(Un)Human Relations: Transhumanism in Francesco Verso’s Nexhuman

Jana Vizmuller-Zocco

Abstract


Transhumanism is an international movement which es­pouses the idea that any human organ, function, sense, ability, can be augmented and ameliorated with the judicious use of technology. The ethical, cultural, social, biological, economic implications for this view are far-reaching and point to a number of complex ques­tions whose solution eludes researchers so far. One of the possible sources for answers to these is found in science fiction. While trans­humanism is a relatively recent phenomenon (last 25 years or so), science fiction published in English that mirrors some of its issues and ideas has been flourishing for at least as long. In Italy, science fiction is starting to enjoy popularity and critical depth in no small measure due to the untiring abilities of a number of authors. This article analyzes the intersections between human and machine as they are portrayed in Francesco Verso’s Nexhuman. Francesco Verso has published 4 award-winning science fiction novels and a number of short stories. Nexhuman offers a considerable narrative construct which paints a dystopian future where trash is formed and re-formed, sold and reworked; however, strong emotions are not absent, since love may flourish in this “kipple”-laden setting, as well as violence and obsession. Transhumanist ideas explicitly dealt with in the novel include the end of death, the question of the soul, mind uploading, limb prosthesis, the co-existence of humans with mind-uploaded be­ings. The amalgam between human and machine does away with the Self and the Other(s) as separate entities and constructs a completely different Weltanschauung. Nexhuman is not only a transhumanist trailblazer within the flourishing arena of Italian science fiction, but also a springboard for deeper understanding of what makes us human and the extent to which binary categories need to be overcome in order to create a more accommodating world.


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