Post by Richard R. Hershberger
The category is straightforward: revert to an idealized fantasy
version of medieval tech. (Idealized because of course the real later
medievals did use gunpowder, but that doesn't fit with the fantasy, so
you tend not to see it in things like D&D or the SCA.) I doubt that
many readers don't get this. Talk of metals and altitude or whatnot
adds nothing to understanding the premise, and is irrelevant to the
course of the story.
Well, the problem is, that if I were one of the characters in the book,
and noticed some sort of groteque logical problem: For instance,
electricity being generated by the metal in the earth's core, but not
by a precisely identical man-made process, the most likely conclusion I
would come to would be that I (and everyone else around me) had either
died and gone to hell, or had our consciousness's uploaded into a very
sophisticated computer operated by highly advanced aliens, or was
otherwise in the hands of a malevolent omnipotence/diety of some kind
that could arbitrarily control reality such that it no longer operated
by fixed rules.
My next act after coming to this conclusion would most likely either be
to commit suicide or go insane. Human beings, having evolved in an
impersonal universe that makes strict logical sense, really can't exist
in a malevolent universe where the physical laws are constantly
shifting, depending entirely on what is most personally inconvenient to
Anyway, there is no such thing as 'magic', in the sense of supernatural
or un-natural forces. Any force that exists is, by definition, natural.
This distinguishes fantasy from sci-fi, I think. It is a point that is
going to be made in a story I am writing, about a wizard who operates a
'magical' teleportation based shipping company. Except the 'magic' in
question is simply a highly advanced form of technology. Later on in my
story, this wizard will come to our world where some evil baddies, in
an effort to turn people against him, will make some nasty statements
about him to the effect that he is 'disrespectful' to the forces of
magic, that he treats magic like a utility, the way one would a
screwdriver, and that basically he take 'all the wonder out of life,
and all the *magic* out of magic'.
Which is utterly bogus of course. When he gets word of this, he's
rightfully contemptful and asks what else he should do, get down on his
knees and pray to an electrical generator?