nancylebov: (green leaves)
[personal profile] nancylebov¬if_t=feed_comment_reply

I'm going to do a bit of a summary because I realize not everyone reading this is on Facebook, or wants to be.

Alexei Panshin has been discussing on Facebook whether Heinlein was a Sufi. Not to keep you in suspense, but there's no evidence that Heinlein was a Sufi, or even knew about Sufism.

Cory Panshin brought up that Heinlein didn't seem to want the human race to become different, which led to me thinking about sf about transcendence.

Here's something I wrote:

When I was a kid, I really liked Childhood's End, and then it occurred to me that the Overmind might just be eliminating competitors, and the human race was eaten rather than achieving transcendence.

As I recall, humanity was stopped from investigating psychic powers so it wouldn't become "a telepathic cancer spreading through the stars". From one angle, humanity could become just that. From the other angle, the Overmind could already be just that.

It's a gamble in general. True religion or destructive cult?

Which authors see the human race as needing to become something very different?

John Varley ("Persistence of Vision", _The Ophiuchi Hotline).

Sturgeon (_More that Human_, _The Cosmic Rape_, and less drastically "If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?")

John Brunner: (modest levels of change) (_Stand of Zanibar_, _The Stone that Never Came Down_)

Any suggestions for someone more recent?

Alexei Panshin has written The World Beyond the Hill - Science Fiction and the Quest for Transcendence.

Date: 2015-03-03 04:29 am (UTC)
geekosaur: orange tabby with head canted 90 degrees, giving impression of "maybe it'll make more sense if I look at it this way?" (Default)
From: [personal profile] geekosaur
I had the same disquieting idea about _Childhood's End_, for what it's worth. I think it might even have been obliquely suggested as a possibility in the book?

Clifford Simak's _A Choice of Gods_ started out with the remaining humans after most of the human race had vanished, then ultimately revealed where they'd gone. I may be misremembering as I read this while still rather young, but it did seem to have a transcendence angle to it. (The final book of Philip José Farmer's Riverworld series took a somewhat similar turn, I understand, although I was never able to make it through the whole series.)

Vernor Vinge has toyed with transcendence / "the Singularity" a lot, not always with humans as the ones achieving it.

Seen from very early on, arguably Fred Pohl's Heechee series was about --- and certainly the final book was about --- humanity taking the first steps toward transcendence, and two interstellar species much more advanced than humans which had different reactions to the idea of transcendence in general.

There's more which I have run across but not read because reviews all pointed to a transcendence that was basically the Rapture stripped of its religious trappings. (_Childhood's End_, for all that it preceded these, both plays with the religious angle and suggests --- if not outright asks --- questions about whether it's a good idea.)

# # #

Looking back in the other direction: The "Heinlein didn't want the human race to become different" comes out rather strongly in _Methuselah's Children_ where humanity runs across an intelligent but pre-industrial race --- and then runs afoul of its transcendent "gods".

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