Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Travelling Fantasy Blog Tour: Technology in Fantasy

There are two fallacies often found in fantasies where technology is concerned.

The first is that magic is purely fantastical. Of course, some magic is. Demons, faes, and gods abound in much fantasy. But for the most part, magic is a kind of technology in its own right, an art and lore that can be learned from wizened teachers or from ancient books. For instance, in Shakespeare's Tempest, Prospero has his wonderfully researched and studied Book.

The second fallacy is that some fantasies show the same pattern of civilization as Earth's. The Bronze Age, then the Age of Steel, animal technology, the Industrial Revolution/Steam Age, the age of electricity/radio/telegraph, the computer age/DNA technology/laser technology, and the space age, etc. But this particular sequence seems wrong to me. One culture might be more knowledgable about one type of technology than other. Or, one culture might have a technology that is considered magical or superstitious or "impossible" or "godly" in another culture. Also, some aspects of a certain technology might be explored in one culture but not explored in another. In addition, certain technologies are lauded, then forgotten, then rediscovered.

For instance, the Chinese had "gun" powder for many years but the Europeans invented the gun before the Chinese did. Some western cultures used "leeches" medically in the past and have begun using them again. Some so-called "primitive" cultures understood the nature of homeopathy (like curing like) before the sophisticated Europeans discovered the cowpox/smallpox connection. Other so-called "tribal" cultures understood how to use flies and centipede for crime detection before European civilization got the idea. (Flies are often used by some African tribes to determine whose murderous-but-newly-washed dagger still retained the victim's blood and centipedes were used in ancient Korea to check if the blood on a dagger was human or animal.)

Thus it is possible for the technology of a particular world to NOT fall into the western model.

In my novel, The Constant Tower, the characters are warriors. Some would say the setting is "Bronze Age/medieval." But one tribe has solar panels because they understand the nature of light, and the studiers of this world understand music and the effect of "unheard sounds" in ways that would be considered miraculous by some of Earth's less "civilized tribes" or might seem merely fantastical to those with a western mindset.

The bio for the host for this month's tour:
Andrea K Höst was born in Sweden but raised in Australia.  She writes fantasy and science fantasy, and enjoys creating stories which give her female characters something more to do than wait for rescue.  For other blog posts on this topic, see:
Andrea K Host's blog post at www.andreakhost.com

The members of the travelling blog tour are:

Theresa Crater has published two novels, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moonand “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age:  Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at http://theresacrater.com

Warren Rochelle has taught English at the University of Mary Washington since 2000. His short story, "The Golden Boy” (published in The Silver Gryphon) was a Finalist for the 2004 Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Short Story and his novels include The Wild Boy (2001), Harvest of Changelings (2007), and The Called (2010. He also published a critical work on Le Guin and has academic articles in various journals and essay collections.

Deborah J. Ross began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight and short stories in Asimov's, F & SF, Realms Of FantasyY and Star Wars: Tales From Jabba's Palace. Now under her birth name, Ross, she is continuing the" Darkover" series of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as original work, including the fantasy trilogy The Seven-Petaled Shield, forthcoming from DAW. She is a member of Book View Cafe. She's lived in France, worked for a cardiologist, studied Hebrew, yoga and kung fu, plays classical piano, loves horses, and is active in the local Jewish and Quaker communities.

Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, science fiction writer and the author of the Immortal series, The Switch II: Clockwork (books I and II), Grandmere’s Secret, and Colony. She has been published in numerous anthologies including: Steamfunk! and Genesis Science Fiction Magazine. Contact Valjeanne at http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and www.vjeffersandqveal.com.

Chris Howard's a fairly creative guy with a pen and a paint brush, author of Seaborn (Juno Books) and half a shelf-full of other books.  His short stories have appeared in a bunch of zines, latest is "Lost Dogs and Fireplace Archeology" in Fantasy Magazine.  In 2007, his story "Hammers and Snails" was a Robert A. Heinlein Centennial Short Fiction Contest winner.  He writes and illustrates the comic, Saltwater Witch. His ink work and digital illos have appeared in Shimmer, BuzzyMag, various RPGs, and on the pages of other books, blogs, and places. Last year he painted a 9 x 12 foot Steampunk Map of New York for a cafe in Brooklyn. Find out everything at http://the0phrastus.typepad.com/ You can also find out more about Chris at http://the0phrastus.deviantart.com/   at http://the0phrastus.livejournal.com/ and also at http://www.SaltwaterWitch.com

 Sylvia Kelso lives in North Queensland, Australia. She writes fantasy and SF set in analogue or alternate Australian settings. She has published six fantasy novels, two of which were finalists for best fantasy novel of the year in the Australian Aurealis genre fiction awards, and some short stories in Australian and US anthologies.

Carole McDonnell is a writer of ethnic fiction, speculative fiction, and Christian fiction. Her works have appeared in many anthologies and at various online sites. Her first novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her forthcoming novel is called The Constant Tower.   http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com/  
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