The Transhuman Antihero

Paradoxical Protagonists of Speculative Fiction from Mary Shelley to Richard Morgan


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About the Book

Advances in science and technology no longer change how we live, they determine it. In the not-too-distant future, techno-scientific developments may make individuals stronger, smarter, healthier and more productive—but to what end? Addressing this question, speculative fiction has created an abundance of transhuman characters, protagonists with extraordinary strength, intelligence or abilities. Often they are antiheroes, openly rejecting—or rejected by—society and acting on immoral or extreme principles that challenge readers to approve, condemn, excuse or explain.

This study explores the antihero of speculative fiction as a paradoxical blend of human and transhuman. These protagonists illustrate the dynamics of individual, techno-scientific and societal norms, and blur distinctions between human and machine, biology and technology, right and wrong. Fictional works covered include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John (1935), Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956), William Gibson’s Neuromancer (1986), Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen (1986–1987), Richard Morgan’s trilogy (Altered Carbon, 2001, Broken Angels, 2003 and Woken Furies 2005) and Black Man (2007).

About the Author(s)

Writer Michael Grantham lives in Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Michael Grantham

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 196
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9405-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1955-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: The Paradoxical Protagonist 3
One—The Transhuman and the Monster 13
Two—Antiheroes and Overheroes 31
Three—V for Vendetta 56
Four—Watchmen and the Deconstruction of the Superhero 73
Five—Cyberpunk 97
Six—Reinterpreting Cyberpunk 118
Seven—Genetic Fear in Richard Morgan’s Black Man 144
Conclusion 167
Chapter Notes 171
Bibliography 181
Index 189

Book Reviews & Awards

“Remarkable…Grantham’s views [are] refreshing… Grantham transitions rather fluently from chapter to chapter, tackling the complex yet fascinating interrelations between speculative fiction, antiheroes and the concept of transhumanism from as many perspectives as possible.”—Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies