marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

magic and the industrial revolution

How would the form of magic affect what technology can be produced?  I'm reading a work in which characters have motorcycles and cell phones, and there are motels, but there is magic.  And not just any old magic.  The sort you would find in chivalric romances with mysterious ladies and dragons and other things popping up -- not frequently, one of the first scenes is some knights observing that they had not found their ancestral monsters. . . .

It didn't quite work.  I'm not sure that it couldn't work, whether the problem was the author could not quite manage to fuse the elements, but it didn't, and it would take quite a stunt to pull it off.  More industrialized fantasy -- even up to steampunk -- has the monsters and magic being more subdued.  Either they go into hiding in odd corners of the world, or in the masquerade (Harry Potter or the overwhelming majority of urban fantasy), or they are put to work (Magic, Inc. or Operation Chaos) in an orderly magitech manner.  (Hmmm -- Castle Hangnail?  No, come to think of it, magic there is organized into a system where they all have their magical lairs, and the lairs need masters, and there's paperwork to ensure it goes smoothly.  Not random eruptions.)

Or, of course, they manage to overwhelm the industrial revolution.  Giants bashing down a factory, pixies pixy-leading the workers, basilisks killing all and sundry -- none of these are conducive to the steady output you need to achieve industrialization.
Tags: genre: steampunk, genre: urban fantasy, masquerade, world-building: creatures, world-building: economics, world-building: magic (effects), world-building: technology

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