Friday, April 4, 2008

Clarke's Third Law and Gibson's "All Tomorrow's Parties"

As lecture offered, one important idea that inspired William Gibson's imaginative conception of All Tomorrow's Parties was surely novelist Arthur C. Clarke's famous Three Laws: specifically his popular Third Law:

    • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Gibson repeatedly presents the technology central to his plot in magical terms: the multiplied Rei Toei echoing 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice;' the renewal of the old watch 'before your very eyes' at the close of the book suggesting the djinn's promise of 'new lamps for old;' &c. &c.

ps: A reformulation of Clarke's Third law (of which there are many) -- 'Ogden's Corollary One' -- says:

  • Magic is Technology at a sufficiently advanced stage.
And an 'Ogden's Corollary Two' reads:

  • Sufficiently advanced Technicians are magicians. (Just never ask them to show you their wands....)

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