Thursday, February 28, 2008

downloaded your brain. . . now what?

I read Charlie Stross's Accelerando when it first came out, and it was love at first read. Just recently, I finally bought a trade paperback version. And the fear set it. That I wouldn't like it as much. That maybe it was crap, and I loved it at the time because I just really really wanted to like futuristic cyberpunk.

I'm maybe 150 pages in? Pamela has converted to Islam in an effort to get her daughter, Amber, back (you know, out of context that makes no sense whatsoever). And Manfred is trying to make the economy obsolete, and doing a damn good job of it. Manny rocks my world. Although Pamela scares me.

And I still love it. For completely different reasons. The first time through, I was so enthralled by my future-culture-shock that I missed nearly everything having to do with human rights. Ever read a news story about someone who had their head (or entire body) frozen at the time of death, to have their brain (or entire body) revived at some later date? What kind of rights to they have after they wake up? If their brain is put into someone else's body, does that body have all the rights of the original person? Now amp it up some. You upload your brain into a computer right before you die. Then your brain is downloaded into someone else's body. Are you now that person? What kind of rights do you/they/them/it have? Are human rights attached to a physical meatbody, or to the brain/soul/person who is in that body at that moment?

Here's the beautiful Stross kicker, i'm paraphrasing because the book is across the room and I don't feel like getting up. He quickly discusses a religious group that is arguing the following: if a Muslim downloads their brain into a computer and then dies, is the computer now Muslim? Why or why not? This could hold true for any religion. If you download your brain into a computer, and then you die, does your soul go to heaven? If your soul is hanging out in heaven, and your brain gets downloaded from that computer into someone else's body, what happens to your soul then? Does it get yanked out of heaven and back to earth, into a meatbody? Does that body now have your brain, but not your soul?

How can spirituality work when the mind, body, and possibly soul be three seperate, and seperable things?

And oh, by the way, Accerlerando really isn't about human rights. Well it is, but it's about everything else too. And I still love it.

Also, i'm lazy. I didn't finish decoding the end of Vandermeer's City of Saints and Madmen. It's due back at the library 2 two days, and I don't think I can finish decoding by then. I'm fighting with myself about just looking the answer up on the internet (damn you internet!!), or going to Kazoo Books and just purchasing the darn thing, so I can go through it and underline seeminly random words and phrases like “grey caps”, and “giant squid”.

Don't tell Mr. Stross, but if I had to choose one author's books to take to a desert island, I'd take Vandermeer's.

I'm even lazier in the kitchen. Had some beautiful green beans, and wanted to do something new with them. Tossed 'em in a skillet with some oil, minced garlic and ground ginger, and stir fried till done (bright green). They were healthy, surprinsingly non-oily, and really tasty.


Flaming Penguins said...

Hmm, this sounds really interesting, especially considering I'm reading The Singularity Is Near at the moment.

I hope, however, that the religious aspect isn't too ingrained. Those kinds of things typically stick out like a sore thumb to me.

sciffy kitchen elf said...

hmmm, maybe that wasn't the best scene in the book to discuss. because, there really isn't any religious aspect, as much as my blurb showed that there was.

Amber's mother Pamela uses her conversion to Islam as a tool of manipulation, nothing more or less. No God, no Allah, no Mosque visits.

my religion meter goes "twang" pretty easy too, and this book didn't even register.

Flaming Penguins said...

Ah, okay then. ^^

I'll probably read this soon, probably after The World Without Us. I've been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, and I need to get back into the fictional loop.