Friday, 20 April 2012

Organic and Post-Organic

Part Two, Chapter I, of Genesis by Poul Anderson describes post-human, post-organic intelligences spreading through and between galaxies, learning and evolving. Chapter II, set back on Earth, describes a sea captain who is a member of a tribe, has fought barbarians and owns slaves, "...bred for generations to be draft creatures..." (1) 

How can pre-industrial human beings co-exist with post-human intelligences? Gaia, the intelligence controlling Earth, has re-created them. She hopes that they will build a stable technological civilisation but, in any case, she values them as living beings, despite their violence and suffering. Anderson is making a point.

When I corresponded with Anderson, it was unnecessary for me to address our political differences. There were other common interests to discuss. I think that a peaceful society with abundant wealth for all its members is now a practical possibility and that such a society can remain dynamic. 

Anderson disagreed with this idea - although he did occasionally show something like it in the further future. But his point in Genesis and in some other works is that human life is rich and of value even despite wars and oppression. He demonstrates this point in his characters and narratives and it is a point that I agree with.

(1) Poul Anderson, Genesis, New York, 2001, p. 112.

No comments: