Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

How to think about the Weird Stuff

In superhero comics, people with powers default to robbing banks. In fantasy, people with magic default to killing bandits (or evil soldiers). Science fiction can be better at this, but even there, the most interesting technologies are often used in weapons.

I'm not saying that combat oriented stories are necessarily bad things, mind, but sometimes it feels like if SFF invented the hand, we'd skip the middleman and go directly to the fist.


These things all indicate to me some disordered thinking—that is, we don't think through how magic fits into the setting, or how new tech would change the world. Which means there's some important questions we're missing when we build worlds. Here's the easiest one:

How can people with the Weird Stuff make money without hurting/stealing from others?

The Weird Stuff is anything extra-normal in your setting—super powers, new tech, magic, what-have-you. Here are some examples:

  • Poison Ivy: revitalizing farms. Bonus: they won't need pesticides or fertilizers. Also growing native plants for erosion control, and generally repairing ecological damage for profit.
  • Mistborn: Messenger services (Iron, steel, pewter). Almost everything in allomancy could be used on a ship. (You'd need lookouts, people that could work hard, rioters could keep spirits up, soothers could stop a mutiny, etc.)
  • Pacific Rim: The Drift would be fantastic couple's therapy for the rich.
  • Cyclops: shaping/forging things. His eye lasers are apparently made of pure force, so why not apply that to hot metal?

Again, I'm not bashing combat-oriented stories. But if you're going to include Weird Stuff for punching, it should probably have some civilian uses, too. After all, most people in your world probably aren't punching bad guys.

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