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Eclipse Phase: Fixing the Jovians.

Bruwulf

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I've come to the conclusion that the Eclipse Phase writers don't really get religion, on a fundamental level.
Yep. It's really the only problem I've got with the Jovians - not that they're not flawless people, but rather that really the only example of Christianity in any form still existing has them as Warhammer-esq Catholic Space Nazis. For Reasons.

Reasons.

Actually the Jovians themselves are fine. Not flawless, but you can't say that about any group of transhumanity, and they're better than some. Plenty of interesting ways to work with them in game, plenty of good plot hooks.
 

Lord Raziere

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I've come to the conclusion that the Eclipse Phase writers don't really get religion, on a fundamental level.
Eh.

I don't either. so....*shrug* guess I'm just as bad as them. I actually like how they did acknowledge that could be changes to religion at all and that it still exists in some form. They could've easily written it out of the setting entirely.
 

Black Flag

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The Jovians' odd relationship with Catholicism makes a fair amount of sense, given the type of generalized reactionary conservatism they represent and how it has often been in bed with the Church (Francoist Spain, e.g.). It also serves as a representation in the setting of how bioconservatism tends to come from an irrational, quasi-religious set of axioms, and how religious beliefs can be a stumbling-block to transhumanism, since they're often predicated on certain basic assumptions about individual personhood and identity that don't jibe well with a non-essentialist view of transhumanity.

The problem is that Eclipse Phase's authors weren't really interested in religion otherwise and didn't do a good job of exploring how it might adapt to a transhumanist context and be something other than a stumbling-block. There's a lot that could be said about Buddhism in a transhumanist context, for example, but the authors didn't know anything about Buddhism, so they fumbled that one by making some off-hand reference to reincarnation and calling it a day. Similarly, there's a fair amount of early Christian mysticism that would be perfectly amenable to transhumanism if brought back to the fore. But to be fair, yes, the old essentialist dogmas of the pre-transhuman past would have trouble adapting to the new realities, and it's not out of bounds to show how people who cling to them come off as backwards or in denial.

A lot of the setting is about how the new technologies comprise an out-of-context problem for old ways of thinking. Hypercapitalism (i.e. the old economy), for example, is an attempt to apply the economics of scarcity to a functionally post-scarcity world, which comes off as backwards. The Jovians are also trying in vain to go back to a simpler time, which isn't really possible anymore. Now, it may be that transhumanity is headed for extinction in some sense or another, but I think one of the points of the Eclipse Phase setting is that there's a point beyond which there really isn't any going back again, for better or worse, even if the inevitable result is something inconceivable.

It's a cool sort of SF that avoids the common lazy SF routes: it's not wholly optimistic nor pessimistic, not sold on the myth of progress but also aware that you can't put the genie back in the bottle or stand still on a moving train. If there's an implied solution in the game, I'd say it's in the assumption that out-of-context problems will require out-of-context solutions—i.e. that transhumanity is going to have to find a way to avoid extinction that entails moving forwards and overcoming their conceptual stumbling-blocks, while recognizing that that also means moving in the direction of the perilous and existientially threatening unknown.

Obviously I don't think the Jovians are right. But they do bring up the important questions: What's the acceptable cost of survival? To what extent is it okay to sacrifice freedom on the altar of security? Is stagnation a means to survival or simply delaying the inevitable? Those are key questions in any context in which existential threats loom large, so the Jovian responses are a valuable contribution to the setting, even if I vehemently disagree with pretty much all of them. It would be weird if nobody in the setting had gone their route.
 
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Neongelion

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Well I don't blame the Jovians, at all. If it's set in stone that AF 124 ends up being that all of transhumanity has ended up becoming a Synergist-esque hive mind in the name of "progress" or some other techno "utopia" idea, then I'd be scared of the future too.
 

Lord Raziere

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Well I don't blame the Jovians, at all. If it's set in stone that AF 124 ends up being that all of transhumanity has ended up becoming a Synergist-esque hive mind in the name of "progress" or some other techno "utopia" idea, then I'd be scared of the future too.
.......dude, you don't have to be a Jovian to be scared of that. I like progress, I like tech, but I also like my individuality to. Synergists are not something I'd be signing up for, even if I'm liking the transhuman stuff.
 

KaijuGooGoo

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I can appreciate that people don't like the way the Jovian Republic is written and portrayed in the setting material but the whole bit about making them less of mustache twirling villains makes me wonder. Is there no room in a setting for a faction that is just bad? Can there not be an equivalent of North Korea, Stalinist USSR, Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany in a setting? Places where, while the individual citizens are just people, the government is horrendously terrible and doesn't really have a good explanation for their behavior?
The issue that some have with Eclipse Phase is that the authors' personal views on economics and religion show in the treatment of certain factions. Anarcho-Capitalists can do no wrong, and nation-state and religion supporters are outright bad more often than not. It's been a while since I read the book, but there's lot of how terrible the Jovians are, and how bad their habitats are, with just a throwaway line about "even after all this, their quality of life is as good or better than most modern countries in the 20th/21st centuries".

It would be possible to have adversarial Jovians, who are somewhat paranoid and willing to project power to battle perceived threats, without making a religious belief that sees mind transference as death objectively WRONG. Some of this gets softened in later books, but their initial description rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
 

Fabius Maximus

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The issue that some have with Eclipse Phase is that the authors' personal views on economics and religion show in the treatment of certain factions. Anarcho-Capitalists can do no wrong, and nation-state and religion supporters are outright bad more often than not. It's been a while since I read the book, but there's lot of how terrible the Jovians are, and how bad their habitats are, with just a throwaway line about "even after all this, their quality of life is as good or better than most modern countries in the 20th/21st centuries".

It would be possible to have adversarial Jovians, who are somewhat paranoid and willing to project power to battle perceived threats, without making a religious belief that sees mind transference as death objectively WRONG. Some of this gets softened in later books, but their initial description rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
This is one interesting factor that doesn't get played up and can often lead to players having odd images-- by modern terms, most of the the world of EP is pretty damned sweet. If you're a member of the clanking masses, you get descrimianted against...because you have a robot body that doesn't eat or sleep and is damnedtouch comparedto one of us. Infomorphs live in thier own VR worlds and presuming they're not controlled by utter bastards (a big assumption,mind you) don't have much in teh way of discomfort. For the vast majority of people, "poverty" doesn't mean starving, it means not having immediate access ot a nanofabber. The world of EP is in many respects, a paradise compared to much of hte modern world.

that being said, the Jovian's have some damned good points-- the downside of the Anarchists is that there is a lot of terrible stuff happening and nobody will step up and stop it because society is so fractured. A good example might be a world today where you find out that some cities still practice chattel slavery and the main bit of public wisdom is "man you'd better not go there if you're x"
 

Neongelion

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.......dude, you don't have to be a Jovian to be scared of that. I like progress, I like tech, but I also like my individuality to. Synergists are not something I'd be signing up for, even if I'm liking the transhuman stuff.
That's exactly what transhuman society is propelling towards, as others in this thread have said. The only thing to stop them is total extinction. The Jovians and other biocons are quickly becoming irrelevant, and soon transhumans will become the Luddites of the posthuman age.

...Which sounds really unappealing and quite frankly overly bleak and nihilistic. I like Eclipse Phase because while it's a bleak horror setting, it's different from Call of Cthluhu in that people can make a difference. Transhumanity's extinction can be prevented, and despite these scary new technologies that alters what it means to be human, people are still people with all the good and bad that entails, and those exhumans and hive mind synergists are seen as eerie at best, x-threats at worst.
 

Conrad Gray

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Religion has huge cultural, political, and historical implications. Understanding religion as institutions and tribal differentiators is vital to worldbuilding. That's why GURPS Transhuman Space is so convincing.
 
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Iozz-Sothoth

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