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

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Old October 9 2012, 06:14 PM   #16
DarthTom
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

stj wrote: View Post

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.
JK Rowling however attempts to explain the wizrds abilities in terms of a magic gene or inherited trait. How is this different than the Q in Trek? In both cases, the supernatural is explained by using scientific principles.
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Old October 9 2012, 06:17 PM   #17
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

I don't mind the two being blended because they're virtually indistinguishable aside from the props.
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Old October 9 2012, 06:26 PM   #18
DarthTom
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Frau Blucher wrote: View Post
I don't mind the two being blended because they're virtually indistinguishable aside from the props.
That's true. How teleportation is treated in Trek vs. Potter is a good example.
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Old October 9 2012, 06:33 PM   #19
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

There was a a magician that showed up in Farscape.

Any idea who he was?
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Old October 9 2012, 06:45 PM   #20
Nerys Myk
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept features science and magic. The hook is there are two worlds, one world is governed by magic and one by science and they exist in separate universes, but some people can cross over.
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Old October 9 2012, 06:46 PM   #21
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
There was a a magician that showed up in Farscape.

Any idea who he was?
Google.
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Old October 9 2012, 07:05 PM   #22
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

DarthTom wrote: View Post
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?
Often it's just a matter of terminology. They're both storytelling tropes, but how you characterize them depends on what kind of story you're telling. A lot of the things in Harry Potter could've been done almost identically in a near-future SF setting -- things like animated photographs in newspapers or the Marauder's Map are only a few years away in real life (and frankly I feel a little sorry for Rowling because the next generation of kids reading these books is going to wonder what's so magical about a lot of this stuff that's just like what they see around them in reality). But Rowling chose to cast them in the context of magic because that's the kind of story and setting she chose.

Still, I guess the deeper difference is in the assumptions being made about the underlying source of the phenomena. Stories about magic generally assume that the source is supernatural or divine and is fundamentally unknowable or inexplicable -- or at least, in universes like Potter or Duane's Young Wizards where the sorcery is systematized and formalized like a science, that it's something special and set apart from the mundane world, something only certain individuals are able to perceive or tap into while most normal folks are excluded. Either way, it's treated as something intrinsically separate from the normal, natural world. Whereas in science fiction, the assumption is that no matter how extraordinary the power is, it's nonetheless rooted in the normal laws of the universe and can be achieved by anyone with sufficiently advanced technology or sufficiently evolved mental ability. True, in a lot of stories, that difference is just in the background and doesn't bear on the events of the story, so in those cases they're effectively interchangeable; but there is a difference in the underlying assumptions about the type of world you're depicting.
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Old October 9 2012, 08:14 PM   #23
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Christopher wrote: View Post
Whereas in science fiction, the assumption is that no matter how extraordinary the power is, it's nonetheless rooted in the normal laws of the universe and can be achieved by anyone with sufficiently advanced technology or sufficiently evolved mental ability.
In the TNG episode True Q, Q to test Amanda Rogers causes a warp core breach.

When the staff attempts to analyze what happened, LaForge comments that, "the laws of the universe simply weren't functioning properly."

Q pops in

and comments, "why shouldn't they - they're so inconvenient."

So, the Q seem to be able to modify universal constants.
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Old October 9 2012, 08:22 PM   #24
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Q also suggests changing the gravitational constant of the universe in Deja Q, as if that's what he would have done if he had had his powers.
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Old October 9 2012, 09:22 PM   #25
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Wait, wait, I've got it. I know perfect example of magicians appearing in an s.f. story. It's totally plausible within the confines of that universe and it doesn't violate any underlying assumptions about how that universe works.

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Old October 9 2012, 09:52 PM   #26
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Mister Fandango wrote: View Post
"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.
First, people like John W. Campbell really did believe, at least for a while (then maybe were too stubborn to retreat) there could be a real science/tech of "psionics." In this kind of thinking, "psychics" were naturally gifted but later everyone would be able to buy psychic abilities at a Radio Shack or Lowe's. The difference between that kind of psychic and a wizard is not just the clothing.

Second, although many stories are adventure stories and wish fulfilment, where the difference between SF and fantasy modes is purely stylistic, there are in fact SF stories which do depend upon the speculations in a way that is incompatible with fantasy. Olaf Stapledon can't be rewritten as a fantasy, Jules Verne can't be rewritten as a fantasy and H.G. Wells can't be rewritten as a fantasy.
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Old October 9 2012, 10:03 PM   #27
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

The Sliders episode Dragonslide. The world they slide into has everything from real wizards to magical potions and even dragons.
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Old October 9 2012, 10:04 PM   #28
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Pretty much everything in Star Trek for a start.
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Old October 9 2012, 10:10 PM   #29
Nerys Myk
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

Kelthaz wrote: View Post
Pretty much everything in Star Trek for a start.
Eh, its not that simple. Star Trek is science fiction, partially because it says it is. None of it's "miracles" are attributed to magic.
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Old October 9 2012, 10:22 PM   #30
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Re: Examples of Magic in sci-fi

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.

But moreover, The Time Machine is a ripe candidate for being transposed into a work more on the fantasy side of the spectrum. Again, the transposition could be accomplished straightforwardly, for example by replacing the machine with a magic artifact, say one discovered in a secret archaeological dig with accompanying hieroglyphs describing the incantations needed to activate it.
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