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How old is the idea of a conflict between magic and technology?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dark Elf, Apr 2, 2017.

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  1. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm currently reading the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. The main character, Harry Dresden, is a modern-day Chicago private investigator/wizard, who investigates supernatural disturbances in a world where most people are unaware of the existence of the arcane. Pretty good stuff.

    Now, the first novel was published in 2000, so one year before Arcanum, and the magic versus technology conflict was in full swing already. Dresden has to heat his ramshackle apartment with a kerosene heater since electricity just doesn't agree with him, and he occasionally displays amazement (and gratitude towards his mechanic) at the fact that his Volkswagen Beetle works nine times out of ten.

    And of course, way before the Dresden files there was Shadowrun, with its conflict between Cyberware and Essence. How far back does this stuff go, I wonder?
     
  2. Zanza

    Zanza Well-Known Member

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  3. Philes

    Philes Well-Known Member

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    I would imagine that the concept of "progress" or "the future" vs. tradition is a pretty old trope in fiction. Hell, if you pare it down to just old vs. new it's a pretty old argument.

    As far as the specific magic vs. technology question, Shadowrun was my first go-to as well, though I'm hardly an expert on the subject. A quick google search tells me the 1st edition of Shadowrun was published in 1989, which isn't that old as far as published fantasy (novels or tabletop games) goes.
     
  4. TheDavisChanger

    TheDavisChanger Well-Known Member

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    Are they worth a read? I've been looking for a new series to start and Butcher's The Cinder Spires caught my eye but I was wondering if I should read his Dresden Files library first. It sounds intriguing but any urban fantasy I pick up has just fallen flat for me.
     
  5. Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril

    Dr. Ferb Wallace Mythril Member

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    The Dresden Files books are among the best urban fantasy, and there what I call 'Hard' fantasy: Butcher lays out the rules at the start and sticks to them. When there is a deus ex makina there's literally something that could qualify as a 'deus' involved as well. I would recommend them for any fan of fantasy.
     
  6. TheDavisChanger

    TheDavisChanger Well-Known Member

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    That's encouraging. I'll check out Storm Front as one of my next reads.

    I've just started the first entry in Jimmy's Cinder Spires series and we are off to an obnoxious start. I'm going to spoil the first four pages of this book so if that's a problem for you, kill yourself.
    We open upon an upper class mother arguing with her daughter over the direction her future is to take. You see, the daughter has no desire to attend finishing school and would be bored at the engineering academy because she has been tinkering with the technology of this fictional world "since she could walk." The only option left to her is military service obviously, and that is what she has set her mind to do. Immediately she single handedly dispatches two of the household's guards with martial arts she conveniently learned from a cousin and when the captain of the guard appears seemingly by chance she trains what amounts to a sidearm on him even though he has not presented himself as a threat. With her weapon she proceeds to obliterate a decorative statue as a display of power and then blows a hole in a door through which she exits, presumably to pursue her fortune.

    Can a character who is a girl that is not quite yet a woman WHO rejects becoming a homemaker AND has already mastered engineering AND can overpower two career soldiers be any more clich├ęd? My God, it must be the current year. My chief complaint about this is that it is boring, but what really feels out of place is how this character will just point guns at people for seemingly no reason.

    You have the rest of the book and possibly the rest of the series to explain yourself, Butcher. Good luck, you cuck.
     
  7. Dark Elf

    Dark Elf Administrator Staff Member

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    My view of Jim Butcher is forever tarnished.
     
  8. TheDavisChanger

    TheDavisChanger Well-Known Member

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    As frustrating as this opening is, Butchie Boy does have 600 in which to right this ship.
    Incidentally, the airship dogfight in the following chapter offered an interesting twist.
     
  9. DarkFool

    DarkFool Nemesis of the Ancients

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    Butcher's series are inconsistent, in my experience. I loved the Dresden Files (I even loved the show), but I struggled to get into Codex Alera.

    Regarding the original topic, I started to make an argument that Lord of the Rings was Magic against tech, but it's really more just anti-Industrialization, so I recanted.
     

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