« Game Mechanics (Part 2): Why They Don't Matter | Main | PhilCon 2016, Featuring ME! »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I wrote this as a comment on another post a while back, but it also seems relevant to this post:

"They also seem to think that technology is indistinguishable from magic."

You know, technology *is* indistinguishable from magic.😛 But magic is a slippery word, and can mean different things depending on who is trying to use it.

Magic can mean something that you don’t understand at all, and because you don’t understand it, you can tell yourself any story you want about it. Used this way, your world is “magical” when anything can happen because you don’t know enough to model it, or what to expect from a situation, which also places it well beyond your control. This is how the Romantics use “magic”. Magic as an unaccountable force that you are helpless against. Technology in particular, is black magic, to them. If you unwind a mystery to the extent that you can make use of it, well then that’s just dull and mundane.

On the other hand you can use magic to refer to something deep and subtle – something that it takes effort and exploration to figure out, which exposes to view a hidden world that you couldn’t see before. Used this way, something is magical because you *do* understand it, or can aspire to understand it, and it is the promise that with enough discipline and learning and effort, you can understand your world and use those hidden subtleties to transcend your circumstances and solve your problems. It suggests that the deeper you go in your understanding of the world, the more interesting things you will find. This is the sort of use of magic that must appeal to science fiction fans, I think.

The comments to this entry are closed.