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February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

08 Feb 2020 14:42 - 08 Feb 2020 14:42 #66712 by HikerAngel
February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest was created by HikerAngel
You have to start an account at writing.com to enter, but this month's Science Fiction contest there is right up the SWM writer's alley. Here's the theme.

Contest Re-opening for February!
Transhumanism Edition.

From "The Wrath of Khan" to the genetically engineered beings of Frank Herbert to the "Six Million Dollar Man" to the Posthuman Coalition of "Ashes of the Singularity", the idea that part of human progress is human improvement (whether through genetic engineering or more silicon-based forms of enhancement) is an old standby of Science Fiction. One I invite our writing.com writers to further explore! Bring your brightest hopes and darkest fears to the page in an attempt to explore all the human condition can be. Any short story that centers around the theme of human "enhancement" will be considered a contender for February's Science Fiction Short Story Contest.

Stories can be up to 2,000 words and are due by the end of February.

January's winners are yet to be announced, but last month I wrote a superwomanish story on a "spytech" prompt:  https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2211551-The-Human-Element

I would love to see what the writers here come up with for this contest. :)
Last edit: 08 Feb 2020 14:42 by HikerAngel.
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08 Feb 2020 15:07 #66713 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest
Any writers here can also promote the SWM site which will be good for all.
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08 Feb 2020 19:33 #66727 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

HikerAngel wrote: You have to start an account at writing.com to enter, but this month's Science Fiction contest there is right up the SWM writer's alley. Here's the theme.

Contest Re-opening for February!
Transhumanism Edition.

From "The Wrath of Khan" to the genetically engineered beings of Frank Herbert to the "Six Million Dollar Man" to the Posthuman Coalition of "Ashes of the Singularity", the idea that part of human progress is human improvement (whether through genetic engineering or more silicon-based forms of enhancement) is an old standby of Science Fiction. One I invite our writing.com writers to further explore! Bring your brightest hopes and darkest fears to the page in an attempt to explore all the human condition can be. Any short story that centers around the theme of human "enhancement" will be considered a contender for February's Science Fiction Short Story Contest.

Stories can be up to 2,000 words and are due by the end of February.

January's winners are yet to be announced, but last month I wrote a superwomanish story on a "spytech" prompt:  https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2211551-The-Human-Element

I would love to see what the writers here come up with for this contest. :)


Despite being an old fan of the cyberpunk genre... or maybe because of that... I have a really problematic relationship with the idea of transhumanism. I'm pretty sure that part of it is due to a friend of mine, who introduced me to the idea via Altered Carbon, but who also saw the idea of "becoming more than human" as inherently cool. This creeped me out to no end. The cyberpunk literature already contains most of the trappings of transhumanism, but it also pulls the brakes on it big time. In my eyes, the big difference is how the two genres build their moral roadmap: many (if not all) cyberpunk characters are very much immoral (or amoral) but their frame of reference is often similar to our own; whereas in many transhuman stories morals seem to be a thing of the past, something that is exclusive to a dying species... and I hate this idea.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)
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08 Feb 2020 20:16 #66728 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

Woodclaw wrote:

HikerAngel wrote: You have to start an account at writing.com to enter, but this month's Science Fiction contest there is right up the SWM writer's alley. Here's the theme.

Contest Re-opening for February!
Transhumanism Edition.

From "The Wrath of Khan" to the genetically engineered beings of Frank Herbert to the "Six Million Dollar Man" to the Posthuman Coalition of "Ashes of the Singularity", the idea that part of human progress is human improvement (whether through genetic engineering or more silicon-based forms of enhancement) is an old standby of Science Fiction. One I invite our writing.com writers to further explore! Bring your brightest hopes and darkest fears to the page in an attempt to explore all the human condition can be. Any short story that centers around the theme of human "enhancement" will be considered a contender for February's Science Fiction Short Story Contest.

Stories can be up to 2,000 words and are due by the end of February.

January's winners are yet to be announced, but last month I wrote a superwomanish story on a "spytech" prompt:  https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2211551-The-Human-Element

I would love to see what the writers here come up with for this contest. :)


Despite being an old fan of the cyberpunk genre... or maybe because of that... I have a really problematic relationship with the idea of transhumanism. I'm pretty sure that part of it is due to a friend of mine, who introduced me to the idea via Altered Carbon, but who also saw the idea of "becoming more than human" as inherently cool. This creeped me out to no end. The cyberpunk literature already contains most of the trappings of transhumanism, but it also pulls the brakes on it big time. In my eyes, the big difference is how the two genres build their moral roadmap: many (if not all) cyberpunk characters are very much immoral (or amoral) but their frame of reference is often similar to our own; whereas in many transhuman stories morals seem to be a thing of the past, something that is exclusive to a dying species... and I hate this idea.


Very interesting... I rarely hear anyone touch on the topic of the link between transhumanism and the abandonment of morality. And I don't see any reason for that to be a requirement other than the meme that "greater power leads to greater evil."

We tend to think of Homo subspecies (Neanderthals versus Sapiens, for instance) as having been locked in a battle for supremacy, but given that everyone on the planet has some Neanderthal DNA, obviously those subspecies interacted, and probably not always with one killing the other. 

And yes, we ordinary humans have a bad track record in the abuse of power and the descent into racism (imagine how strongly human inter-species hatred could be), but I don't believe that's intrinsic to humanity. Those are choices that get made.

My view is that transhumanism could realistically lead to both an increase in evil by some, who exploit their power, but it also could create a focus on compassion and protection by others. 

In the end, cyberpunk and much transhumanistic writing has gathered a bunch of memes about itself that are just baggage. If you write in that genre, you are supposed to exploit a small group of memes, which says that transhumans would destroy ordinary humans. 

But it doesn't have to be that way. I've been writing about "transhumansim" for decades, but outside the usual memes. Transhumanism isn't intrinsically amoral and exploitive, but it seems a lot of people unnecessarily jump on the bandwagon of assuming that's the only way enhanced humans could possibly think. 

I believe that shows a pretty depressing lack of confidence in human nature and human aspirations. If it's true, then the future is a horrible place, because human enhancement by scientific means is a certainty in our future. The ability to modify human DNA to make "better" people is just a matter of time. 

Shadar
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08 Feb 2020 22:12 #66729 by Klaus
Replied by Klaus on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

shadar wrote:

Woodclaw wrote:

HikerAngel wrote: You have to start an account at writing.com to enter, but this month's Science Fiction contest there is right up the SWM writer's alley. Here's the theme.

Contest Re-opening for February!
Transhumanism Edition.

From "The Wrath of Khan" to the genetically engineered beings of Frank Herbert to the "Six Million Dollar Man" to the Posthuman Coalition of "Ashes of the Singularity", the idea that part of human progress is human improvement (whether through genetic engineering or more silicon-based forms of enhancement) is an old standby of Science Fiction. One I invite our writing.com writers to further explore! Bring your brightest hopes and darkest fears to the page in an attempt to explore all the human condition can be. Any short story that centers around the theme of human "enhancement" will be considered a contender for February's Science Fiction Short Story Contest.

Stories can be up to 2,000 words and are due by the end of February.

January's winners are yet to be announced, but last month I wrote a superwomanish story on a "spytech" prompt:  https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2211551-The-Human-Element

I would love to see what the writers here come up with for this contest. :)


Despite being an old fan of the cyberpunk genre... or maybe because of that... I have a really problematic relationship with the idea of transhumanism. I'm pretty sure that part of it is due to a friend of mine, who introduced me to the idea via Altered Carbon, but who also saw the idea of "becoming more than human" as inherently cool. This creeped me out to no end. The cyberpunk literature already contains most of the trappings of transhumanism, but it also pulls the brakes on it big time. In my eyes, the big difference is how the two genres build their moral roadmap: many (if not all) cyberpunk characters are very much immoral (or amoral) but their frame of reference is often similar to our own; whereas in many transhuman stories morals seem to be a thing of the past, something that is exclusive to a dying species... and I hate this idea.


Very interesting... I rarely hear anyone touch on the topic of the link between transhumanism and the abandonment of morality. And I don't see any reason for that to be a requirement other than the meme that "greater power leads to greater evil."

We tend to think of Homo subspecies (Neanderthals versus Sapiens, for instance) as having been locked in a battle for supremacy, but given that everyone on the planet has some Neanderthal DNA, obviously those subspecies interacted, and probably not always with one killing the other. 

And yes, we ordinary humans have a bad track record in the abuse of power and the descent into racism (imagine how strongly human inter-species hatred could be), but I don't believe that's intrinsic to humanity. Those are choices that get made.

My view is that transhumanism could realistically lead to both an increase in evil by some, who exploit their power, but it also could create a focus on compassion and protection by others. 

In the end, cyberpunk and much transhumanistic writing has gathered a bunch of memes about itself that are just baggage. If you write in that genre, you are supposed to exploit a small group of memes, which says that transhumans would destroy ordinary humans. 

But it doesn't have to be that way. I've been writing about "transhumansim" for decades, but outside the usual memes. Transhumanism isn't intrinsically amoral and exploitive, but it seems a lot of people unnecessarily jump on the bandwagon of assuming that's the only way enhanced humans could possibly think. 

I believe that shows a pretty depressing lack of confidence in human nature and human aspirations. If it's true, then the future is a horrible place, because human enhancement by scientific means is a certainty in our future. The ability to modify human DNA to make "better" people is just a matter of time. 

Shadar


Meh, I've played too many video games that have addressed this subject for a really solid take on something like Transhumanism. :P.

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09 Feb 2020 00:15 #66731 by HikerAngel
Replied by HikerAngel on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

Woodclaw wrote: Despite being an old fan of the cyberpunk genre... or maybe because of that... I have a really problematic relationship with the idea of transhumanism. I'm pretty sure that part of it is due to a friend of mine, who introduced me to the idea via Altered Carbon, but who also saw the idea of "becoming more than human" as inherently cool. This creeped me out to no end. The cyberpunk literature already contains most of the trappings of transhumanism, but it also pulls the brakes on it big time. In my eyes, the big difference is how the two genres build their moral roadmap: many (if not all) cyberpunk characters are very much immoral (or amoral) but their frame of reference is often similar to our own; whereas in many transhuman stories morals seem to be a thing of the past, something that is exclusive to a dying species... and I hate this idea.

Thank you for this post. It sparked an idea for my story, and I am really stoked about it! What if heightened morality were part of the “upgrade” to combat the whole power corruption thing... :)
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09 Feb 2020 11:17 #66735 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

HikerAngel wrote:

Woodclaw wrote: Despite being an old fan of the cyberpunk genre... or maybe because of that... I have a really problematic relationship with the idea of transhumanism. I'm pretty sure that part of it is due to a friend of mine, who introduced me to the idea via Altered Carbon, but who also saw the idea of "becoming more than human" as inherently cool. This creeped me out to no end. The cyberpunk literature already contains most of the trappings of transhumanism, but it also pulls the brakes on it big time. In my eyes, the big difference is how the two genres build their moral roadmap: many (if not all) cyberpunk characters are very much immoral (or amoral) but their frame of reference is often similar to our own; whereas in many transhuman stories morals seem to be a thing of the past, something that is exclusive to a dying species... and I hate this idea.

Thank you for this post. It sparked an idea for my story, and I am really stoked about it! What if heightened morality were part of the “upgrade” to combat the whole power corruption thing... :)


I'm not sure that morality is something that can be encoded in a person, but it's a good start.

(formerly Anon, still Librarian)

"What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?" ("Gentleman" John Marcone)

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09 Feb 2020 21:16 #66740 by TwiceOnThursdays
Replied by TwiceOnThursdays on topic February 2020 Writing.com Sci-Fi Contest

Woodclaw wrote:

HikerAngel wrote:

Woodclaw wrote: Despite being an old fan of the cyberpunk genre... or maybe because of that... I have a really problematic relationship with the idea of transhumanism. I'm pretty sure that part of it is due to a friend of mine, who introduced me to the idea via Altered Carbon, but who also saw the idea of "becoming more than human" as inherently cool. This creeped me out to no end. The cyberpunk literature already contains most of the trappings of transhumanism, but it also pulls the brakes on it big time. In my eyes, the big difference is how the two genres build their moral roadmap: many (if not all) cyberpunk characters are very much immoral (or amoral) but their frame of reference is often similar to our own; whereas in many transhuman stories morals seem to be a thing of the past, something that is exclusive to a dying species... and I hate this idea.

Thank you for this post. It sparked an idea for my story, and I am really stoked about it! What if heightened morality were part of the “upgrade” to combat the whole power corruption thing... :)


I'm not sure that morality is something that can be encoded in a person, but it's a good start.


I'm sure that I've seen this dealt with i some story .. but I'm currently blanking on it.  The upgraded humans all shared an upgraded morality based on empathy/etc and didn't want to harm anything.  Hmm.. was that part of Heinlein's Friday?  (it's been a long time.)  There is some of this in  Cherryh's Cyteen.  The azi all have a basic morality that seems much better than humans. (How the azi are viewed vs a "human" when the only difference is when they start tapes (birth vs kindergarten) is something in the book I found interesting.

I'm also remembering Winter the child in Moore's Miracleman.  When  Miracleman and Kid  Miracleman transform, they're not only physically upgraded but mentally too.  In the end their frame of reference is still human.  When  Miracleman transformed makes love to his wife and gets her pregnant...the baby arrives and has a vastly superior intellect as she starts upgraded.  Can you take an existing intelligence and expand it far beyond it's original parameters?  Or is it going to be limited by it's intial gestation?   Winter was inherently "good" though also a bit beyond too.

But I think I share Shadar's view ... if all transhumans are beyond morality inherently in the story, it doesn't really motivate me. If it's an individual thing that's ok.

There is some overlap here with AI too.   Will an AI be forced to honor and obey humans (per Asimov)?  Will an AI built w/o something like that automatically destroy humanity?  Or will an advanced intelligence more likely develop a moral code?

I love the moral ambiguity at the end of Ex Machina.  It always seems to me that if you can only imagine she's evil/amoral that says something about your outlook.

This is one of my favorite takes on that:

 

https://knifecity.wordpress.com/tag/saturday-morning-breakfast-cereal/

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