A future of designer humans, smart machines, protean technology. Our dwindled descendents exiled to large space stations visit Cleansed Earth occasionally for gravity- and sensory-deprivation therapy. Human longevity, at last attained, ironically creates a Great Plague of Suicidal Despair, Disnovelling, born of the intruding longer prospect of bloody Nature and of the impersonal hurtling cosmic vastitudes. Centwen, a resurrected twentieth century archetype joined by elites and archetypes from other centuries, learns from his tour guides, the superbot, Prodigy, and its human creator, Great Psychodor, about a last-chance project to create not a mythical but a secular, dynamic, intelligent Heaven; and, if it succeeds, whether or not transformed humans and/or their intelligent machines can escape to it.
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What People are Saying About This
A vast, important, and radical vision.
Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, MIT
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Heaven Engine is a true mind-bender, in the good kind of way, for it forces the reader to explore questions about mortality and immortality never before addressed in this fashion. From a first hand position in the front row seats we are treated to a 'theater of the absurd' where all the great minds of the world meet to render to shreds our previous conceptions of life and death, heaven and hell, and the hereafter. If by the end of the book you are not questioning the meaning of true intelligence and our civilization's future course, then you might as well go back to sleep.
As stated by the author writing in his 'Acknowledgements' section, the theme of this unusual novel is encapsulated in a comment to Clarkson about his novel made by John Updike while HEAVEN ENGINE was in the writing and concerning the superhuman Longevitites in Clarkson's story: 'How do they keep from being infernally bored, as human consciousnesses would become in any infinitely prolonged situation.' To me this novel at bottom takes that problem on squarely without finessing it. HEAVEN ENGINE is a fascinating exploration of the themes of immortality and transhuman prospects. It's an experimental, powerful narrative, and I strongly recommend it.
Marvin Minsky, Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and world famous pioneer in artificial intelligence and psychology, has written this cover endorsement of HEAVEN ENGINE: 'A vast, important, and radical vision.' Minsky has also endorsed books by Vernor Vinge, Michael Crichton, Ray Kurzweil and Eric Drexler.