Re: Transhumanism in Fiction: Who? What work?

Damien Broderick (
Sun, 19 Sep 1999 10:51:30 +0000

At 05:40 AM 18/09/99 -0400, Robert M. Owen wrote:

>Who do you suppose created the following fictional metaphor of trans-
>humanism, and in what work is this passage to be found?

> "And now, out among the stars, evolution was driving toward new
>goals. [They had] long since come to the limits of flesh and blood;
>as soon as their machines were better than their bodies, it was time
>to move. [etc]

Well, Arthur, of course, in *2001*, chapter 37. But what about *this* one? The provenance will blow your socks off (if you share a commonly-held prejudice)! [The narrative dating is distractingly wrong - periods of time far too long, oddly enough - so I've editing most of it out]

Deep Time: 1,000,000 mega-years. I saw the Milky Way, a wheeling carousel of fire, and Earth's remote descendants, countless races inhabiting every stellar system in the galaxy. The dark intervals between the stars were a continuously flickering field of light, a gigantic phosphorescent ocean, filled with the vibrating pulses of electromagnetic communication pathways.

To cross the enormous voids between the stars they have progressively slowed their physiological time, first ten, then a hundred-fold, so accelerating stellar and galactic time... [T]he slow majestic rotation of the universe itself is at last visible.

Deep Time: ...Now they have left the Milky Way... have extended their physiological dependence upon electronic memory banks which store the atomic and molecular patterns within their bodies, transmit them outward at the speed of light, and later re-assemble them.

Deep time: ...Now, too, they have finally shed their organic forms and are composed of radiating electromagnetic fields, the primary energy sub-stratum of the universe, complex networks of multiple dimensions, alive with the constant tremor of the sentient messages they carry, bearing the life-ways of the race.

To power these fields, they have harnessed entire galaxies riding the wave-fronts of the stellar explosions out toward the terminal helixes of the universe.

Deep Time: ...They are beginning to dictate the form and dimensions of the universe... The universe is now almost filled by the great vibrating mantle of ideation, a vast shimmering harp which has completely translated itself into pure wave form, independent of any generating source.

As the universe pulses slowly, its own energy vortices flexing and dilating, so the force-fields of the ideation mantle flex and dilate in sympathy, growing like an embryo within the womb of the cosmos, a child which will soon fill and consume its parent.


No, not Arthur Clarke again, despite the Star child embryo.

It's from that much detested `pessimistic British New Wave' writer, J. G. Ballard. His story `The Waiting Grounds' was published 40 years ago, in *New Worlds*, 1959.

It wasn't until I re-read this glowing passage recently that I realised how intensely I'd been influenced in writing my own quite similar apotheosis of the Omega Point in the late 1960s in the first draft of my novel THE JUDAS MANDALA.

Damien Broderick