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OTHER Best Lists
SF Subgenre Guides
What is Transhumanism Science Fiction?
Transhumanism Science Fiction takes the ideas and questions of Transhumanism philosophy and gives it a story. The stories offer possibilities about how humans may transform in the future. These transformations may be small or complete alterations. These transformations are often characterized as evolution, often with the aid of science—as in biological uplift.
Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement whose goal is to transform the human condition with the aid of technologies that will enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Many Transhumanist thinkers believe that humans will eventually overcome human limitations and become posthumans. While Transhumanism does focus on the individual, there is another goal: to apply science and technology to reduce poverty, disease, and disability for all populations around the world—to improve the quality of all life. Within the movement there is much study on these emerging technologies as well as their benefits, dangers, and ethical implications.
Other Features of Transhumanism Science Fiction
- Level of Real Science
High. Transhumanism is grounded in real science about the real possibilities for science and technology to help evolve humanity. Sometimes the science will become more imaginative than a Hard Sci Fi writer might like, but there is still a grounding in real science.
- Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications
High. This is a highly philosophical sub-genre dealing with ethics and the far reaching implications of transforming human bodies, intelligence, and psychology.
- Level of Characterization
Variable. Transhumanism Sci Fi is defined thematically, so characterization will vary depending on the focus on the author—do they focus on the individual or the society or the universe?
- Level of Plot Complexity
Variable. Similar to the level of characterization, because Transhumanism Sci Fi is defined thematically, plot may or may not be a strong component to creating the message of its works.
- Level of Violence
Variable. Transhumanism Sci Fi can take place in utopian societies or dystopian societies. It can present the society as accepting of posthumans or targeting and trying to eliminate them. The amount of violence in these stories will depend on the positivity of the Transhumanist themes.
Related Science Fiction subgenres
Synthetic Biology Science Fiction. The science of synthetic biology has limitless potential for creating and transforming life, so Transhumanists are naturally interested in its possibilities.
Robot Science Fiction. The ideas of Transhumanism can be found in Robot Sci Fi when artificial intelligence is used to augment or otherwise improve humanity.
Cyberpunk. As a sub-genre, Cyberpunk has been concerned with modifying the human body and so several Cyberpunk stories have Transhumanist themes.
Utopian Science Fiction. The ultimate goal of transhumanism is to uplift humans into a more perfect society
Transhumanism Science Fiction isn't for you if...
If you don't believe in evolution or if you don't believe in giving evolution a helping hand.
- 1 Mechanist and Shaper
By Bruce Sterling. This series is a pioneering example of this sub-genre.
- 2 Lazarus Long series
By Robert A. Heinlein. Lazarus Long is the product of a selective breeding program and has an unusually long lifespan.
- 3 Slan
By A.E. van Vogt. Features a race of highly evolved humans who were created by Samuel Lann and possess psychic abilities and superior physical attributes.
- 4 Childhood's End
By Arthur C. Clarke. A mysterious race of aliens, called the Overlords, who help improve government, culture, and children eventually develop telekinetic powers.
- 5 Polity series
By Neal Asher. The protagonist of this series is an augmented human who works for Earth Central Security, which is a superhuman and AI coalition to maintain law and order.
- 6 Blood Music
By Greg Bear. An award winning novel that shares common themes with Tranhumanism: biotechnology, nanotechnology, the nature of consciousness, and AI.
- 7 Xenogenesis Trilogy
By Octavia Butler The Oankali are an alien race that rescued humanity, but the Oankali survive by mixing genetically with other races. The Oankali-human hybrids possess extradorinary powers.
- 8 The Beggar's Trilogy
By Nancy Kress. The sleepless are genetically engineered humans with higher IQs, greater productivity, and even immortality.
- 9 Diaspora
By Greg Egan. This philosophical novel deals with the question of reproduction in a posthuman world.
- 10 The Nanotech Succession series
By Linda Nagata. A vast series that features nanotechnology, biological engineering, and alien mechanisms for transformation and their effects.
- 11 Culture Series
By Ian M Banks. Features a Utopian society (culture) that's post scarcity, controlled by benevolent A. I.'s who act for the good of the society. When Culture encounters less enlightened societies, the fun begins. One of the better examples of a fully developed trans-humanist society and all the ramifications this brings on a large scale.
- Diaspora (Greg Egan)
- Upload (Mark McClelland)
- Darwin's Radio (Greg Bear)
- Sister Alice (Robert Reed)
- Echopraxia (Peter Watts)
- Memory (Linda Nagata)
- Slan (A. E. van Vogt)