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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Alternative Visions -- Dozens of SF and Fantasy Novels Free Online -- SF

Since I've recently been writing about science fiction's value in illuminating new technological possibilities -- especially for decision-makers and the public in general -- I thought I'd list a few places you can find free, published science fiction and fantasy novels online. Yes, there are dozens of novels from professional authors available.

First off, the Baen Free Library which lists its books by author and title. What's more, this library includes the first novels in a number of series, and you can check what books are in those series (and in the library) here. You can find some other free speculative fiction novels sorted by author and title can be found here. And of course, if you want some novels that are in the public domain because their copywrites have expired, there's always these and these.

Indeed, I'm sure there's more, but that should get you started.

Future Imperative

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Bene Gesserit Organizing Online...

Frank Herbert has inspired many people with his descriptions of human beings who developed "more than human" capabilities through training and intensely adverse environments. A free novel, reviewed elsewhere on this blog, describes his ideas about the importance of developing superhumans and how he believed you could do so. One group, calling itself the Bene Gesserit after a sisterhood with extraordinary mastery of body and mind in Herbert's novels, has recently gotten back to work on developing modern Bene Gesserit.

Here is the Bene Gesserit Training Manual by Daniel Fletcher (generated with contributions from the entire "Bene Gesserit" group) linked on its homepage:


Apparently also found at:


Personally, I had to use the first link to get there. This is a substantial download, being over 215 pages long.

This manual is described as a work in progress, and hence feedback will no doubt be welcome at the Bene Gesserit's web forum. I'm not sure how much is in there to simulate the Bene Gesserit as described by Herbert and how much was conceived as practical methods to achieve Bene-Gesserit-like talents. Personally, I'm not too thrilled with some of the discussions about manipulation, sexuality, politics and religion (to be fair, I didn't really examine the more distateful elements), but since this manual is about methods of self-enhancement, I decided to cover it here and let my readers, if interested, be the judge. On the positive side, it seems to have quite a bit of useful information if you're interested in becoming a highly trained agent capable of infiltration, surveillance, martial arts, etc.

I haven't yet had a chance to test out the manual's version of the Truthsense ability, which appears to be heavily based on body language cues, total analysis of the speaker, and so forth, but this might be more effective if based on some obscure self-hypnosis techniques. I really don't know, I haven't had the chance to compare each technique's effectiveness. Oddly enough, the martial arts and internal energy work aspects of the manual seem to be among its best thought out features... though naturally the real test of that would be in face-to-face training (otherwise, everyone would get their black belt from a book =) ). As with many such works this sudden display of insight is perhaps unsurprising... the authors may simply be best at what they've got the most personal experience with (and the most easily assimilated resources to draw upon).

As a guidebook for an organization as yet in the theoretical stages, this manual is quite intriguing. I will agree with the primary author that it is far from complete, but until an actual Bene Gesserit organization forms and is actively training, that is almost inevitable. Still, this is an interesting example of the kind of self-optimization system a group might come up with on its own, and may provide potential students with some good ideas.

Here's an impressive workbook on becoming a Mentat (human computer) by James Meritt. I believe you'll have to sign up for Yahoo Groups (for free) to get it. This download is over 230 pages long and a very thorough conception (from one person's point of view) of how to create a Mentat using modern mental disciplines, strategies and resources. The text ranges from mnemonic (memorization) techniques, to speed math tricks to strategies for negotiation, time management and self-control, to advice on smart drugs and nutrients.

While there are likely powerful elements that could be added to this system if the user knew about them... and/or had substantial financial resources (to explore self-hypnosis, "mindtech" such as sensory deprivation tanks, etc), this is a very good examination of how a normal, reasonably intelligent human being could conceivably self-train until they had access to Mentat-level skills. Which is saying a great deal indeed.

A few other comments and ideas on Mentats can be found on this Wiki page. Basically, this page gives you links to a few more techniques you could conceivably use to develop Mentat talents, but nothing like the overview, coherence and depth found in the above Mentat handbook.

Future Imperative