PDA

View Full Version : pop quiz, hotshots


Immortal Wombat
08-05-2008, 12:11:37
Stories that are set in a cosmos other than our own, but which don't contain magic. Most scifi is explicitly or implicitly set in this universe (or an alt-timeline version of this universe), and most fantasy has magic.

So far, I've got Gormenghast.

I feel like I'm missing an entire sub-genre somewhere, or maybe my question doesn't make sense.

Funko
08-05-2008, 12:31:04
It does make sense but that doesn't mean I can think of one.

I assume something like "The Force" would count as magic (if Star Wars weren't implicitly set in our universe).

Immortal Wombat
08-05-2008, 13:51:52
I wasn't sure about Star Wars. I think it can probably go either way.

Scabrous Birdseed
09-05-2008, 11:21:58
How explicitly does it have to be a different Cosmos? I seem to remember the Dargonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey (which I last read when I was about 14) had neither magic nor any references to "our world" in it. (Unless telepathy is considered magic, I think there's some of that in there.)

Funko
09-05-2008, 11:34:21
If it's in a different universe, is it really magic or different physics?

MoSe
09-05-2008, 11:50:56
do parallel universes count as different?
;)

(i.e. Sliders)

although a parallel one often has just minimal differences from our one...

and indeed, what's a different cosmos/universe?
A story that has a planet in a galaxy, with no mention of Earth, nor set in Earth's remotest past/future, how do we know if it's in our universe or not?
even if the characters are humans, how can we rule out that hominid bipedal being are a likely occurrence even in different universe?

"if Star Wars weren't implicitly set in our universe"

I can't really say, as I'm not a SW fan, but is there any hint that it's set in the same universe where the earth is? Why couldn't it be a different one?

MoSe
09-05-2008, 11:55:29
Originally posted by Funko
If it's in a different universe, is it really magic or different physics?

and even in our one, magic is just physics that science didn't get to explain yet

:p

for instance what Q does in STNG might look like magic to us and Picard, but it's (supposed to be) just the natural powers of his race to govern the physics of this universe in ways humans can't even imagine yet

:cute:

Greg W
09-05-2008, 15:03:04
Arthur C Clarke's 3rd law states:Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Funko
09-05-2008, 15:07:38
Originally posted by MoSe
I can't really say, as I'm not a SW fan, but is there any hint that it's set in the same universe where the earth is? Why couldn't it be a different one?

The beginning of the film starts with these 3 elements:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/0c/Opening_crawl.jpg/300px-Opening_crawl.jpg

Immortal Wombat
09-05-2008, 15:49:34
Originally posted by MoSe
and indeed, what's a different cosmos/universe?
A story that has a planet in a galaxy, with no mention of Earth, nor set in Earth's remotest past/future, how do we know if it's in our universe or not?
even if the characters are humans, how can we rule out that hominid bipedal being are a likely occurrence even in different universe?

If you can't tell, it probably counts. Gormenghast could be a parallel evolution of human-like beings on a world in this universe, but it seems silly to read it like that, rather than just a fairy-tale in Nowhere-in-particular. It's harder to tell with high-technology SF, true. I've been taking every future which could be a possible future of this humanity to be written as such (per Occam).
I'd be interested in universes which don't mention Earth or humans at all. There's probably a whole raft of science fiction short stories which could be anywhere in this respect. But I usually get the impression that the author is writing of a future, not of an elsewhere.

Sliders starts in this universe, at least. :p

Pern was bumped into this universe half-way through the series, when it turned out that the colonisation ships were named the Yokohama, the Buenos Aires and the Bahrain.

FWIW, I'm tempted to read "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" as the cosmic equivalent of "over the hills and far away". i.e. a distancing device, not a statement of literal truth. But that opens up a whole new can of worms (like, "is Cindarella set in this universe")

Funko
09-05-2008, 15:51:19
That's reasonable too.

MoSe
09-05-2008, 16:10:33
"A long time ago, in a civsite far far away..." that was probably in a different polyverse

Sir Penguin
11-05-2008, 18:06:47
If I remember correctly, China Mieville's Bas-Lag novels have magic-like technology instead of magic.

SP

Funko
12-05-2008, 07:57:43
Really it's magic though.

Scabrous Birdseed
12-05-2008, 17:49:46
How about Dune? Does weird presudoreligious eastern mysticism count as magic?

Immortal Wombat
12-05-2008, 18:02:05
no. maybe. But Dune is a future history, not an independent universe.

Scabrous Birdseed
12-05-2008, 18:26:21
Debatable. I mean, it's mythologically beyond anything that could be reasonably extrapolated from our world, some 16 000 years gone - it's a different universe for all intents and purposes. Earth and history before the Butlerian Jihad are never mentioned I think.

Compare to the Conan universe - that's in a mythological past so far and tracelessly gone that for all intents and purposes it's a different world. (That's got magic though.)

Still, yeah, I guess it's technically not.

Scabrous Birdseed
12-05-2008, 18:46:12
I think I got one, though I haven't read it:

The Library of Babel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Library_of_Babel) by Borges

(There should be more examples from "proper" literature - absurdism might well contain something, for instance.)

Immortal Wombat
13-05-2008, 08:08:07
Ah, the Library of Babel, yes. Definitely. Good story, that one. And there must be other toy universes. Maybe Flatland.

Funko
13-05-2008, 08:21:34
I just read Dune last week, my impression was definitely that it was supposed to be a future history.