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Feedback on Magic for Advanced Interstellar Civilizations

Iapetus777

Scribe
For the longest time, I have wanted to create a combination of Hard Sci-fi and Magic in the same setting. I have grappled with various ideas, from basically 40k psykers to something like what is displayed in the game Hellpoint, to just straight-up energy beams created by a supernatural material.

So basically, I am barren for ideas that feel right for the setting, so I guess I have to exposit a little bit. It is the very far future, a million or so years in the future, humanity finds itself alone in the universe and starts expanding, and we are dethroned by computers that have reached the technological singularity. The population of the galaxy is absolutely insane, and a crazy yet-to-be-named lunatic wants to conquer it all. Since I am a relatively new writer, I decided to initially scale down the initial setting to a pocket universe created by one of these aforementioned superintelligences where they are carrying out some evolutionary experiments.

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

Queshire

Auror
Eh? I think you lose the hard sci-fi label once you add magic to the setting.

I'm not familiar with Hellpoint, but if you're aiming for a grimdark tone maybe something involve eldritch mathematics which the super computers are capable of understanding, but is advanced enough that it risks driving mortal minds insane?
 

Iapetus777

Scribe
Eh? I think you lose the hard sci-fi label once you add magic to the setting.

I'm not familiar with Hellpoint, but if you're aiming for a grimdark tone maybe something involve eldritch mathematics which the super computers are capable of understanding, but is advanced enough that it risks driving mortal minds insane?

Hmm, that's an interesting idea, and the magic kinda defeats the whole hard sf thing, but what I am more looking for is Firm sf, which is mostly based in reality but where it breaks it is following its own rules. I guess I'll develop the idea and see where it goes.
 
Sounds like you're coming at it from a perspective of, what if magic were a science?

If the setting is a collection of interstellar civilizations, there could be planets where magic is a science. Maybe it isn't on Earth, but on Planet X, magic is a law of nature. How it works are laws of science in itself.

Maybe the natural resources needed to conduct magic are only found on certain planets. Those planets either get rich off exporting those resources, or get taken over by others who want to control the resources themselves. If they don't get taken over, they have to constantly fight off would be conquerors. That right there could be a plot driver.
 

Iapetus777

Scribe
Sounds like you're coming at it from a perspective of, what if magic were a science?

If the setting is a collection of interstellar civilizations, there could be planets where magic is a science. Maybe it isn't on Earth, but on Planet X, magic is a law of nature. How it works are laws of science in itself.

Maybe the natural resources needed to conduct magic are only found on certain planets. Those planets either get rich off exporting those resources, or get taken over by others who want to control the resources themselves. If they don't get taken over, they have to constantly fight off would be conquerors. That right there could be a plot driver.

Very interesting. I have been messing around with Queshire's proposal for a little bit, and have determined a few things. Beyond the eldrich mathematics driving mortals insane, no matter how smart you are, you need to trade with an eldritch god to get the universe to turn a blind eye to your shenanigans. The only currency accepted is Soul motes, and is primarily sourced from people. However, areas of recent catastrophe (Anywhere from today to 5 million or so years) could be goldmines of condensed soul motes, making them the most contested areas of space. I could also imagine because of their utility they become a secondary universal currency besides energy.
 
I agree with Queshire that as soon as you include magic in hard sci-fi it stops being hard sci-fi.

Is your magic actual magic? Or is it just unknown science? That's more or less the difference between Star Wars, where the magic is real magic, and Dragon riders of Pern, where the magic is actually science which is just so advanced and unknown that it feels like magic

Interesting thing there is that most people would classify Star Wars as Sci-fi and Dragon riders as fantasy (though Anne McCaffrey considered it sci-fi).

What story do you want to tell?
 

Iapetus777

Scribe
I agree with Queshire that as soon as you include magic in hard sci-fi it stops being hard sci-fi.

Is your magic actual magic? Or is it just unknown science? That's more or less the difference between Star Wars, where the magic is real magic, and Dragon riders of Pern, where the magic is actually science which is just so advanced and unknown that it feels like magic

Interesting thing there is that most people would classify Star Wars as Sci-fi and Dragon riders as fantasy (though Anne McCaffrey considered it sci-fi).

What story do you want to tell?

I guess this magic can fit into the category of ontotechnology, aka technology so advanced you are able to muck around with the core values and variables of the universe to make results you want to happen, happen. The soul-stuff is a trade with those old gods that know how to do that and the math is how you access them in the first place. An alternate method that is less magical and more plausible is that they figured out how to push on dark matter and have it push on stuff, but it has less of the fun eldritch stuff and less flexibility in what it can do.

For the kind of story I wanna tell, that's a more difficult question. I have wanted to write something that is Hard to Firm Sci-fi for a while, but I always have had a soft spot for more traditional fantasy with me, so I decided to combine them and see what happens. I also want to convey the unimaginable power that a fully Dysoned-up galaxy would have, literally and metaphorically, and having even that overshadowed by something else would be a major unifying force for the galaxy, allowing for a more traditional galactic empire sort of situation.
 

pmmg

Vala
Some comments:

First, I dont think it matters much what label the story fits into. It may end up not fitting any label well, and so what? Label are artificial constructs anyway.

Second, I dont think it will take humanity another million years to a) expand into the universe and b) reach singularity with computers.

I think a likely path for mankind, is less a singularity and more humans will gain more and more computer parts (cybernetic enhancements) until they are part of the singularity as well.

If you have the concept of the singularity in play, it would seem to me that that all by itself could be the grounds for the conflict, maybe humanity has become less than it should because the singularity took away some aspect they should not have surrendered. If you add to this world magic, or something eldritch, maybe the old Gods engage in the struggle to restore humanity to essential quest by taking opposition with that which took it away--the singularity. And maybe the new gods or the no gods also have something to say about it.

I'd also add, that barren for ideas on this setting, is code for...not ready to write it. Stories need conflict, so look for what would be conflicting.

Anyway....I'd not get wrapped up in does this fit a label or not. Just make it the best story you can.
 

Nasdeth

New Member
I was looking for some ideas for myself when i found this post...
I do like all of the previous ideas and to develope from there you could go with something like:
1) eldritch energy is something like photons that can cross matter with variable density depending where you are.
2) humans need some kind of implants or nanotech to detect and use it to help fit with the sci-fi label
3) eldritch mathematics can be the system developed to use this energy and give it form. From there anything is possible depending on your plot (energy beams, physical enhancement, forcefields, or even super-computer hacking)...
 
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