Azi And Born-Men

The SF writer C.J. Cherryh hypothesised that any interstellar expansion would run up against an acute labour shortage. She therefore envisaged the grunt-work being done, not by robots, but by vat-grown humans, whom she called “azi” (for Artificial Zygote Insemination). Where most authors would have left it at that, or tried to gross us out with the details of the decanting process, Cherryh was interested less in the azi bodies than in the azi minds. Just as their bodies are cloned and grown, so too are the azi psychologies created, with off-the-shelf and custom models, that she calls “psych-sets”. These personalities are later reinforced and maintained by continuous exposure to teaching, encouraging and rewarding “tapes”. By this she might mean something more modern than reel-to-reel; like most female SF writers, she is short on technical details and long on psychological consequences – such as the quite different interrelationships between instinct, rationality and experience among azi as against “born-men”. But wait a moment: things that look like people but are really a limited set of programs triggered and controlled by creations of media departments: are we talking about azis here or about ourselves?

Posted on April 8, 2009 at 09:50 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Beings and Gentlebeings

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