June 12th, 2017

Thinking about themes of technology

So, one of the notes about SF as genre is it explores humans' relationship to technology. I saw a post recently about how Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series has the effects of reproductive technology (especially the uterine replicator, an artificial womb) woven through most of her Vorkosigan Saga. With the exception of the early Miles books (The Warrior's Apprentice and The Vor Game), usually that plays some role, even if it is minor (like in Komarr, where Ekatarin notes that some of her family's current predicament may have been avoided if they had opted to use the modern uterine replicator with genetic screening for disease, rather than the old-fashioned way). Which actually works well in what amounts to a family drama that went from two nice 30-40-somethings from different cultures when their respective homeworlds both wanted to colonize the same planet, to their son having a family of his own and the eldest kids starting to figure out their own identities.

The other big example I keep thinking about is the webcomic Schlock Mercenary. The first few story arcs as the artist/writer, Howard Tayler, switches from just a gag-a-day webcomic to serious continuity, involve a change up in faster than light travel from a network of wormholes run by a single organization to a drive that can let a starship jump from anywhere to anywhere (and the resultant technological scramble to deal with the defensive implications). The more recent arcs have been about a technology that essentially uses nanites and biotech to allow for backups to be grown if you die, and what that means now that it is very, very hard to have anyone stay dead.

(Also now I want to dig out my Schlock Mercenary books and do a reread.)