Thursday, 4 August 2016

Beginnings And Later Developments

Those who go before can set the terms of reference. Thus:

Robert Heinlein wrote the Future History;
several of Heinlein's successors have each written a future history;
one of his successors, Poul Anderson, wrote several future histories.

Heinlein wrote one work about magic as technology;
on this theme, Anderson wrote a series that was collected, acquired a sequel and became part of a longer sequence about alternative histories.

Before Heinlein, Wells wrote about the Time Traveler and his Time Machine;
many of Wells' successors, including Heinlein and Anderson, have written individual works about time travelers and their time machines;
Anderson also wrote a series about an organization of time travelers regularly using many time machines.

We find:

illustrious precursors, Mary Shelley (see below), Wells and Heinlein;
many successors;
remarkable contributions by Anderson, combining quantity with quality;
later works by Anderson breaking new ground on the theme of post-human inorganic intelligence.

In fact, Anderson's culminating work, Genesis, revisits Mary Shelley's Frankenstein theme twice:

Might human creations replace humanity?;
Would it be right to create human life?

Ironically, the post-human intelligences must ask the latter question!

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

The human race in GENESIS chose to die out, become extinct, because the humans concluded there was nothing real and meaningful for them to do. And we know when human powerlessness became plain: Gaia, the AI which had more and more taken over the actual running of matters on Earth, would not allow men to even QUARREL.

Gaia must have used stored human DNA to "resurrect" the human race about a billion years to our future. That was arguably wrong since the human race had voluntarily chosen to become extinct. On the other hand, after Gaia brought back the human race, it would be at least equally wrong for any AI to MAKE the human race become extinct again.

One problem GENESIS speculates about is wondering how a "resurrected" human race would react to finding out about the AIs, both on and off Earth. Would they feel themselves as futile and impotent as the original human race? Or would they insist on taking control of their own destiny, independently of anything the AIs wanted? I would prefer the latter!