Re: The hazards of writing fiction about post-humans

From: Matt Arnold (
Date: Tue May 03 2005 - 11:41:43 MDT

   Schild's Ladder had more conflict and the accompanying passion.
Egan pulled off some of my favorite characterization of all time in
Distress, but that was not about posthumans.
   What's great about the transhumanist authors is that they attempt
to step outside the assumptions built into our meat-based substrate,
on which literature seems to have almost always depended. Granted,
posthumans don't have to be that way, but where is there a better
opportunity to play with it?
   The aspects which you lament are the attributes that mark my
favorite fiction. The world is swimming in melodramas full of
sympathetic characters and Romanticist operatic swellings of passion.
This has an important place, but I'm stifled by the sheer volume of
it. I could stand for some ironic detachment or mental flex for a
change. Hip and avante-garde is good, when surrounded by zealots. Not
caring is refreshing. In fact, perhaps this is why I enjoy reading the
Orion's Arm website or David Pulver's roleplaying sourcebooks for
GURPS: Transhuman Space just as much as I enjoy reading a story that
actually has one iota of characters, plot, and drama.
-Matt Arnold

On 5/3/05, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> Giu1i0 Pri5c0 wrote:
> > I suppose the trick is finding a balance between making the characters
> > too human (it would not be believable) and too posthuman (no reader
> > would understand).
> > I think Egan does this well (Diaspora and Schild's Ladder), Wright
> > less (especially Phaeton is really a 19th century person).
> > I look forward to reading your book, is it available as ebook?
> The only sympathetic character in all of _Diaspora_ is Inoshiro, and he
> doesn't get enough stage time. Greg Egan is one of my all-time favorite SF
> authors but I can't give him points for characterization.
> --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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