Can Technology Evolve in a Fantasy World?

Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by AndrewB, Nov 21, 2017.

  1. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    Does gunpowder even work in Westeros? The laws of nature in that world allow for a whole lot of stuff that's impossible in our world (even sticking to chemistry, we have no equivalent to the green fire), so maybe it's not a 1:1 equivalent.

    And even if it is....it's very, very easy to fall in to the trap of "we've grown up with this technology, it's not that complex when you break it down, so anyone in the past could have figured it out on their lunch break". The march of science is historically much less inevitable than modern culture might make us think--even now, several interesting lines of development are hampered by the question of "Yes, but how do we make money from this?".

    And just because something's been invented in a workshop somewhere is no guarantee that the possibilities will be recognised, and it will immediately proliferate. A prototype steam engine was created in the 1st century AD, and a manual railroad existed in Greece earlier than that--if it had caught on then, we could have had a steampunk Roman Empire within a century, but the inventions simply didn't catch on at that point.
     
  2. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    It's not a perfect equivalent, but Wildfire is pretty clearly based on Greek Fire. A sort of pre-modern napalm whose recipe we still don't know because it was such a closely guarded state secret. Wildfire seems to have a magical component and is green, but it still worked even when magic was at its weakest point in that world's history.

    On the point about gunpowder itself, it's worth remembering that it was created more or less by accident. Those Chinese alchemists were trying to make an elixir of eternal life, but they got something rather different.
     
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  3. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Azuresun, the 'gun-powder in Westeros what-if' was just an example of how an advancement in technology could - if the author allowed to happen - potentially mess with a fantasy story. Despite agreeing once more with almost everything you wrote, I still don't feel it's so unrealistic an advancement (and don't think I've fallen into any kind of trap), although it probably wasn't the best example to use to make my point.
     
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  4. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Yeah, as a solution to the problem of illness, I agree, 'magical cure-all' couldn't be bettered, so in this imaginary world, society wouldn't try - the necessity just isn't there.

    Do you think, that by negating the need for medical research in our imaginary world - and denying the subsequent discoveries (medical and non-medical) that research could potentially yield - does magic itself (in this specific case) have the potential to cause the kind of stasis we see in a lot of fantasy?
     
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  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    That is one you have do decide on yourself. You will figure it out. :superidea:
     
  6. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    I think the key words there are "mess with". I think there's a difference between "let's tell an interesting story with integrated technology and magic" (which was not what Martin was interested in doing, so he didn't--the focus is on politics and an emerging supernatural conflict, technological upheaval would mostly be a distraction from that story), and saying "your fantasy story would be better if it had less fantasy in it".
     
  7. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    Precisely. So medieval stasis serves the story the author wants to tell. I'm struggling to work out why you think we're in disagreement.

    I never suggested we do this.

    Certainly didn't say this, or anything like it. I find it a ridiculous statement.
     
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  8. Azuresun

    Azuresun Senior Member

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    Because you said:

    If I misunderstood where you were coming from, I'm sorry.

    Okay, that second bit wasn't meant as an attack on you (or anyone in the thread), so I obviously messed up the delivery. I meant that you can have settings where the two are integrated (not saying you have an opinion on such), and that there are irritating critics who insist that science always has to be right and superior in any fictional comparison with magic (while not saying you were one of them).

    Hope that's clearer?
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  9. TirelessSeven

    TirelessSeven Active Member

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    No problem, then. There has been a misunderstanding - in the section you quoted above, I wasn't expressing an opinion, just posing a question. I was attempting to discuss the reasons for medieval-stasis, not because I have any kind of issue with it, but because it interests me.
     
  10. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

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    I would say as many had told you, that depends on how your world works. For example, usually on fantasy dwarfs are related to guns, this is more because they live on mountains or underground, so they have to work with what they have; plus making a lot of experiments. So I would add the environment will influence your technology as well. And as Iain Aschendale had mentioned your economics will have an impact. You can't expect a poor city to be properly evolved like a rich city.
     
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  11. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    My sister asked me once why i liked making up my own worlds and cultures. I told her this: its like Sims; I can pick them up and put them where ever I want, and I can give them whatever I want. I make the rules, and they live by it. I am God.

    you want tech? BOOM! behold the tech!
     
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  12. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Senior Member

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    We are not just Gods but as well Devils :supercheeky:
     
  13. isaac223

    isaac223 Active Member

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    In my Dungeons and Dragons campaign, there are two "cults" that take varying perspectives on magic in the world. The "Fellowship of the Earth" believes that magic is used as a crutch and impedes upon the intellectual and technological development of the world and its inhabitants. That is, definitely, one way to look at it. If you want that to be an important point in the story, make it so! It can be a tool for subverting and deconstructing these changeless fantasy worlds you mentioned in the OP by making it a heavy point of focus, especially if, despite the complaint, you have some fondness for the works regardless. (I always think the best parody and the best deconstruction comes out of a place of love for the genre in question).

    Alternatively, there is the "Magitech" trope, which TVTropes explains a lot better than I ever could, which essentially has magic working in tandem with technological expanse than against it. https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Magitek

    So the answer to your question is a definite yes. It absolutely can. Does it have to? Not at all. It is best not to throw mumbo jumbo about the development of technology in a story or setting where it doesn't really belong. You can yadda-yadda it if you want to create a world that's a combination of medieval and modernistic elements using Magictech BUT it isn't important to the overarching story. You should develop it more heavily if it plays more intimately into the central plot. Whether it happens and to what extent it matters and should be given narrative focus depends on the point of what you're writing.
     
  14. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributor Contributor

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    Well, the humans still breath air, and they still burn wood for warmth, so I'd assume the chemical components would all work the same as in our world.
     
  15. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Of course it can. Star Wars is more fantasy than SF. Fantasy doesn't have to be swords and sorcery, although even Star Wars derives from that formula. Zombie apocalypse stories are fantasy, so is most superhero fiction.

    Your story, your rules.
     
  16. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Active Member

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    At the end of the day, this is what matters. We can argue til the cows come home (and have left again the next morning) about who has done what when, and how well, but there's only one thing most people will insist on.

    Whatever rules you set for yourself, follow them. Be outrageous or toe the line, but always be internally consistent. Most people will take any leap of faith with you if you stay consistent with yourself.
     
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