Attitudes towards Science and Magic


“Science is the magic that works”

~John Campbell, cited p18 in Roberts

“This attitude toward science and magic,” Roberts continues, “allows science fiction writers to reclaim magic as science. Especially important for women, valorizing or validating magic has a historical dimension. Similar in nature, magic and science have been criticized or praised according to the sex of the practitioner. So-called ‘witches’ in Europe were persecuted from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, in part because they posed a threat to the emerging field of medicine. Witches competed with doctors and priests for the custom of the people. Witches actually practiced what we today call the scientific method – trial and experiment – and witches used many drugs we now use, such as belladona, ergot, and digitalis. Both male writers like Frank Herbert and female writers like Anne McCaffrey use ‘witches’ in their fiction. In so doing, these science fiction writers ask us to reconsider the past – historical witches – and the future – what the universe might be like if we knew how to control magical powers.” (18)

Ref: Robin Roberts (1996) Anne McCaffrey; A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT


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