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TRANSHUMAN SCI-FI

Transhumanism is the philosophy which embues this subgenre. It depicts the possible transformations that humans beings may experience in the future, from helpful improvements to total alterations. Bruce Sterlings's "Mechanist and Shaper" novels are a pioneering example.

SUBSETS

MIND TRANSFER / UPLOAD-DOWNLOAD SCI-FI: Mind Transfer is what takes place in this subgenre. A conscious mind is downloaded into a computer system, or shifted (or swapped) into another human brain. (Robert Heinlein's novel Time Enough for Love ends up with three separate minds within one female body.)

Such a transfer might be permanent or temporary, and the process may allow for one or more copies to exist at once. The early Star Trek episode "Turnabout Intruder" is a famous example, and Paul Flaherty's film 18 Again! a lighthearted one.

In David Brin's novel Kiln People, humans send out temporary/disposable 'golem' copies of themselves, to have specific experiences then return with those memories.

POST-HUMANISM SCI-FI: Posthumanism is a subgenre tied to a philosophical type movement. (Going beyond the percieved limits of traditional Humanism, as expressed in fiction.) In practice it's very close to Transhumanism, and is controversial even to define. Charles Stross's novel Accelerando is one example.




References and Excerpts:
cuebon.com
editorialdepartment.com
fictionfactor.com
techrepublic.com
wikipedia.org
worldswithoutend.com
writing-world.com






SCI-FI SUBGENRES - T



TERRAFORMING SCI-FI

Terraforming SF centers around vast projects, with the characters busy altering whole planets (such as Mars) to make them more earthlike and habitable. Kim Stanley Robinson's epic "Mars" series is a good example. It is a type of planetary engineering and the term is sometimes used broadly as a synonym for planetary engineering in general.

The concepts of terraforming are rooted both in science fiction and actual science. The term was probably coined by Jack Williamson in a science-fiction story published in 1942 in Astounding Science Fiction, but the actual concept pre-dates this work.

Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men (1930) provides an example in fiction in which Venus is modified after a long and destructive war with the original inhabitants, who naturally object to the process.

In cinema, Paul Verhoeven's 1990 feature film Total Recall adapted from the Philip K. Dick story We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, is based on the terraforming of Mars though it is limited to a man-made habitat. The actual terraforming doesn't take place until late in the film, which is generated by an ancient alien device.



TIME TRAVEL SCI-FI
Characters travel to the past or future, or are visited by travelers from either end of the spectrum


This is a vast subgenre, whether or not its protagonist travels in space as well and like many other subgenres, it too has picked up the popular punk icon known as Timepunk. Time travel is the concept of moving backward or forward to different points in time, in a manner analogous to moving through space. Additionally, some interpretations of time travel suggest the possibility of travel between parallel realities or universes. In these stories, this capability is put to use by the characters -- in secret or in public, and rarely or often. The effects of such temporal ventures vary in each portrayal.

In cinema, one of the first films that comes to mind is The Time Machine produced in 1960 and 2002. More recent, the Terminator movies created by James Cameron launched five films and a television series. We experience the time travel process usually at the beginning of the films, from there the plot settles into that period's dramatization. While the premise of time travel is prominent in the Terminater series, the sci-fi comedy trilogy Back to the Future perhaps more so, keeps the concept of time travel at the forefront throughout all three stories.

Time travel was popularized by H.G. Wells with The Time Machine (1888), though Edward Page Mitchell wrote "The Clock that Went Backwards" seven years before that. Topics range from "Let's go see what the Pleistocene looked like," to issues of paradox (what if you traveled to the past and killed your own grandfather?) and "tampering" (could stepping on a butterfly in the Paleolithic profoundly alter the entire future?). A variant of this subgenre is the "alternate universes" theme, in which each change in the timestream spins off a new universe.

Time travel stories are generally more about the consequences of actions or inactions than about the time travel itself. Early examples include Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. More recent forays into the genre include Michael Crichton’s Timeline and Terry Pratchett’s Thief of Time (which also falls into the comic SF category). Poul Anderson's novel The Time Patrol is a prestigeous example. Neal Asher's Cowl and Paul Levinson's The Plot to Save Socrates are novels that depict the extreme complexities implicit in time travel.



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