The Transhumanist Wager
By Zoltan Istvan
Philosophy > Science Fiction
Copy furnished by the author
“The Transhumanist Wager” tells the provocative story of Jethro Knights and his participation in the Transhumanist Movement. The movement is based on a shared philosophy based on human enlightenment through extending one’s life through the use of science and technology (my layman interpretation). The Transhumanist Wager explores the philosophy more eloquently than I have given. Obviously.
Transhumanist Wager follows the rise of Jethro Knights from being a student from a prestigious university to circumnavigating the globe to becoming “leader” of the tranhumanist movement. However, the movement goes against God’s will and Reverend Belinas is not amused. At all. Man is meant to live and die all the while being in the service of God and not live forever.
“A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.” Jethro Knights is an extremist. Reverend Belinas is an extremist. Two opposing views to help drive the message of Transhumanism and to discuss the flaws of organized religion and how it limits human insight and growth. No shades of gray are presented in the novel. It’s because of these extreme views that it’s difficult to like Jethro Knights or to fully stand behind transhumanism. That’s not to say this was a terrible book. I enjoyed the writing itself. In fact I’m glad I read it because it allowed me to develop my own thoughts on the movement and religion and their roles in contemporary society. As I said early on; provocative.
Science Fiction > Hard Science Fiction
Fantastic. Incredible. I’m not sure what else I can say about this novel. I loved this book.
The premise is simple: A freak natural disaster gets an astronaut stranded on Mars. Said astronaut is Mark Watney. Watney has a particular skillset that allows him to extend his longevity on Mars. How he’s able to pull this off is up to you to read learn now. I’ll just say this: if you put MacGyver with NASA into the same room, interesting things will happen.
Ultimately, this is a survival manual for being stranded on Mars, assuming you have the necessary tools provided to you by NASA. And Watney’s skillset. This is a hard science fiction novel and you may find yourself reading lots of “science-y” passages and you may want to find yourself glazing over it which is fine, but you may find yourself doing a disservice to you. There are some great gems of commentary to his thought process.
Told in the first person from Watney’s perspective, we’re privy to all his thoughts: his scientific reasoning, the rationale of his decisions, and his humor; his personality. It’s because of this narrative that we grow attached to this character and rooting for him to get rescued.
Mark Watney is a memorable character that will last with you for a lifetime. To be honest, the only other character I’ve ever felt compassion for/with is Lisbeth Salander from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series). I would love for Mr. Weir to write a prequel.
It will be a couple of months before the novel is released (initially a self published e-book but then picked up by a publisher) and all I can say is: add it to your queue. Pre-order it. Add it to your Goodreads list of “to-read.” Whether you’re a fan of the sci-fi genre or not, it’s the compelling character driven, survival story that makes this novel spectacular.