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Entry updated 3 May 2021. Tagged: Theme.

Item of Terminology introduced in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy to denote narratives whose essentially Fantasy nature is more or less disguised by trappings of Technology, though usually with no serious attempt to add scientific or pseudoscientific justification. Even Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's sf classic Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818; rev 1831) is arguably technofantasy, offering only the vaguest references to the arcane powers of electricity as rationale for a story based (according to the author herself) on pure nightmare.

Many technofantasy tales feature haunted machinery, such as the malignly possessed bulldozer in Theodore Sturgeon's "Killdozer!" (November 1944 Astounding) and the car in Stephen King's Christine (1983); the threatening lorry in Duel (1971), despite a lack of explicit sf or supernatural trappings, steadily builds up a charge of technofantasy menace. George R R Martin's haunted-Spaceship story "Nightflyers" (April 1980 Analog) uses the twin rationales of Psi Powers and Upload to generate its Horror effects. A different kind of "ghost in the machine" recurs in Michael Scott Rohan's The Winter of the World sequence beginning with The Winter of the World, Volume One: The Anvil of Ice (1986), where artefacts whose making is thoroughly grounded in traditional smithcraft are infused with magical power by the superhuman abilities of their creator.

Science and Sorcery scenarios are generally rife with technofantasy. One example is Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept sequence, opening with Split Infinity (1980), containing such hybrids as a Computer which in its fantasy aspect is an infallible oracle (with the usual Delphic ambiguity), and which uses its processing power to calculate irresistibly powerful spells; the latter conceit had previously appeared in Roger Zelazny's Jack of Shadows (1971). [DRL]

see also: Creepypasta.


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