Friday, January 04, 2019

Gods And Monsters

I think it’s a pity that there are almost no characters in literature or movies who are higher than humans. (Gods, angels, aliens, AIs...) As in way higher power, way higher awareness, way higher wisdom, way less ego... Instead they all act human. Jealous, petty, selfish, competitive... To me that’s just very limited imagination.

 (They wouldn’t have to be the main characters, of course, it’s clear that the main character needs to be human-like for a story to appeal.)

 William Gibson and Iain M Banks have some of the rare exceptions, in both cases they are super-human AIs. (In Banks’ case, extremely super-human, more like gods. But benevolent.)

79 comments:

David Evans said...

There are the eldils (basically angels) in C. S. Lewis's space trilogy.

Of course, as Lewis pointed out, it's difficult to imagine a person who is very much better than oneself.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Ah yes, that’s a very good point! Thanks.

I’ve had glimpses of being, or seeing, ‘much better than myself’, and I want to see more of it, for it’s beautiful.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

So are the eldils much Better than humans?

David Evans said...

The eldils are presented as being very much better than humans. Each is in charge of a planet, and the planet we see the most of, Mars, is very well run. No war, no starvation or disease. The one exception is the eldil in charge of the Earth, who rebelled against God. He is presumably Satan, though I can't remember if that is stated explicitly. Even he is better than humans in every way except morally.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Kool, thanks.

Joe Dick said...

I don't know, Banks' A.I.s always seemed very human to me, apparently they even do the nasty - in a way.

Gods that are like us make more sense, though - I mean the Greek gods were all complete assholes, and that explains the world a lot better. To Christians it must be hard to square a good God with all the evil and crappy elements in the world, but to a Greek, Roman, etc. it was easy - their gods were douches.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Fair points.

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Eolake Stobblehouse said...

... Right, Banks’ drones are very human indeed, some of them are downright bloodthirsty.
The Minds though seem to go towards abstraction.

Joe Dick said...

Even the Minds, like those in "Use of Weapons" and "Excession." None of them seem to be that evolved in their behaviour. They're not above screwing with people, of going to war, etc.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Point taken.

But pascifist though I am myself, if I was responsible for a civilization, I’m not sure I’d always avoid war. The Idiran war for example, was done to prevent the Idirans from enslaving the whole galaxy. Cost/benefit.

I’m not saying they are right there, in my postulate, but I do think that the Minds are closer than most.

Joe Dick said...

Yes, I agree they're closer than most.

Ol'Ben said...

I would like to nominate the Overlords, and in particular Karellen, the "Supervisor for Earth" in the Overlord's protectorate. You may choose to disqualify my example because... {spoiler alert]















...the Overlords, although superior to humans at the beginning of the story, suffer developmntal arrest at a level far inferior to what Humans, and most other sentient species, eventually become.

Ol'Ben said...

* Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Thanks, Ben. Childhood’s End is indeed an interesting book, as is a lot of Clarke’s work.

By the way folk, look me up on Facebook.

Joe Dick said...

Personally I'd rather be stuck at the level of the Overlords. It's been a while since I've read Childhood's End, but I seem to recall that humans lost their individuality when they made that leap. No thanks.

Joe Dick said...

By the way, Childhood's End was published in 1953, do we really need a spoiler alert? :-)

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

You are not alone.

Although it wasn’t quite clear what happened in the end.

Joe Dick said...

They join the Overmind. Not everyone, just the new breed who have those gnarly psychic powers.

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