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  1. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    What's your view on things like 'cybernetics suck your soul'?

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Accelerator231, Aug 8, 2020.

    It's a thing I've sorta noticed in many series about transhumanism. For starters, cyborg arms are known to make you 'less human' and is actually a source of angst. Gattaca has a story where the unmodified human being beats his genetically engineered brother. Or the A.I. wants to become a human.

    Where's the other one? Where are the stories that have mass genetic engineering, and then talk about how this shifts and breaks society? Where are the stories that have on segment of the population genetically engineered to be smarter, prettier, stronger, and another segment not, and then the implications of such? Where are the AI.s and their inhumanity, and people seeking to become more like them?

    People's views of the future is essentially the Jetsons, same family dynamics, same old shit, just with flying cars. They certainly didn't perceive changing social norms, or the internet.
     
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  2. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Im confused... Gattaca was about this. Designer babies. Genetically engineered people. I remember a scene with the piano player having extra fingers so that he can be the best at what he does.

    I think The Island fits this too.... Genetically engineered clones used as organ donors.

    Though society does "break" in Gatacca, it makes a point to show that it is flawed.

    In The Island, once the clones realize what they are, society does end up being impacted.
     
  3. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Oohh and Akira! That was a freaky/twisted movie where guy goes crazy and modifies himself into a technomonster but the tech basically takes over his body.
     
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  4. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    @J.T. Woody is not alone in confusion.

    Mmmm.... Everywhere?

    @Steerpike started a thread a bit ago concerning M. John Harrison and his works. He has several, but the ones that answer to your request are Light, Nova Swing, and Empty Space. Beneath the Kefahuchi Tract, you will find a setting and story that makes you feel like you read these books after having dropped acid while rolling, face sliding clean off the bone.

    Nuclear families are profoundly absent. Literal computer code haunts the eaves and rafters of establishments, sadly begging that the non-code beings (people) make use of their protocols. People are modified into the functional computer cores of spaceships, what little remains of their bodies sloshing around in tanks filled with biotic goop. The streets are roamed by youths wearing wildly flamboyant disposable "cultivar bodies" sporting tuskes, horns, ungodly phalluses, only to be shucked when the drugs wear off and a new one chosen for tomorrow night's adventures. Rikshaw girls with modified legs and tweaked metabolisms piston through the city, taking their passengers where they need to go. Or perhaps you'd rather be a Mona with permanently peppermint-scented hair identical in every way to every other Mona. A thing called the Shrike fades in and out of reality. Waves of black and white cats take over and then depart the city. They may be real, or they may just be a screensaver from another iteration of the multiverse passing through this one, just as the Sphere passed through Flatland.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  5. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Ive come across a whole bunch of books too in my fiction ordering (have not read them cover to cover but skimmed enough to review it and know what happening). Dont remember titles, but i can drop a few when i come across them this afternoon as i reorganize
     
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  6. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, who, one must admit, has a surname that's fun to say. :)

    Though its narrative crosshairs are pinned more on the technicolor calamities that surely await us through the insouciant and cavalier genetic modification of nature in general, the eponymous "windup girl" is a real person in the story, modified to extreme degrees.

    Nature has taken such a eugenic kick to the dick from humans that our economies have moved away from money as an abstract wealth-token and is instead based on calories.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Also Bacigalupi's The Fluted Girl, which can be read for free online.
     
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  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And - broken record that I am - one cannot have this conversation and fail to mention William Gibson and his Sprawl trilogy, Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive.

    face.png
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
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  9. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    The Outer Limits. Isaac Asimov. Star Trek. Any number of places, if you look for them.
     
  10. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Webp.net-resizeimage (1).jpg Webp.net-resizeimage.jpg

    although Master Class is a "near future" novel where humanity strives to be perfect and geniuses. Kids are tested for high IQs every year and if they continuously fail, they get taken out of the community. that one is about a mother trying to find out what happened to her kid after she failed. I GUESS this one would count as trying to be as perfect as an AI(?)

    Anyways....these were my finds of the day... and aside from the top picture, they are new releases so there are DEFINITELY more
     
  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Have you read HELLA yet, @J.T. Woody?

    I follow Gerrold and loved his still incomplete War Against the Chtorr novels.
     
  12. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    Have not read it yet. My "to read" list is a mile long, haha!
    Im sad that, since ive ordered it.... No one has touched it :(
    It seems really cool
     
  13. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I was between books anyway, so I got it for my Kindle. :read2:

    Maybe I'll do a thread about it in Book Discussion when I'm done. ;)
     
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  14. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    (ah, id like to add that my "ordering" is not for my personal book collection... So i do not own these books....merely order them,review them, and display them)
     
  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Dune? Replace 'spice' with genetic engineering and you have exactly that.

    Also Star Trek. Entire episodes about a culture that became dependent on a central AI and lost the knowledge of how it works, formed a religion and worshipped it as a god. An episode where Data's brother uses his advanced AI to raise his own group of followers. And of course, you have The Borg, a species that has taken transhumanism to the extreme. One of my favorite episodes is The nth Degree where one of the human characters uploads their consciousness to the computer and got geometrically smarter.
     
  16. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    How could I forget!

    Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood.

    This book is a little like the Necronomicon. Many claim to know it; few have actually engaged it.

    You know how people are all "Margaret Atwood is clearly anti-religious!"

    No, she's not.

    If people actually read Oryx & Crake, they would understand that she has a cautionary tale for Science as well. Oryx & Crake rides the theme of just because you can doesn't mean you should. And though genetic engineering is the specific death knell in this book as regards our current take on civilization and our species, she paints a world where Science has already leaned too hard into analytical secularism and can has supplanted should as the meter by which to measure.

    I'd be interested to see how people misrepresent this book compared to how they misrepresent its companion.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  17. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Reading that many years ago gave me my first real taste of dissonance between an author's presentation and my own views. She has a scene which presents chicken meat grown in vats without anything even remotely resembling an animal attached, and it's presented in a way that's clearly meant to show Science Has Gone Too Far, but all I could think was 'this sounds awesome, we should do that'.
     
  18. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    I have no skin in the game and have never read Ms. Atwood's work, but wasn't The Handmaid's Tale kind of anti-religious? At least, were there any sympathetic portrayals of religion? I thought the whole point of the book was an oppressive theocracy.
     
  19. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Offred* (the Handmaid) believes in God. The whole (original) story is a conversation between herself and God. Gilead isn’t a religion or a church, and in the original book, the enemies of Gilead are all the prior denominations of Christianity, not Atheism or Science. The cautionary tale concerns what happens when you allow political interests to overrun the pulpit. It is Religion made captive to Politics, forced to issue statements on video at gunpoint. Atwood’s warning is not “watch out for big bad Religion everybody”. It’s “Hey, Religion, politicians are the Devil. Have a care.”

    * In the Hulu show version, they canonize that her name is June Osborne. In the book we never actually learn her name, though there is a segment where she offers up some names as stand-ins because she's become so entrenched in the fear of using real names, but she deploys it in a way that gives you to believe maybe one of those throwaway names is real, maybe her or maybe her daughter. The show sides with the idea that June is her own name, and the Handmaids make surreptitious use of their original names as a small rebelion, but in the book, Offred would never do such a thing. The surname in the show is a complete novelty. No mention is made at all in the book.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  20. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber marshmallow Contributor

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    Ah, I see. Thanks for clarifying.
     
  21. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Brave New World was written 90 years ago...
     
  22. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    I think it's a bit of an odd concept considering that sorta the whole idea of the soul is that it isn't physical. Like, it's something that transcends and survives the body. That's kinda the point.

    Actually, IIRC, Ghost in the Shell sorta did the opposite of this in that it featured cyborgs who'd replaced so much of their original bodies with synthetic parts that they may as well have been actual robots, leading them to wonder what exactly made them human in the first place: They couldn't figure out where that "ghost" of humanity resided, hence the title. Somehow stuff like that - what if cybernetics don't eat your soul? - strikes me as more philosophically interesting.

    As for genetic engineering, I guess that if the idea is that being genetically engineered to surpass basic humans makes you less human, then what does that actually say about what "being human" actually means?

    Over-all, I guess I see it as mostly a thinly veiled version of the Natural Fallacy plus some vague fear of becoming obsolete. But as for that last part, hey, that's pretty much what transhuman augmentation is for.

    That would be unfortunate considering we literally have those today. As in straight up robot prosthetics you control with your mind and everything. I actually sorta adore that we live in a time when we have finally started to figure that out.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2022
  23. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    As the owner of a semi-prosthetic foot, I can safely say my soul is not leaking out through my leg.
     
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  24. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You know, I was thinking about this bit last night, and you're more right than you know when it comes to the ubiquity of the nuclear family in modern literature, regardless of genre. I was thinking about House Stark ensconced in The North of Westeros. The Westerosian saga presents many different kinds of families, but if you look at the way the HBO version wrapped things up (insert groan of disappointment), the primacy of the nuclear family is held up above all else as the core feature of the Starks that results in their final multipronged win. I mean, don't get me wrong, the setting of Westeros is riddled with ridiculous problems. Economy and commerce are given short shrift in the story, which makes no sense given that the coming winter would invoke a massive shift of economy and a near total change in the color of money, all of which should form a significant part of the narrative. But that never happens, so the very slim chance they would actually have of surviving a winter that lasts longer than a full year now becomes pretty much zero since no one is getting ready and the wars have rendered this last season's crops a loss and there are no giant granaries ever mentioned anywhere, and... the setting is filled with massive gaping holes.

    But even with all that, the Starks and their little hotbed of nuclear family stand out to me as a tremendous (and rather American) anachronism. The primacy of the nuclear family is an invention purely of the post-WW2 rise of suburbia as the focal point for cultural attention. Prior to WW2, most people lived under the umbrella of the extended family network, but after the war, nuclear families of just Mom+Dad & Kids™ became the core idea of what Family meant because it fit nicely with what the economy was doing, and the idea of the extended family network was relegated to the ever-suspicious realms of "immigrants".

    The Starks living in the Westeros we are presented would never have leaned into the sentimentality about their nuclear family that we lend them. It would be foreign to their way of life as agents of that particularly flawed economy. It is presented purely to appease our current sense of what is and how we use what is to derive what should be. This aligns with the naturalistic fallacy mentioned by @Fervidor.

    In short, it's propaganda. The nuclear family as the core of life is, in the most real sense, just a blip on the social timeline and if you look around at what's happening today, you can easily see how that blip is in the process of popping. And if you're an American reading this and are annoyed or disturbed by that observation, that's how propaganda works.

    So, yes, I agree that the modern sentiments of cultural meetness do too often get reflected in period pieces, be they set in some fictitious past, alternate present, or imagined future.

    But, in the end, that is the nature of all literature. If you're looking for Science Fiction that genuinely talks to about the actual future, best of luck. No matter the genre, no matter the setting, no matter the plot, all works of literature are naturally anchored in the writer's current life. There is no knowing the future. Science Fiction is always about now, never about tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
  25. Accelerator231

    Accelerator231 Senior Member

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    Hah! That sounds like what a soulless cyborg will say! Get him! And dunk him into the water! If he floats, he's a witch!
     

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