Where Post-Human Meets the Prehistoric: Temporal Dissidence and the End of the World in The Magicians

Michael Cornelius

Wilson College


In the SyFy television series The Magicians (based on the Lev Grossman trilogy), a group of magical students are placed into a time loop in order to halt an impending disaster. Every time they fail to kill the Beast, who seeks to destroy the world of magic, the loop starts up again, with some key aspect of the loop altered, in order to try again. In the world of The Magicians, the post-human is placed soundly in the modern world, a magical being who exists alongside and yet wholly apart from “normal” humans in physical and physiological spaces that differ from the norm. The post-human is an idea derived mostly from science fiction, while magic dwells squarely in the realms of fantasy fiction. As such, magic has an ethos that places it in the human past, in imagined lands of fairies, dragons, and other magical beings, while the post-human is future-thinking, connected usually with science, technology, and artificial intelligences. In its blend of both, The Magicians straddles a tension between past and future, placing the history of humanity squarely into the body itself. In this essay I will explore the temporal dissidence created with both post-human and magical forms, suggesting that the existence of both in the same form results in the apocalyptic ending of the second season of the series, when both magic and the potentiality of post-humanity are rendered non-existent.

2018 National Conference
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