[ExI] Hugo Danner the Transhuman

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 5 07:57:12 UTC 2008

--- Damien Broderick <thespike at satx.rr.com> wrote:

> At 04:35 PM 8/31/2008 -0700, Stuart LaForge wrote:
> >This essay makes a really good case that the uncredited inspiration for
> >Superman, and much of the superhero genre, was a character named Hugo Danner
> >from a 1930 science fiction novel entitled "Gladiator" by Phillip Wylie
> Uncredited? This connection is well known in sf scholarship.

Well I was unaware of such. As far as the story goes, I thought "Gladiator" was
pretty well written for pulp fiction. Up to the end that is. What a
disappointing ending for such a good story. It strikes me that Wylie sold out
to bioconservatives and the Christian right in the last few pages of his novel.

I mean if Wylie wanted his tragic hero to commit suicide or something by
climbing a mountain in a thunderstorm, that would still have been sad but
preferable. But why go so far as invoke divine intervention in Hugo's death
just as he was on the verge of an epiphany of purpose? Why turn such a
visionary work into a cautionary tale against playing God? It's all the more
surprising considering Wylie's unflattering descriptions of Hugo's naive
provincial church-going mother. 

It's like SF in general can't get past Shelly's "Frankenstein" as the
definitive moral guide to biotechnology. I mean it's acceptable in science
fiction for the protagonist to kill any number of people by all manner of
futuristic weaponry with the thinnest of justifications. But let one scientist
create a new life-form and suddenly it's a crime against Nature that can only
be amended by the death of the scientist or his creation.

Am I the only one who sees the contradiction in that? When man plays an angry
God and wages hi-tech war with great vengeance and furious anger, well that's
ok . . . but let man play a loving God that brings a new lifeform into the
world and he is committing blasphemy. At least Wylie could be said to have
lived in a more innocent and ignorant time but what's Crichton's excuse?

Maybe if scientists figured out a way to weaponize human embryos and kill
millions of adults with them, the Christians would reverse their position on
stem cell research. After all you don't see Christians complaining about
nuclear weapons research do you? Death apparently holds no fear for Christians,
it's only life they have seem to have a problem with.

Stuart LaForge

"A portion of mankind take pride in their vices and pursue their purpose; many more waver between doing what is right and complying with what is wrong." - Horace


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