Narrating the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Transhumanism and Critical Posthumanism in Catherine Lacey's The Answers
Keywords:Fourth Industrial Revolution, Transhumanism, Critical posthumanism, Embodiment, Speculative fiction, Feminism
Recent scientific breakthroughs under the wing of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, particularly in the realm of biotechnology, have prompted an integral redefinition of the human, looking toward the posthuman state. Stances on this question range from the transhumanists’ advocacy of overcoming biological limits, to the indexing of technoscientific advancement to an antihumanist and postanthropocentric project championed by critical posthumanism. These debates have been translated into speculative fiction works such as Catherine Lacey’ The Answers (2017). This novel revolves around the Girlfriend Experiment, a state-of-the-art research project aimed at taking the next step in our emotional evolution by eliminating the need for romantic relationships, bankrolled by a film industry mogul. This paper analyses the representation of human enhancement in the novel, arguing that the depiction of the material consequences of the experiment upon its research subjects amounts to a rejection of the unrestricted development of technology along transhumanist and neoliberal tenets. In this, The Answers offers a critical take on the Fourth Industrial Revolution aligned with the principles of critical posthumanism.
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