What makes a man?


Their is a common thread coming up in a lot of fiction now a days.  With our world swiftly barreling into the future we have a lot of things that only the wildest of science fiction writers thought of a century ago.  Heck less than a century ago.  There are tv shows and movies that are trying in the good old fashioned hammer way to deal with just what makes a man (or woman for that matter)

Does a synthetic add on make that human being something other than human? Does the fact that they are a clone make them less human than a being who is birthed the old fashion way.  Now of course I say no but lets take a look at this for a minute.  In the old days before science and medicine had evolved beyond put pressure on a wound and hope people commonly thought anyone who was different than them were not human.

We can easily see through out recorded history just how bad mankind was and how inhuman he was to those who had differences that were just skin deep.  At one point being a woman you were considered less than human and closer to an animal.  Having darker skin made you less than human and closer to apes.  And the gods help you if you were born with a defect.  Something as simple as a wine birth mark would mark you as a demon or worse.  Now those who are civilized think that those beliefs are both wrong and quaint, not realizing they still exist in both the real world and its reflection, fiction.

Does having a cyber limb make you less a person?  Does having a chip in your brain make you a robot?  No it doesn’t of course.  Each and every living thing on this world (in my opinion) has a spirit and soul.  How we use it is what makes us different of course.

In science fiction we have so many different species and faces to go with those species.  In anime we have living dolls, androids and ghosts in the machine.  Heck there is a new Johnny Depp movie where he is just that, a ghost in the machine.  Where does the body end and the person begin right?

The thing is when writing we need to look at ourselves and our beliefs when we deal with what makes or doesn’t a man.  Has the added on parts changed the man in our minds from a strong and noble character to a soulless killing machine?  Are we commenting on technology or telling a tale of a man gone past the limits of his own heart and mind?

As a fantasy writer I have mostly dealt with natural and supernatural creatures.  Each and every one of them is a man in the sense that they have a spirit or a soul.  How they use it of course tells you whether or not they are becoming more a man or less.

As I am trying to both stretch my wings and stretch the readers imagination I wonder if I should introduce a character who is less flesh and more steel and see how he or she deals with the prejudice of a culture that sees only those who match a certain criteria at human.

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