Review: The Transhumanist Wager, Zoltan Istvan

It is a long time since I wrote a review, but I have followed transhumanism to some degree since the early 1990s, and the title of this one sounded enticing. There is a lot of commonality of thought in the field, but it is always good to hear someone else’s spin on the issues, more-so to have them forged into a novel.

The early chapters are intensely descriptive, but easy to survive. The writing style then lightens up and grabs the reader and it quickly gets into discussing transhuman issues, using various debates, letters, conversation, even a thesis.

Istvan addresses the way political leaders might respond, or not, the inevitable conflicts with religion, the organisations in the way, the hostility to transhuman philosophy when put to people by an arrogant and aggressive proponent.

The hero’s adventures are a suitably enjoyable diversion from philosophical debate. Conversations sometimes sidestep the messy reality of real conversation but only to make the philosophy easier to follow. It is an acceptable price to pay in a book that aims to introduce those issues, and recognise both sides of the arguments.

The storyline is interesting to read and I won’t spoil it. It is of course a particular scenario with particular prejudices that relies on certain alliances and approaches winning the day. The author pits religion and the military and government against a small but clever transhumanist force. It makes a fun story, with occasional forays into some areas of transhumanist thinking, often showing the worst extremes of both sides. The reader is left in no doubt that this is no easy choice between good or bad.

Overall, it’s a worthwhile read that makes you challenge your own ideas of what transhumanism is or could be, outlines at least one general path it could take, and asks whether you would support it or not.

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One response to “Review: The Transhumanist Wager, Zoltan Istvan

  1. Thank you Ian for reading my book and writing an eloquent review. It’s much appreciated. I’m wishing you much success with your coming novel. Cheers, Zoltan

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