[extropy-chat] The hazards of writing fiction about post-humans

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue May 3 04:03:57 UTC 2005


is an interesting review of my new sf novel GODPLAYERS. The reviewer is 
especially exercised by the fact that my posthuman characters are not 
immediately understandable -- indeed, beyond empathy -- by human standards:

<the frustration level mounts as one waits in vain... for characters... to 
display any hint of a genuine inner life as they move randomly from scene 
to scene, world to world, reality to reality. Perhaps Vorpal homunculi do 
not possess inner lives, and Broderick's point is that these seeming 
superhumans, for all their power, are soulless automatons without a shred 
of humanity.... Surely there should be some character, somewhere in a 
novel, to which human readers can feel connected. ...As the sequence of 
events grows increasingly frenzied, with ever-greater reliance placed on 
what might be termed info-splatters, the lack of a deep humanistic 
substrate left this reader, at least, with no ground to stand on. >

I'm torn in my response to this. On the one hand, it wouldn't make much 
sense to write about posthumans as if they were representations of the 
people down the road, or in the next room. On the other, I have tried to 
ground the fairly breakneck narrative within thematic structures and 
reverberations recognizable from myth, dream, and the traditions of 
science-fiction itself when it ventures upon the superhuman. Greg Egan met 
with this same objection, of course, and so, in various degrees, did John 
C. Wright and Charlie Stross. Maybe it's an artistic problem beyond 
solution -- for humans.

Damien Broderick

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