Weaving Magic and Science Fiction Novels: A Match Made in the Cosmos
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
I’d argue almost every science fiction author has heard or read this line before. It’s sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke’s third law that guides his writings on the future, and it’s a cornerstone of the genre today.
But hear me out: what if our sci-fi novels have sufficiently advanced technology and magic?
Now we’re getting somewhere. The intersection of science fiction and fantasy can brew some incredible worlds, magic systems, technology, characters, and—most importantly—stories.
Combining those two threads can be tricky, though. After all, they seem almost counterintuitive. And it’s already difficult enough to come up with futuristic tech and fantasy magic systems on their own. But combining magic with a tech-driven story like sci-fi? That’s a tall order.
Don’t worry, we’re going to go over everything you need to know to blend magic and sci-fi together in your novel. That includes:
- Understanding the fusion of these two powerful storytelling elements
- Worldbuilding techniques to craft magic and technology together
- Developing magic systems with a science fiction twist
- Covering some potential challenges you’ll encounter
- Writing exercises to help you come up with your magical sci-fi world.
Above all else, we’re going to have fun. Sure, we’re talking about writing craft and wordsmithing and some technical elements of writing. But we’re also taking epic magic and mixing it into an incredible genre like sci-fi.
So let’s have some fun.
Science Fiction + Fantasy = Science Fantasy?
Sci-fi and fantasy books are often lumped together when people look for high-level classifications. Book stores might put them in the same spot or right next to each other. Writers might define themselves as speculative fiction authors because they dabble in both genres.
For me, they were each considered nerdy genres that I’ve wholeheartedly embraced since childhood.
When we are mixing magic with sci-fi, even if it’s just a pinch of enchanting space dust, we’re smooshing these two genres together into something you might call science fantasy—a term I’ll be using occasionally in this article. The technical term doesn’t matter, nor do all “science fantasy” authors view themselves as such.
What does matter is understanding what’s being smooshed. For that, I want to take a quick step back.
The History of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Both of these genres trace back to ancient times, to myths and legends that have created the foundation of all modern storytelling. It’s easy to see the origins of fantasy in old tales rife with magical elements and supernatural creatures. Think The Odyssey.
Sci-fi is a relatively newer genre, but not as new as you might think. After all, science fiction, at its core, speculates on what could be possible with technology. The term “technology” makes us think of computers, robots, spaceships, and artificial intelligence, but tech to our ancestors could have been something as simple as wheels, pulleys, or gunpowder.
The earliest recorded sci-fi story, A True Story by Lucian of Samosata, described alien life when it was written in the second century, though you probably wouldn’t recognize it as sci-fi today.
Then we moved to the 19th century, with Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne. While fantasy authors at this time focused mostly on myths and folklore, sci-fi focused on scientific advancements and their impact on the future.
The mid-20th century brought on what many argue would be the Golden Age of both genres. Big names like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein were pushing space exploration and robotics, while definitive works like The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien set the stage for what fantasy is today.
It was only as we moved into the late 20th and early 21st century that the genres started blending together. This blurring of lines was pioneered by authors like Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern) and Frank Herbert (Dune). This is where we really started seeing a more fluid and experimental style of writing. So let’s say a big thank you to these authors.
Today, the fusion of magic and science fiction is more prominent than ever, with authors like Neil Gaiman, China Miéville, and N.K. Jemisin exploring these crossovers in innovative ways. On top of their and other writers’ work expanding these genres and introducing new stories to our world, this style of writing reflects a broader literary trend towards genre bending and away from strict rules.
This isn’t restricted to books, either. Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon that combined fantasy elements into a space opera. Video games like Final Fantasy also weave high-tech worlds with magic and swordplay.
I don’t share all this just because I know you love historical tidbits as much as I do, but because it’s important to see how these two genres have converged. They used to be rigid, separate entities, but they’ve almost grown into one another.
And we have room for that in our literary world. Heck, I’ll make room for it if I have to.
The Key Characteristics of Fantasy and Sci-fi
To further our understanding of what we’re tossing into a particle accelerator, let’s have a quick look at the fundamentals of these two genres. If you want a complete breakdown of fantasy or sci-fi, you can click those links to jump over to our guides.
For our purposes, we’re just covering the most important elements.
Science Fiction Fundamentals
Rooted in science and speculation - Science fiction often stems from real scientific principles, theories, and potential future advancements. It speculates about the future implications of scientific progress, exploring how it might affect humanity and the universe.
Technological innovation and exploration - This genre frequently features advanced technology that doesn't currently exist, such as faster-than-light travel, time machines, and advanced AI. The exploration of space and other planets is also a common theme.
Societal and ethical implications - Sci-fi often delves into the societal impact of technology, posing questions about ethics, morality, and the human condition. It explores themes like the consequences of technological advancement, the nature of consciousness, and the structure of societies.
Dystopian and utopian visions - Many science fiction stories show us visions of the future that are either utopian—depicting an idealized world thanks to technological advancement—or dystopian—showing the dark side of these advancements.
Realism and plausibility - Even when venturing into the far-fetched, science fiction novels must maintain a sense of plausibility and internal logic. It creates worlds and scenarios that let the reader connect through an understanding of science and reality.
Magical and supernatural elements - Fantasy is usually characterized by the existence of magic and other supernatural phenomena, which often play an important role in the story. This can include magical creatures, spells, witches, wizards, and mythical beings.
Alternate worlds and historical settings - Stories in this genre often take place in entirely different worlds or a historical/medieval earth-like setting. These worlds are richly detailed and come with their own histories, geographies, and cultures. If you want a fantasy worldbuilding guide, we’ve got you covered right here.
The Hero’s Journey and quests - Fantasy stories are all about the quest—and sometimes even the side quests. At the same time, the quest is often representative of the Hero’s Journey, a plot structure that causes a transformation in the character that embarks on it. This involves a protagonist, often with a special destiny, heading out on a journey to defeat evil forces, often with the help of magical items or allies.
Good vs. evil - The fantasy genre frequently depicts the struggle between good and evil, with clear distinctions between heroes and villains. This moral clarity is a common thread in many fantasy tales, and it can be used effectively when operating in those gray areas.
Myth and folklore inspiration - Fantasy draws heavily from ancient myths, folklore, and fairy tales. These traditional stories can be a great source of inspiration for fantasy worlds, characters, and plots.
Why Are You Blending Magic and Sci-Fi?
To be clear, I didn’t list out all those characteristics for funsies. I mean, it was fun, but that’s not the point.
If I asked an author why they’re adding magic to their science fiction novel, their gut reaction is likely to be, “It’s fun,” or “It just feels right.”
To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with either of those answers. Writing is an art! It’s meant to be fun and it takes a piece of us to create. But thinking about your craft deeper than that, being intentional about your decisions, will always elevate your story.
So, if you’re writing a sort of science fantasy novel, ask yourself why. Why aren’t you just writing pure science fiction?
Does magic let you explore ethical implications further? Does it play a critical role in building your dystopian power dynamics? Is your sci-fi inspired by myths and legends?
Understanding these fundamentals means furthering your understanding of your own story.
Worldbuilding with Magic and Science Fiction
Now that we have a solid grasp on why we might fuse magic and science fiction together, let’s get into the how. This is what we magic and tech lovers live for.
But we need to be careful in our ambition.
Adding magic into sci-fi crosses boundaries that, while not completely new, are still unfamiliar to a lot of people. Either that or your future reader is obsessed with this type of story and will be pretty nitpicky.
Either way, this means you need to focus on your worldbuilding. Laser focused. Because this is what this fusion is all about, and you’ll either be introducing readers to something they’ve rarely seen or catering to fanatics.
And you might think I’m going overboard on this, but I’m pressing the point because there are some unique challenges posed by combining these two things. We’ll chat about those specific challenges towards the end of this guide, but just know that you’re walking a tightrope here.
Admittedly, a tightrope of your own creation; you literally make the rules in this world of yours. If you can’t find the right balance, your readers are going to drag you right off.
Enough of that for now, though. Let’s have some fun with worldbuilding.
Quick tip: I’ve made a worldbuilding bible template for you that you can snag over at this article. It’s not mandatory for this guide, but it’s great to have on hand and provides an organized layout for the world you’re crafting.
Foundations of Worldbuilding with Magic and Science Fiction
Worldbuilding is about crafting layers. Not onion (or Shrek) layers, but layers that both lay on top of and blend with one another. Everything is built on the back of something else. Everything affects everything else.
So, even though I’ve broken this particular worldbuilding out into different pieces, don’t think that they exist in isolation. Don’t think you necessarily need to craft them in the order I’ve laid out, either. Read through these elements of worldbuilding and approach it in a way that feels natural to you.
Establish the Rules
Just because you’re using magic in a sci-fi setting doesn’t mean you're exempt from the core tenets of a fantasy magic system. And, at their core, magic is about rules.
I dive into this more in our massive guide to building a magic system, but here are some key elements:
Who, what, where, when, and how? - All magic systems need to answer those five basic questions. Who can use the magic? What does it do? Where does it come from? When does it work? How is it paid for or conjured?
Consistency is key - Can you imagine if you established a really cool piece of tech that had a grand purpose—say, the Death Star and destroying planets. How do you think your reader would feel if your Death Star suddenly transformed into a massive humanoid robot that planted seeds of life on desolate planets? Consistency is important, and that’s equally true for your magic system. So ensure you understand your magic and keep its principles consistent.
How do magic and science interact? - Remember that quote from Clarke about science being indistinguishable from magic? That’s not the case in your world. They are distinguishable and even interact with each other. We’ll chat more about this later in the guide, but start thinking about the rules that govern the interplay between magic and science. Do they enhance or counter one another?
History and Evolution
Next up in our worldbuilding foundations, you’re going to want to think about what happened before your story starts. This is especially important in sci-fi. After all, you have to find a way to bridge the gap between what we know now and what’s going on in your book, all without infodumping on your reader.
Then you throw magic into the mix and really shake things up. Here are a few things to consider:
Chicken and egg - A common trope in fantasy is that technology lags behind because of the existence of magic. After all, we wouldn’t need combustion engines if we had magic carriages. But your world has both. Which came first, magic or tech? Why did the second arise? How did the older influence the formation of the younger, and vice versa?
Historical events - I’m not talking about key events that used magic or technology (though you may want to map those out) but significant milestones in their development. Specifically, think about events that shaped the relationship between the two of them.
Cultural evolution - Across your universe, galaxy, or planet, how have different cultures embraced magic and technology? Some might favor one or the other, while powerful civilizations might embrace both. Think about the way magic and tech has changed because of these cultural influences.
Geography and Environment
When magic and technology are in play in your story, it’s easy to forget about non-human (or other sentient beings) elements. I get it; magic and technology are both wielded by people.
That doesn’t mean they don’t affect the rest of the world, though.
Influence on the landscape - Think about the way technology has influenced our own world: skyscrapers, oil fields, countless planes soaring through the sky, harnessing the power of the sun and wind, entire campuses dedicated to tech giants. The list goes on. Now think about how that would look in your world if magic was thrown into the mix.
Flora and fauna - Then think about the way plants and animals have been altered by these forces or have adapted to them. Are some organics infused with magic powers? Are they the source of them? Are certain species threatened with extinction because of magic or tech?
Societal Structure and Culture
Now we’re going to get a little more specific. In the previous section, you started thinking about the evolution of culture in your world, but let’s really get to know these folks.
Society and culture dictate more than what people do for work and fun. They decide more than economic and social castes. These elements touch every aspect of your sci-fi characters’ lives.
And you’re about to throw magic at them? You monster.
Even though my life is consumed with fictional worlds and people these days, I actually went to school for political sciences. And if there’s one thing I learned from that degree, it’s that society, at its core, is about power.
In most fantasy novels, that power is formed through spellcasters, nobility, trade, wars, and skill in combat. In sci-fi, it’s about who has the most advanced tech, the stronger spaceship, the more lucrative interplanetary trade.
Here are a couple things to keep in mind when building your societies.
Class and power dynamics - Does magic become a great leveler of classes? Or is it just another form of power for a ruling class to wield and subjugate with? Do all people have access to magic and technology or is access sectioned off?
Economic systems - How does the existence of magic in your science fiction story influence money and trade? Perhaps a technologically inferior civilization has a stranglehold on galactic trade because they alone have magic to warp space and time. Or another militaristic society has discovered how to imbue their planetary siege engines with magic and have become wealthy through conquest and selling their weaponry.
Cultural Beliefs and Practices
Culture and society, while intrinsically connected, are not the same thing. So, when you’re building your world out, consider the way magic influences the culture of your characters.
This also gives you an opportunity to add meat and bones to your world. Different groups of people, influenced by their location and history, will have different views on magic and technology. Developing those cultures will help bring your world to life.
On top of their general views and ways they embrace these powerful elements, here are two things to consider:
Religion - In what ways has magic influenced the belief systems and religions in your world? Alternatively, how has science? And how have they reconciled the two?
Education - We have schools and online tutorials to help us understand modern technology, so it’s safe to assume a culture with access to magic and/or advanced technology would implement some form of education, too. What does that education look like in your world? Does everyone have access to it?
Getting even more specific, let’s start thinking about the day-to-day lives of the people in your science fantasy world.
A lot of this will come down to access. In traditional sci-fi, it’s easy to say who has what technology, but adding in something (potentially) less tangible like magic complicates things.
It also opens up entirely new possibilities.
On top of all that, common folk don’t have agency in every aspect of their lives. You and I can’t control tax rates or foreign war, but those both still affect our daily life.
When fleshing out your world, think about what a normal day for a normal person looks like. Then think about a normal day for less-than-normal people, especially if they play a significant role in your story. Here are some things to consider:
Urban vs. rural - Where someone lives, even within the same culture or society, can dictate their access and attitude to magic and technology. Maybe people outside the megacities are more likely to embrace magic and distrust technology. Also consider how certain colonies and planets fall in a sort of urban-rural classification system.
Professional and personal use - How is magic split up between professional and personal lives? I use a computer for both, but someone working at NASA doesn’t use their work computer to play games. Think about what people have access to in all aspects of their lives and what limits society might impose.
Impact of new discoveries - Finally, consider how new discoveries—both in technology and magic—will change the everyday lives of people. This kind of worldbuilding can end up being a significant plot point in your story or inspire you to think of one.
Government and Power Structures
I can’t say that society, the very core of your world, is all about power without prompting you to think about the institutions that wield it.
Some sci-fi authors get very in-depth with their characters’ politicking. Other stories are all about a corrupt government that needs tossin’. But even stories that aren’t mostly politically driven still involve governments and power structures.
It might not be an official government, either. It could be space marauders ruling a planet through fear and intimidation or a merchant queen who controls what planets get what resources.
On the other hand, you could include planetary governments and intergalactic empires, if those tickle your fancy. Let your mind run wild.
Remember, magic is essentially another source of power, and governments will view it like that more than most. This means the magic you include could be a tool, an opportunity, or a threat to those in the political system.
It also means extensions of the government will use magic, too. Think about these institutions when worldbuilding a magical sci-fi world:
Law and order - We’ve seen tech influence the legal system and law enforcement in real life and in popular sci-fi media. Now think about what magic would do to it. Is it used to mete out punishment? Do the police have access to magic? Are police cruisers powered by enchanted gemstones?
Diplomacy and warfare - Whereas law and order takes a micro-level approach, diplomacy and warfare forces you to apply the blend of magic and technology at a larger scale. What’s the balance of power in a conflict between a magical nation and a technologically advanced one? How is magic used in diplomacy—is it a threat or a resource to be traded?
Regulations and restrictions - As with any power, there will undoubtedly be restrictions and regulations governing their use. What do those laws look like in your world? Are there any specific to the intersection of magic and technology? In much the same way you establish rules and limitations in a magic system, do the same for governance around the magic in cities, towns, states, countries, and planets.
Developing a Science Fiction Magic System
If you’ve been following along, even if only in your head, you probably have some good ideas of what your magic can do and how it fits into your larger science-themed world or universe.
Now we’re going to develop that into a magic system.
Beyond another shameless plug, I strongly recommend bookmarking our big ol’ guide to building a magic system. It clocks in at over 10,000 words of magical goodness, and this article is about magic and sci-fi, not specifically building a sci-fi magic system, so it’ll do you some good to have our guide in your writing toolkit.
Because we’re tackling this from a holistic perspective; the complexities magic adds to sci-fi novels and how to incorporate it organically. That doesn’t mean we can ignore the specifics of building a magic system that meshes magic and technology, though.
So let’s get to it.
Define the Nature of Your Magic
Magic comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. To some, magic is purely verbal, converting specific passages to a material effect. To others, magic comes in the form of enchanted items or gems.
What is magic in your world? Can you write an elevator pitch about it to explain it in a sentence or two? This is the very bare bones of what you’ll create, but you need a half-decent understanding before we get too far.
In science fiction, you have a few more options available to you when conceptualizing your magic.
Maybe magic can be harnessed as a form of energy, sort of like a natural resource. This can tie it directly into technology, as your fictional folk need magic to power everyday appliances, war machines, and interplanetary travel.
You can also explore magic as a branch of science itself, perhaps one that’s yet to be understood. Is it an extension of physics or quantum sciences? How does it interact with other areas of knowledge? Since your magic system will have rules, it is feasible it could be studied and classified.
Next, you’re going to want to figure out what your magic can do. It helps to be as specific as possible, as this will largely be your guiding light as you write magic into your world.
To help with this, I want to introduce you to two different terms: hard and soft magic.
Hard magic refers to magic systems that have concrete rules both the practitioners of magic and the magic itself follows. This is easy for the reader to follow and allows them to view magic as a tool (or weapon).
Soft magic is the opposite. It does not have explicit rules and is instead used to instill a sense of wonder and amazement. Great writers of soft magic rarely use soft magic to solve problems, as readers won’t understand how the solution would work. Authors of soft magic systems still need to know the ins and outs of that system, even if their readers don’t.
To be clear, most magic systems fall somewhere between these two types, skewing more heavily one way than the other, but rarely adhering strictly to just one.
So how do you envision your system functioning? Choose one style to guide your way, then start mapping out what magic can make possible in your world. Don’t worry about getting it all down now; more will evolve as we continue and once you start writing.
If you want a bunch of different types of magic to get your imagination running, click here.
Rules and Limitations
I’ve already drilled the importance of rules and limitations of magic into you, but I’m reiterating it here. It’s so important that Brandon Sanderson—arguably the most successful fantasy author around right now—dedicated the second of his Three Laws of Magic to it: limits > abilities.
Limitations, restrictions, and rules dictate what your magic can do by forcing a border to your sandbox. Imposing these limits stops magic from being plot-destroying, prevents it from completely overshadowing technology and character agency, and forces characters to make tough decisions… which ends up forcing them into much-needed character development, too.
Limits create tension and challenge your protagonist, which just makes for a good story.
On top of that, you’ll want to think about the costs of magic. Are there material components consumed in the casting of spells? Do technomages have to give up a part of their humanity to draw on the chaos of the arcane? Does it require years of intensive study at a school orbiting a dead star?
Adding a barrier to access magic makes it more valuable and important to both your readers and your characters.
Integrating Magic and Technology
I know I’ve mentioned it a billion times already, but you’re going to want to think about the ways magic and technology interact. This time around, though, we’re approaching it from the perspective of our magic system.
We want to think about how tech can influence the fundamentals of magic and, oppositely, how the rules of your magic system allow for the introduction of technology—even if that means bending those rules.
Technology that Influences Magic
First, let’s think about the ways that existing tech can affect the magic in your world. We’ve already covered the history of these two elements back in the worldbuilding section, so I want to focus on the here and now (or then and future, considering the genre).
What is more powerful: magic or technology? Is this an absolute? Can one completely nullify the other? Are there situations where the “weaker” of the pair is more useful or powerful?
For example, magic might dominate in warfare but tech excels in transportation and agriculture.
Also think about ways that tech can directly influence magic in your world. This might look like:
- An amplifier that pumps up the strength of a spell (e.g., a cybernetic implant that boosts the psychic power of the caster)
- A channeler that directs a particular spell somewhere it wasn’t intended (e.g., a rifle that channels blood magic into a deadly projectile)
- A nullifier that dampens or completely erases magic (e.g., a collar or ring that cuts a caster off from their magical source)
- A modifier that changes the purpose or effect of a spell (e.g., a reactor that absorbs kinetic energy from spells and converts it into a fuel source for a spaceship).
- A storage device that contains spells for later use, perhaps by a non-spellcaster (e.g., a metal sphere that can act like a magic grenade)
- A replicator that mimics the effects of magic without its actual input (e.g., a weapon that can shoot fireball-like plasma shots)
There isn’t really an end to the number of things technology can do to influence magic. This can be an excuse to revisit your worldbuilding and think about what technology would emerge because of or in reaction to the presence of magic.
Magic that Influences Technology
Let’s think about it the other way around now. Magic is often thought of as a primordial or natural force, as wild as the oceans or space itself. With that thinking, it can be tough to tie it into something “unnatural” like technology.
But even our modern tech is impacted by natural forces: it’s powered by electricity and can be destroyed by any number of elements. Invisible light particles have wreaked havoc on computers and even airplanes.
Remember, magic is power, and human beings have a tendency to bend power to meet our needs.
In your magic system, this might mean arcane power is a resource to power technology or provide a short-term boost like when they hit the NOS injection in Fast & Furious movies (my guilty pleasures).
Elements of magic might not even be possible without technology. Perhaps that looks like a conduit that pulls power from a black hole or nearby star, thus providing the fuel for bigger spells.
What magic can do to tech is ultimately up to you: you decide what your magic system can make possible, after all. Just remember to keep it plausible and always consider the two-way relationship between magic and tech.
To round out the science fantasy-specific aspects of our magic system, let’s talk about your characters and how they live in a world of computers and rituals.
You’ll want to figure out who can use magic and who can’t. It might be an innate ability for people in your world or it could be something that anyone can learn with the right education. Maybe it’s a mix of those two. Or maybe it’s something that can only be gifted by way of a piece of wearable or implanted technology.
What’s important is understanding how your characters get access to this power and what steps they need to take—formal or informal—to master it.
I also want you to think about the consequences of using magic. This includes:
- The physical cost. What price needs to be paid? Can the human (or alien) body sustain using this power? Does it have long-term effects?
- The mental cost. How much studying and practice do they have to do? What are the effects on a spellcaster’s sanity, ethics, and morals?
- The social cost. How do others view spellcasters? How do magic users view those who can’t access that power? How do they view other magic users? Do they get any special privileges or are they outcasts?
Finally, think about redefining traditional magic roles to fit your world and this genre. We have an article about different kinds of magic users, and any one of them can be twisted to work in a science fiction or science fantasy story.
This is more fun than anything, but it’s also an important part of worldbuilding. Do you have cybersorcerers who access their innate gifts with physical augmentations? Or technowitches who combine their soul with hellish technology? What about robomages who have their minds jacked into a Great Machine that has provided them incredible power and knowledge, but their humanity has been all but erased?
I can’t tell you what’s best. Honestly, they’re all cool as heck. It’s up to you to combine your worldbuilding with your magic system to draft the spellcasters that exist in your science fiction story.
Examples of Magic and Science Fiction
Before we discuss some challenges and exercises, I just wanted to highlight some examples of popular works—from books to movies to video games—that get the balance of magic and science fiction just right.
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
This novel is a recent example that beautifully blends genres. It tells the story of two individuals, one a witch with magical abilities and the other a tech genius, as their lives intertwine in a world facing an apocalyptic future. The book merges elements of magical fantasy with advanced technology, exploring themes of environmentalism and the conflict between nature and technology.
The City & The City by China Miéville
While not traditionally sci-fi, Miéville’s work often blurs the line between science fiction and fantasy. In The City & The City, he creates a unique urban setting where two different cities occupy the same physical space but perceive and interact with each other in a fantastical manner. The novel combines a detective narrative with an extraordinary setting that feels both magical and grounded in a gritty reality.
The Star Wars franchise is a prime example of blending mystical elements with a high-tech universe. The Force is a mystical energy that can be harnessed by Jedi and Sith that coexists with the advanced technology seen in the form of space travel, droids, and futuristic weaponry.
Destiny and its sequel Destiny 2 are (some of my favorite) first-person shooters set in a mythic science fiction world. They combine futuristic technology, space exploration, and alien races with magical elements. Guardians, the player characters, wield supernatural powers granted by a force called the Light, alongside high-tech weaponry and gear, to protect humanity in a post-apocalyptic solar system.
Challenges and Obstacles of Magic in a Science Fiction Story
After absorbing so much info (without the aid of magic or cybernetics, I might add), I don’t want to overload your system with too much more. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you about some challenges you might encounter while writing this kind of story.
So we’re doing this section rapid-fire! Engage thrusters. Let’s do this.
Obstacle: Juggling the rules of both science and magic without creating contradictions.
Solution: Develop a comprehensive worldbuilding bible for your fictional universe that outlines the rules, limitations, and interactions between magical and technological elements. Regularly refer back to this document while writing to ensure consistency. Miss that template link before? Here it is.
Obstacle: Ensuring neither tech nor magic completely overshadows the other.
Solution: Integrate magic and science in a way that they complement and depend on each other. Establish narrative reasons for their coexistence and interdependence.
Obstacle: Magic can sometimes offer easy solutions to problems, reducing tension.
Solution: Impose limitations and costs for using magic. Create scenarios where magic is not the only solution and where technological or human ingenuity is necessary.
Obstacle: Creating a science fiction world so intricate in its magic and technology that it becomes confusing or overwhelming for the reader.
Solution: Focus on gradual worldbuilding through the story. Reveal complexities of the world as they become relevant to the story, rather than all at once. Don’t infodump. Please.
Obstacle: Merging sci-fi and fantasy without losing the core essence of either genre.
Solution: Identify key elements from both genres that are crucial to your story. Ensure these elements are represented and respected throughout your book.
Obstacle: Meeting reader expectations for both science fiction and fantasy genres.
Solution: Be aware of genre conventions but don't be afraid to innovate. Blend familiar tropes with unique twists to satisfy and surprise readers. Say it with me: technowitches. So freakin’ cool.
Obstacle: Designing a magical system that is original yet plausible within a sci-fi setting.
Solution: Draw inspiration from scientific concepts (like quantum mechanics or theoretical physics) to create a magic system with a sci-fi flavor. Make sure the magic system has clear rules and limitations.
Science Fiction and Magic Writing Exercises
You didn’t think I’d leave you on a negative note like “here are the struggles you’ll face,” did you? No, instead I want to end this article with a handful of easy yet effective writing exercises to help get you prepared (and excited) for your story.
Do you have to do all of these? No, this isn’t homework. But see if any of them seem useful to you and use them to improve your craft!
Exercise 1: Building Your World's Framework
First up, we’re going to create a foundational blueprint of your world that blends sci-fi and magical elements.
- Write a one-page description of your world, focusing on how science and magic coexist.
- List out at least five rules that govern the use of magic in your world. Consider making at least one of them tech-oriented.
- Sketch a rough map or diagram showing a key location where magic and technology intersect (e.g., a city, a space station).
Exercise 2: Character Creation
Now we’re going to do something that can develop characters who embody the fusion of sci-fi and magic in your story.
- Create two main characters: one primarily skilled in magic and the other in technology.
- Outline their backgrounds, how they interact with the world’s magic and technology, and how they view each other’s skills.
- Write a short scene where these characters must solve a problem using both of their unique skill sets..
Exercise 3: Conflict
Let’s explore how the dual existence of magic and technology can create unique conflicts in your sci-fi story.
- Identify a major conflict that arises from the coexistence of magic and technology.
- Brainstorm three possible resolutions, each emphasizing a different aspect (one magic-focused, one technology-focused, and one where both are equally important).
- Write a brief synopsis of how this conflict affects the larger world and its inhabitants.
Exercise 4: Magic-Technology Hybrids
Try inventing a unique system or device that blends magical powers and technological elements.
- Conceptualize a magical device or system that uses technology as a key component (or vice versa).
- Describe its design, functionality, and impact on society.
- Write a scene showcasing the operation and implications of this hybrid system.
Exercise 5: Reimagine Genre Tropes
Fusing genre tropes can put a fresh spin on them or serve as a launching pad for new ideas.
- Choose one common trope from science fiction and one from fantasy.
- Write a short story or scene that combines these tropes in a way that they complement and enhance each other.
- Focus on how the blending of these tropes can lead to an unexpected twist or unique character development moment.
Write Some (Science Fiction) Magic
You’ve attended the best magic school in the galaxy. You’ve practiced your craft and are a skilled technomancer in your own right. Now it’s time to put everything you’ve learned into practice.
It’s time to write some magic.
And just as every Jedi has a lightsaber and every Star Fleet captain has their ship, you need the best novel-writing tool in the universe by your side.
Dabble doesn’t just look great and saves every word you write, no matter what device you’re on, but it gives you all the tools you need to craft your own magic system, sci-fi world, intergalactic trade systems, and intricate plots. All in one easy-to-use platform.
And that’s just scratching the surface. As my final piece of advice, I suggest clicking here to try Dabble out for 14 days, no credit card required, and see why it’s basically magic mixed with technology.
Now get writing. I can’t wait to see what you make.
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