The hazards of writing fiction about post-humans

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon May 02 2005 - 22:03:57 MDT

is an interesting review of my new sf novel GODPLAYERS. The reviewer is
especially exercised by the fact that my posthuman characters are not
immediately understandable -- indeed, beyond empathy -- by human standards:

<the frustration level mounts as one waits in vain... for characters... to
display any hint of a genuine inner life as they move randomly from scene
to scene, world to world, reality to reality. Perhaps Vorpal homunculi do
not possess inner lives, and Broderick's point is that these seeming
superhumans, for all their power, are soulless automatons without a shred
of humanity.... Surely there should be some character, somewhere in a
novel, to which human readers can feel connected. ...As the sequence of
events grows increasingly frenzied, with ever-greater reliance placed on
what might be termed info-splatters, the lack of a deep humanistic
substrate left this reader, at least, with no ground to stand on. >

I'm torn in my response to this. On the one hand, it wouldn't make much
sense to write about posthumans as if they were representations of the
people down the road, or in the next room. On the other, I have tried to
ground the fairly breakneck narrative within thematic structures and
reverberations recognizable from myth, dream, and the traditions of
science-fiction itself when it ventures upon the superhuman. Greg Egan met
with this same objection, of course, and so, in various degrees, did John
C. Wright and Charlie Stross. Maybe it's an artistic problem beyond
solution -- for humans.

Damien Broderick

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