Sufficiently Developed Magic

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. Most people are more familiar with the converse of that observation, or maybe it’s the inverse (formal logic was never my strong suit), but it’s a true statement either way. 

Technology works awful well for doing things like crunching numbers, heating buildings, launching rockets, and all that jazz. It’s metaphorically magical to edit video files of a man walking on the moon from the comfort of your cozy home in the dead of winter, but to use actual magic to do any of those things would be difficult bordering on impossible, and dangerous to boot. It’s usually wisest to stick with technology and not worry about how it works when technology does the job well.

But then there’s the situations where technology can’t do the job well, like the new virtual reality travel craze. Once upon a time most of our species were subsistence farmers content to simply remain where we were so long as we weren’t starving, but now that we’re no longer starving quite so much we want to travel to other places. To slake that thirst to see the world, nowadays we need VR travel. We need VR travel instead of physical travel for reasons having everything to do with technology, what with climate change being a decidedly non-magical phenomenon. The problem with traveling via virtual reality is that technology just can’t make you feel like you’re, say, alone on a tropical beach instead of in a tiny little cubicle thirty floors up “enjoying” a virtual reality travel experience. 

As usual, the tech bros thought that devising a way for people to travel without actually, you now, traveling was one of their problems to solve. They focused on using their precious technologies to bend all of the human senses (at least the ones they knew about) to theoretically give a VR traveller the sensation of being somewhere else without all of the nasty carbon-emitting travel required to actually get them to that somewhere else. The bros built headsets and tactile suits and sensory immersion spheres and all that stuff, but no matter how well they weaved the technological illusion it just never did feel right to people. 

That’s where I came in with a sufficiently advanced magic that’s indistinguishable from technology. 

Feeling like you’re somewhere else without physically being there just isn’t a problem that’s amenable to technological solution. When the wind caresses your skin on a moonlit beach during that delicious moment after you first step out of your cabana, all alone while the waves crash and your nostrils flare to catch the scent of the sea breeze, there’s millions of sensations engaging your trillions of nerve endings every microsecond. You do the math (and if you want the math done you’ll have to be the one to do it, since I wasn’t exactly a math girl in school) and you’ll understand how that’s just too much for technology to handle. 

It’s a snap for magic, though. 

The problem is, nowadays people value technology more than they value magic. People value technology in a way where they’ll pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars for a souped up calculator to play video games on, but even a talented witch like me can’t get more than a handful of otherwise gullible folks to pay a hundred bucks for honest-to-god astral projection. 

So I stopped calling it astral projection.

When the tech bros down the street went belly-up with their ersatz virtual travel startup, I maxed out my credit card to buy a few of their headsets and suits. Now for the low, low price of a thousand dollars upfront and two hundred more an hour, people who wouldn’t have paid me a nickel to read their fortune will don all that useless tech equipment and ooh and ah while I astral project them to their destination of choice. All that silly tech equipment seals the deal, but it’s my magical skills that deliver the experience my customers crave. 

Disguising sufficiently advanced magic as technology turns out to be darn lucrative, but it’s not without its problems. The venture capitalists used to come around talking about “investing in me to scale my product.” They were your typical mediocre white guys, only more aggressive and less pleasant than normal, since they were all convinced that getting lucky enough to strike it rich on some asinine scheme proved that they were smart. I finally gave one of them a free trip to an Aleutian island on a cold autumn day, only I told him he was going to Maui. That finally got them to leave me alone, but I don’t expect it to last.

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