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The Transhumanist Wager (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Zoltan Istvan
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"WINNER" Fiction Visionary - International Book Awards

Zoltan Istvan is the founder of political organization the "Transhumanist Party" and is its 2016 US presidential candidate.

Leading futurist, philosopher, and former National Geographic journalist Zoltan Istvan presents his award-winning, bestselling visionary novel, The Transhumanist Wager, as a seminal statement of our times.

His philosophical thriller has been called "revolutionary," "life-changing," and "a masterpiece" by readers, scholars, and critics. The novel debuts a challenging original philosophy, which rebuffs modern civilization by inviting the end of the human species--and declaring the onset of something greater.

Set in the present day, the novel tells the story of transhumanist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Fighting against him are fanatical religious groups, economically depressed governments, and mystic Zoe Bach: a dazzling trauma surgeon and the love of his life, whose belief in spirituality and the afterlife is absolute. Exiled from America and reeling from personal tragedy, Knights forges a new nation of willing scientists on the world's largest seastead, Transhumania. When the world declares war against the floating libertarian city, demanding an end to its renegade and godless transhuman experiments and ambitions, Knights strikes back, leaving the planet forever changed.

Praise for Zoltan Istvan's writing and work:

"Congratulations on an excellent story--really well written, concise, and elegant." (Editor, National Geographic News Service)

"Istvan is among the correspondents I value most for his...courage." (Senior Editor, The New York Times Syndicate)

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

At the age of 21, American-Hungarian Zoltan Istvan began a solo, multi-year sailing journey around the world. His main cargo was 500 handpicked books, mostly classics. He's explored over 100 countries—many as a journalist for the National Geographic Channel—writing, filming, and appearing in dozens of television stories, articles, and webcasts. His work has also been featured by The New York Times Syndicate, Outside, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Radio, NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, Animal Planet, and the Travel Channel. In addition to his award-winning coverage of the war in Kashmir, he gained worldwide attention for pioneering and popularizing the extreme sport of volcano boarding. Zoltan later became a director for the international conservation group WildAid, leading armed patrol units to stop the billion-dollar illegal wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Back in America, he started various successful businesses, from real estate development to filmmaking to viticulture, joining them under ZI Ventures. He is a philosophy and religious studies graduate of Columbia University and resides in San Francisco with his daughter and physician wife. Zoltan recently published The Transhumanist Wager, a visionary novel describing apatheist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology.


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Der Roman spielt im hier und jetzt, und erzählt die Geschichte des Transhumanisten Jethro Knights und seinem stetigen Streben nach Unsterblichkeit mittels Wissenschaft und Technologie.

Das Buch beginnt als Jethro sein Philosophie Studium abschließt, und im Laufe des Buches bekommt man immer wieder seine philosophische Gedanken und Reden zu hören, welche auch klassische philosophische Werke zitieren.

Der Autor Zoltan Istvan war Journalist für National Geographic und hat seine eigene Weltreise auf einem kleinen Segelboot mit 500 philosophischen Büchern an Bord in die Story des Hauptcharakters eingewoben.

Es war für mich eine sehr interessante Lektüre, weil der Autor es versteht den zeitweise zögerlichen Umgang der Gesellschaft mit Wissenschaft und Technologie und die damit verbundenen Konflikte abzubilden.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen So bad it makes me hate transhumanism 28. Januar 2014
Von Michael S. Valentine - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This is the worst book I've ever read; to address what is wrong with it in full would take more space than the book itself, so I'll just hit the highlights.

First, it's a transparent plagiarism of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, starring Howard Roark and John Galt as Jethro Knights, Ellsworth Toohey as Reverend Belinas, and Peter Keating as Gregory Michaelson. In an interview on Patheos, Mr. Istvan states that, had he gone through a publishing house, “It would be difficult to get a story like The Transhumanist Wager past the lawyers...” Probably so, Mr. Istvan had better hope that Ayn Rand's estate doesn't get wind of this book.

While we're on Ayn Rand, it's fair to mention that, while she liked her Mary Sues, Jethro Knights (yes, Knights, plural. There's also a Dr. Whalefish and Mexican gentleman named Katril Bentoven) leaves all of her supermen in the dust. A college philosophy major, he's able to spend a mere four weeks in the library, plus some time chatting up an old sailor, and design a thirty five foot yacht which is capable of being sailed round the world, weathering a typhoon, and even being flipped by a 70 foot tall rogue wave, all because he, and he alone, with no help, welded it together from “six thousand dollars of rusty recycled steel”. He's also an incredible coder, capable of creating “dozens” of web pages in a four week stretch while simultaneously adding his organization to all the local phone books and internet search engines. He's largely immune from explosions. His senior thesis, which, incidentally, is the first thing his program allows him to write on his own, is so compelling it eventually forms the basis of a worldwide utopia. He's an amazing explorer who is able to discover uncontacted tribes in strange lands in a matter of days and achieve rapport with the Japanese “Samaria” clans.

Samaria? Samurai, I guess. Mr. Istvan's command of vocabulary is not as impressive as his hero's command of, well, everything. In the above mentioned interview, he admits to not having had an editor, and opines that his book is more “indie” and “raw” because of it. True, very true. He throws words around without really seeming to know what they mean, based on similarities of sounds or collocations that he's heard before. One of the characters has “Arian” looks, there are those Japanese “Samaria,” there's a guy who is a “nationalized” American citizen, and his fighting robot comes equipped with a “canon.” His dictator announces that ignorance “is...a crime that will be punishable by excessive fines...” There are quantum thoughts and clairvoyant Zen bombs, “ethnic and religious imperatives,” plus the assurance that transhumanists “don't hinder ethnic or religious people from reaching their supposed immortality.”

Wait, ethnic people? Is that like that Mexican who became a “nationalized citizen”? Or perhaps the “drug induced shamans” that pop up later are ethnic people, I'm not sure. Perhaps the people that issued the “three million dollar fatwa” could help me out, they could fly over in a “megasonic airplane.” I'm “ghostly serious” here, “the muse on the transhuman city [would be] festive” if I could only understand what Mr. Istvan thinks he's trying to say.

And then there's the elephant, or elephants, or over a thousand elephants, in the room. Transhumanism. Yes, the book is called The Transhumanist Wager, and yes, it is about transhumanism, so we can expect that the word will pop up fairly often. According to my Kindle Reader for the iPad, the word “transhuman” or one of its variants (transhuman, transhumanist, transhumanism, and Transhumania, the name of his utopia) occurs 1,189 times. In 298 pages. That's almost four times per page. I'm so sick of that damn word that I'm about ready to take up homeopathy just to not have to read it again. For all that, for the first two-thirds of the book or so, he rarely touches on what transhumanism is, or why it's a good thing, it's just something the bad guys hate for religious reasons, and the good guys love because, well, transhumanism.

Every time the book mentions something factual, it merely exposes the author's ignorance. I suppose you could defend some things by saying that it takes place in an alternate reality very similar to our own, but the ideas that a “Presidential seal” is some sort of legal trump card, or that people who wish to remain anonymous are allowed to simply not put license plates on their cars, are just ludicrous. His understanding of the military is confused at best; in his world a fifth of the United States' active military is stationed in Washington, D.C., to protect it from a terrorist attack. His modern naval engagement takes place at a distance of 20 miles. The concept of money in the book has its own idiosyncrasies. In order to carry out an assassination, a $50,000 bribe is necessary to induce a couple of maintenance men to allow entrance to a conference hall. On the other hand, Jethro Knights is able to build a floating island with the most modern facilities for 10,000 scientists and their families (let's say 30,000 people) for a mere 5 billion dollars. There are to be three main towers, one of them fifty-two stories high, the second sixty-six, and the third eighty stories. In the real world, One World Trade Center is going to cost about $4bn dollars, and it doesn't have to float.

The budget for this undertaking comes from a ten billion dollar donation from an oil magnate, which is divided, more or less, as follows:
Cost of construction: $5bn
Defense budget: “one third of his ten billion dollar budget”: $3.3bn
Recruitment bonuses for the scientists: $1m dollars each x 10,000 scientists= $10bn

So we're at $18bn plus now. To be fair, he does mention that there were other donors, and that the scientists, once recruited, were encourage to buy, rather than rent, in order to bring some of their bonus money back into the budget, but the math is still pretty shaky.

In the end, Knights becomes dictator of the world (seriously, he does) by, like a malevolent Santa Claus, destroying all the major religious and political buildings in the world (including that navel of power and influence, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo), all in one night. Then he finally delivers his “This is John Galt” speech, but by that time, I was so tired that I was just skimming. And skimming. And skimming. For fifteen pages. Pretty sure most of it was cribbed from Rand, but I could be wrong, like I said, I was skimming.

I too could go on and on, but I'm tired. Don't read this book. Don't waste your time or your money. I never thought I'd say this, but if you'd like to read a much better work, I'd recommend either “The Fountainhead,” or “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. You'll get most of the same ideas, but in a much more fluid and readable form. Yes, this makes Ayn Rand look fluid.

One final quote, the best lines in the book, delivered by the hero's hostile philosophy teacher, Prof. Rindall, serves quite well as a review of the whole book:

“[T]his rant of a thesis, this is not philosophy. Maybe, this is art. No, not even art. This is science fiction. Bad science fiction. B-rated science fiction.”
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1.0 von 5 Sternen The odds can be as low as they like when the payout is infinite 23. August 2014
Von Magnus Hertzberg Ulstein - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
Before I opened this book (and that's an anachronistic expression, given I read the ebook) I had some idea of what the "Transhumanist Wager" is/should be. Pascal's Wager was his misguided attempt to provide a rational underpinning to his belief in the Christian faith. He argued that even if there was only a tiny chance that the promise of eternal salvation was true, that tiny chance is well worth living your life by the Christian principles. The odds can be as low as they like when the payout is infinite; its still rational to make the wager. The Transhumanist Wager then should be that investing in life extension, nootropics, nanotechnology, and the likes is clearly rational, as the potential and indeed likely payout is so huge.

Its telling that the best thing I can say about this novel is that the title is pretty good. The characters are flat and, worse, unbelievable. The plot is messy, and the challenges unrealistic. The story Transhumanists vs religion, and the main problem I have with it is that it presents both of these as unified organizations. It makes me cringe whenever the author assumes that everyone working on medical technology or STEM research in general is a Transhumanist, while everyone else is a unreflected hypocrite. The second biggest problem is that for a plot based on the idea that things are changing rapidly, there's an alarming amount of time skipping forward with nothing changing.

Our designated hero follows the worst of Nietzsche's most egoistic teachings, and advocates for a every man to himself policy which seems depremental for a man destined by Mary Sue plot to lead the Transhumanist movement. He is directly unlikable.

His love interest, a suicidal medic, has a philosophy best described as new age quantum budistism, which is about as sane as it sounds. I could go though and do this for every character, but the "bad guys" are strawmen at best and parodies at worst. While the protagonists all seem clinically insane.

So in conclusion, not worth it at all. If you want to know more about Transhumanism read any other book on th subject.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen Tripe - Do Not Buy 6. September 2013
Von Amazon Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This book is poorly written, and, while the ideas are big, they are totally sophomoric. The characters are cardboard and inconsistent, the author's grasp on basic human nature lacks nuance, and the world is unrealistic and designed totally to facilitate what I hesitate to call the protagonist, a dual class sociopath / misanthrope empowered with the godlike abilities that only a teenage power fantasy can have. The only reason I finished this mess was that I started to think it had to be a put on and I wanted to get to the punch line.

Some gems:

Our hero, traveling around the globe on a yacht he whipped up with no training or experience, takes a break from pumping out amazing articles for National Geographic to burst into a war zone surgery. The surgeon, an improbably perfect woman, rather than telling him to beat it, is instantly sopping wet for him.

A bunch of cartoonishly buffoonish military men, having seen how our hero's 'Independance Day' inspired missile defense works by hacking into their guidance systems, decide to fire a bunch more missiles instead of firing a bunch of ballistic projectiles out else just leaving to come up with a new plan.

When our hero destroys all religious and government structures in the world using four fast airplanes, he manages to destroy Canada's Congressional Palace in Toronto but I guess he must miss the Parliament in Ontario. I mean come on: if you are trying to write a book that sounds intelligent, at least Google your fricking facts.

At all turns, real life complexity is brushed aside and minimized. All problems and constraints on progress are caused by cynical and evil political and religious authorities and the second these creatures are escaped from or destroyed everything is Hunky Dory. There are no schisms, traitors, opportunists, power grabs, or conscientious objectors in our hero's movement as he conquers the Earth, and that conquest itself had no real consequences due to his high technology, despite the very graphic evidence all around us of the problems that technology cannot overcome in conflicts.

At the end of all of this, I am only impressed by two things: that the author managed to finish writing this, and that the author managed to write himself almost a hundred good reviews.
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1.0 von 5 Sternen A real pain to read 13. Oktober 2014
Von J. S. Holmes - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
This book reads like it was written by a megalomaniacal fifth grader. The writing is without elegance or wit. The plot has holes throughout. Every third paragraph it seems has a logical contradiction embedded in it.

I really like the subject matter but this novel was just dreadful. I'm so glad to be finished with it.

Do yourself a favor: read anything but this book.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Not done yet, but can't put it down! 11. Juli 2014
Von Perry - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I got Zoltan's book on the free offer day and I love the premise! I'm getting excited that these ideas are at least starting to enter the mainstream more and I can wait to find out what happens in the end of the book. Just got it and can't put it down!

I recommend others take the plunge as well :) Will leave full review once I finish the book.
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