Peter James (
Fri, 20 Feb 1998 18:01:46 -0800

>>Hmm... just from this, it doesn't sound like a happy ending for the
>Curious - this is pretty much the way I recall the storyline and overall
>tone from my reading of the novel several years ago. Apologies to the
>author if he's reading this, but it certainly struck me as pretty lurid,
>Gothique and downbeat. I was quite taken aback when I heard that Mr James
>is an extropian, and that Max More and others on this list regarded the
>novel as supporting such views.

I find the view of some extropians that Host the novel had a downbeat view
on life extension and therefore is negative to extropians, to be rather
disturbing, because this was never my intention.

I wanted to make the point that immortality through science will happen
whether we like it or not,and to make people realise that yet another
development in science for which we are totally unprepared, is only just
around the corner. Science constantly gallops ahead of our ability to
comprehend the issues it raises. In Host, the scientist, Dr Joe Messenger
is determined to replicate human consciousness in a computer, with the
ultimate aim of humans being able to download (or upload...) their brains
into it and live on either in a virtual state, and ultimately be uploaded
back into new biological bodies.

However, without giving too much of the story away (although the film
ending is very different) although he achieves his aim, he is concerned
that the human race is not yet ready to live forever. I don't think this
is so very different from Darwin holding back his theory of natural
selection for thirty year, or from Einstein's quandry about helping to
develop the bomb. Surely it is a good thing for writers to creat
characters who do have a moral consciences. Joe Messenger is a decent guy.
He realises he has achieved something that is too big a step for humans
right now. Surely this what writers should be doing? Examing the issues
of our times?

When the book came out, in both is paper and electronic forms, I did over
three hundred interviews, many on national television and radio in the UK
and opened up a huge debate on the whole topic, one which up until then
many people (often very eminent ones) have chosen to ignore. I cannot in
my heart belive this did anything but good for the extropian cause.