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Transhumans In Space

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A sci-fi sub-genre with space travel sans the usual bioconservatism of space opera.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
zarpaulus on Dec 19th 2017 at 9:29:30 AM
Last Edited By:
zarpaulus on Jan 20th 2018 at 4:36:45 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Space Opera is a time-honored genre with vast open space, but most characters are either aliens or standard humans, maybe somebody has a prosthetic limb or two but generally augmentation is frowned upon.

Cyberpunk and its' less gloomy successor Post-Cyberpunk on the other hand feature rampant Transhuman augmentation but tends to stare back inward at Earth.

It shouldn't be too surprising that eventually somebody decided to combine the two.

Compare Transhuman Aliens when transhumans substitute for aliens.


Examples:

Film Animated

  • In Strange Frame: Love and Sax, humans have moved out to the Jovian belt. In order to survive in the different environments of the Jovian moons, most humans have undergone some degree of genetic or cybernetic modification.

Literature

  • The Culture is a civilization spanning a good chunk of the galaxy whose citizens engage in frequent body-modding ranging from drug glands to extra limbs to brain backups.
  • Eldraeverse: The Eldrae were transhuman to begin with, being Transplanted Humans genetically modified by Precursors. Around the time they started venturing out into space they were taking things further such as adding Body Backup Drive to their "natural" lack of aging.
  • Great Ship: Humanity, who for the most part have starting replacing their brains with ceramic hardware, was the first species to gain access to the titular massive starship.
  • Aeon 14 is by design a reconstruction of the setting. Cyborgs, Bio-Augmentation, and fully self-aware Artificial Intelligences are all over the setting, up to and including known cases of AI merging with humans and organics and AI ascending beyond flesh and silicon. At the same time though, they still have recognizably human personalities, behaviors and motivations, and love, hate, fight, laugh and cry.
  • In the Takeshi Kovacs series several star systems have been colonized by uploading their brains to cloned bodies, often with biological or cybernetic enhancements.

Tabletop Games

  • The GURPS setting Transhuman Space takes place in the year 2100 in a solar system colonized by genetically engineered humans, Artificial Humans, and AI.
  • Eclipse Phase: During a Singularity gone wrong Earth was evacuated by Brain Uploading to artificial bodies produced throughout the solar system.
  • Hc Svnt Dracones: After a nuclear war on Earth the corporate colonies on Mars repopulated the solar system with genetically engineered human-animal hybrids and Ridiculously Human Robots. 700 years later there are entire Mega Corps specializing in Bio or Cyber augmentation.
  • Nova Praxis: A seed AI known as "Mimir" provided both the nanotechnology to convert a human brain into a synthetic neural network and to build stargates.
  • Mindjammer: Ten thousand years after launching STL colony ships Earth develops FTL travel and the planet's immortal oligarchs reach out to the various branches of humanity scattered throughout the stars.

Web Comics

  • Downplayed in Always Human where Bio-Augmentation "mods" are ubiquitous, humans are beginning to colonize the solar system, and space travelers get a suite of specialized mods to acclimate themselves to off-world conditions as a matter of course.

Web Original

  • Orion's Arm: A future history where over the course of the next ten millennia humanity branches off into millions of modified clades, creates countless varieties of AI, and uplifts seemingly every species on Earth and many other planets in a 5,000 light-year radius of Sol.

Feedback: 16 replies

Dec 19th 2017 at 11:21:07 AM

Poorly handled, it may turn off audiences if the characters go so far beyond human they become unrelatable.

Contrast No Transhumanism Allowed when a Speculative Fiction setting is hostile to the idea.

Literature:

Dec 20th 2017 at 9:46:27 AM

Do we really want a trope where the laconic is literally X Meets Y?

Dec 21st 2017 at 3:24:36 AM

Dec 21st 2017 at 5:15:29 AM

@bitemytail: Since it is, in fact, a legit subgenre of science fiction, I'd say yes. For example, compare Aeon 14 to something like Star Trek: in the latter case, cybernetics and genetic modification are generally treated as a loss of humanity rather than a morally neutral change to physical form as in the former.

Dec 26th 2017 at 5:59:14 PM

How's this new laconic?

Dec 26th 2017 at 7:23:20 PM

  • Downplayed in Always Human where Bio Augmentation "mods" are ubiquitous, humans are beginning to colonize the solar system, and space travelers get a suite of specialized mods to acclimate themselves to off-world conditions as a matter of course.

Dec 27th 2017 at 11:28:32 AM

This was actually fairly common in early cyberpunk, though it did fall a bit out of fashion later. Literature:

  • Cyberpunk movement founder Bruce Sterling's "Shaper/Mechanist" 'verse is about two competing transhumanist movements trying to spread out and take over the solar system: the Mechanists are trying to build better cyborgs and better AI, while the Shapers are more interested in genetic engineering as the path for building a better human.

Jan 13th 2018 at 5:26:40 PM

Jan 13th 2018 at 6:19:40 PM

Comic Books

  • In All Star Superman, one of Mr. Quintum's many projects involves creating giant men who have been genetically engineered to thrive in deep space.

Film Animated

  • In Strange Frame: Love and Sax, humans have moved out to the Jovian belt. In order to survive in the different environments of the Jovian moons, most humans have undergone some degree of genetic or cybernetic modification.

Video Games

  • In Deus Ex Invisible War, the Omar are a cult built around cybernetic enhancement in order to create people who can survive in any environment. If the player decides to kill off every single faction, then the world as we know it is destroyed, and the Omar become the sole surviving humans.

Jan 15th 2018 at 5:50:24 PM

In Scanners Live In Vain, humans experience extreme pain while traveling in space. Habermen (forcably cybernetically modified criminals) and scanners (who volunteer to undergo the Haberman process) survive by losing most of their senses except sight.

Jan 17th 2018 at 6:02:14 PM

If this is a sub-genre trope as Star Sword, then that should be made clear immediately in the description. Maybe add something like "A sub-genre of Science Fiction that focuses on the human-augmentation associated Cyber Punk in the celestial setting essential to a Space Opera."

If that's how the trope is defined, then the All-Star Superman and Deus Ex examples don't apply, since neither story is largely set in space and Superman has very little to do with transhumanism.

Jan 17th 2018 at 7:00:06 PM

Come of think of it, Scanners Live In Vain has a rather bioconservative message, that one should be nixed too.

Jan 20th 2018 at 7:21:30 AM

What's with all the bombs?

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