Technomancy

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The term technomancy refers to an imaginary or fictional category of magical abilities that affect technology, or to magical powers that are gained through the use of technology.

It is a portmanteau of technology and -mancy, a suffix used in magical sciences to refer to specific types of specialization or divination (-mancy is derived from the Greek manteia, meaning divination).

An early appearance of the term can be found in Steve Martindale's 1990 short story "Technomancy" in the magazine Aboriginal Science Fiction.[1]

Theme[edit]

Technomancy is a common theme in certain subgenres of both science fiction and modern-day fantasy fiction, particularly fiction that crosses the sci-fi and fantasy genres, as well as role playing games that take place in similar settings. Strictly speaking, though, it belongs fully to the realm of fantasy since it can be magic that is used on technology that presently exists. It most commonly appears in science fantasy. The term technomancy has been gaining usage on webcomics on the internet, although it is used in a vague sense.

It is also distinct from what is sometimes called "magitech" (technology that uses magic, as used by D.O.L.L.Y. in the comic the Wotch.) Alchemy considers magic and science to be two parts of one force. Technomancy has magic affecting science, but not working in the same process. another explanation of technomancy is the combination of necromancy and technology.

Examples[edit]

In the role-playing game Revelation, technomancy is a power that is available to characters. Specific uses of this power include causing devices to malfunction and travelling to a cyber world.

In the Urban Arcana campaign setting of the d20 Modern role-playing game, there are two character classes that use technomancy, Techno Mage and Shadowjack.

In the Dragonstar campaign setting, compatible with the d20 system, there are many examples of technomancy spells, items, as well as character classes.

In the TV series Angel, a character used magic symbols on himself that caused him to be undetected by magic or physical security measures. In the episode, Supersymetry, a villain attempts to trap Fred in a hell dimension by sending her a text message. When she views it on her phone, a portal opens next to her to suck her in.

In the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the character Willow sees magic as a way of hacking the universe, and an extension of her computer hacking skills. She is also seen to use magic on computers to help her access information more quickly, or view the information (including pictures) inside her mind. Also another character, Jenny Calendar is a techno-pagan who uses the Internet as a place to gather with her circle and from which they cast their spells.

Kelly McCullough's popular books, Webmage, Cybermancy and Codespell deal with ancient Greek deities and their descendants who have moved magic into the modern world through the creation of the so-called "mWeb".

In one web-comic, Argos, Technomancy was used frequently in history. This eventually led to revolt and, some characters believe, destruction of the entire continent.

In the browser-based role playing game, DragonFable, Dr. Voltabolt is a mad scientist/dentist that is also a technomancer. The Race of Gnomes in the town of Popsprocket are all very familiar with Technomancy. Players can even learn Technomancy and obtain the Technomancer class armor once they're at least level 30.

In the book series Worldweavers, by Alma Alexander, technomancy is a critical element to the story.

Non-mystical technomancy[edit]

In some settings technomancy may be totally scientific in nature in accordance with Arthur C Clarke's third law[2] of prediction:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Examples of users of this type of technomancy are the Technomages of the Babylon 5 universe,;[3] and in Ilium/Olympos, where the supernatural powers of wizards and gods come from an advanced technology.

In the successful video game title Mass Effect many characters gain magic-like powers through technology.

The 4th Edition of the Shadowrun role-playing game has characters who can interact with the Matrix (the Internet of that setting) without using technology and are referred to as "Technomancers", but their abilities stem from a mutation rather than magic. Shadowrun Technomancers are specifically unable to use magic.[4]

The term Technomancy can be descriptive of the skill of an engineer whos expertise allows him or her to diagnose mechanical problems by observing the machine behavior, in essence listening to the machine to let it tell him what is wrong.

Non-scientific technology[edit]

Further information: Technopathy

Another form of technomancy, sometimes called 'industrial magic', has magical devices operating similarly to technological devices.

The Harry Potter setting has owl familiars serving as a postal system, animated newspapers and fireplace embers serving as video screens, phantom quills and parchments as speech-recognition software, even flying brooms and orbs as athletic equipment, and so on. The Eberron setting of Dungeons and Dragons has bound elemental spirits powering transportation vehicles. In Atlantis: The Lost Empire for example, the crystal is a supernatural being, but his power was used like a computer program. In Dave the Barbarian, crystal balls and magic cauldrons were used like telephones, televisions and computers. In Adam Sandler's film Click, the protagonist received a control that could change the reality around himself.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Aboriginal Science Fiction volume 4 (2), 1990 Source
  2. ^ Arthur C Clarke, Profiles of the Future ,1962
  3. ^ The A to Z of Babylon 5, by David Bassom, Boxtree Books 1996
  4. ^ WizKids, Inc., Shadowrun 4th Edition, 2005

External links[edit]