In keeping with my current reading tangent concerning all things Transhuman, I offer two reviews of SciFi stories that I have recently read. Tony Bertauski‘s Clay (Halfskin #2), and Time Ahead (Memories of Being Series #1) by Robert King. Last week I reviewed the amazing novel The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan, one of the preeminent novels dealing in Transhumanist Philosophy, and these two stories follow suit.
In each, existentialism, ethics and philosophy are examined, with the most prevalent questions tackling the themes of singularity, immortality and the age-old question: What makes humans human? For any who may be interested in the subjects of medical ethics, governmental authority and individualism, wrapped inside an exciting fictional story, I highly recommend both of these fine books. In the next book reviews in the coming weeks, I will be switching gears from the fantastical to Non-Fiction, with titles such as Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding, a gripping story of two Germans during WWII; one a Jew and the other a Nazi Officer, and Fierce Patriot by Robert L. O’Connell, a biography of William Tecumseh Sherman. Happy reading.
Clay (Halfskin #2)
by Tony Bertauski
DeadPixel Publications (2014), Kindle Edition, 326 pages
“My anger is hot”, he says. “My aches are wanting. My joy is sweet. My loneliness hollow. I feel all the same things you do. Does the body make us human?
This is the underlying question posed by Clay, the second volume in the Halfskin series by Tony Bertauski. Picking up where Halfskin left off, Cali and Nix continue their cat and mouse game with Marcus Anderson, the government agent charged with controlling the “Halfskin” population. Marcus is one of the few all-natural humans left-a man whose religious conviction feeds his disdain for those who have reached their threshold of Biomites (a Halfskin), the synthetic cells that supplant human cells (Clay). Continuing on from volume one, the AI construct MOTHER continues the government’s program of shutting down those who have surpassed their allowance of 49.9% biomite make-up. In this 2nd volume, the Bricks are introduced- 100% biomite fabricated humans used as enforcers by the government, with the ability to control human biomites, thereby enabling the Bricks the means to shut down thousands of Halfskins in mere seconds.
Tony Bertauski has again produced an extremely well written story that not only entertains in classic SCI-Fi form, but also poses provocative questions concerning what it means to be human. Is it the human body, made of flesh and blood (Clay), or is it the emotions, ideas and memories (the Mind) which make us human? The story deals heavily in Transhumanist philosophy, the belief of a growing number of scientist-philosophers that are actively searching for outcomes such as those depicted in this book-namely a way in which the human mind can be downloaded into man-made constructs, facilitating immortality of the mind. Heady stuff to be sure.
Above all, a good story should leave one with questions, forcing us to think and ponder the ramifications put forth by the author and the plot. Bertauski manages to entertain while posing important philosophical, existential and ethical questions, which he delivers In spades. The story is tight, well researched and wildly entertaining, with an ending that will leave you gasping. I look forward to the 3rd book in the series, titled Bricks. Tony Bertauski is certainly one of my new favorite authors, and I believe if given the chance, he will become one of yours as well. File under SciFi, Psychological Thriller. See my review of Halfskin here.
out of 5
by Robert KIng
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform;
2 edition (2013) Paperback, 62 Pages
It is hard to pin down what the message being conveyed in Time Ahead by Robert King is exactly. Is it the feeling of loss, squandered time, human technology gone astray, or false promises of religion? I am inclined to believe that it is all of these, and these messages are conveyed in a very short read. Set in 2187, this is a modern-day rendition of the Rip Van Winkle story, where our lone character wakes after a 182 year slumber. The world is bereft of oil, the sky is a blue haze of radiation, and the cities are left in rubble with a handful of humans left to live in squalor and with little hope, while the genetic mutation called transhumans have left them to slowly die out.
This is stated to be the first novella of 3 installations of the Memories of Being Series, and it has left me yearning to read the next chapters. As dystopian tales go, this particular story could actually come true in my mind, and that is what chills me to the bone. It is well crafted, yet abstract, and leaves little room for hope for the future of the character. I highly recommend this series, as it may be a guide to what our future here on earth holds. The 2nd book in the series is titled Medira and is available now, with a 3rd and final volume in the works. Recommended for readers of sci-fi, and dystopian fantasy.
out of 5