Thursday, 14 March 2013

Joe On Jupiter And Others Elsewhere

If a neural pattern were to be duplicated in another brain, whether organic or artificial, then consciousness, memory and sense of identity would also be duplicated so that the copy would, at least initially, think that s/he was the original. In Poul Anderson's works, this happens in "Call Me Joe," the Harvest Of Stars Tetralogy and Genesis.

An Earthman remotely controls every waking moment of the central nervous system of the artificially grown Jovian organism, Joe, so that, when the Earthman dies and Joe wakes, the man's memories have been transferred to Joe's brain. Other Earthmen, near death, might regard transfer of their memories into a Jovian organism as an extension of life.

James Blish's "Bridge" parallels "Call Me Joe" in terms of subject matter: an Earthman on Jupiter V remotely perceives the Jovian environment. "Bridge" also parallels Anderson's "The Saturn Game" in that both describe interplanetary exploration preceding interstellar travel in a future history series.

Of the authors compared in an earlier post, Burroughs presents the bizarrest version of Jupiter whereas Blish's version is the most scientifically accurate. Blish seems to go along with the idea that Jupiter, like smaller planets, has a uniform solid surface that can be clearly distinguished from its gaseous atmosphere. After all, what else is the Bridge (one of the classic settings for an sf story) standing on? However, Blish goes on to reveal that anyone descending through the Jovian atmosphere would encounter only increasing density with denser material from further down sometimes forced upwards to form merely temporary continents on one of which the Bridge is built.

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