Technology in Grevared

steam-train-512508_1920We live in a technological world full of smart phones, computers, and things some of us will probably never understand. For the most part, this technology has gone from point A to point B, not necessarily in a straight line, but moving forward nonetheless.

I was a kid during the reign of Atari and Commodore 64, and the only computer language I ever knew was Basic. Now, my phone has more capabilities than my first computer, and I’m lucky to figure out how to make a blog post. (And it only works half the time.)

Science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk all have their versions of technology, too. Some of it is beyond our wildest dreams, while other parts take us back to the middle ages. Regardless of which genre we’re reading, though, there are those who expect the technology to progress the same way it did in our world.

Grevared doesn’t really work that way, not entirely. For example, I had a reader ask me the other day why a tavern owner used oil lamps if the society had things like steam locomotives and Cold Boxes (refrigerators). There’s a simple answer for that. All electricity in Grevared is run on generators, which are expensive to own and operate. Families and business owners who use electricity must decide what they will use it on, and most choose a Cold Box or something similar rather than light, which can be obtained through other means. No one has installed power lines that carry electricity from place to place because they haven’t thought of it yet. Why not? When our world figured it out fairly quickly? Well…it isn’t our world.

GrevaredResources on Grevared are most definitely finite. The pieces of land exist in a void space, and you can walk off the edge of the world. These resources must be guarded carefully if the world is to survive, so, while they are willing to create some technological luxuries, there are many others that would destroy their world were they to come into being.

However, that isn’t to say that technology aided by magic doesn’t happen. There are creatures called animated corpses that are purely technological, at least in a sense. A small copper chip attached to wires is run through the nervous system and allows the creature to move and follow basic orders. The chip can be removed and read by a machine. Technological, right? Not entirely. There’s a good bit of magic that goes into making the process work. The same is true of the seventh hell demon prison, Brimstone Thunderwatch. There are technological aspects to the prison itself, but there’s just as much magic keeping these creatures confined. Even the mechanical bugs that deliver messages have a magical element to their operation.

So, while Grevared does have steam trains and bionic implants, their technology as we think about it isn’t on the same level with that in our world, and their needs and desires make it unlikely that it ever will be. Even in the Xaggarene Empire, the most technologically advanced of the lands, power lines aren’t likely to become popular. Too much of their technology is dependent on magic.

Best wishes!

Lissa Dobbs



Random Ramble

IMG_20160131_181120_975My son is an awesome person. He works at a thrift store while we’re waiting for his brother to graduate this May so we can move a bit northward for them to attend college. He found a trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman at the store and got them for me. It’s a Dragon Lance trilogy, something I haven’t seen in years, and the authors also wrote the Darksword Trilogy, one I loved in my childhood. So far, I’m hooked into the first one, Dragons of a Fallen Sun, and can’t wait to get to the other two. The stories are complex, and I have to pay attention to what’s going on to follow it. I’m hoping it’ll be just as rewarding as the Darksword books were.

I know I’ve mentioned before that it seems like our technological age has created a world where a story with a complex plot and many characters isn’t wanted. We seem to be too busy to curl up with a book and read, and we want something that states what’s happening and moves on, at least that’s how it seems to me sometimes. We want simplicity in our story-telling, something we can read without having to think. But does this do the story itself justice? Does it give us the same escape as the 500 page monstrosities that predate the present age? I wonder.

I’ll admit I’m not a television watcher. I mean, I’ll turn it on in the daytime, but it’s more to have the noise than because I’m watching it. I rarely, if ever, just sit back and watch TV, so I don’t think in hour long segments. I don’t know if this really impacts what I like in a book or not, but I’ve noticed that the people I know who do watch a lot of TV want shorter, simpler books.

For myself, I want a fantasy world that’s complex. I want to know about the cultures, the history, what kind of plants grow, what kind of animals roam around. I’ll admit to not caring too much about what the aristocracy and government are doing, but I want to know about the daily life of the people who live there. What does an average merchant do in a day? What challenges do the farmers face? Are there a lot of street urchins running around picking pockets?

Weis and Hickman do a good job of creating a world like this, as does Raymond E. Feist. I know there are newer authors and newer books that also do this, but there’s something about the fantasy literature of the 1980’s that’s in a class of its own. Maybe it’s just me getting older and feeling nostalgic, but it just seems like we’ve lost something, not just in our stories, but in our lives. It seems like we’ve lost the desire to sit by a fire and talk or to take a walk in the woods or to play a game with our family. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the ever-present cell phone (I know I’m guilty; mine never leaves my side). Maybe it’s the face-paced world of the internet, the idea of anything we need to know an ‘ok Google’ away. I know I could talk to World Book all day long, and the only way it was going to tell me what I wanted to know was for me to pick it up and turn the pages. Encyclopedia Britannica was the same way. And don’t even think that the card catalogue was giving up its information without flipping through a billion little cards.

So, which world is better? Is one better than the other? Have we lost substance to gain speed and ease? (If the chips in credit and debit cards are any indication, we certainly aren’t going faster. Sheesh! Those things take forever!) Have we truly lost anything? Have we really gained anything?

And the biggest question of all – what comes next? (I really hope it’s lightsabers.)