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Old October 10 2012, 12:54 AM   #37
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Christopher wrote: View Post
I don't think The Time Machine really works as an example there, because the time machine itself was not the only science-fictional element. The book was intended as a speculative extrapolation about the future evolution of human society, a social commentary about the dangers of class divisions taken to extremes, with the machine merely a means to propel the allegory and speculative futurism. So the SF wasn't just about the time machine, it was about the whole conjectural portrayal of the future of humanity, even the death of the Earth once humanity was long gone. Changing the nature of the machine wouldn't change the fundamentally science-fictional mindset of the novel.
Well, I never saw the future in The Time Machine as being grounded in much actual science. The thrust seemed more towards making the class division allegory itself than in ensuring that it was actually scientifically plausible. The date, circa 800,000 A.D., was (as far as I know) a totally made up number, which makes the tale lean towards the fantasy column. On the other hand, I can certainly agree that this book provides an early, if not prototypical, example of the trope in science fiction of concocting an alien civilization by exaggerating and transposing certain features of our own civilization, evidently by comparison and contrast in order to say something about ourselves. But didn't Tolkien do this, too, after a fashion?

stj wrote: View Post
Conscious Circuits wrote: View Post
stj wrote: View Post
H.G. Wells can't be rewritten as a fantasy.
Oh, I don't know about that.

While The Land Ironclads might lose some of its essential sobering predictive power, were it transposed into a Middle-earth setting, such a rewrite would be both feasible and straightforward, for example by replacing the war Oliphaunts from Harad with land ironclads.
In a fantasy setting the ironclads would just be Evil coming at you, doomed to fail, instead of the Future coming at you, fated to win, I think.
I can kinda go along with that. Although, it's worth pointing out that, in real life, infantry have fought back goddamn hard. IED's and RPG's worth thousands or less can neutralize tanks worth millions. Tanks have to be careful and cannot roam today's battlefield with impunity. That kinda puts reality in between that romantic optimism often found in fantasy and that fatalistic futility that permeates so much of science fiction.
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