[ExI] Transcension (in fiction) before Vinge's Singularity

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Sun Sep 16 04:34:55 UTC 2007

There are probably plenty of fictional forebears, such as the 
transcendence of the children of humanity into incomprehensible glory 
at the close of Arthur Clarke's CHILDHOOD'S END, but I was surprised 
to find that I'd forgotten an unequivocal transcend (under that very 
word) in Bruce Sterling's "Swarm" (1982). As Sterling noted in the 
introduction to SCHISMATIX PLUS, this story was (remarkably) his 
"official story premiere". Here's one revelation to a weakly 
posthuman, from an ad hoc alien superintelligence tool cast up by a 
broadly unintelligent alien Swarm and its Queen, at the end of the story:

<"In a thousand years you will not even be a memory. Your race will 
go the same way as a thousand others... They have passed beyond my 
ken. They have all discovered something, learned something, that has 
caused them to transcend my understanding. It may be that they even 
transcend *being*. At any rate, I cannot sense their presence 
anywhere. They seem to do nothing, they seem to interfere in nothing; 
for all intents and purposes, they seem to be dead. Vanished. They 
may have become gods, or ghosts."

This seems to be pretty much precisely the fate of the transcended 
humans in Vinge's MAROONED IN REALTIME, where the Singularity was 
first plainly declared.


Damien Broderick

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