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[system-less] The line between cyberpunk and transhuman science fiction.

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Ah, so we've transcended the need for any actual evidence to dismiss multiple people as ignorant on a topic and are reading signs and portents. That's far too evolved for me.
Interpreting factually incorrect statements about a thing as an indication that the person making those statements is not very familiar with that thing is "reading signs and portents"?
 

DoctorDogGirl

New member
Banned
It does, rather - being aware of only one relatively small subset of a genre is usually a sign that you're going mostly on stuff you've heard about it. Thinking that transhuman fiction is all fluffy utopian twaddle is roughly analogous to thinking that Japanese animation is all Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z; if you do actually consume the stuff, you'd have to be incredibly selective in your reading to be literally unaware of the greater body of the genre.
I think you're wrong and your tone also comes off as dismissive--especially since you have only presented your opinion. Like Steampunk, the definition of Transhumanism comes with certain connotations and your statement these connotations only fit the criteria you pose is not only dismissive but wrong.

Which makes me very irritated to say you're also correct Transhumanism can be horribly destructive and dehumanizing. THE Transhuman RPG, Transhuman Space used Transhumanism to resurrect chattle slavery.

In short, there's an ARGUMENT not fact that transhuman fiction is simply: "Fiction about the transformation of the body through outside forces."
 
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TheDrunkenMonk

Unfocused third eye
Which makes me very irritated to say you're also correct Transhumanism can be horribly destructive. THE Transhuman RPG, Transhuman Space used Transhumanism to resurrect chattle slavery.
I never got the reason for that - if you can just spawn off lobotomised versions of yourself to do the dishes, why enslave others?
 

Ratoslov

Exploding Murderer
Validated User
I never got the reason for that - if you can just spawn off lobotomised versions of yourself to do the dishes, why enslave others?
The labor is only part of the reason for chattel slavery. The real reason is the joy of forcing someone else to do your bidding.
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I think you're wrong and your tone also comes off as dismissive--especially since you have only presented your opinion. Like Steampunk, the definition of Transhumanism comes with certain connotations and your statement these connotations only fit the criteria you pose is not only dismissive but wrong.
There are two separate statements in the post you're referring to. The distinction between cyberpunk fiction and transhuman fiction I proposed is, indeed, merely my opinion; the statement that fluffy utopianism is not a representative characterisation of the greater body of transhuman-themed fiction, however, is not.

However, upon consideration I grant that suggesting that this necessarily stems from a lack of familiarity was an over-broad judgment. I apologise for that. I will say that characterising transhuman-themed fiction as essentially utopian in character requires a very selective reading of the corpus of the genre, but you're right - I shouldn't have made any sweeping statements regarding the motive for such a reading.
 
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Iozz-Sothoth

Cruel Angel's Viva Voce
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A slightly glib take:

Cyberpunk is Phillip K Dick, John Brunner and Raymond Chandler filtered through Gibson, Sterling et al. and their literary decendents. Transhuman sf is what you get if you replace the Chandler portion of the mix with Samuel Delany.
 
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DoctorDogGirl

New member
Banned
There are two separate statements in the post you're referring to. The distinction between cyberpunk fiction and transhuman fiction I proposed is, indeed, merely my opinion; the statement that fluffy utopianism is not a representative characterisation of the greater body of transhuman-themed fiction, however, is not.

However, upon consideration I grant that suggesting that this necessarily stems from a lack of familiarity was an over-broad judgment. I apologise for that. I will say that characterising transhuman-themed fiction as essentially utopian in character requires a very selective reading of the corpus of the genre, but you're right - I shouldn't have made any sweeping statements regarding the motive for such a reading.
Like I said, I agree Transhumanism can be horrifically dark. So it's not wrong, just came off as a bit off-putting.

Lovecraft speaks of the early fears of the stuff and the idea of transformation via genetics and cybernetics or even magic can be horrifying rather than optimistic. The Shadows over Innsmouth speak of a process which the locals have voluntarily entered into a mystical pact to induce, pressured by gold and financial success, but the resulting beings DO NOT think like normal human beings.

Really, I'd also state cyberpunk touches on Transhumanism very rarely save as trappings for the setting. People are voluntarily chopping off limbs for stats bonuses and altering themselves to give themselves an edge because being "human" just flat out isn't enough anymore. In Transhumanism stories, these actions are the heart of things.

Molly Millions and Chase are regular people with cybernetics in a cyberpunk take on Neuromancer, in Transhumanism Neuromancer we'd see more focus on Chase as a Net God but a living cripple while Molly is a human woman caught between being half-doll and half-Wolverine killbot.
 
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Ulzgoroth

Mad Scientist
Validated User
As mention Takeshi Kovacs novels (Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, Woken Furies) are cyberpunk books set in furture where mind uploads (and things that go with them like resevling, forking, or putting minds in reality simulations) are common place.
The thing is society still need Cyberpunk PC-like character to do it's dirty deeds. Kovack himself is an ex-Envoy, an elite spec-ops military formation, created to preferom opperation raging from assasination to political manipulations, in fairly PC like manner. The idea is the Envoy are trained and condition to be the operative there can be, and one or small group is send to deal with problems on planetary scale.
The Altered Carbon universe has a lot of cyberpunk in its makeup, for sure. But unlike what I at least think of as typical cyberpunk fare, there don't seem to be all-dominating superpowers to the same degree. The government might be able to pull off rewriting a lot of moderately important people, but seems to not be quite corrupt enough. The corps could only rewrite the relatively small number of people who are totally in their power, and TBH I'm not sure the first two books at least actually had any such people appear...
I never got the reason for that - if you can just spawn off lobotomised versions of yourself to do the dishes, why enslave others?
Well, in Transhuman Space, there are two different serious barriers to that approach that don't apply to buying bioroids.

One is that most people in THS are not in fact infomorphs and aren't eager to be infomorphs. Your typical 5th wave Eloi (that is, the people who are living the high life with the high tech) are mostly genefixed humans or parahumans with computer implants. So forking isn't particularly simple. Buying a low-end AI isn't too hard, but if you want one that measures up to human-standard that's not so cheap and may not be available. And while a high-end AI does measure up, it's not quite the same in some respects.

And then you need a body. A basic utility robot isn't too expensive, but one with fully-satisfactory capabilities isn't necessarily. Actually, the cheapest method of getting everything you want there would probably be to get a bioshell, which is a bioroid grown without a brain and driven by an implanted computer...
 
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