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In science fiction and fantasy, technomancy, also called technomagic, is a category of magical abilities that affect technology or magical powers that are gained through the use of technology.

The word "technomancy"

Technomancy is a combination of the word technology and -mancy, a suffix used in magical sciences to refer to specific types of specialization or divination (-mancy is derived from the Greek manteia, meaning divination).

Technomancy is also associated with the daily usage of computers, followed by the passage: "The future of computing is not in Data Processing, or Programming, or Information Systems, or Computer Science. It's in Technomancy."[1]

An early appearance of the term can be found in Steve Martindale's 1990 short story "Technomancy" in the magazine Aboriginal Science Fiction.[2]


Technomancy is a common theme in certain subgenres of both science fiction and modern-day fantasy fiction, particularly fiction that crosses the sci-fi and fantasy genres, as well as role playing games that take place in similar settings. Strictly speaking, though, it belongs fully to the realm of fantasy since it can be magic that is used on technology that presently exists. It most commonly appears in science fantasy. The term technomancy has seen increased usage on webcomics on the internet, although it is used in a vague sense.

It is also distinct from what is sometimes called "magitech" (technology that uses magic). Magitech considers magic and science to be two parts of one force, while technomancy has magic affecting science, notwithstanding.


Non-mystical technomancy

In some settings, technomancy may be totally scientific in nature in accordance with Arthur C Clarke's third law of prediction:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Examples of users of this type of technomancy are the Technomages of the Babylon 5 universe;[3] and in Ilium/Olympos, where the supernatural powers of wizards and gods come from an advanced technology.

In the Mass Effect video game series, many characters gain magic-like powers through technology.

The 4th Edition of the Shadowrun role-playing game has characters who can interact with the Matrix (the Internet of that setting) without using technology and are referred to as "Technomancers", but their abilities stem from a mutation rather than magic. Shadowrun Technomancers are specifically unable to use magic.[4]

The term Technomancy can be descriptive of the skill of an engineer whose expertise allows him or her to diagnose mechanical problems by observing the machine behavior, in essence listening to the machine to let it tell him what is wrong.

In Overwatch the character Sombra can instantly "hack" and control any piece of technology within seconds. She summons up a holographic keyboard that she types on that can "hack" health packs, other characters ultimates, or even their basic abilities. In the animated short Blizzard created introducing her, she can also be seen gaining control of a giant robotic arm. In both the game and the short she can render herself invisible or teleport.

The DC Comics supervillain Abra Kadabra is from the 64th century, at a time when science is considered magic by 21st century standards. His "powers" come from his usage of futuristic technology to simulate magic.

Non-scientific technology

Another form of technomancy, sometimes called 'industrial magic', has magical devices operating similarly to technological devices.

The Harry Potter setting has owl familiars serving as a postal system, animated newspapers and fireplace embers serving as video screens, phantom quills and parchments as speech-recognition software, even flying brooms and orbs as athletic equipment, those embers can also be used like teleportation, and so on. The Eberron setting of Dungeons & Dragons has bound elemental spirits powering transportation vehicles. In Atlantis: The Lost Empire for example, the crystal is a supernatural being, but his power was used like a computer program. In Dave the Barbarian, crystal balls and magic cauldrons were used like telephones, televisions and computers.

See also


  1. ^ "Your Computer is Made Out of Magic". Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  2. ^ Aboriginal Science Fiction volume 4 (2), 1990 Source
  3. ^ The A to Z of Babylon 5, by David Bassom, Boxtree Books 1996
  4. ^ WizKids, Inc., Shadowrun 4th Edition, 2005