Thursday, July 26, 2018

Tech after the apocalypse

This is a world of inventions and contraptions, a world where technology marches ever onwards. The apocalypse destroyed the old world, but so much of its knowledge survived. Here in the ruins, new things are invented all the time.

There are two (somewhat contradictory) things to know about technology:
  • The finest things come from the Old Country before the fall.
  • The best things are being invented now.

Old Finery

The old elven empire was a land of millions of people in the early stages of an industrial revolution.  They had the finest silversmiths and gemcutters, the most precise instruments, and wealth—so much wealth, almost beyond imagining.

(astronomical clock of Prague, Jay8085)

When the people of the North first saw elven ships come sailing across the seas, they saw a great opportunity.  Wealth had come to them, in forms they never imagined, and they were determined to get some of it for themselves.

(Spanish galleon)

Today, after the end of the old world, elven finery from the lost homeland is highly treasured.  Old things are repaired and reworked many times over, so the ivory handle of that knife might have been part of a mantlepiece once, and the hands on that clock have been soldered back together a few times.

Elven technology usually seems overcomplicated, with too many moving parts prone to failure.  And with the industrial base of the empire gone, every moving part has to be made by hand.  The toys of the old world will eventually break down for the last time.

Modern Invention

(David Bushnell's submarine Turtle)
But let's forget about the past with its cramped cities and hidebound ways.  This is a new world, vast and full of opportunity.  People today are moving on, taking apart the fancy doodads of the olden days and making them into useful things, profitable inventions to hunt and fish and till the land.

In Finnish mythology, the Sampo is a many-sided mill that makes all the things you need in life, crafted by the gods and fought over on earth.  Wondrous treasures like this are common in fantasy, given by (or stolen from) divine and legendary beings: Excalibur is given by the lady of the lake, Perseus got his winged sandals from Athena, Sigurd stole his ring from Fafnir's hoard.

Taking after American stories, Signs in the Wilderness is a place where powerful things are created by mortals, not taken from the gods.  New contraptions and devices are being invented all the time and will surely change the world.  To put it another way...

(Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin West)

In America, the Sampo is invented.

No comments:

Post a Comment