Shortpaper Essay Example
Question 2: The key novum in science fiction is often wet-ware (that is, technology-enhanced
biology including cloning) rather than just soft-ware or straight hard-ware. Wet-ware
is a fantasy projection meshing biology and technology and a substitute for ‘normal’
evolutionary developments. Discuss with respect to at least two of the set texts (for
Roberts (2006) refers to Science Fiction as “a vehicle for ’speculative thought’ — a mundo for ‘extrapolation, the imaginative inhabitation of new possibilities’ — all of which give SF ‘vigour and power’ (p. 145 cited in slide 9, week 9). Increasingly, this has taken the form of what is called ‘wet-ware’ or fantasy projections that inter-weaves biology and technology and alternatives for ‘reality’ or the ‘normal’ world as we see it. This will be elucidated briefly in the next few pages with appropriate references from SF movies namely The Matrix (1999) and Blade Runner (1982).
In the post-modern world the concepts of time and space have been shrunk by inventions like the supersonics, rockets, satellites, telephones, internet, and mobile-phones. The next level of imagination, therefore, is to completely mix the strengths of man and machine and create hybrids that will negate the vulnerabilities of both and in the process make the offspring stronger than either man or machine in their pure form.
Wolfgang Jeschke’s (1997) definition of “Cyberpunk” aptly describes the environment of these science fiction movies as combination to technology and biology especially in hybridized variations of human forms as “a new form of existence, loosed from the bonds of the physical body with all its biological limitation and its vulnerability’ (Three Points of No Return: Glimpses of the Future? Cited in slide 10, week 4). A good example of this is the character called Rachael, in the movie Blade Runner (1982), who is the secretary of Tyrell and is actually a “Replicant” made using the superior ‘Nexus 6 model’. While even Roy possessing superhuman strength (who is the leader of such alien Replicants) and the others like Pris and Leon, are killed by Rick Deckard – the human being, Rachael alone is supposed to have an extended life — compared to a Nexus 6 model production, even though she too has to die like all mortals.
Science fictions are metaphors that carry futuristic projections of the human mind in the media of technology and virtual world. SF is, in this sense, “Image of ‘man’ is on display, ‘hollowed’ and ‘double’, and its foregrounding make us as audience ‘complicit’ in our own subjugation” (Telotte 1991, p. 14 cited in slide 21, week 7). This is especially evident to Deckard — the human being in Blade Runner (1982) in the end, when Roy the man- modelled-machine asks him “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”
Furthermore, the centre-point of these movies, are human emotions and the tensions that affect the real-world applied to the virtual settings. It is in this sense that they are “wet-ware” – since they are concerned with human problems, human emotions albeit in terms of their hybridized self. For example, Neo clearly sees through the falsity of the matrix and thus opposes it as a farce, and “there is a longing for the physical and spiritual self that is not technologically mediated” (slide 14, week 10). In the movie Blade Runner (1982) too, Rachael and Roy are depicted as having human emotions like fear and craving to live longer, even though they were not full human beings, but actually ‘Replicants’. Deckard is even shown as desiring Rachael and making love to ‘her’ even though she was only a super-machinized model (Nexus 6).
In The Matrix (1999) too, Neo – the ordinary computer programmer and hacker in real life becomes a hero in the virtual world of the matrix, because he gains strength and potential in there which he does not possess in the real world. Only he is somehow able to escape death of the mind-based virtual world with in the matrix. The matrix itself is depicted as “a ‘neural interactive simulation’ – a computer program that fools all the human brains attached to it into thinking that they are alive, free, and living in 1999;” (slide 5, week 10).
The pertinent thing here is to note that, as pointed earlier, technology and biology – man with modern contraptions, is created in a way focusing “upon the relationship of humanity to technology; its significance is that cyberpunk writers create anticipatory fictions which are based upon existing and upcoming technologies. (Leblanc, 6 cited in slide 18, week 10). Therefore, it can be concluded that most SF often are based on ‘wet-ware’ or fantasy projections, meshing biology and technology and a substitute for ‘normal’ evolutionary developments.
Roberts, Adam 2006, Science Fiction, Routledge, London. ISBN 1134211791, 9781134211791.
Week 7 (2012), “Science Fiction and Film — Seminar Seven – Blade Runner” Central Queensland University, Australia.
Week 9 (2012), “Science Fiction and Film — Seminar Nine – Alien Resurrection” Central Queensland University, Australia.
Week 10 (2012), “Science Fiction and Film — Seminar Ten– The Matrix” Central Queensland University, Australia.
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