If there’s one trope that’s always bothered me about the modern isekai genre, it’s the technological uplifting story — which flies in the face of everything I had been taught as an engineer.
Over the years, many readers of Daybreak have asked me (or outright demanded by those less polite) why Kaede doesn’t use her knowledge more proactively. The most common request is why doesn’t she just invent firearms to give her side a major advantage in the wars that play just a major role in the story of her life on Hyperion. After all, we have an educated protagonist from the modern world, who has an understanding of so many technological aspects that should be centuries ahead of a medieval world — knowledge that can easily tilt the balance of power and earn herself an indisposable role.
For a long time I felt baffled by this — shouldn’t it be obvious why such a topic should be handled carefully? Even if we assume that a protagonist could easily summon knowledge worthy of wikipedia (want modern firearms? I challenge you to tell me exactly how to create a percussion cap in a chemistry lab). I’ve always felt that a protagonist should actually seek to understand the world they’re in before they start introducing any new concepts to alter said world. Thus I wrote Kaede as a character who actually seeks to understand a world first, before attempting to change aspects of it — which some readers find unacceptably passive.
It’s funny how genre standards completely twist expectations.
It took a while before I realized just how common of a trope ‘technological uplifting’ was, and how widely this power fantasy was abused. It also made me bemoan at the fact so many modern literary circles have basically become an echo chamber, where the same ideas were reflected again and again as they were taken to ever new heights of meta and self-entrenched expectations.
Why do I say this? Because anyone with even a rudimentary familiarity with the much more established science fiction genre would realize that this is one of the top warning flags. It has been tackled again and again in countless scifi stories, so famous that it became known as the Prime Directive of iconic Strek Trek series — do NOT interfere with the development of civilizations that are less technologically advanced, especially technological development.
To expand upon this with a few other examples
“All scientific advancement due to intelligence overcoming, compensating for limitations. Can’t carry a load, so invent wheel. Can’t catch food, so invent spear. Limitations! No limitations, no advancement. No advancement, culture stagnates! Works other way too — advancement before culture is ready, disastrous.
“Saw it with Krogan… Krogan could have evolved alone. Worked out aggression. Been ready to use new tech responsibly. Instead Salarians came. Disrupted Krogan culture. Use Krogan as blunt instrument against Rachni. Shortsighted. Foolish. Our fault.”
– Mordin Solas, Mass Effect
“Some very wise people have shown me first hand how a sudden leap in weapons technology by a civilization that’s not ready for it can lead to its destruction.”
– Daniel Jackson, Stargate SG-1
And it’s not just science fiction either. When I was still an engineer attending college, the main social science topic we were taught was the theory of Social Construction of Technology – the idea that technological development and socio-cultural maturity forms an inseparable, tightly coupled system. In the SCOT view, society and culture must be developed in sync with technology. And if technology pulls ahead then the entire system could become unbalanced and begin to unravel.
Even in the best case scenario, huge techological change could lead to mass unrest and societal chaos as people’s lives are thrown upside down. An example of this is how the socioeconomic changes of the Industrial Revolution contributed to the chain of sociopolitical revolutions in 19th century Europe, as the traditional, agrarian, village-centric social structure was torn asunder and migrant-laborers flooded into cities. In the worst case scenario, it could collapse the very foundations of civilizations and/or spark apocalyptic wars.
Einstein himself would regret sending the letter to US President FDR that kicked off the atomic bomb race, a feeling shared by many of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project.
So my question is — why is this topic, which is tackled so thoroughly in more established genres, largely absent in today’s “life in another world” pop literature? Where technology, including weapons technology, are often thrown around with such frivolity that it shows zero regard for the existing sociotechnological balance of the people who lived on that world?
Is it really just all about the power fantasy of a ‘white savior’* complex?
(*Yes I know the isekai trend started from Japan. But that’s what the literary term is called. It’d probably be more appropriate to update it to ‘1st World Savior Complex’ but that’s too loaded…)
This was one of the main reasons why I wrote Kaede as horrified by her own actions in Daybreak, when she realized that even an inadvertent revelation to Pascal led to results that she could not have foreseen. After all, the residents of the new world aren’t NPCs. They will exploit ideas to their own advantage just as people in our own history has done. And if they don’t fully grasp the implications of the knowledge they’re handling, not to mention those riding high on the hype cycle because the technology was not given a normal maturation process — it could lead to disastrous consequences from misuse.
It is also part of why the knowledge Kaede passes to Pascal are largely about how to build better institutions, aka social technology rather than technical technology. Unlike technical technology, which can be imitated, copied, and used without really understanding it, social technology requires widespread understand and adoption on a societal scale in order to properly reap its benefits. This means that social technology has more built-in safeguards on responsible use, and is also directly synonymous with culture — as the cultural works of a society, from art to music, is a direct reflection of its social technology in use.Author's Comment
If you've enjoyed this update, please take a moment to vote for Daybreak on Hyperion at TopWebFiction. Aorii isn't good at self-promotion so every bit of your support helps.
Thank you \(•ᴗ•)/
P.S. Please note that comments need to be approved (or your submitted email must have a previously approved comment) before they'll show up.
25 thoughts on “Daybreak Dev Diary – Social Construction of ‘Another World’”
I don’t think ‘social technology’ is as easily incorporated into a society as you might be implying. Take for example prison reform and America. Let’s say your protagonist is a strong believer in the prison reforms in norway (just look up norwegian prison and look at the pictures to get an idea) and wants to implement them. Now lets say you protag is in a country like america with heavy cristian influence providing a view that things are either right or wrong and that it is the fault of the individual for any crime. This plus the strong individualistic and selfish culture of america would likely lead to the express exploitation of such a system, if it was even considered due to the cultural background. In contrast, if this was tried in a place with strong community ties and a powerful national identity with beliefs of community responsibility (if someone committed a crime it is the communities fault for not properly raising them and thus the community must work to help re-educate them (like Norway)) then this policy would not only be easy to implement but also wouldn’t e exploited as much as that would harm the community and be looked down upon greatly. Thus to institute the prison/punishment reform before communal responsibility would be ineffective or downright dumb, and to institute the responsibility without a general belief in the culture of helping others or a national identity would be foolhardy.
This can be seen in other policy too: the stock market that was being instituted can be massively helpful or massively detrimental to a society. I saw a documentary that explained how the stock market initially (in america) made business owners more likely to work with the future and the good of the country in mind, however, as the capital gains tax decreased over time and the wealth disparity increased with the people owning stock became more and more dominated by the wealthy, the companies focused more own shortsighted and less moral actions.
Even something more basic, Democracy. If one attempted to implement democracy without many reforms before it then you’d face a lot of trouble. First, who is even allowed to vote, nobility? no it has to be comoners too, well do women count? yes, okay but what about, and on and on. Once you’ve got that out of the way, are the people your giving the right to vote educated, because an educated populous is necessary to a good democracy. What is a good education, can is just be religious study, is trial by combat fair, much of this needs to happen before this reform.
In short, many if not all social technology does require prior social technology, and some of it also relies on actual technology, so I don’t think one can even give a pass too just passing social reforms/technology either. I think the best example of this is how when the rest of the world was passing reforms to outlaw slavery, and America tried to follow suit, and yet their culture had not developed enough culturally or technologically to move on from slaves easily, leading to massive friction and an eventual civil war.
Sorry for the late reply. I’ve been really busy of late at my job.
I’m not implying that it is easy. I’m implying that it’s “easier” and possibly “safer”. Social technology also has wide-ranged repercussions, as the spread of Christianity or the Spring of Nations can showcase. However, assuming society has the demand for it and the sociopolitical will to push it through (which America is badly lacking today to do any internal reform), it can generally be introduced with less comparative disruptions.
One of the least discussed aspects of the agricultural revolution and industrial revolution is that both of these technological evolutions fundamentally altered society as well. The agricultural revolution put an end of egalitarian hunter-gatherer life and created social hierarchy and stratification. The industrial revolution destroyed the village-based community structure and forced migrant laborers into cities where they could only selfishly care for themselves (thus giving birth to modern individualism). Almost all physical technology leaps created major societal shifts. Whereas most social technology only creates incremental effects.
I do agree that the stock market and capitalism is certainly one of the few social technologies with massive potential benefits and downsides. It’s one of the few social techs that can match in its disruptiveness, as a poorly managed capital-market rollout can imploded a nation’s economy (as Kaede noted in series). Historian Yuval Harari famously claimed that the West conquered the world through the power of credit. Though even here, Kaede did not haphazardy introduce it, but noted that it’s already in Hyperion (thus the change is already underway) and she’s just accelerating it along.
>(*Yes I know the isekai trend started from Japan. But that’s what the literary term is called. It’d probably be more appropriate to update it to ‘1st World Savior Complex’ but that’s too loaded…)
Pretty sure thats not true. Maybe if you limit it only to the very very narrow definition of isekai as in teenagers popping into RPG-like worlds with lvlups and shit then you’d be right… but if its something like a “generic modernish dude going into a world resembling the past with optional magic” then Japan is far from the first here, there have been tons of time travel and semi-time-travel novels written primarily in the West in the last 200-something years. Connecticut Yankee is the first that comes to mind (from 1889!).
If you want a more Russian take on this subject I suggest you read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_to_Be_a_God Its basically what you describe here – a relatably average modern man (even if supposedly from the future) goes to an underdeveloped medieval planet. Note that the Moral Imperative from the book predates Star Trek’s Prime Directive by several years.
I think even without a wikipedia an average school educated person can cause a lot of advancement with his tidbits of knowledge. Firearms arent as OP as isekais paint them, after all the medieval knights were obsoleted not by firearms, but by the massed ranks of swiss pikemen. There are lots of low hanging fruits of knowledge that have only been plucked very recently. The lowest hanging fruit any modern person knows that can be used by military is that food poisoning is caused not by accumulation of poisons as it has been thought entire time until about 150 years ago but by bacteria and you can thus preserve/desinfect lots of food simply by heating it up. Even simple hygiene could reduce casualties tenfold.
The first “travel to another world” book I know was [Gullivers’ Travels] which was written in 1726, and we’re not even talking folklore/mythos. But alas, the “travel to another world/travel back in time” type of literature has evolved by quite a bit, and most traditional literature differ significantly from the modern Isekai that we’re most familiar with. Even if you turn back time a few decades to say, works like Fuyumi Ono’s [The Twelve Kingdoms], it was decided NOT a power fantasy. If anything, the genre has traditionally been very de-powering as it was used to strip away everything characters had and force them to focus on what really mattered / change themselves.
Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely check it out.
You’re right that even some basics like enforcing hygiene standards can offer a lot. Though trying to apply such knowledge is much harder. For example, during the European early Medieval Ages, the Muslims and Jews had a much better grasp of hygiene’s effects on health than Europeans. It’s why the Jews/Moors were renowned doctors of the time. Why weren’t such trends prevalent for the Europeans then? The reasons often come down to cultural and institutional — for example there are some who feared that being too clean would cause one to be accused of being a secret jew.
(just like even as late as WW2, German forces suffered far more dysentery than the British in the Desert campaign because their habits on waste disposal wasn’t as good)
So, if you want to cause chaos to a civilization, force it to advance before it is ready. *evil laugh*
“Is it really just all about the power fantasy of a ‘white savior’ complex?”
Nailed it. For most isekais at least.
Not that Social technology isnt without its own dangers. In such new systems there will inevitably be oversights and loopholes that some clever people will abuse. South Sea Bubble and Tulip Mania come to mind.
As for recreating technology from Earth. Aside from some basic concepts you dont unless you mix in magic. Because magic is cheating.
oh certain. Just because there are ‘more safeguards’ doesn’t mean its short of dangers. The transition to fiat currency and credit-driven economy certainly saw huge turmoil as every nation made major mistakes. It’s one of the reasons Kaede went — I’m not enough of an expert on economics to propel this idea, need to get the professionals in to oversee it (especially as she noted some countries on Hyperion already started adoption).
I think the caution (some) of the late 20th century SF presented concerning contact with other species is not the default state. It is the state when caution ends up on top of the interaction directive.
In a (unregulated) first contact of any form – not limited to SF or genres like “transmigration” – I feel caution is mostly only dictating until people “feel save” at which point it is easily dominated by things like enthusiasm, anger, or even base motives like (monetary) self-enrichment. Caution feels like it is thrown out of the window especially fast when one interaction partner has serious “deficits” while not being a threat – technological uplifting scenarios being especially vulnerable here.
This leaves us with, in the genres mentioned, “first timers” running into reasonably save encounters (because ‘you died – the end’ is not the solution to writing) while having some advantage they then want to leverage. It is kind of easy/lazy to set things up like that and then follow the trusty template but it is what so often is written.
On the other side of this we have as i.e. the Prime Directive. However the Prime Directive is not something that has been set up from the start – it has been developed and is not a “first timer” reaction. And then often enough violated by the series when confronted with a dilemma the rules did not allow to solve satisfactory albeit I think never in a way that violates it’s spirit; “do not thrown caution out of the window”.
On a real world tangent the Prime Directive (and similar) were written with a different political background situation compared to later stories: At the time you had anti war sentiment concerning the Vietnam War in the US.
Since then the worldwide peace movement(s) have been less in the focus of the political discourse and news. In recent years this has sadly been mostly nationalistic movements. Additionally overall media has normalized violence, gore and “instant satisfaction” to an absurd level. And this has ended up in somewhat of and echo chapter of so many people being too used to “fast food media” that it self propagates and peoples diet consist more and more of what I called “fast food media”. The influence of this is then in return especially noticeable on young(ish) genres.
I mean the exchange of information on first contact stories has never ended. The Prime Directive, if anything, is a rather extreme application, and more used to stress the importance of being careful in such a scenario than an absolute rule (Star Trek itself famously breaks the rule multiple times).
But yes, I do think you’re certainly right in that media and politics has since changed. All the resurgence of nationalism/supremacism has certainly made people more pro-war and pro-interventionist in forcing their opinions — and ways of life — upon others.
Seeing this, I have to agree that it is honestly very unrealistic for Kaede, as a lone individual reincarnated from Earth, to effectively utilize or take advantage of any ahead-of-time technologies brought from her native world.
Due to the limitation of the breadth of knowledge in a single mind, she would have a very fragmented and general holding of most technical details. For example, she would know that a field cannon is a metal tube loaded with a iron ball and some gunpowder, and she might even have knowledge of breech-loader mechanisms and rifle lines, but she would then likely be obstructed by the question of the metallurgical composition of the gun’s barrel, thus ending up with a weapon that gets decommissioned every time it fires. Given that she didn’t manage to bring with her a library full of technical documentation, it would take many years of research before a working design can be built and mass produced, and any wars would be already decided by then.
There is the problem of logistics even if Kaede had Wikipedia in her head. The previous example is relatively simple compared to the complexities of more modern technologies. A steam locomotive, for one, is a patchwork giant composed of fabricated bearings, pistons, wheels, levers, and a thousand other parts. Even if Kaede is a trained mechanical engineer, she would still struggle to bring even the earlier prototypes of the Industrial Revolution into physical form because the mass of skilled craftsmen who are able to manufacture such intricate parts have to be trained from the illiterate medieval population, and the machine tools capable of maintaining such precisions has to be made first.
Mirroring real world cases, the initial propagation of technology is very slow when contact occurs with less advanced societies because there is little to no existing infrastructure to build these technologies upon, and even in accelerated cases such as Japan under Meiji Restoration it took them from 1873 to 1894 (21 years!) to have more than 100 total steam ships despite being under the full influences of an industrialized Europe.
Every time an isekai novel with an power fantasy protagonist handwaves the power of technology into existence it completely kills my immersion, and I’m glad that this one is not going down that path. It makes the story unique in how it creates new possibilities and implications through the native Hyperion magic taking the role of traditional scientific power.
However, I would have to say that the “social technologies” suffers similar fates as the physical ones, as the implementation of advanced institutions usually requires the foundations of development. Kaede trying to introduce social systems from her time could potentially have similar results as the US government trying to introduce democracy to Afghanistan, and without a fulfilled premise such as a civil society or an industrialized economy such reforms can fall under very easily due to a combination of social inertia and lack of acclimatization. I would really hope to see in the future how Kaede would respond to the difficulties of changing entrenched norms without the forces of technologically-induced realities acting as the vanguard.
*Hope I didn’t sound too pretentious in this comment.
Yeah the need to build up a shared technology base was also an argument I used back in the day on why you can’t just simply transfer ideas. The modern supply chain is so incredibly complex that no single individual can possibly replicate it — even a piece of it — by just themselves.
One of the advantages/disadvantages of institutions is that they’re conservative by their very nature and slow to change. It takes a long time, often a switch in generational thinking, for people to adopt a completely different view on social reorganization. This gives it time to mature.
Afghanistan is actually an amusing example because the US failed in pretty much the exact way the Soviets failed. The Soviets got involved in Afghanistan from the start because the local communists’ attempt to change marriage/gender laws, which caused a huge uproar from the religious, conservative tribal groups who then rebelled against the government (escalating until the Soviets intervened by invading). Clearly, even several generations later, their opinions hasn’t changed by much. It really shows just how resistant people can be in regards to adopting institutional change. Of course, so far everything Kaede has discussed is her offering an idea to a problem that the locals already want a fix. So it’s very much going with the social inertia rather than against it.
This is an interesting topic that I definitely want to discuss more at some point =)
First I just have to say, piss poor word choice using “white savior complex” while talking about a japanese genre for a trope that exists across ever literary culture, including shamans “saving” foolish white people too steeped in their own technology in indian works. Second who decides that a culture isn’t “mature” enough? The Krogans were literally on the verge of extinction caused by a nuclear holocaust before their uplift by the Turians and the only reason the Salarians created the Genophage was because they scared the council with their rapid growth. It wasn’t cultural immaturity and the reality is if the Turians had their way they would have full glassed both the Krogans and the Humans. Do the Turians get to decide? Are the Turians more mature? If you want a real world example of technological uplift look at the middle east, African tribals, look at the “uncontacted” tribes, look at the Inuit. Or look to history like when the Chinese full sail destroyed their navy. When a culture truly (or rather believes) isn’t ready for a technology they destroy said technology or simply refuse to use it. The revolutions during and following the industrial revolution weren’t caused by technology, humans have many times congregated in mass cities even before we had the technological means of that era and shitty management has always led to the same out come, hell even viewing the death toll of the great wars as unique is arrogant or at the very least ignorant. The Star Trek writing around the Prime Directive was a high handed government believing itself to be better than those lowly savages, and then the people on the ground constantly breaking those rules because they were stupid. Society is an exponentially complex beast that requires an exponential amount of technology to survive, not the other way round. Just look at the bronze age collapse or the collapse of literally every empire. They all died because they grew too large or relied on too few people and fragile systems, like hieroglyphs or quipu. The only thing different about the industrial revolution, compared to every other time in history, is that after the revolutions and rebellions the remaining governments could actually hold power because they had the technology to do so. Einstein didn’t regret his work on the atom bomb because it was a bomb or because it would kill so many people. He regretted it because it would taint our very idea of the atom. For the Japanese the bomb was a cruel fate while for the rest of the world beleaguered by the war against fascism it was a savior, a way to finally pick up our dead and rebuild. For America understanding that Japan meant to fight to the last woman and child(as had been demonstrated before and they were literally preparing to do) even as the Soviets advanced, it was a way to prevent a monstrous number of casualties both on the allied side and theirs. It was a way to prevent future war, and even more death, with the communists by creating a buffer zone in the pacific, on the South China Sea. It was a way to ensure that the Soviets couldn’t do the same thing they had done to the people of Germany. If we were a less mature civilization we would have not been able to reason that out and thus would simply have been terrified of it, not using it. If we were a less advanced society the Soviets would have never built their nukes after seeing the destructive power it had, knowing that by building them it meant that neither side would never release them. I get Kaede being naïve and having her head filled with propaganda even if it bugs the ever loving fuck out of me, I mean her father was a Soviet sympathizer living in Japan. But I don’t get why you would agree with the rule that the equivalent in the real world would be “polar bears and penguins deserve to die because of global warming because they didn’t evolve correctly and couldn’t out evolve the environmental change”. Yes, poor isekai tend to throw around a power fantasy of technological advancement with no consequence to the character or society in general, but the key word there is “poor”. There are many that do handle it, though most times it’s a hand wave because it doesn’t affect the character. Also your talking about a trope that used heavily in a genre created by a people that were very forcibly uplifted, they didn’t destroy themselves and their society changed in that they didn’t descend into another waring states era instead they got what might be called revenge on a people that had for centuries looked down on them and every other outside culture and any attempt the Japanese made into getting a secure footing into mainland Asia to expand and stabilize their country was rebuffed by literally keeping them in the dark ages until the west came along and they, eventually, readily adopted their technology where China didn’t meaning they mopped the floor with them. Third anyone saying Kaede should invent gunpowder obviously hasn’t thought out the natural consequences of magic (though the fact that only some in your world where obviously genetics plays a role in magic that not every person has magic bugs me). Fourth Kaede is an idiot, though it is believable based on her character thus far, to believe that her talking about nukes in any way will affect the world when those level of spells exist already, obviously, and is playing right into the narcissistic- god complex attitude that is hallmarked by the prime directive philosophy thinking that those people are incapable of self-determination. If their worlds Caliphate is anything like our own she should be grateful that Pascal had the wherewithal to design and use such a spell from such a basic coverage of an idea, grateful that she gave him the idea.
Well like it or not, ‘white savior complex’ is the literary term. I recognize that this type of literature has spread to many other countries since, but it’s very much still known by its origin and the terminology hasn’t evolved as far as I know. I use it in quotes for precisely the reason it doesn’t match perfectly.
Second, the whole fact the Krogans could not handle nuclear weapons responsibly shows the fact they were not ready for spacer tech. The whole argument of the Prime Directive is that nobody should be allowed to decide. The species must be sufficiently advanced to discover other galactic civilizations and interact with them on their own, and if they lack the means then don’t meddle with them.
I really don’t understand the rest of your argument. Please use some proper paragraph structure if you’re trying to argue a point. Right now it seems like a rambling rant that doesn’t stay on any topic long enough and jumps all over the place.
(In regards to Kaede’s views, see my dev diary under Kaede’s character changes. I wrote George Kennan — the US strategist of the Cold War — as one of her role models because a lot of what she says is based on what he, and others like him, wrote. In general, geopolitics is a topic that unless you’re digging into scholarly works, what you consume thru mass media is plain propaganda, regardless of which country you’re from)
Sorry about the paragraphing, the style of the comment box doesn’t really make it I don’t know apparent? at least when I was writing the first time it just sort of stayed like a single line box. I’m trying to say that any person or organization deciding that a people isn’t deserving of a technology or “mature” enough for it is comes from arrogance and a fundamental misunderstanding of how the world works.
The Krogans didn’t have a nuclear holocaust because they were irresponsible. It happened because of natural evolution of nuclear arms. You send a nuke, I send a nuke. and in a world where you don’t develop fast enough away from fossil fuels to keep your environment intact and where you have a naturally faster breeding longer living species you end up with scarcity far faster than manageable. Scarcity breeds war. It’s a cold calculus that the destruction of another nation or clan is a better outcome then the starvation of your own and by their very nature a stagnant empire/nation is a dead empire/nation. You can’t stop an empire growing and you can’t tell a species not to reproduce it goes against their very essence.
By uplifting the Krogans they were given infinite room to expand and grow meaning they wouldn’t actually have been a problem if they were directed away from other inhabited worlds. Should the Krogans have just died out? Why? Because they evolved in a way that when they obtained the technology needed to keep themselves from constantly being murdered by their environment their population exploded to the point of causing scarcity? They didn’t go destroying the council races, they just expanded far faster than the council was used to seeing in a sapient species and it terrified them that this species could grow so quickly and were so indestructible.
If we look at the real world and the technological uplifts that have happened here we’re able to see that when a people isn’t ready for a technology they reject it, either destroying it like a chimp given a hammer in an engine room or they ignore it. Places like China rejected Naval technology to the point of destroying it, the middle east remains mostly subsistence farmers, their are hundreds of tribes of indigenous people who either reject society outright or refuse to use different levels of technology. If we weren’t ready for nuclear technology we wouldn’t have dropped the bombs and the Soviets wouldn’t have built them as a deterrence, they are too terrifying by their very existence for a less advanced society to see the utility.
That the only real difference between the uproar that took place during the industrial revolution and what happened before is that they had the technology to sustain their governments and systems. Technology isn’t what caused the French revolution, it’s not what caused the downfall of the Aztecs, it’s not what caused the slave trade, It’s not even what caused the scale and brutality of the two great wars. Technology is what recorded it and what kept those societies from utter collapse. We can find societies and events that look exactly the same on the same scales through archaeological evidence and on barely legible manuscripts because the technological level of those societies made it so they could sustain themselves to the point of that scale of conflict but not survive afterwards.
Using the logic of the Prime Directive we shouldn’t attempt to save species from extinction, and no it doesn’t matter whether we caused those extinctions or not. The west shouldn’t have given Japan technology even though that means they would likely still being oppressed by their location and their Chinese neighbors. Even though it would likely mean that they would have collapsed back into a new warring states period. That is until they some how obtained the technology to sail to the Americas across the pacific and even then nobody should have given them technology. I mean we could go all day about different cultures who were uplifted and this includes the Romans giving technology to the British, meaning that when ever a culture discovered Iron or Bronze or the Wheel they would have to do so independently.
Now I get why Kaede thinks the way she does, but it doesn’t mean she’s right or that it doesn’t bug me, they’re mutually exclusive. I get why she would want to keep nuclear weaponry from people even if based only on her being Japanese, even if realistically that level of spell-weaponry already exists in that world. But that kind of proves the point doesn’t it? Here’s a people who have the magic to level the planet spread amongst archmagi through the ages and yet they don’t. Why? is it because they are “mature” enough. Or is it because their technology and magic has kept them from reaching a level of scarcity that would facilitate such destruction?
Keeping a technology from a people is always done out of arrogance or selfishness. That arrogance behind the idea that your people are more “mature” or something and thus are responsible enough to have the technology when others shouldn’t, ultimately, is harmful. Especially when that technology is part of a stepping stone which keeps a society progressing and even in it’s terrible power nuclear armament is one of those stepping stones because it stops the impetuous of ideological warfare which allows societies to evolve with one less threat meaning.
Also white savior complex isn’t the literary term it’s a trope term about a white person, specifically, saving someone of another race usually from a consequence of that races culture or their “inherent flaws”. I think what you mean is cultural posturing and cultural imperialism proliferated by the distribution of advanced technologies.
The whole argument of the Prime Directive is that nobody should “decide”. That the locals can either make contact themselves through their own power, or they cannot and should be left alone.
The fact that a nuclear holocaust happened is a sign of irresponsibility. The discipline not use overly destructive means is part of maturity. It’s what makes adult men not go “I’m going to go burn down my neighbor’s house” just because they feel insulted. It is a testament to humanity thus far that we managed to emerge from the Cold War without starting an apocalypse — it shows that we’ve at least done SOME things correctly.
Your real world examples have many fallacies in them it’s difficult to accept them as argument. For example, China never rejected naval technology. In fact Zheng He’s famous voyages proved they had even better seafaring technology than Europe in the 15th century. They scrapped the fleet afterwards due to a combination of internal political changes, dynastic decline, high expenditure, and the fact that China’s threats have always been land-based nomadic powers (‘obsession over the last war’ mentality). The Middle East didn’t live on “subsistence agriculture” before European arrival. In fact historians often remark that Iraq had some of the most sophisticated irrigation systems in the world and flourished as the center of trade and culture before the Mongol conquest. It took them centuries to recover from that but by the start of the Ottoman-Portuguese Wars they were once again a center of east-west trade (hence why the Ottomans fought to stay in control of the Indian Ocean trade network). These kind of claims are usually made by colonial apologists.
Claiming technology has nothing to do with the French Revolution is especially wrong, given the role played by the Mississippi Company Bubble (a pioneer of credit finance) which contributed to France’s economic woes.
Japan’s Meiji Era rapid transformation and the cultural shock it produced is often cited as one of the primary reasons why it transformed into an extreme society that would commit so many atrocities. By the same token, many historians have argued that Europe itself lacked cultural maturity when a combination of the Columbian Exchange (suddenly influx of wealth) and the Mongols (who devastated the middle east and asia) propelled Europe into preeminent status, and why European Imperialism reached a level of barbarity (i.e. racially motivated ethnic cleansing on a large scale) and destruction (annihilation of indigenous civilizations across 3.5 continents) that no other Empire ever matched. For an example of this argument that’s easy to access, check out Dan Carlin’s work (especially Supernova in the East regarding Japan).
One could argue that it’s impossible to avoid technological transfer in many cases on Earth, given proximity of cultural contact. I’m not arguing that all tech transfer is bad, only that one should be CAREFUL, especially in regards to weapons tech. Incremental improvements rather than leaps of technology would be safer.
Tropes are literary terms, as they’re what writers use to describe common trends. Cultural posturing and cultural imperialism are certainly captured within the trope, but the trope is more than just that.
– Daniel Jackson, Stargate SG-1
AHHHH I am getting old Stargate was so long ago, yet still so …. near to heart.
Most modern technology won’t fare that well in Hyperion’s magic based landscape (EMP spells can be made). Magic is deeply ingrained into the infrastructure of everyday living, the laws of nature get bent on whim here, even if their was a technology/invention that is still viable it would not be seen in a favorable light immediately, thus lessening the effectiveness.
-Insert Megamind meme OR – Schindler’s list Not the Work, Not the Work….the PRESENTATION
Though the scientific concepts in physics might be useful, but Hyperion does not need more power or weapons, especially when they are Worldwalkers that are being “restrained” by LAWS. That is why a Historian that has more or less good morals is kinda better than a Dr. Stone MC.
Though………Kaede’s dad seems to be a person that would own a hunting rifle or an AK-47 ( I just had to) , of which would have been made familiar to Kaede, because of that promised hunting trip. Guns at least the powder propelled ones might not be a viable method, but giving one to a commoner with no magic can “equal” the playing field against a mage.
Kaede in my opinion should not restrain any advantage/opportunity, if it was verified to be a benefit. Reasons are Kaede already has picked a side, now it’s time to commit, plus I think Kaede would want to live long enough and to be in a position to take responsibility/advantage of the future consequences of of her actions. She and Pascal basically introduced Nukes here, and it seem that you do not have to be an Archmage to cast this spell so rituals preparation can be a alternative. The Worldwalkers treaty seem to tolerate this for some reason.
Haha Stargate made a huge impact on me as well. It’s probably one of the first series that really got me into cultural exploration.
And yes, the fact this world doesn’t lack power but — as Tara put it, ‘restraint’ — is really the argument behind why someone like Kaede can contribute far more than some techno-utopian.
One of the issues with technology has always been that once you introduce it, it’s out of your hands. No inventor has ever been able to fully control the technology they introduced. Hence you have stories like Alfred Nobel feeling guilty about his invention of dynamite, or Kalashnikov asking the Orthodox Church for absolution as he felt responsible on his deathbed for the role AK-47s play in so many wars.
It’s noted in one of the chapters (forgot which) that Kaede’s dad promised to take him hunting once he came of age, which never actually happened since Kaede was 17 at the start of story. That being said, guns would not equal the field against a mage. One of the mages’ most common wards is Repulsion, a ‘low-mass projectile deflector’.
Pascal’s skill with magic is actually extremely high, something noted back in v1ex2 where Gerard is surprised how easily Pascal could pick up even ‘professional/career spells’. He certainly has the potential to be an archmage if one wouldn’t classify him as such yet (it’s not like there’s a format definition of what an ‘archmage’ is).
The Worldwalkers’ Treaty doesn’t care about the actions of non-world-walkers.
I have to disagree with you on firearms. While it might not outright level the playing fields agains mages, using combined arms it could be devastating. The magic capable soldiers can use dispel magic and just as those erase the defensive mesures a mass volley can cause a lot of damage. It would not make mages obsolete but it would archer infantry.
You did mention that it was not established because gunpowder would explode and cause great damage on supply lines. I would argue that the same would have to be true in our world as well as it wasn’t hard to cause fire, but armies still chose to convert to it.
Regardless I totally agree with you that Hyperion does not need rapid technological advancement. I would wager those ill effects are the same that happened in Africa after the colonial powers left. (While it’s not the same as borders weren’t natural.) Wars broke out left and right while ethnic cleansing were and still is an everyday topic.
Oh those effects started before the Scramble for Africa. Lets think of the effects of such a small thing as introducing the natives to corn which greatly improved the amount of food produced. Leading to larger populations and more disputes over arable land. Unfortunately corn was also less weather resistant than native crops. Thus famins now hit harder.
As for firearms. Non-mage troops are brought to battles meaning regular arrows, polearms and the like must serve a purpose. At least I havent gotten the feeling that the non-mages are using enchanted equipment all the time. If nothing else they force the mages to deplete their mana reserves.
Oh certainly. I’m not discounting the potential of firearms. I’m just saying giving a firearm to a commoner won’t equal the playing field. Your own examples notes that they would still need magic support.
The state of Africa is a very complex topic that I don’t begin to pretend I’ve read enough on to have a proper opinion. That being said, Huntington famously noted that Africa’s traditional cultural identity was largely destroyed during the colonial era and they’ve yet to rebuild/return it to a state of equilibrium, which leaves a pretty gaping holes insofar as “culture” in concerned.
Handguns/Pistol–Snipers–Rifle–Sub-machine gun –Machine guns—–“Shotguns”?
Guns for them to be effective against mages needs to be deployed in mass to overwhelm or to have magic enchantment, without enchantment mass production and the maintenance cost, plus the impact of the technology probably is not worth the trouble of making. The rule of cool sometimes can’t save guns when put against competent magic systems.
Guns by themselves can be specialized tools for assassins, gimmicks, novelties, and surprises (basically for the rich). Most guns are just better bows when magic in involved, Dispel can be used more effectively, it escalates thing but major change in Military doctrines….but what about shotguns for mages, the ammo for shotguns should be perfect for mages to put crazy shit into, also shotguns are also used for hunting birds so Kaede might know about them.
The image of mages using shotguns for sniping is just so mememable…..
Oh there will be ‘mages using guns’. I plan to discuss the air rifle Kaede encountered in Captain Marko’s ship in the extra chapters.
It’s just that gunpowder weapons won’t ever quite take the same role due to the vulnerability of volatile munitions. Lack of mass adoption naturally makes it a novelty weapon.
Im not sure I quite agree with the vulnerability of volatile munitions. At least when it comes to the gunpowder carried on a person. Anything that sets it off would probably have left you in a pretty bad state anyway.
Not something you want to equip tight ranks of troops with but then again are you using tight ranks against people that can throw around fireballs?
For reference a M67 hand grenade has a kill radius of 5 meters and a injury radius of 15 meters. Sure a stray fragment can fly much further but still. A lot of a grenades killing power comes from fragmentation for which something like a gunpowder horn or the like is not ideal.
Larger stockpiles moved by cart are a different matter.
I disagree. Even today with sealed cartridges, munition carriers are extremely vulnerable. During WW2 tanks/ships were famous for secondary explosions when a penetrator set off the ammo inside (i.e. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NaaN0wQtbg), let alone early gunpowder era when every soldier carried their own pouch of power that’s protected only by cloth.
As shown in the battles of v2 — the use of Resistance spells means the troops can receive a direct fireball blast and come out with only mild injuries.