Technomancy is a term in science fiction and fantasy that refers to a category of magical abilities that affect technology, or to magical powers that are gained through the use of technology.

It is a portmanteau of 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).

An early appearance of the term can be found in Steve Martindale's 1990 short story "Technomancy" in the magazine Aboriginal Science Fiction.[1]


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 been gaining 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, as used by D.O.L.L.Y. in the comic the Wotch.) Magitech considers magic and science to be two parts of one force. Technomancy has magic affecting science, but not working in the same process. another explanation of technomancy is the combination of necromancy and technology.


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;[2] 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.[3]

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.

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, and so on. The Eberron setting of Dungeons and 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. In Adam Sandler's film Click, the protagonist received a remote control that could change the reality around himself.


  1. Aboriginal Science Fiction volume 4 (2), 1990 Source
  2. The A to Z of Babylon 5, by David Bassom, Boxtree Books 1996
  3. WizKids, Inc., Shadowrun 4th Edition, 2005
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