Alterations of the human state and technological intervention

“Aye, and Gomorrah” (1967): Astronaut careers require physical removal of genitalia. Transforms people into sexless, androgynous, prepubescent “spacers”.

“Seed Stock” (1970): The narrator has a moment of speculation on further generations and the natural evolution of the humans on this new planet. Despite scientists’ best efforts in accommodating the planet to humans, through the natural course of evolution, they will become more and more removed from traditional humanity as they become a people more suited to live in their new environment.

“Burning Chrome” (1982): The prevalence of technology and cybernetic enhancements to the human body allow for a closer bond between the human and the artificial in this cyberpunk text.

The Calcutta Chromosome (1995): Transference of “chromosomes” unique to your person to others allows for the altering, and extension, of the human state. Advanced technologies feature in a larger conspiracy, though they are not essential to the process of transforming humans.

The above texts all touch upon post/transhumanist themes of changing what it means to be traditionally human, with each featuring advanced technologies to various extents in relation to these shared themes. “Aye, and Gomorrah”, written within the historical context of sexual revolution (mirrored largely by the “spacers” and “frelks” and their social perceptions and positions), depicts a future where human technological intervention in space requires people to undergo physical alteration. “Seed Stock” shows that, despite the best technological efforts of humanity, a natural process of evolution will change their being. “Burning Chrome”, falling within the cyberpunk genre of the 80s, has interaction with technology as key to the lives of its characters. These interactions to “nets” and “mainframes” through the art of hacking are often described in very physical ways. But the interactions also extend to a real physical sense with some cases of cybernetic implants. The Calcutta Chromosome does not require advanced technologies in dealing with its transformation of the human experience, just the advancement of ideas and research. However, AIs, holographic projections, advanced computations and some vision of the internet all play roles within a fairly prophetic century-old conspiracy. Though each text employs advanced technologies when exploring their post/transhuman ideas, there is little in the way of historical consistency when each author has different perceptions and understandings of technology. However, the existence of these advanced technologies is key to the narratives, despite not being key to the process of human alteration in “Seed Stock” and The Calcutta Chromosome.



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