Techno-Magic is a term for a Device in Star Trek which seriously violates the laws of Physics as we currently understand them. No amount of reasonable extrapolation from what is known now makes these seem more "realistic".

Science Fiction Murder MysteryEdit

In the 1930s and 1940s, it was held that you could not write a Science Fiction Murder Mystery. Confronted with a dead body in a locked room, Dr Mad Scientist and his trusty companion could quickly assemble a "Who-Dunnit-O-Mat" and it would tell them the identity of the Murderer.

This would make a Murder Mystery suck.

Isaac Asimov wrote a Novel |The Caves of Steel which was published in the early 1950s. This novel was a successful Science Fiction Murder Mystery and refuted the above held opinion.

Although fantasists and authors had long known of the principles illustrated by Asimov, he made these principles very plain.

Similarly to Chekhov's Gun - One must establish rules for fantastic or speculative devices - and then stick to them.

Suspension of DisbeliefEdit

This is the implied deal between reader and author. Changing how a fantastic device works half-way through the story is a cheat. The reader knows he has been cheated and this destroys his Suspension of Disbelief.

Suspension of Disbelief is where the reader says "We both know that there are no such things as Starships, but I'll imagine there are such things along with you in order to facilitate you telling me the story."

This mental "going along with the gag" is important. This is how any fantasy works. Break that you've damaged or ruined your story.

This makes the imaginary rules for how, for example, an imaginary Transporter works very important.

As a Trek writer I am asking you to believe that there is such a thing as a transporter. Being a trek fan you may go along with this. But if I break the rules it damages the tension of the story.


In any story - the author asks you to imagine that the people, places, things and events he describes are real. Treating the story as though it were real allows you the reader to feel as though it were real.

If half way through I waved my hands and yelled "Who cares? It's just a story, right?"

Then why should you care what happens to the people inside the story with a serious problem? There are no people and there is no problem that besets them.

My goal as a story teller is to tell you about the Trek world and an engaging set of people in it with a problem in such a way that you will give a darn about how plays out.

The stories that do that well are good stories. The stories that do this poorly are MST3k Fodder or worse, a complete waste of time.

If my goal is to tell you a good story, I want to nurture your buy-in. I want to reward your suspension of disbelief. I want you to care because if you do, when we get to the end of the story I haven't been wasting your time.

SO far from being a dismissal, the term "Techno-magic" is a warning.

As a Game Master or a Writer I have to be especially careful to treat these items with respect. I have to be careful of the illusion of veracity I build around them. Because it's my job to make the transporter seem as real as doors and tables to you. And that illusion is delicate and easily broken.

Examples of Techno-Magic in Star TrekEdit

  • Warp Drive
  • Artificial Gravity
  • Transporter
  • Subspace
  • Extremely Humanoid Life Forms.
  • Earth-Like Planets that look like Southern California.
  • Phasers
  • Krellide Cells
  • Sensors
  • Universal Translators
  • Time Travel
  • Tractor Beams
  • Photon Torpedoes
  • DiLithium Crystals.
  • Getting anywhere near a black hole and surviving to tell the tale.
  • Wormholes
  • Alternate Dimensions
  • Most Occurrences of nano-technology
  • Most uses of Borg Technology

See: Handwavium Tailoron particles Applied Phlebotnium

Jayphailey 03:20, December 27, 2009 (UTC)

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