The Limits of Heaven.

“Heaven was not intended for the casual visitor; any paradise in which the flesh-constrained would feel at home would have been intolerably pedestrian to the disembodied souls who lived there.”

I fell in love with this quote near the beginning of the second section of Blindsight.  I almost automatically love any quote having any sort of reference to the afterlife because it opens up so much discussion in regards to a fictional world.  In comparison to books like Neuromancer and Lilith’s Brood, which abstain from a reference or invocation to the some sort of religious higher power and/or afterlife, I feel like such a statement already sets Blindsight apart.

However, I think this quote could have, ultimately, been included in both of those books.  I don’t see this as so much a religious invocation as a reference to the changing standards of the world so omnipresent in science fiction.  The use of the adjective “flesh-constrained” really echoes this notion.  The paradises of the future — specifically, augmentation — feel so pedestrian in comparison to what our constrained present is like.  I think the idea that augmentation colors the world is a recurring theme, not only through the works we’ve read, in science fiction as a whole.  I feel like Case would describe the lack of access to the matrix in a similar fashion.  The matrix is a paradise ineffable to anyone who doesn’t have access.  The world without the matrix is utterly intolerable.

But, let’s focus specifically on Blindsight and what it means here.  Obviously, augmentation plays a great part in the character of Siri and the prominence of the genetically augmented vampires that are plaguing the earth.  How pedestrian the unaugmented world must seem to Siri, who has such a vast alteration in his mental processing.  He can connect with different species in meaningful ways that normal people cannot even begin to comprehend.

Even the way the characters connect to their spacefaring vessels seems so much more brilliant that the way a person pilots a shuttle now.  How pedestrian that must seem to the future.

In this sense, it is such an optimistic view of the future.  Everything now will seem so absolutely gray and muted to the fantasies of what comes next.  While it might be argued that cognitive dissonance is the goal of science fiction, I think that hope is the ultimate goal.  This is a weird thing to say considering many works of science fiction are unapologetically pessimistic.  Many science fiction novels portray a dystopian future.  However, I think there’s an essence of hope and wonderment there too.  The apocalypse is, undeniably, exciting.

To a certain extent, it seems that characters in Blindsight can directly interface with a vision of heaven, which in particular I find extremely terrifying.  I wonder how characters are able to resist forever surrendering themselves to an afterlife, surrounding by images of their loved ones even if those images are synthesized.  That must be such a compelling addiction, and I feel like an entire novel could be based solely around that concept.

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