RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 141,424
Posts: 5,506,776
Members: 25,130
Currently online: 613
Newest member: wilpatbenthe3

TrekToday headlines

Retro Review: The Emperor’s New Cloak
By: Michelle on Dec 20

Star Trek Opera
By: T'Bonz on Dec 19

New Abrams Project
By: T'Bonz on Dec 18

IDW Publishing March 2015 Comics
By: T'Bonz on Dec 17

Paramount Star Trek 3 Expectations
By: T'Bonz on Dec 17

Star Trek #39 Sneak Peek
By: T'Bonz on Dec 16

Star Trek 3 Potential Director Shortlist
By: T'Bonz on Dec 16

Official Starships Collection Update
By: T'Bonz on Dec 15

Retro Review: Prodigal Daughter
By: Michelle on Dec 13

Sindicate Lager To Debut In The US Next Week
By: T'Bonz on Dec 12


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Science Fiction & Fantasy

Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 9 2012, 02:43 PM   #1
DarthTom
Fleet Admiral
 
DarthTom's Avatar
 
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Examples of Magic in sci-fi

The discussion about fantasy and science fiction got me to thinking - are there any examples of where magic is used as a plot device in traditional science fiction?

Typically - and especially in Trek - magic is debunked by science. So are there any examples where Harry Potter type magic is used in sci-fi?
DarthTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:02 PM   #2
Silvercrest
Rear Admiral
 
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

The Force.
Silvercrest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:04 PM   #3
Deckerd
Fleet Arse
 
Deckerd's Avatar
 
Location: the Frozen Wastes
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Any form of ESP by humans, so most of B5 basically.
__________________
They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.
Deckerd is online now   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:27 PM   #4
DarthTom
Fleet Admiral
 
DarthTom's Avatar
 
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Frau Blucher wrote: View Post
Any form of ESP by humans, so most of B5 basically.
You consider that 'magic?' ESP - like Deanna Troi's - is typically presented as an evolutionary enhancement not magical powers.
DarthTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:30 PM   #5
Deckerd
Fleet Arse
 
Deckerd's Avatar
 
Location: the Frozen Wastes
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Deanna was half Betazoid. That was the half that was telepathic.
__________________
They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.
Deckerd is online now   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:38 PM   #6
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

DarthTom wrote: View Post
You consider that 'magic?' ESP - like Deanna Troi's - is typically presented as an evolutionary enhancement not magical powers.
Well, that's the key element that makes this a difficult question to answer. The very nature of science fiction is that it's generally assumed that every phenomenon, no matter how bizarre, has some kind of scientific explanation. While that may include things that the readers would find magical or fanciful, by the internal rules of the universe they're still scientific. Psychic powers are just a superstition or a fraud in reality, but in many fictional universes they're an accepted and understood science, so they wouldn't be considered magic.

Generally the only place you'll find magic qua magic in the context of a universe that also incorporates sci-fi tropes is in comic-book universes, which are generally amalgams of so many different types of story that SF and fantasy tropes intermingle freely. In both the DC and Marvel universes, magic is an acknowledged reality, a distinct form of power existing alongside more conventional "scientific" phenomena.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:44 PM   #7
DarthTom
Fleet Admiral
 
DarthTom's Avatar
 
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, that's the key element that makes this a difficult question to answer. The very nature of science fiction is that it's generally assumed that every phenomenon, no matter how bizarre, has some kind of scientific explanation. While that may include things that the readers would find magical or fanciful, by the internal rules of the universe they're still scientific. Psychic powers are just a superstition or a fraud in reality, but in many fictional universes they're an accepted and understood science, so they wouldn't be considered magic.

Generally the only place you'll find magic qua magic in the context of a universe that also incorporates sci-fi tropes is in comic-book universes, which are generally amalgams of so many different types of story that SF and fantasy tropes intermingle freely. In both the DC and Marvel universes, magic is an acknowledged reality, a distinct form of power existing alongside more conventional "scientific" phenomena.
That's very true. I suppose you could argue that the 'Force," in wars is presented as quasi magical ability and the Jedi are often dissed by those that rely solely on science to fight wars and solve problems.

Likewise, didn't Rowling in the Potter encyclopedia explain the wizards magical abilities as an inherited trait and even identified an element they have in their DNA that gives them the power?
DarthTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:55 PM   #8
stj
Rear Admiral
 
stj's Avatar
 
Location: the real world
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Robert A. Heinlein's Waldo.
Diana Wynne Jones' Homeward Bounder.
__________________
The people of this country need regime change here, not abroad.
stj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 04:59 PM   #9
Greg Cox
Vice Admiral
 
Location: Oxford, PA
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

What about L. Sprague de Camp's "Incompleat Enchanter" stories. Or is that more a case of applying scientific principles to magic?
__________________
www.gregcox-author.com
Greg Cox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 05:02 PM   #10
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

DarthTom wrote: View Post
I suppose you could argue that the 'Force," in wars is presented as quasi magical ability and the Jedi are often dissed by those that rely solely on science to fight wars and solve problems.
Except that Star Wars isn't really intended as science fiction. In Lucas's own words, it's space fantasy, akin to Flash Gordon or John Carter of Mars. It's essentially a sword-and-sorcery fantasy epic dressed up with the trappings of space opera.


Come to think of it, another place you can find mystical/magical tropes coexisting with science and technology is in Japanese productions like anime, manga, and live-action tokusatsu films and shows. Japan is a Shintoist culture, basically animist, believing there are spirits inhabiting everything, so they don't perceive the same kind of divide between the physical/temporal world and the spiritual world that Western culture perceives. So a lot of their sci-fi just presupposes the existence of a spiritual element underlying the products of science and technology, whether it's atomically mutated dinosaurs like Godzilla or the giant robots piloted by the Super Sentai Ranger teams (aka Power Rangers). Star Wars itself has a very Eastern influence in its approach to spirituality, which is what reminded me of that.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 11/16/14 including annotations for "The Caress of a Butterfly's Wing" and overview for DTI: The Collectors

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 05:13 PM   #11
Cookies and Cake
Admiral
 
Location: North America
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Larry Niven created the Teela Brown character, who had the psionic power of genetically inherited luck, which had been isolated by breeding based on random chance over multiple generations.

As Chistopher says, anything magical or supernatural in science fiction is almost always qualified as being only something resembling that but with an in-universe scientific explanation.

Even in Star Trek episodes such as TAS: The Magicks of Megas-Tu, the magic power is the natural law in an alternate universe. I believe that, in-universe, Q power is simply beyond the power of Federation science to grasp, but still nevertheless is not regarded in-universe as supernatural.

If you step out of the confines of what the in-universe conceit is, though, much of "technology" in science fiction is fantastic and based on no principles that resemble those of actual real world science. In this sense, much of the technology in science fiction—and phenomena—are actually magic.
__________________
CorporalCaptain
Cookies and Cake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 05:19 PM   #12
MacLeod
Admiral
 
Location: Great Britain
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Arthur C. Clarke,
__________________
On the continent of wild endeavour in the mountains of solace and solitude there stood the citadel of the time lords, the oldest and most mighty race in the universe looking down on the galaxies below sworn never to interfere only to watch.
MacLeod is online now   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 05:33 PM   #13
DarthTom
Fleet Admiral
 
DarthTom's Avatar
 
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Conscious Circuits wrote: View Post
If you step out of the confines of what the in-universe conceit is, though, much of "technology" in science fiction is fantastic and based on no principles that resemble those of actual real world science. In this sense, much of the technology in science fiction—and phenomena—are actually magic.
Conceptually then what is the difference between the Q and the wizards in Potter other than the Q don't use magic wands and/or conjur up 'magic,' with incantations that are an off take from ancient Latin?
DarthTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 05:56 PM   #14
stj
Rear Admiral
 
stj's Avatar
 
Location: the real world
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
What about L. Sprague de Camp's "Incompleat Enchanter" stories. Or is that more a case of applying scientific principles to magic?
Also an excellent choice where magic and science are more or less reconciled in the fictional universe.

It is correct that magic and science are more or less put together in comic books. However, even there it turns out in practice that there is much less magic than supposed science. This appears to be because science and magic just don't fit together tonally.

As to Clarke's Law, that must have been intended to justify seemingly impossible feats in SF by appealing to as yet unrevealed possibilities that will leave modern ideas of impossibility irrelevant. I don't think that this will be the case. The laws of thermodynamics, for one, are here to stay. Any paradigm shifts will incorporate them and their prosaic everyday consequences. Science is corrigible, not a delusion that might be dispelled.

Nor do I think many people really believe the other interpretation of Clarke's alleged law, where one is fundamentally the same as the other. If there was news about radar sighting some object making a powered landing, then we saw someone who claimed to be the Mahdi emerging, I don't think we would suddenly convert to Islam just because said personage did seemingly impossible things. We wouldn't believe in magic, we would believe in tech we didn't understand and a deception we could understand uncomfortably well. The only people who would attribute the creature's amazing feats to the supernatural would be those who already believe in the supernatural.

There are writers who really believed that ESP is indeed a natural phenomenon. There are also writers who thought ESP would serve as a scientific sounding explanation of something they wanted to put into their stories. In both cases they wrote something that was stylistically the opposite of fantasy. And there are readers who stopped accepting ESP as scientifically plausible after they learned better.

Claiming the first wrote fantasy ignores authorial intent. Claiming the second is fantasy ignores style. And claiming the same works suddenly turned from SF into fantasy because someone's mind changed is astoundingly trivial. Equating SF and fantasy is grossly philistine. Also, the plausibility standard either applies to all literature and drama or it's just a malicious double standard. Lastly, the arbiters of plausibility frequently fail to correctly assess plausibility.

SF is something fantastic that is still somehow supposed to be natural. Fantasy is something fantastic that is supposed to be supernatural. The reason that getting the difference right is that by definition real plausibility is better style in SF, whereas it is completely irrelevant to fantasy.
__________________
The people of this country need regime change here, not abroad.
stj is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9 2012, 05:57 PM   #15
Mister Fandango
Fleet Captain
 
Mister Fandango's Avatar
 
Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

"Psionics" was just a means of giving magic a scientific explanation and terminology. The only real difference between a psychic and a wizard is one wears robes and a funny hat.

That said, the RPG Shadowrun features genuine magic with near future sci-fi. Elves, fireballs, conjured demons, the whole bit. Right along with cyberarms, virtual reality, and nanites.
Mister Fandango is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 06:18 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.