Quirel
Where is the line drawn between science fiction and fantasy? When does speculative technology become pure magic?

We were in the middle of a conversation on the Discord before somebody locked the channel. The topic of disagreement was the Domain, and whether it was pure space magic that does whatever the writer demands or if it is only so when someone other than Greg Bear is writing.

Sometimes, to tell a good story, you need to fudge the physics. Even Baconshelf's much-vaunted space kino has the ridiculously efficient Epstein Drive. And of course science fiction technology does whatever the writer wants it to. That is kind of the point of the technology in the first place.

The problem is when the technology becomes too convenient. When every plot hole and awkward junction between the parts of your story is covered up by your technology, you've gone too far. When your technology is the fundamental force behind antigravity, space travel, telekinesis, and outright mind control, you have gone too far. When your writing sucks anyway, you've gone too far.

Personally, I can buy the Domain as an ethereal repository of knowledge built by an ancient species beyond our ken. When that repository of knowledge can reconsitute nearly-destroyed AIs who survive a lucky Slipspace jump, you've gone a bit far. When the repository of knowledge is patrolled by an incredibly powerful AI named Abaddon who disintegrates a living Forerunner for pissing him off and is never seen again, you should consider writing for Games Workshop instead.

That is my two cents.
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Mendicant Bias
Quirel wrote:
Where is the line drawn between science fiction and fantasy? When does speculative technology become pure magic?


Personally, I can buy the Domain as an ethereal repository of knowledge built by an ancient species beyond our ken. When that repository of knowledge can reconsitute nearly-destroyed AIs who survive a lucky Slipspace jump, you've gone a bit far. When the repository of knowledge is patrolled by an incredibly powerful AI named Abaddon who disintegrates a living Forerunner for pissing him off and is never seen again, you should consider writing for Games Workshop instead.

That is my two cents.


This are two different points as technology is magic especially to  a relatively primitive culture experiencing something beyond their understanding. As a child i watched plenty of cartoons with scfi elements yet around 5th grade i somehow started watching Stargate SG-1 on ScFI and got hooked.  At somepoint during the show a comment is made how magic is simply technology misunderstood, possibly an Ancient construct aptly describing the seeming impossible,improbable to the Humans.  Thor makes a similar comment to the Avengers as well and this example has probably been used long before my existence.
 Otherworldly technology shouldn't be shamed rather than it's inconsistent usage,capabilities, and measure it's creators. This became a prime issue of Stargate SG-1 as Ancients had the most advanced technology in the galaxy yet seemingly lacked sense in utilization or adaptation of technologies. Which caused a contradiction in how a race could advance so far yet not have much sense in using their technologies, a half-ass answer was written in after fans started complaining but it wasn't fulfilling.

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Personally, I can buy the Domain as an ethereal repository of knowledge built by an ancient species beyond our ken. When that repository of knowledge can reconsitute nearly-destroyed AIs who survive a lucky Slipspace jump, you've gone a bit far.


The Domain's workings became a subplot within Silentium  being described as some sort of lifeform connected to the universe itself in its own dimension,reality. Since this is an alternate dimension space isn't an issue thus housing AI's core matrices within the Domain is a perfect solution from long term decay, rampancy.  Halsey theorized this was possible within her journal during the events of Reach with The Assembly seeing slipspace as a form of transcendence from their limitations as well. Ian Bank's hard-scfi series " The Culture" does exactly this with " Mind" AIs who are vastly superior benevolent constructs housed in another dimension which allows them unlimited storage ,processing, and invulnerably from anything in our reality.  A concept of "subliming" exists as well allowing Minds and civilizations to transcend this dimension permanently into another, Minds have to essentially be shackled to this dimension otherwise they'd instantly sublime seconds upon realizing the possibility.
  None of these concepts are new or unfounded rather an example of Halo dipping its feet into the territory of hard science fiction, which should be praised.

Didact was meant to meditate upon the Domain during his imprisonment to heal him, Cortana connecting to a dimension which doesn't box her in with limitations would naturally stabilize he,r unfortunately she was rampant upon doing so. 


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When the repository of knowledge is patrolled by an incredibly powerful AI named Abaddon who disintegrates a living Forerunner for pissing him off and is never seen again, you should consider writing for Games Workshop instead.


Here is an issue Halo has struggled with since inception, introducing a world changing character,structure,concept only to immediately destroy or drop moments later.

Halo CE- Installation 04
Halo 2- Invasion of Earth limited to one mission which was broken in two
Halo 3 - The Ark
Halo Wars- Shield World
Halo: Reach- Forerunner Ship under Reach/ Forerunner structures under Reach
Halo 4 - Requiem


Every Forerunner installation was introduced as a significant instance only to be destroyed shortly after without much explanation or return. I've never been sure if this is an attempt to keep each installment fresh with something new or to spare the burden or properly fleshing out the importance of each instance within the universe.   Halo 2 came out when i was in middle school fresh on the Halo train with the Battle for Earth being marketed as if our actual planet was under attack itself. I was hyped beyond belief that the Covenant had finally found,attacked Earth, and there would be a campaign to defend her. Yet our fight lasted a mere two missions, the third most important engagement of the Human-Covenant War with only two missions of coverage, what a depression.
 Halo 3 came out in highschool with me hoping Bungie got their shit together for the last fight what do we get?   Land on Earth, fight to exfiltration, defend base from bomb, fight to a town, destroy an AA emplacement. You could have merged those 4 mission into two with further mission fleshing out the engagement but no,scene switch.


While CE and Halo 4 are on the list the game was centered around the constructs which were later destroyed giving a sense of completion. While we know there are more Halos and Shield Worlds out there our time on 04 and Requiem gave meaning to these installations due to the time spent there. Despite being destroyed at campaigns end there was a compelling narrative for doing so which shouldn't be standard but at least created a unique experience in comparison.
 When 343I released Halo 4 i was willing to argue less of these scenarios would happen but with the Created's abrupt introduction this unfortunately might be a staple of Halo to whatever degree.


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Voka
I'd say that it is (Or becomes) space magic when there is a lack of (Or a breakdown in) any kind of mechanistic logic behind it. If you come up with a pseudo-scientific explanation for how a piece of hypothetical technology works, and stick by it, then I think that you should be able to keep it fairly restricted in its application without it straying into the realms of Element Zero or Unobtanium. Examples might be:

Telepathy: Except it's just people with neural implants communicating wirelessly by said implants converting measurements of brain activity into digital signals. If we run with this as the explanation for how characters can communicate without speaking, then it's fairly hard for it to spin out of control in fantastical ways I think. Any expansion of this concept would have to make sense in the context of neural implants converting brain measurements into digital signals. You could possibly have mind-reading, as an example, through the explanation of someone perhaps illegally hacking into a neural implant in order to violate someone's privacy as one may gain access to someone's Iphone today to spy on messages. But if you wanted mind-control? Well, you'd have to come up with an explanation for how the neural implant could influence the brain, but that doesn't make sense if the implant only measures the brain. So any kind of thought out mechanics behind the technology provide a sort of defense against technology becoming space-magic, in my opinion.
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