Re: New Book - "Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age"

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Mar 08 2003 - 21:42:04 MST

At 03:30 PM 3/8/03 -0600, Paul Fidika wrote:

>A genetically altered
>race of super-humans wouldn't bother to enslave all the rest of the human
>race as bad pop culture sic-fi seems to dictate

Of course we don't *know* *what* genetically altered super-humans would
bother to do, so perhaps it does pay to be cautious. But Paul's typo rather
nicely captures what's wrong with Bill McKibben's book and others like it:
they're all examples of sic-fi, the fiction of the unaltered prior, the
literally repeated error. (`Sic', as you will doubtless know, is shorthand
for `what he said'.) `Sic-fi' combines neatly (and horrifyingly) the twin
errors of supposing that what has been ought ethically and aesthetically
always continue to be, except that due to `fallen man' whatever awful
things happened in the past will be repeated, but on an awfuller scale.

In a talk at a Smithsonian Seminar at the Library of Congress in 1999, the
Canadian sf writer Robert Sawyer mentioned a TV program where he'd defended
the uses of science and technology against the complaints of a social
services worker. "...her clincher argument was this--I swear to God, I'm
not making this up: "We should be careful about devoting too much time to
science. The people who lived in Atlantis were obsessed with science, and
that led to their downfall"' (FOUNDATION, Autumn 2000).

Sic fi, semper fi, sick fic. What we need, of course, is sic fix.

Damien Broderick

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