Transcension (in fiction) before Vinge's Singularity

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Sep 15 2007 - 22:34:55 MDT

There are probably plenty of fictional forebears, such as the
transcendence of the children of humanity into incomprehensible glory
at the close of Arthur Clarke's CHILDHOOD'S END, but I was surprised
to find that I'd forgotten an unequivocal transcend (under that very
word) in Bruce Sterling's "Swarm" (1982). As Sterling noted in the
introduction to SCHISMATIX PLUS, this story was (remarkably) his
"official story premiere". Here's one revelation to a weakly
posthuman, from an ad hoc alien superintelligence tool cast up by a
broadly unintelligent alien Swarm and its Queen, at the end of the story:

<"In a thousand years you will not even be a memory. Your race will
go the same way as a thousand others... They have passed beyond my
ken. They have all discovered something, learned something, that has
caused them to transcend my understanding. It may be that they even
transcend *being*. At any rate, I cannot sense their presence
anywhere. They seem to do nothing, they seem to interfere in nothing;
for all intents and purposes, they seem to be dead. Vanished. They
may have become gods, or ghosts."

This seems to be pretty much precisely the fate of the transcended
humans in Vinge's MAROONED IN REALTIME, where the Singularity was
first plainly declared.


Damien Broderick

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