, Luke learned to predict the future (albeit very basically) Obi 'felt' when Alderaan was blown up.

Sci fi and magic have been intrinsically linked in one of the most famous francises in decades. It was just done so well no one noticed.

Oddly enough, I was just detailing a sci-fi setting that I was planning on using for PnP gaming (haven't decided on a rule set yet). One of the things I was working on was an offshoot of cyberaugmentation that worked in the quantum realm, allowing such things as transmutation, disintegration and rapid matter-to-energy conversion (which could then be utilized or weaponized). It involved having the user's brain augmented to assist with the calculations necessary and often drove the user to varying levels of madness.

Hero in a half shell:
Ahh, but George Lucas showed you could combine magic and sci-fi a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away Star Wars had spaceships, blasters, droids, and cyborgs, which it married perfectly to the mystical force. Obi wan could move objects with his mind, Luke learned to predict the future (albeit very basically) Obi 'felt' when Alderaan was blown up.

Sci fi and magic have been intrinsically linked in one of the most famous francises in decades. It was just done so well no one noticed.

This thought occurred to me too, but then again I've maintained the opinion for awhile now that Star Wars should more properly be classified as fantasy than sci fi, mostly on the twin grounds that:
1. scientific phenomena of the more 'exotic' sort regularly encountered in most other scifi is conspicuously absent. When was the last time that Skywalker & Co. concerned themselves with getting sucked into a black hole or falling through some kind of time rift?
2. technology is omnipresent, but not a major plot point.

Taken together these things lead me to put Star Wars in a different category than other popular sci fi franchises like Star Trek, StarGate SG-1, or the (apparently immortal) Dr. Who series.

AnythingOutstanding:
I never got the impression that magic and sci-fi were at odds with each other.

Hero in a half shell:
Ahh, but George Lucas showed you could combine magic and sci-fi a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away Star Wars had spaceships, blasters, droids, and cyborgs, which it married perfectly to the mystical force. Obi wan could move objects with his mind, Luke learned to predict the future (albeit very basically) Obi 'felt' when Alderaan was blown up.

Sci fi and magic have been intrinsically linked in one of the most famous francises in decades. It was just done so well no one noticed.

I agree with these assertions. "Science fantasy" settings like Star Wars and Warhammer 40,000 taught me long ago that fantasy and sci-fi elements can coexist. Advanced technology and magic are simply plot devices to explain how characters can perform extraordinary feats.

Even the basic character archetypes and tropes are often similar. Your typical space marines in power armor fill the role of armored knights. Communication officers are the prophets and soothsayers, manipulating extraordinary powers to communicate with distant entities. Aliens become the elves, dwarves, orcs, and other non-human races (sometimes they aren't very subtle about this, like Warhammer 40k's Eldar and Ork factions).

I loved Gargoyles as well, and I guess it 'ruined' me since I've never considered Technology and Magic as separate entities. What's the difference between using magic words to light a room and clapping your hands so a sensor does it? But then again... I'm an engineer and work a lot with computers, knowing how the internet actually works makes me suspect that it's magic...

All those tubes...

I took a class on Science Fiction Literature and the professor stated that the difference between science fiction and fantasy is not in the effects but in the basis of the action. Science fiction is a story that has a novum - which is the fundamental technology that makes the story possible and is rooted in contemporary science. An example is the warp technology of Star Trek,which uses known ideas of relativity as a base. Fantasy literature doesn't explain or base its novum in scientific terms.

*removed*

*sigh* nevermind. Gotta learn not to stay up so late.

did everyone forget that technology from more advanced races apears to be magical to less advanced? so understanding that our sci-fi can also become our wizardry very easily.

Science encompasses pretty much anything that exists. If it has rules, and it exists, that means science can simply codify those rules, and therefore understand it. For example, it is part of the legend of irish fairy folk that they are weak to cold iron. Scientists, in a universe where these things actually exist, would simply say that a Fairy energy field is negated by cold(5 degrees celsius or lower) iron. I really don't get why some people think that science would curl up into a ball and cry itself to sleep if it encountered something new and amazing, or why they assume that magic defies the laws of physics.

Simply by the nature of the fact that magic has it's own set of rules, magic is not unexplained, nor does it defy physics. It is simply a subset of physics.

The first thing that comes to mind is Final Fantasy.

I first started playing RPGs when I hit the seventh game and was amused and delighted to find a fantasy world of magic and monsters combined with technology, such as a giant arcology town (Midgar) with cars, a train system, robots, and giant reactors. And while the magic was later explained away as a by-product of the technology, there were magic here, dammit. It formed naturally and without the aid of technology and people have fricking unnatural powers here.

And then, of course, other games this series were found to be using this mesh of the magic and machine as well. Hell, even the FIRST GAME, considering at least Warmech. And once I got into the Persona series, well...it was obvious that plenty of series did not separate the two schools that often. So, to me, there has not been any sort of viable war between the two for a long time. As long as there is a precident...

My entire book is actually based on the combination of the Supernatural (Magic) and Science/Technology, because I implement the "Three Kingdoms" (Body, Mind, Spirit). I enjoy finding the similarities that the two actually have in common, despite what people think. I personally was very suprised when I found the link between the two, and the plot then expanded into being 18 books... ya...

FalloutJack:
The first thing that comes to mind is Final Fantasy.

I first started playing RPGs when I hit the seventh game and was amused and delighted to find a fantasy world of magic and monsters combined with technology, such as a giant arcology town (Midgar) with cars, a train system, robots, and giant reactors. And while the magic was later explained away as a by-product of the technology, there were magic here, dammit. It formed naturally and without the aid of technology and people have fricking unnatural powers here.

And then, of course, other games this series were found to be using this mesh of the magic and machine as well. Hell, even the FIRST GAME, considering at least Warmech. And once I got into the Persona series, well...it was obvious that plenty of series did not separate the two schools that often. So, to me, there has not been any sort of viable war between the two for a long time. As long as there is a precident...

Final Fantasy loves to do this, Cyber/Steampunk style societies where magic is either a product of technology or technology is a product of magic. FFVII is the former, FFVI is the latter.

In VI the elite troops of the evil Empire wear Magitek mech suits which use the life energy of espers as batteries, this technology born from magic allows the empire to basically take over the world (there is no other magic being used for the most part).

This seems to fit perfectly with

"Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from science"

I'll read the full article tomorrow, but I've always thought of it like this:
Magic is the limitless power of our surroundings that will never be explained, but given enough time, can be understood.
Technology is the limitless power of ourselves and our surroundings that will eventually be explained, but is not always understood.

They are both extremely powerful forces that can change the face of battle if one side's is better than the others, and technology in the past was seen as magic due to it's "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!?!?! THATS CRAZY!!!!!" nature.

I'll always prefer magic though =)

Wolfrug:
snip

Agreed, sci-fi may produce the same results as magic, but it actually has reason and background. I liked your definition of "anything that can be explained is not magic" too :)

Anyways, since everyone's mentioning the marriage of science and magic, I thought I'd mention Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor. You use various pieces of electronics (such as a DS or Harmonizer) to summon demons. People actually write programming scripts to summon them. Plus they use a system called "Laplace Mail" to tell the future, but it can be changed as it's all based on probabilities. At any rate it's pretty fun.

kingcom:
So...this article is about Shadowrun?

The article itself is more about how magic and technology serve identical purposes when it comes to narrative, but mostly it seems to have broadened out into a general discussion of the relationship between magic (arcana) and technology.

But now that you bring it up, I did want to mention some things about the narrative, specifically in response to Evil Alpaca:

Evil Alpaca:
Science fiction is a story that has a novum - which is the fundamental technology that makes the story possible and is rooted in contemporary science. An example is the warp technology of Star Trek,which uses known ideas of relativity as a base. Fantasy literature doesn't explain or base its novum in scientific terms.

That's a really good academic definition, but it doesn't quite mesh with some of our everyday definitions. Take for example Shakespeare's "The Tempest," specifically the character of Prospero.

Prospero was one of the greatest influences on the Western perception of arcana because suddenly it was no longer a power exclusive to the Fae or those who had made pacts with the Devil. Prospero, an ordinary man with extraordinary willpower, could exert his influence over nature and the spirits. He wasn't a supernatural being himself, like Merlin was. He was just a human.

This idea based on (but definitely not equivalent to) contemporary (for Shakespeare's time) scientific philosophy, the same emerging philosophy that the aforementioned Hermetic Order would base their theories on in the century to come.

By an academic definition, that would mean "The Tempest," a story whose narrative is entirely driven by the great power wielded by Prospero, would be as much a science fiction novel as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. On the other hand, this definition firmly slots Star Wars into the fantasy genre, as already stated by aashell13.

aashell13:
I've maintained the opinion for awhile now that Star Wars should more properly be classified as fantasy than sci fi, mostly on the twin grounds that:
1. scientific phenomena of the more 'exotic' sort regularly encountered in most other scifi is conspicuously absent. When was the last time that Skywalker & Co. concerned themselves with getting sucked into a black hole or falling through some kind of time rift?
2. technology is omnipresent, but not a major plot point.

I can totally get behind this definition. In fact in many ways I prefer it and believe that your professor was a very smart man to base the genres on something that won't change as time progresses. On the other hand, if you go up to someone and say "Favorite science fiction novels? Hm, I'd have to go with 'The Tempest,'" You're going to get some odd looks... for now.

Keep on passing that definition along (I certainly will) and I think soon we'll see a shift in how people look at these genres. Maybe it will eventually be accepted into the highest academic circles in the literary world - an event that is long overdue.

Nice artice. I noticed this myself as well, some time ago. In games like Mass Effect, but also in a lot of fantasy books that use ten pages to describe how magic actually fits logically in that world, instead of how it is, err, magical.

 

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