Hannu Rajaniemi on Posthuman Utopias

‘‘The Jean le Flambeur books have a few different inspirations. I encountered the work of Maurice Leblanc between ages eight and ten, which was my voracious reading period at the local public library in my home town. Besides the Sherlock Holmes stories, my favourite books were the Arséne Lupin books by Leblanc, which were translated into Finnish. There was a period around when I first moved to Edinburgh when I was interested in these post-singularity, posthuman ideas. Some sort of connection clicked. First of all, I read a book by Robert Axelrod called The Evolution of Cooperation, which is all about the prisoner’s dilemma, and how it turns out that certain kinds of altruistic strategies have something of an advantage. I started thinking, ‘Okay, what if there was a posthuman prison that tried to exploit that phenomenon by having this enormously large-scale simulated prisoner’s dilemma game, where prisoners would go through multiple iterations and evolve towards becoming altruistic cooperators?’ I started wondering what sort of criminals would be in the prison. Because I wanted a sympathetic character, I came back to Leblanc and his Arsène Lupin. I started thinking about Arsène Lupin in a bit more depth and realised that he’s, in a way, a posthuman. In the sense that Arsène Lupin is not his real name, it’s an identity he’s created for himself. He’s kind of superhuman in the Sherlock Holmes way, but what I’m referring to more is that in the Leblanc books he goes through one transformation after another. He assumes all these different identities. Across the course of the LeBlanc books he must have over a hundred pseudonyms of various kinds, including disguising himself at one point as the head of the police unit that investigates himself.”
— excerpt from an interview in Locus magazine

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