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Magical Transhumanism: is it a thing?

Rabbit Éclair

high in vital bunnytonium
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I'm going to start this thread off by talking about the example that originally got me thinking on the subject, so:

Alice Margatroid, from Touhou Project. She's a youkai magician, which means that she's performed rituals to eliminate her need for food, water, and sleep, and she no longer physically ages. Her specialization is doll magic. She can control at least a dozen dolls at a time, and seems capable of controlling lots of scattered dolls while she does other things, herself. At some point, I realized that if you took Alice and ported her to sci-fi, making a character who'd used genetic manipulation to pretty much eliminate their need to eat or sleep and attained practical immortality, and who routinely manages to pilot a dozen robot drones at once while making conversation, you could make a pretty good case that it was a transhumanist story. It'd at least be a pretty augmentation-heavy cyberpunk character.

So, what I'm wondering is: Is there any fiction that takes the whole transhumanism angle with a magical setting and runs with it? Brave knights who use their fortunes to give themselves armored carapaces, double joints, and the ability to run on walls? Wise kings who've got their entire brain backed up into a series of magical books so their death will barely slow them down? Wizards whose consciousness is distributed across hundreds of familiars? I'm particularly curious about settings where this thing is kinda ubiquitous, especially when it's the good guys doing it. I mean, villains doing this kinda thing has kinda always been a trope. Evil wizards have been stickin' their souls into weird things since the beginning of time. But heroes, or better yet, regular people? I can't really think of any settings where it's common. Do any exist?
 

DoctorDogGirl

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So, what I'm wondering is: Is there any fiction that takes the whole transhumanism angle with a magical setting and runs with it? Brave knights who use their fortunes to give themselves armored carapaces, double joints, and the ability to run on walls? Wise kings who've got their entire brain backed up into a series of magical books so their death will barely slow them down? Wizards whose consciousness is distributed across hundreds of familiars? I'm particularly curious about settings where this thing is kinda ubiquitous, especially when it's the good guys doing it. I mean, villains doing this kinda thing has kinda always been a trope. Evil wizards have been stickin' their souls into weird things since the beginning of time. But heroes, or better yet, regular people? I can't really think of any settings where it's common. Do any exist?
Usually, it's, "Wizards try to become gods."

In which Raistlin Majere does a decent enough job in the Legends Trilogy.

I also like how Azalin does it in Azalin Rex, by figuring out that he shouldn't bother with actual learning when an ESP spell and copying the memories of others works much better for comprehending things.

It's also why he decides on Lichdom.

Because BEING A LICH IS AWESOME.

A nice change of pace from usual monster reactions.
 

Notsteve

The work of an enemy stand
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Jo Walton's Lifelode is partly a translation of Vernor Vinge's zones of thought into a fantasy setting. It has the fantasy version of superintelligent group minds. It's an interesting read.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
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Nanoha starts as a magical girl show though has a lot of it look like tech later; it's still largely powered by personal magic, though. It doesn't runaway with transhumanism, but it's got elements: cloning, memory transfer, enhancement (ancient lineages, modern cyborgs or Artificial Mages). The fact that Jail basically resurrected Zest was kind of glossed over in StrikerS. Of course, it's possible that Zest coughing his lungs out was a side effect of flawed processes.

So it's a fantasy setting with a growing number of transhumanist elements, but not a full on transhumanist setting. Yet. I've joked that Midchilda will fall before a wave of cloned super-lolis. The Apocalypse Will Be Pink.

Some fanfic runs with the idea, like In The Service, where the magical bodies of the Wolkenritter are played up, and the Bureau starts resorting to mass combat cyborgization.


As for individual things... the Philosopher's Stone (e.g. in Harry Potter), Voldemort and his Horcruces, jhubert's Pyramid essay on elves as transhumanist product, Black Company wizards extend their lifespan a fair bit and the Lady is eternally youthful... but full on settings, conventionally published? Not that I can think of.
 

Craig Oxbrow

Ah, y'know. This guy.
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In gaming, the Tremere in Vampire: the Masquerade started as Magi in Ars Magica, sensed that magic was leaving the world and tried a ritual to become immortal which went a bit wrong. Meanwhile, other Magi in Mage: The Ascension became immortal and mighty more successfully. And fight magic cyborgs.
 

Snoof

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In Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead becoming an inhuman being of starlight and magic is a pretty much inevitable consequence of being a sorcerer. And there's deliberate attempts at apotheosis and other weird magical hackery going on in the background too.
 

Davies

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For a modern day example, in Kara no Kyoukai Aozaki Touko, a brilliant creator of magical dolls, once created one which was all but indistinguishable from herself, and placed a copy of her mind in it. In one of the movies, Touko is killed. However, it is not clear whether the Touko who died was the original or the copy, and she regards the matter with vast indifference.

If that's not Transhumanism, I'm not sure what is.
 

Notsteve

The work of an enemy stand
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Ooo, yes, Max Gladstone is definitely magical transhumanism. One of the background details of the setting is that humanity learned enough to make war on the gods and win. And continued to learn from there.
 

Q99

Genderpunk
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Oh, it's very much a thing!

To mention a few-
In Fred Perry's Gold Digger, there's a couple 'transhuman' styles of magic. War Mages channel their auras into their bodies, giving them great physical ability in addition to their magic, at the cost of spell versatility.

Spells of some types can be etched into one's own aura to make it permanent (i.e. there's a dragon thief that has a mass-reduction/speed boosting spell etched. Makes him fairly crap in a fight by dragon standards, but too fast for other dragons to catch, yet even a low-mass dragon is a dragon). We see this used in a couple of ways.

Were-creatures are themselves a transhuman-magic creation, made by a mage who desired the best guards (werewolves), assassins (wererats), and hunters (werelions/panthers/tigers/cheetahs).

See this pic? The character on the left is a harpy that researched into directly this, and the gem-things in her wings were added to give her access to magic and make her a fearsome mage. Now the one on the right is where things get interesting- she's a Gaoblin, the local masters of transhuman magic. The holes in her head and stomach are ether vents, which are used to gather ether and augment the user's aura allowing for improved spellcasting juice, and of course obviously her arms themselves are entirely magic constructs, which have uses in both physical and magical combat. The installation of vents allows a species that's inherently hobbled in magic (like werebeings, who's aura goes to their physical enhancements) get up to archmage levels.

The transhuman magic isn't everywhere, but there's a few noteworthy varieties of it that pop up.


In Magic the Gathering, Urza vs Phyrexia. Urza makes magically engineered armies- and helps convince some other powers of the world to do similar, a nature spirit creates new species of defenders, for example- in order to fight Phyrexia, who go full cyborg with magic. Engineered beings, installing artifacts in people to enhance them, etc. etc..
 
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