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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 9:32 am 
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Solstice wrote:
Altrad wrote:
The difference between magic and technology is experimentation.


But the definition of magic is that which bends the laws of nature. In many fantasy books I've read, magic is nothing more than the means by which the impossible become possible. Consider this: a magician can call forth a bolt of lightning from a perfectly clear, blue sky--or even better, in the middle of space, where it's hard to find individual atoms, let alone enough to form an electrical charge. The way he does this is not explicable by any science because nothing science can come up with explains how he generates something like that in a space where it is physically impossible. This is not technology--he is not exploiting chemistry, physics, or anything like that. He is truly making the impossible happen in front of our eyes. How does he do this? Well, the answer can be as simple as "saying the magic words" or "drawing runes in the air," but what actually happens?

Many of the authors I've read explain these actions as a medium for drawing upon the realm of possibilities ("the ether," "quintessence," "magical force") and turning a possibility that does not exist in this universe into our universe. It's the same with linking books. There are infinite possibilities, and by "saying the magic words" (or, in this case, writing them with the magic ink), they can choose what possibilities to make real. Yet magic, by definition, cannot be proven by science. Nor can we prove empirically, or even rationally, that God (Yahvo?) exists. But we CAN come up with theories and working models of them that, while unscientific, really do work. In some fantasy works, magicians dont' fully understand magic, and they can't figure it out because it's far too complex for any human to really understand, but they can research and refine it. It's largely intuitive and only makes sense to those who practice and use magic, but it still works. Theologians come up with explanations for God and Providence that are similarly vague, but people can understand them easily because we all have the capacity for understanding spiritual matters.

Maybe magic isn't the best term for describing linking, but I don't think that it's scientifically explainable, and can only be attributed to Yahvo's form of Providence and his direct intervention.


I'd put this a different way. The expression 'any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic' doesn't mean magic exists nor does it preclude the possibility. It simply says that when we don't know how to explain something we all too readily leap to the conclusion that it is magic or evidence of divine intervention. Historically, quite a lot of things we now take for granted in our daily lives, would be attributed to one or the other of these by our forebears, but we know better, don't we? :wink: Similarly, at some unspecified time in the future, things currently inexplicable to us may be fully understood.

However, on the other hand, the more you ask questions about how things work, like electricity for example, the closer the answer comes to 'because' (and I paraphrase Terry Pratchett here). Electricity is a flow of electrons, but what are electrons? They are tiny charged particles whizzing around in atoms (and in your CRT tv set or monitor) that are made up of three charged quarks (up up down? I forget!). What are quarks? well, they are even tinier particles that seem to be tightly bound within other particles and that possess mass, spin and charge and possibly other things I've forgotten :D . What are mass, spin and charge? well, they are properties particles can have and that have a number of rules and behaviours we can observe. Maybe a particle scientist could shed a little more light on these, but ultimately we reach a point where we can describe something, and maybe have a full and precise knowledge of it's behaviour, but be unable to explain why it has that behaviour any further, it 'just does'. You can think of this as the magic of the universe if you like :lol:

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 11:00 am 
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LuigiHann wrote:
Solstice wrote:
Perhaps the power comes from the writing of the book itself, and Gehn and Catherine just forgot to/didn't know how to/ran out of time to write energy into the book so that it would be self-sufficient.


What happened there was that Gehn didn't have access to the proper D'ni "ingredients" for the ink and paper on Riven, so his homebrewed substitutions resulted in books that required an external power source. I guess the implication there would be that there's some degree of power imbued into the physical books themselves, rather than the writing.


Or, alternatively, Gehn was a lousy Writer. ;)

The power was not necessary to make the link, because Catherine's crystals worked just as well without supplying any power at all. As Whilyam pointed out, what we see in the game Riven is quite possibly subject to artistic licence, so the "real" explanation of how Gehn's books were assisted may be completely different.

And having said that I'll retire from this thread as well, because to me linking isn't science or magic--it's Art. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:17 pm 
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Zander_the_Heretic wrote:
The power was not necessary to make the link, because Catherine's crystals worked just as well without supplying any power at all. As Whilyam pointed out, what we see in the game Riven is quite possibly subject to artistic licence, so the "real" explanation of how Gehn's books were assisted may be completely different.


Just because there are two ways to achieve a result, it doesn't mean that either of them is wrong. :)
We do know from RAWA that the Selenetic book was Atrus' experiment to write an Age the Gehn way, and its book was powered pretty much the same way as those in Riven, the spaceship-and-hologram combo being a metaphor for it; we also don't know precisely what the "power" solution was - whether electric or thermal or something else entirely, and what the physical effects were on the books - so we don't really have enough information to call it 'false'.

However, since -as you said- Catherine's solution used optics (rather than power) to bring back into focus a link that was already existing in/within/through the book, I think it's safe to say that any power requirements are limited primarily to the act of using the link rather than establishing it.

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to me linking isn't science or magic--it's Art. :)


You're assuming they are antithetical - to me, science can very well be art. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:46 pm 
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Zander_the_Heretic wrote:
LuigiHann wrote:
Solstice wrote:
Perhaps the power comes from the writing of the book itself, and Gehn and Catherine just forgot to/didn't know how to/ran out of time to write energy into the book so that it would be self-sufficient.


What happened there was that Gehn didn't have access to the proper D'ni "ingredients" for the ink and paper on Riven, so his homebrewed substitutions resulted in books that required an external power source. I guess the implication there would be that there's some degree of power imbued into the physical books themselves, rather than the writing.


Or, alternatively, Gehn was a lousy Writer. ;)

The power was not necessary to make the link, because Catherine's crystals worked just as well without supplying any power at all. As Whilyam pointed out, what we see in the game Riven is quite possibly subject to artistic licence, so the "real" explanation of how Gehn's books were assisted may be completely different.

And having said that I'll retire from this thread as well, because to me linking isn't science or magic--it's Art. :)


Perhaps I should have left my personal speculation out of it, but I guess my point is that Gehn was perfectly capable of creating working links (albeit to unstable ages) when he was in his element, using real D'ni linking books. So was Catherine.

So while Gehn may not be an entirely right about "power" being the missing ingredient, I'd still believe that it is a physical difference between Riven books and D'ni books that makes it more difficult to establish a working link, especially considering that Catherine wasn't able to establish one without a physical modification either. And this isn't young Catherine from Book of Atrus, this is adult Catherine who has already has two grown children and has spent quite a few years chilling with Atrus, I think she'd know how to write a working link by this point.

I'd say Gehn's poor writing only comes into play in the sense that he tried to write all the ingredients he needed to make new books into the age, and largely failed to do so.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:55 pm 
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Perhaps it's not a case of getting the book exactly right /or/ having power. Perhaps Gehn gets the book almost right, and uses power to make up for not getting it exactly right. Perhaps you can write a really lousy book and put a huge amount of power in and the book will link to the Age it most nearly describes.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:03 pm 
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Having just played through Riven, Gehn did talk about critically needing supplies, to finish his ages, seems that the power for the books might have been needed since he was lacking certain elements. But perhaps since he didn't trust some of the people in the age and obviously was somewhat afraid of what Catherine and Atrus might do, perhaps it was also some sort of lock/security measure in addition to the combination needed to access them. . . .


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 6:34 pm 
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Altrad wrote:
Perhaps it's not a case of getting the book exactly right /or/ having power. Perhaps Gehn gets the book almost right, and uses power to make up for not getting it exactly right. Perhaps you can write a really lousy book and put a huge amount of power in and the book will link to the Age it most nearly describes.


He never seemed to have that problem with his books from D'ni. I think there's no doubt he was compensating for deficiencies in the construction of the books themselves, not the text.

We don't know that he was actually directly powering the books; just that he was doing something to them, and that something required a large amount of power. And that the same thing could by done with crystals from Tay.

"I have succeeded in modifying the Fire-marbles to generate enough power to hold a Descriptive Linking Book in a stable matrix: I have linked to a new world!"


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:01 am 
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Just a couple little points that I want to make now that I'm back home about things I noticed.

The question about how the image appears:
I believe one of the books describes this (BoA?). The image was dark (static?) until the first link was established. So, in my mind this would eliminate the idea of energy being drawn from the age described as the connection isn't truly made until the first link (which would presumably require the most energy). This moves very well into my next observation.

Riven materials and books:
We also know that there is a solution that was used to "activate" the book so the panel became usable (the image still had to be developed by the method described above). I would imagine that Gehn didn't have this "activating" fluid for his books, so they were never properly "'developed" thus requiring the external power and mechanisms to make a working book.

Just some little points :)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 1:02 am 
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I believe that the Books (created by the D'ni) contained their own individual power sources concealed within either the Covers or Bindings of the Book itself. I draw these conclusions mainly from the Book of D'ni, in which special Books are used with the Maintainer's Suit. These Books are thinner than normal Books and Bound in Stone. I found the fact that they were bound in Stone to be very interesting, since the Books were safely contained inside the Maintainer's Suit.

But then I began to think about another fact raised in Book of Ti'ana. It was the process that Aitrus explains how Nara is made from normal rock. The process he describes is essentially the ripping apart of the normal rock's atoms and then re-combining the atoms into a stronger formation. This sparked the idea that the D'ni clearly have extensive atomic knowledge (and possibly even quantum) so perhaps the power source for the Books lies somewhere in atoms.

Suddenly something clicked. Most Books are bound in leather which would give more or less sufficient shielding from outside radiation in habitable conditions, so any sensitive atomic or quantum power source would be relatively stable. But the Maintainers regularly had to check hostile worlds (sometimes even worlds that have been consumed by a star). The levels of radiation in these conditions would be immense and the Book's power source would need special protection, thus Stone Bound Books.

Just an idea.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:24 pm 
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It definitely fits

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:28 pm 
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this brings us to another point, if, they were capable of manipulation at a quantum level (not necessarily implied by there ability to make nara, that might simply be a matter of recombining material under extreme pressure, similar to the way diamonds are formed) the books themselves could easily be extremely sophisticated computers, with their appearance merely being the interface of choice for the d'ni.

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