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Science and Magic

 

Disciplines > StorytellingStory Devices > Science and Magic

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Where there is an insurmountable problem, use science or magic to provide a wonderful answer that resolves the situation.

Example

The Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is inserted into one's ear and allows one to understand alien languages.

The Inertial Dampers in Star Trek allow the Enterprise to quickly accelerate to light speed without flattening everyone against the bulkhead.

Superman's powers let him do all kinds of things, from a quick change of clothes to saving the world (again) from the most recent evil genius.

Gandalf holds the Balrog at bay whilst the party in Lord of the Rings escape.

'The Force' in Star Wars is magic in a science-fiction setting on which Luke (and Darth Vader) can draw to perform all kinds of wonderful tricks.

Discussion

Science and magic, depending on whether the story is science fiction of fantasy, work outside of normal laws

Magic works out of normal physical laws, being as it is, metaphysical. It can thus be used to resolve most problems. Magic has a historical element to is, as many of our ancestors resolved the unexplained as being something magical. They also hoped (as we often still do) that magic would somehow save the day. When religion supplanted magic, then the gods became magician substitutes, although their fickle nature was less amenable.

We depend nowadays on science so much that we treat it as a modern magic. Science fiction is but a small step beyond and we assume it will solve all of tomorrow's problems too.

See also

Deus ex machina

 

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