Various: ‘Digital Rapture’


Here you will find reviews of all the stories and articles contained in the 2012 collection ‘Digital Rapture’.
Spoilers throughout.
Various, (2012), ‘Digital Rapture’, eds Kelly, J.P. & Kessel, J

Jump to Review:
‘The Last Question’ Isaac Asimov, (1956)
‘The Flesh’ J.D. Bernal, (1929)

The Last Question: Isaac Asimov

Two scientists get drunk after Asimov’s infamous ‘multivac’ computer solves the problem of humanities energy consumption by harnessing sunlight in an unspecified way, and ask the computer the question ‘is there any way to stop the total effect of entropy on the universe?’. Unsurprisingly, it cannot answer.
The story then goes on to detail every time that this question is asked by the descendants of humanity to the descendants of multivac, until the after the heat death of the universe. Interesting for both the portrayals of post humanity, and the way in which the universe is created anew by the computer. Of it’s time, but very modern despite the whole vacuum tube malarkey.

The Flesh: J.D. Bernal

An excerpt from a longer. early futurology book, this essay starts from the premise that what would come to be described as man’s cyborgization started with the moment of tool use. The author predicates that the next logical step in this process is not natural evolution itself, but the implantation of tools into the human body. He then follows this up with a possible future in which human brains are kept suspended, after about 120 years of good, physical life, in a tank with mechanical sensory and motor ‘organs’ controlled directly by physical connections between the organs and nerve endings in the brain. Sometime is spent on these mechanical crab people, before, interestingly, he theorises the dawn of directly wiring conciousnesses together to create a form of hive mind. Paired with remote sensory organs that can plumb the depths of stars and change their internal makeup, Bernal comes close to describing a god-like post human state that has echoes in Asimov’s previous tale.

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