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  • Writer's pictureNJ Holden

Technomagical progress

Somehow I wonder how bizarre technological and cultural progress in my universe must have been.

For those of you who don’t know, in my universe progress was based on magic. Magic is my universe’s version of electricity – yes, there are some people who can zap you if you touch them, but it’s so much funnier if you catch it, channel through a wire and use it to power your TV.

Except in my universe there’s no TV. The entertainment and news are delivered by magic mirrors—a medium that primarily receives and records visions and sounds. So, maybe a bit like TV. Or more like the internet, given that everyone can record messages and make them available. Except one that came before radio, newspaper, and probably a herald.

In that case, I wonder, would the ability to read and write ever become important enough to become ubiquitous? If anything could be conveyed by “videos”, there’s no need to read, right?

But I think reading would still be popular because this particular society is very considerate of people with different needs. So, it would be pushed for the sake of people who are deaf or have auditory processing difficulties.

Still, it’s a bit jarring to think that they don’t have—never had—newspapers.

Transport is also weird. They don’t have steam engines or combustion engines as they can power everything with magic (Kalepp engine, for those of you interested). But using too much magic can destabilize the structure of the world, making it uninhabitable. That’s why the Kalepp trains only run between major merges (with stops along the way). No one would run a train to the next town.

So, how do they get to the next town?

Hoverbikes are one option. They hover thanks to the frame made of nubithium, metal lighter than air and they use little magic to move forward. Their use is still monitored and limited to members of Mespana and tax collectors. But they can only accommodate one person and little cargo.

For cargo, the answer is more mundane. Oxcarts.

(Except there are no oxen, just some fantasy beasts. Beastcarts?)

Though that poses a bit of a problem for Dahlsi, as they are allergic to all living things.

To get around that, they still use animals. Sort of.

To be exact, they use animal spirits.

First, they build a golem of a special type of mineral-rich clay. The golem must have the exact shape of its animal counterpart. Then they bring the animal, kill it and trap its spirit in the golem. Voila, a hypoallergic animal that doesn’t need food, water, or rest; is practically immortal and can lift much more than its living counterpart. And you can increase its carrying capacity by making it hollow inside and using the space to carry goods.

You could call it a robot.

(And yes, you can do it with a human too, if you’re evil enough).

So they do have robots and the internet. But they don’t have computers. As in, computing machines. Nothing to help them with those complex calculations necessary to perform advanced spells. And they don’t have games (interactive films, maybe).

So, here’s a fully functioning quadruped robot that would make Boston Dynamics weep with jealousy. But to design it, you need a freaking abacus. There's a device containing the collected knowledge of humanity, but you can't interact with it in any way, only observe.

How is the technological progress in your setting?

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