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What Mind Control Sci-fi Have You Read? Eg: 'mule' In Foundation?


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#1 Eclipse Now

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 07:39 PM

Hi all,
anyone remember the singular damage that the Mule wrought on the Foundation? (Isaac Asimov).

I'm thinking more than just temporary mind-swaying like Jedi mind powers, but a more permanent switch of loyalties or direction. Are there any examples of an exponential mind-control 'plague' like an outbreak of Zombie-computers, but in humans? This is Mind control - not World War Z.

#2 CraigD

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 04:18 PM

My written and unwritten topic indexing is a shambles at the moment (the unwritten kind tends to come to me at unpredictable moments, which is why I like the written kind, but am alas to busy/lazy to keep it up properly), so I can at best cough up the latest couple of mind-control SF story I've read. It's a really good one, though! :)

#1: The Long Chase by Geoffrey Landis (2002)
Read all 4.4K words here, at the excellent new-ish hard SF Lighspeed magazine.

Like much of Landis's work, this story is completely transhuman - the "humans" involved are all AIs, hosted in microscopic, advanced computers, rather than biological brains - but to a sympathetic extropian like me, they're as human as any that's ever had fictional life.

I hope a quick read of this story will impress folk that mind control stories involving transhumans can be mind-bogglingly deep.

#2: Interface by Neal Stephenson & J. Frederick George (1994)
Its wikipedia article.

More of a traditional action-adventure mind-control SF story, involving a neurochip that can rehabilitate you after a stroke, but make you vulnerable to subtle but but profound control by whomever has access to your neurochip.

Thinking of Stephenson (which, for fans of his like YT, is hard not to do), his 1992 classic

#3: Snowcrash

is pretty much a global mind-control thriller, though of less scientifically plausible kind. I think this novel either coined, or popularized, the phrase "neurolinguistic hacking", and equates ancient religious magic with working knowledge of the human mind's "protocols".

No disrespect to Asimov and the Foundation series, but I think the days when a credible SF story can run with the idea of mind control via some sort of non-technologically-assisted mind-to-mind telepathy has become pretty much untenable since he wrote about the Mule, some 60 years ago. These days, you've go to either upload the mind into a computer, implant some sort of hard interface to the brain, or at very least use some sort of sensory trickery of the kind likely to trigger epileptic seizures if you do it wrong, to suspend a well-trained hard SF reader's disbelief.

OTOH, to paraphrase Ursula Le Guin and a host of others, the act of reading itself is arguably an old, profound form of mind control, in which a capable author "takes over" the reader's mind for at least as long as they're actively reading. As Le Guin quipped, all but the unfortunate psychotic few snap back to their own control instants after they stop reading, but a reasonable argument can be made that some writings (eg: Benjamin Frankin's 18th century Poor Richard's Almanack, and maybe some of the stories I mention above) exert subtle yet profound sort of mind-control long after their readers put them down.
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#3 Eclipse Now

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 07:28 PM

Yes, I read Snow Crash, which was really interesting from my Christian background criticising the whole American Charismatic movement and their reliance on ecstatic non-language of 'tongues'. (When the biblical reference to it in the Ancient Greek actually says "languages"). Having thought about this a fair bit from a theological perspective, it was really refreshing to see it cast as a kind of mind-hacking experiment!

OTOH, to paraphrase Ursula Le Guin and a host of others, the act of reading itself is arguably an old, profound form of mind control, in which a capable author "takes over" the reader's mind for at least as long as they're actively reading. As Le Guin quipped, all but the unfortunate psychotic few snap back to their own control instants after they stop reading, but a reasonable argument can be made that some writings (eg: Benjamin Frankin's 18th century Poor Richard's Almanack, and maybe some of the stories I mention above) exert subtle yet profound sort of mind-control long after their readers put them down.


Awesome idea! I've just been listening to Radiolab on 'Words' which looks at how the structures of our languages influence our thinking patterns.

http://www.radiolab.org/2010/aug/09/

Snowcrash may have more credibility than you think!

#4 modest

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 06:02 PM

#1: The Long Chase by Geoffrey Landis (2002)
Read all 4.4K words here, at the excellent new-ish hard SF Lighspeed magazine.


Thought-provoking :thumbs_up

~modest :)