“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C Clark gave us this thought and I like it.
At a very low level, stage magicians with the ‘sawing someone in half’ trick or the ‘disappearing person from the box’ trick use a manipulation of mechanics to give the appearance of supernatural powers and channeling the beyond. We can consider the daily lives we all lead through the lens of someone with no knowledge of how cars and phones etc function and it’s easy to imagine that they could fall down on the side of witchcraft.
So it made me think, a dangerous proposition I know but, when I write, where should the lines potentially be drawn in terms of magical powers or technology?
I’m working on a short(ish) story about a future set space adventure but having looked into a great chunk of the science we have available as a species, I’m effectively making things up in terms of the machines, but who’s to say that in the future, some of what I’m making up doesn’t come to be? We’ve all seen the technology which was used in Star Trek which now exists in reality. Hyposprays and hand held communicators were the stuff of science fiction back in the early sixties but here we are in 2015 and almost everyone has a mobile phone and all those phobic of needles have an easier way to have a ‘jab’.
The number of inventions which have come about because people looked beyond where we are at any given moment in our history is gargantuan. In fact, it has to be all of them. Someone has always had to push the boundaries when it comes to what we all have in our daily lives.
Deep space travel is currently limited by many factors meaning we can only reach so far away from our planet, at least in person, and indeed our technology still hasn’t traveled that much further. But, five hundred years ago, the thought of supersonic air travel, in fact flight in general, was nothing more than science fiction, yet today we can easily jump on a plane and travel close to the speed of sound, through the thin air all the way up there without asphyxiating, freezing or just suffering death in general. What could we do in five hundred years time?
Another of Arthur C Clark’s laws is “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible,” and that just shows that everyone could make up the great idea which pushes the envelope. One idea from a story could be something which fires the mind of a particular person to actually build it.
The ideas in so many stories are so outlandish to many but you never know, there may be one little object or system which could be the vital part of advancing the human race, just nudging someone in the right direction to then do all the hard work. Having read my own story about space, it would be interesting if any of those things come true.