Posted by: markfender | January 31, 2012

Transhuman Space – Toxic Memes

The unstoppable Transhuman Space line continues. It’s time for Toxic Memes.

This book is about, well, toxic memes. You know, like Rebecca Black’s Friday. It’s basically a big book of various weird ideas that people have and how they propagate.

The first section is an Overview, which basically covers how social systems work and spread ideas. It includes a sidebar about the five most ubiquitous advertisements in 2100. This all seems rather normal.

The next section is about Cults and Movements. Many of these seem like reasonable ideas that might develop in the future (I mean, except for the Elvis cult). In fact, that might be the problem I have with this whole book – it gets crazier and crazier as it goes. Odd to think that the section on Cults is actually pretty reasonable.

Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories is next and it starts to get wackier. I mean, by their very nature, conspiracy theories are pretty out-there. But then this section also includes urban legends and paranormal beliefs. While it’s overall sorta interesting (I mean, how do you do astrology on Jupiter?), I find myself rolling my eyes a lot.

Next is Alternative Cultures – people who live on the edge of what’s normal. This includes such fascinating concepts as Clonibalism (eating part of your clone to take your own strength inside of you), Jihadis (people who take Star Wars too seriously) and VacRose Fanciers (people who, oh-my-god-this-is-so-exciting, grow roses in space). Yeah, the book gets weird.

Infecting the Nonhuman Mind is next. Because Youtube videos aren’t just for humans anymore, I guess. I thought this section started off fairly interesting talking about various philosophies amongst AIs, but then it gets into uplift philosophy and it gets weird again. I mean, why do octopuses believe in Cthulhu, exactly?

Lastly, we get into Memetic Engineering. That’s right, rules on how to make your own memes!! It takes 25 pages!! I’m so bored!!

So, yeah, this book is weird. On one hand, that’s good. After all, it’s a whole lot of weird ideas that you can form adventures around. On the other hand, some of them are too silly or too useless to ever make their way into a game. All I know for sure is that this book would have been a must-buy if it had been in list format…


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