High Tech vs. the Orb

Maximilian Wilson wilson.max at gmail.com
Wed Jan 18 07:42:29 PST 2006

On 1/18/06, Jon_Lincicum at stream.com <Jon_Lincicum at stream.com> wrote:
> Things like radio are certainly worth mentioning--however, in most
> instances, I'd say that psionic communication beats it hands-down. Radio
> is not so much an "advantage" as it is a way for the Easterners to "keep
> up" with the Dragaerans. Still important, just not decisive.

I'd actually argue that radio combined with modern technology is far
superior to psionic communication. For one thing, psionic
communication is only possible with those you know well; this results
in big, centralized networks that less robust to point-failure.
Secondly, radio can be processed by computers instead of human brains.
Things like real-time-updated battle maps are only feasible with
computer processing; I'm not a general so I don't know exactly how
important this is, but it's certainly better than psi. ObSF: read
David Drake's stories to get an old soldier's opinion of what a really
good AI could do in battle. /Northworld/ is a good one.

> What really leaps out at me in this discussion is that sorcery seems to
> have no problems interacting with the physical world, but technology has
> not been shown to have any influence on sorcerous abilities.

"Jenoine." Of course you mentioned them, and Verra does call what they
do "magic" of a sort, but in that case we haven't seen any examples of
technology at all in the stories. Except that we know metal attracts
sorcery--but to know the effect of a Faraday cage on sorcery you'd
have to test it. I suspect that letting Faraday cages block sorcery
would probably not be Cool.

On the other hand, if sorcery can affect the physical world, and
technology can affect the physical world, and both parties live in the
physical world: you can destroy technology by destroying its physical
platform, and the same goes for sorcery. The only difference is that
technology is something you *have* and not something you *are* (as
Bruce Schneier might put it), which means replacement ammunition is a
lot easier to produce than replacement sorcerers. This is a plus for

I'm not sure why the Jenoine want access to amorphia so badly, but
they're obviously much more capable with it than Dragaerans are,
judging from events in /Issola/. Taking on Jenoine with only
technology would make me much more nervous than taking on a bunch of
Teckla conscripts with a few Dzur mixed in.

-Max Wilson

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.