Monday, February 22, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Magical Science

Magic and science have never been at odds. That would be like science being at odds with gravity or electricity. Science is about how things work. There were times when the scientific community didn’t understand electricity, but with study they got it to go through wires and power our televisions. Magic is merely a force, be it Eldritch, demonic or divine, that we didn’t understand, no different than lightning was to the Neanderthals.

The feud wasn’t between magic and science; it was between magicians and scientists. Magicians were always a private lot, rarely sharing their knowledge with each other. That’s why you had pyromancers, geomancers and necromancers instead of generalmancers. In their own way, wizards were scientists in that they tested and analyzed their own knowledge. They were most unscientific in that they wouldn’t share, especially not with real scientists.

Real scientistis intimidated the magi with their steam engines and cannons. Today conservative magicians will claim the elders were protecting their arts from exploitation, from a scientific community that turned knowledge of combustion into guns and bombs and knowledge of disease into biological warfare. Yet we have enough records of armies of skeletons to know magicians have never been entirely pacifistic.

They hid their knowledge because a man who knows how to build a gun and summon a fireball will put everyone else out of business. Conjurable pet griffins and magic carpets had a hard enough time competing against the locomotive. But if engineers knew how to manipulate magical forces, like summoning that fire? The locomotives would become so efficient that competition would be impossible. You could light up entire city electrical grids with one thunder spell. You could, and we did, hire demons to protect your internet firewalls so any hacker who tried passing it suddenly went blind. With empirical reason, we knew magic better than the ancients in mere years. We just had to get magic into the lab.

Shame what happened to the magicians. The smart ones moved into scholastics. Some actually teach science history, since they were around when magic broke into science (or vice versa). Others returned to their tribes, to continue playing witch doctors. They didn’t want to move on with civilization, where they’d be amateurs at their specialty.


  1. Thought provoking. Almost sentimental. Good stuff.

  2. Thank you both! I'm glad you enjoyed my little science experiment in the dark arts.


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