American Fiction, Transhumanism, Becky Chambers, Science Fiction, Chthulucene


Transhumanism has been rising in both popularity and influence on western societies and philosophical thought. Dreams of mind transfer, immortality, or cloning as well as the fear of sentient and intelligent artificial intelligence (AI) can be traced in some of Netflix’s most popular series such as Altered Carbon (2018), from the novel by Richard K. Morgan, or Orphan Black (2013), to mention just a few. Similarly, transhumanism may be spotted in Becky Chambers’ fiction. The novel analysed in this paper, A Closed and Common Orbit (2016), a sequel in the author’s Wayfarers series, explores the possibility of cloning human bodies, the production of sentient AI, and the subsequent ethical implications of both science fiction tropes. Far from showing transhumanism as a miracle solution to limitations in human bodies and capacity to avoid climate change, the text presents the suspicions and fears transhumanism may raise in the USA. This article provides evidence of how the Anthropocene and transhumanism operate in Becky Chambers’ novel, the ethical effects concerning intrinsic and extrinsic values and their possible subversion through a posthumanist alliance under the Anthropocene.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


‘ABOUT’. Humanity+, Accessed 26 July 2021.

BOSTROM, Nick. “A History of Transhumanist Thought.” Journal of Evolution & Technology, vol. 14, 2005, pp. 1–25.

BRAIDOTTI, Rosi. “Animals, Anomalies, and Inorganic Others.” PMLA, vol. 124, no. 2, 2009, pp. 526–32.

---. The Posthuman. Polity Press, 2013.

BUSH. “President Bush Calls on Senate to Back Human Cloning Ban.” The White House, Accessed 28 January 2022


CALARCO, Matthew. Thinking Through Animals. Stanford University Press, 2015.

CHAMBERS, Becky. A Closed and Common Orbit. Hodder & Stoughton, 2016.

COENEN, Christopher. “Transhumanism and Its Genesis: The Shaping of Human Enhancement Discourse by Visions of the Future.” Humana. Mente Journal of Philosophical Studies, vol. 26, no. 1, 2014, pp. 35–58.

COLLADO-RODRÍGUEZ, Francisco. “The Female, the Intertextual, and the Transhuman in William Gibson’s Molly Millions.” Hélice, vol. 7, no. 1, 2021, pp. 23–36.

COX, Carolyn. “Congratulations to the 2019 Hugo Award Winners!” The Portalist, 18 Aug. 2019, Accessed 4 January 2022.

DIÉGUEZ, Antonio. “La Función Ideológica Del Transhumanismo y Algunos de Sus Presupuestos.” ISEGORÍA, no. 63, 2020, pp. 367–86.

FERRANDO, Francesca. “Posthuman Feminist Ethics: Unveiling Ontological Radical Healing.” Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism, Thomsen, M. R., Wamberg, J., Bloomsbury, 2020, pp. 141–60.

---. “Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms. Differences and Relations.” Existenz, vol. 8, no. 2, 2013, pp. 24–33.

GANESH, Uma. “Artificial Intelligence Ethics: Designing Systems That Are Fair for All.” Financial Express, 22 July 2021, Accessed 6 January 2022.

GILL, R. B. “The Uses of Genre and the Classification of Speculative Fiction.” Mosaic, vol. 46, no. 2, 2013, pp. 71–85.

HARAWAY, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities, vol. 6, 2015, pp. 159–65.

---. Manifestly Haraway. University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

---. When Species Meet. University of Minnesota Press, 2008.

HARRIS, John. Enhancing Evolution. The Ethical Case for Making Better People. 2007.

HAYLES, N. Katherine. “The Life Cycle of Cyborgs.” A Question of Identity, Marina Benjamin, Rutgers University Press, 1993, pp. 152–70.

JEFFRIES, Stuart. “Neil Harbisson: The World’s First Cyborg Artist.” The Guardian, 6 May 2014, Accessed 28 December 2021.

LOVELOCK, James. Gaia : A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford University Press, 1979.

MAGNUSON, William. “Artificial Intelligence on Wall Street Will Be Great, Until It Isn’t.” Governing, 1 Nov. 2019, Accessed 7 January 2022.

MEHLMAN, Maxwell J. Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares. The John Hopkins University Press, 2012.

MENGER, Eva. “’What It Feels to Be the Other:’ Imaginations of Displacement in Contemporary Speculative Fiction.” Studies in Arts and Humanities, vol. 4, no. 2, 2018, pp. 1–18.

MIIT technology Review Insights. “Asia’s AI Agenda: The Ethics of AI.” MIT Technology Review, 11 July 2019.

MORE, Max. “Transhumanism: A Futurist P...” Extropy, vol. 6, 1990, pp. 4-7.

NG, Lay Sion. “Transhumanism and the Biological Body in Don DeLillo’s Zero K: A Material Feminist Perspective.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, vol. 28, no. 2, July 2021, pp. 686–708


NORMILE, Dennis. “Chinese Scientist Who Produced Genetically Altered Babies Sentenced to 3 Years in Jail.” Science, Accessed 12 November 2021.

ORTNER, Sherry B. “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” Woman, Culture, and Society, Stanford University Press, 1974, pp. 68–87.

OUR Foreign Staff. “Chinese Scientist Claims to Have Created ‘World’s First Genetically Edited Babies’.” The Telegraph, 26 Nov. 2018. Accessed 6 April 2022.

ROLDÁN-ROMERO, Vanesa. “Transhumanist Contraceptives in June Caldwell’s ‘The Implant’.” Journal of Posthuman Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, 2020, pp. 96–106.

STEFFEN, Will, et al. “The Anthropocene: Conceptual and Historical Perspectives.” Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A, no. 369, 2011, pp. 842–67.

SUVIN, Darko. Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre. Yale University Press, 1979.

WARREN, Karen J., and Jim Cheney. “Ecological Feminism and Ecosystem Ecology.” Ecological Feminism, vol. 6, no. 1, 1991, pp. 179–97.

ZIMERMANN, Michael J. The Nature of Intrinsic Value. Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.




How to Cite

Roldán Romero, V. “TRANSHUMANISM AND THE ANTHROPOCENE IN BECKY CHAMBERS’ A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT”. Revista De Estudios Norteamericanos, vol. 26, June 2022, doi:10.12795/REN.2022.i26.04.



Received 2021-08-04
Accepted 2022-04-05
Published 2022-06-01
  • Abstract 388
  • PDF 352