KATIE WRITES: Welcome back to Superhero Week! If you missed yesterday’s post you should go check it out right now. You have until midnight tonight to answer the question and be entered into a giveaway for four books from R.J. Ross!
Now, I can hear you all saying “this is not the blog post on the schedule.” Well, no. It’s not. But the schedule was tentative. This means that it is subject to changes at my whim. This is one of those changes. I’ve been out of town all weekend, so I outsourced Monday’s post to a talented friend of mine who just happened to have one lying around.
So what are superpowers? Can you get some? Are they possible in our future? Can we, one day, be real life Batmen and Iron Men? Read on, and find out.
We all want superpowers. And if you don’t, I’d like to see you give a cogent and reasonable reason why not. The mythos of man both modern and ancient is predicated on the existence of people with extraordinary abilities interacting with other people who are like us – ordinary without the ‘extra’ part. We hunger for the exceptional, and are infatuated with the meager allowances nature provides us in the form of human savants and athletes. We gaze longingly at the wild and radical capabilities of beasts like the eagle, lion, spider, bombardier beetle, chameleon, bloodhound, and so many other legendary superpowered denizens of God’s creation. We wish we were more like them, at least in physical ability.
Yet if you think about it, if we did all have a superpower, it wouldn’t be ‘super’ anymore. The extraordinary would be ordinary. Hearing itself would be an enviable superpower to a race which could not hear. One could say that the craving for superpowers derives from our drive to be better than others… we want to have a power others don’t so we are better than them by contrast. And that is often how the world of superheroes and demigods presents itself: a chaotic imbalance of grossly superior beings consumed with either the protection or destruction of the rest of the lowly human race. Subjugation is the inevitable result whether the power-holders are benign or not, by virtue of their inherent transcendence. We are at their mercy even if they leave us to our own devices. So perhaps we should thank God He created a slightly more even playing field. Perhaps.
But when one considers the contrast between ourselves and the animals one would be remiss in neglecting to observe our own quite potent super ability — technology.
Technology creates almost the exact same scenario I outlined above, with those who possess superior power dominating whether they want to or not. With technology we can move faster than the fleetest cheetah or the swiftest eagle; we can exert strength able to move mountains, putting even the primeval behemoth to shame; we can explore regions anathema to the most hardy extremophile bacteria; we can cast our sight and even other senses our bodies cannot directly perceive to the edges of creation, far beyond the ken of any beast. Not to mention the destructive combative abilities we can deliver with pinpoint accuracy or with indiscriminate devastation. We have consistently and decidedly proven our domination over every advantage of nature. We may not have superhumans, but humans are superbeings.
Yet some people, or even most people, fear the ascendency of technology and its constant and insatiable quest for greater and greater capacity in all things. Fearing being left behind while others gain dominance through technology, I understand. But all too often I see fear of the technology itself, as if it is somehow unnatural or even ungodly to extend human ability and enhance the human condition.
But when examined, this primitive prejudice fails to cohere or convince. To condemn one degree of technology while accepting another is inconsistent without some defining criterion with which to distinguish ‘good’ technology from ‘bad’ technology. Some object to augmentation as opposed to correction, positing a difference between wearing correctional lenses and wearing contact lenses which grant infrared vision. But does that also mean we should allow crutches for lame people but not allow cars… or even wheels? Every tool from the most basic lever to the most advanced robotic satellite allow us to do something we couldn’t do otherwise. It augments human ability. And God gave us the ability to make technology, so effectively human ability is only truly limited by the scope of our technology. They are one and the same.
So what about integration of technology with our bodies with nanoscale robots? Mostly theoretical right now, but rapidly becoming less so, the potential for making abilities from the world of superhumans our own is very real. Respirocytes, nanobots comparable in size to red blood cells which serve the same function, are already designed to do so at hundreds of times the efficiency. We can’t build them yet, but they would enable us to hold our breath for hours or even days, or sprint at Olympic levels of exertion for extended periods with only a lungful of air. Frivolous? Ask a rescue worker how many lives that would save, or an asthmatic how much it would improve his life, or a mountain climber the peaks he could then conquer. And it is essentially the same principles wearing an air tank, only better and safer. They both augment the respiratory system. One is integrated into the body, true, but we already implant devices in our bodies with far more risk and many more potential complications. What’s the difference, except for degree?
And this is only one example among many. Observe the degree to which our lives are dependent upon the digital world. Even those who don’t have personal access are indirectly dependent upon it by the actions and choices of those who do.
We are all already functional cyborgs. We already have superpowers. Technology is the superpower God gave us. Fear its lack, not its use.
About the Author
Jay Lauser is a fantasy and sci-fi author, blogger, and creator of elaborate fictional worlds. He hails from Ireland, and is the founder of the Christian Fantasy Writing Forum Holy Worlds, and the inventor of the Essence Map system.