Bruce Sterling, "Twenty Evocations"
1) "Nikolai loved it" (313). Is love a drug-like experience and can it be simulated by appropriate neural stimulation? What about "friendship," "trust," and other similar orienting states of mind? See also #16, "Pleasure Roar": "Why...why bother?" His wife looked surprised. "It's traditional." (317).
4) "Fuzz Patina"--Shapers live antiseptic lives because they are afraid normal human bacteria will interfere with their genetic manipulation of the genome. Mechanists trust to the randomness of that process and create mechanical augmentations to modify what bodies and minds chance gives us. What are the dangers of each approach to genetic modification? It appears obvious that, as Kalugin told Hans Landau in "Cicada Queen," every Shaper child is an industrial product, anyhow. Should it surprise us that this has effects upon human notions of "the moral" and "immoral"?
6) "Speculative Pity"--The marriage proposal is couched entirely in market-driven terms. This is how the nobility of Anglo-European Medieval and Early Modern culture negotiated weddings for centuries. How long has this "love=sex=marriage" thing been going on, and how secure are its "futures"? See also #10--"I didn't create her. She's my dead wife's posthumous clone. And she's the property of my wife's corporations, or, rather, her trust fund, which I manage as executor..." (315). And #15--"Inherited Gifts": "Where did you get those antique eyes?" / "They were my mother's. I inherited them" (317).
12) The Superbright negotiator who assures Leng "We will not cause you any trouble. We only want a quiet place to finish working while God eats our brains" (316). What is the relationship between our religions and our mentalities? Do our gods devour our minds?
19) "Antique Splits": "The young people spoke a slang-crammed jargon that Nikiolai could barely comprehend" (318). How do slangs enable generations to compete against each other? Is "Academic Prose" a slang?