I have a post-apocalyptic world. (The apocalypse in question is a ten-year world war that used physical, chemical/biological, and nuclear weapons.) The world is mostly based on our own, though as it's post-apocalyptic, technology, communications, etc. are broken down and much less common than they used to be. However, now they have magic.

I've worked out that magic is a genetic trait; a long time ago, people with magic existed but were rare. Then they stopped being able to use magic. Now that the war has destroyed whatever infrastructure element kept the magic hidden and dormant, magic users--who are more resilient against modern weaponry and therefore have survived in greater numbers than they previously had--are able to use magic and out in the open again.

My problem is the infrastructure element. The original suggestion I had was cell phone towers/lines, but I think that's too recent. If magic existed up until the time cell phones were invented, the world wouldn't be all that much like ours. I want something that changed longer ago.

Other suggestions I've had are the steam engine and the printing press. The first doesn't seem insidious enough (and now that I think about it, steam engines haven't been widely used for a long time, have they?), and while the second is kind of awesome and I've worked it subtly into a short little story, it seems too nebulous. I guess it's hard to explain. I also thought of using plumbing, and having magic unable to cross running water, but I've been able to find frustratingly little on the history of plumbing, so I don't know how well it would work.

Any suggestions? Reasons one of the other things would work better than I thought? Throw 'em at me!
sharpest_asp: Nate Ford sitting on a bench, Sophie Devereaux resting against his lap (Default)

From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp

Plumbing doesn't work; both Sumerians and Cretans of the Minoan era had indoor plumbing to a degree.

Printing works for the same subtle reasons it led to the chaos and breaking of the Catholic Church's stranglehold on the European World. It spreads knowledge independent of one official thing, yet it also rigidizes (yes I make up words) the knowledge being dispensed. Instead of fifty hand copies with various errors and independent flourishes, you've got five hundred, each identical to the last, taking away the creativity magic might need.
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)

From: [personal profile] melannen

In my worlds vaguely like this (very, very vaguely, so don't worry about idea-borrowing :D ) I have it be simply due to population pressure and/or mobility. If there are too many people in too small a space, magic stops working for them, or alternatively stops working *predictably* (sort of due to an overload/failsafe); once humanity spreads out again, magic starts being relevant again.

Also, in a slightly different sphere, I had my magic users be strongly linked to a spirit of place. That is, a magic user who has moved around a lot in their life, who isn't living on lands bred into them at least a generation or two, or whose ancestral lands have been heavily altered, can't access their magic anymore. So the more mobile society gets (and this started being widespread in Western Europe in the 18th century with the clearances and enclosure acts, and of course in America pretty much since the beginning of White settlement), the less magic there is. Give us a few generations with limited mobility, magic comes back (this might not work with your plot, though.)

Other possibilities, depending on when you're setting your end-of-magic: Radio (which is basically all cell phones are anyway.) Electricity. Speed of communication (reliable, fast communication - whether it's a telegraph or just runners on good roads - changes the way humans interact *so much*.) Fossil fuels being burnt (which would go back to coal, again in the early 18th century/a bit before). Magic users needing their tools (including, say, their clothing and their workspace) to be hand-made from raw materials under controlled circumstances, so that a factory-manufacture culture makes magic very difficult. A vaccine, or a pandemic illness that remains dormant in the nervous system, possibly, could block magic access, and with less travel and communication it could die out in the population (or maybe even that it's a genetic thing that just bred out, if it's gene-linked to something that makes living in a citified culture very difficult, like unblockable psi or multiple chemical sensitivity or something.) Or how about magic that's linked to biodiversity? The less different types of non-human life around you, the less magic there is to use, and the Holocene Mass Extinction event has been picking up momentum for 10,000 years - and the agricultural revolution loves its monocultures.

You are taking into account that pretty much anything that fits your story - except possibly an astronomical conjunction - would've affected the industrialized/post-industrialized parts of the world way disproportionately, right? So that significant parts of the world's population will still have their magic all the way through.
Edited Date: 2010-12-29 05:29 am (UTC)
asenathwaite: green and blue spiral (claws)

From: [personal profile] asenathwaite

IMHO, the Industrial Revolution was the technological singularity, so I think it would make sense for that to be the cutoff point for magic.
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

From: [personal profile] azurelunatic

What about a population per square mile density point? More people than that per area, and it doesn't work; as the planet overpopulated, the areas in which people could use magic got smaller and smaller?
bliumchik: (Default)

From: [personal profile] bliumchik

This was my first thought, as well! Population size is the only vaguely linear factor that wouldn't be too obviously linked to specific technology. It also gels with witches in cottages, elves in the woods and wizards in towers, if you're planning to incorporate legends as blurred fact.
thblackflame: rozilla@livejournal.com (Default)

From: [personal profile] thblackflame

I agree with [personal profile] asenathwaite. Industrial revolution would likely be your best bet. My reasoning would be the mass use of iron, even if it is a little cliched. Another thing that you might try would be fire arms. They didn't become that widely used until around the 15th or 16th century. Something about the chemical make up of black powder perhaps? Even once we stopped using black powder, by that point, most of the "civilized" world would have stopped believing in things like magic and most magical theory suggests that beleife plays a large role in magic. That's of course, if this world that you have created is based off any sort of magical theory. *shrugs* Hope that helps give you idea. ^_^

From: [personal profile] pippin

I find the idea of some sort of machine non-purposely blocking magic to be kinda silly, honestly. If it was something like 'the extra pollution in the air from industry makes it more difficult for magical energy to flourish' or 'with scientific advances people were less likely to believe they had magic' or 'there's a set amount of magic and the higher the world's population the less there is for everyone until Highlander effect kicks in' or even 'fluoride was added to water to dampen magic' I could buy, but 'the printing press was invented and magically got rid of magic' would take a lot to be believable.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith


Magic and electricity don't get along, because they are too much alike. That would push back your threshold a fair bit. Magic and certain kinds of chemistry don't get along, in that magical folks are more sensitive to or just react differently to many substances compared to nonmagical people. And when a lot of folks start thinking that magic isn't real, it nails the frame onto reality more firmly, so it's harder to pry loose.

It's not just a single thing, necessarily. All kinds of stuff can combine to suppress magic and/or kill off the people who have it.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)

From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith

Re: Well...

Given those parameters, yeah, electricity is probably the best fit.

But you know, the magic-users won't be the only people getting nasty surprises. Benjamin Franklin could easily have killed himself flying a kite into a thunderstorm. When people discover or rediscover a field, the accidents tend to precede the precautions. That could be fun for your dramatic tension.
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)

From: [personal profile] lea_hazel

If you want something like cellphone towers but older, how about telegraph lines? Otherwise, for something more chemically oriented, how about coal dust or gunpowder? Your general idea seems to be aiming for something that takes place around the same time that rigorous scientific ideas become widespread, which gives you a flexible berth around the 17th-18th-19th centuries, IMO.


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