For this week’s writing thoughts I will be talking about a recurring theme in cyberpunk stories; natural vs synthetic humanity. It’s a classic story that goes back to the tale of Frankenstein and his monster. Having talked about the cyberpunk genre earlier this week, this topic sprung to mind and it’s a fun one to focus on!
Here are my thoughts!
As I said in my post earlier this week, cyberpunk is a genre that focuses on the decline of humanity, and morality. In doing so, it deconstructs what it is to be human, from the feelings one has to their dreams and aspirations. It’s a popular topic in cyberpunk stories as people sell pieces of their body and soul to acquire cybernetic enhancements.
Consciousness is transferred, preserved, or even improved. Hearts are replaced with synthetic ones, limbs are replaced with stronger ones, entire bodies are created and the brain is put in the driver’s seat!
You don’t need to look far to find religions and philosophies that have a big problem with this vain pursuit of synthetic improvement, this desire for immortality! Some people don’t have a religion or philosophy that is against cybernetic augmentation or having one’s consciousness stored in a mechanical vessel, but the idea simply feels wrong to them.
On the other side of the spectrum, some see it as a necessary part of our evolution. We have slowed down so much in our natural evolution that synthetic evolution appears to be the next logical step. The desire to live longer and more efficiently is strong in many people, made stronger in a time of weakness when confronted with one’s mortality.
Taking this topic to the final level, what about when man creates life from science? A synthetic human being that is made from machinery or made from sourced or synthetic limbs and organs?
Worse still, what are the repercussions of such an action? Should such a creation be treated like any other person or should it be treated as a machine? Again, this is a question that is often answered by turning to philosophy and the understanding of what makes us human beings.
I love reading these kinds of stories in any genre.
I have noticed it is a common theme in cyberpunk stories, but that’s for a good reason. The world is progressing fast, and people continue the endless struggle to improve their mortal forms. Eventually, it needs to pause and take stock of all that was sacrificed to reach its current state.
Most likely it is too afraid to confront itself. That is a door that, once opened, will take a person on a sad and twisted journey as they come to grips with who they are and what part of their soul they lost along the way.
In the world today, we are already afraid to confront ourselves and figure out who we truly are. It is tough to understand how our past and personality affected the decisions we made today. We like to simplify it and forget it, such introspection is too distracting, keeping us from our work or from achieving greater enjoyment in life.
Yet, it happens eventually. Whether we are forced to by a terrible event or we are close to our final days and we know it.
It’s hard to tell if we would have been prepared for such thoughts had we regularly considered them, or if it is always so difficult to understand ourselves and our place in the world. Humanity, when analyzed, is filled with so many terrible things and so many good things. We take our decisions in life and deconstruct them, trying to be more understanding of the situation and others, to come to terms with the morality of those moments.
Were we acting out of greed? Self-preservation? Pity? There are so many to choose from.
Yet, by thinking about these moments and perhaps getting a bit of perspective from others, we can answer that question and decide where to go from there. It’s a wonderful journey of thought to read in any story, but cyberpunk does it well as it can be applied today in a more real sense. It won’t be long before such a dystopia becomes a reality and are we ready for it spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, not to mention physically?
I think quite a few people would say no, some would say yes, and others would say we never will be ready.
I don’t know if I could write a good story focusing on humanity, natural vs synthetic, without rattling off my thoughts as if I actually know anything. I find the topic interesting and would love to discuss it with a friend or family member, but I would struggle to write the story.
I would most likely create a mess of random thoughts or I would focus more on the simple and entertaining aspects of the genre, like the flying cars, wise-cracking robots, and cybernetic legs that can make you jump ridiculously high. If that latter is the case, I would create a very shallow story that is more style than substance, but I would probably still feel pretty good about it.
I think the only way these kinds of stories could lose me is if they are overly dramatized. I feel you can saturate a topic with too much negativity as well as too much positivity. Yet, I have not read a story that has gone that far. Most stories I read that included this topic focused on the story and these thoughtful moments simply occurred in reaction to certain scenes.
It was never a constant stream of preachy monologue or narration. For that reason, I have never been dissatisfied with such a story in any genre, not just cyberpunk.
Having heard my thoughts, I would love to hear yours!
Do you think cyberpunk’s examination of humanity makes for a classic story or has it become a cliche? Do you consider synthetic life to be of equal value to natural life? Let me know in the comments below!
Thank you for reading and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy writing!