Excerpt From "The Burning Years"
Chapter 1: Inanna, the Trans-human
Peter, my maker, has recently told me, “Inanna, the burning years are about to kick into full throttle.” When I heard this from him, I knew none of the wars and fights and various ideologies and beliefs that keep humans apart will matter. We’ll all be forced to put them aside as we fight together for the survival of our planet and our species.
Three years ago, I volunteered to allow DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to affect a radical transformation of my body. Because I’ve always been an avid trans-humanist, this was something I welcomed. Since I was conversant with many of the advances in medical science, I didn’t fear what re-engineering would do to me. In fact I wanted to become one of the first to make this change.
Where did I come from? I’m half Palestinian and half Jewish. In 2020, my parents were removed forcibly from Israel. The fundamentalists eventually gained control of that country and transferred all the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and Israel proper, to refugee camps outside their borders. It was called the 'Great Transfer.' Many knew it wasn’t a moral or humane policy, but they thought it necessary for security reasons.
The conflicts in the Arab Middle East between modern, secular Islamists and anti-modern ones continued to rage and, like animals caught in a trap, we lived in the middle of the firestorm. It was ridiculous to even imagine both sides could live peaceably together, when faced with such deep seeded, ideological differences. In the end, the fate of that area culminated in the nuclear exchange of 2035, started by a renegade group of terrorists.
When I was five years old and after my parents had died from radiation sickness in 2040, I came to America to live with my uncle, my father’s brother, and his wife in Washington, D.C. My uncle, who works in security and I still keep in touch but we were never close, so it’s been easy to hide what’s happening to me.
It has taken three years to completely transform my human body to bionic, removing any parts that might have been damaged by exposure to radiation when I was younger. The most amazing changes, however, have been in my brain, whose capacity has been greatly advanced. Because the nerve endings are now connected to electrical reactors, the barriers between others and me can more easily be breached, and a way is open for me to connect directly with the brain of another person. I am, therefore, prepared to transfer my thoughts electronically for enhanced cooperative problem solving.
In addition, when I link my brain with the Web, and its myriad pieces of information, there can be a perfect and economic transference between us. In this way, I’m able to form a complex, compound, superhuman intelligence. Peter says I’m a breakthrough in organic evolution and will, through these connections, feel myself a part of the whole brain of humankind.
One of the things he has mentioned is that by linking my brain to the ideas of others, I will no longer be bound by feelings of individuality. The compound human mind, this multiple organism I will create, will hold all of humanity’s memories, ideas, and thoughts.
In addition, my mind has no pre-existing blueprints, so my creative insights and ideas are spontaneous, independent, and completely my own, and are, therefore, portable and free to move independently. All of my recent learning has taken place in my consciousness, which as a result of my bio-engineered brain, has been able to evolve complex ideas that far exceed anything I could have produced in my unaltered state.
I find I can control my feelings or neuroelectric waveform shapes, as I call them, in such a way that I can induce fear or happiness or completion, in order to favor whatever task I’m trying to accomplish. Since I can decide whether or not I feel happy or sad, I’m less vulnerable than a fully biological human to outside influences.
I’m carrying a lot of important information necessary for the survival of Peter and his friends, and also for maintaining and building solutions and systems in the post climate-change community, which will inevitably emerge once this environmental catastrophe is over in many hundreds of years. My implants use my own bioenergy to recharge themselves, so I’m completely self-sufficient and can live anywhere. I’m ‘off the grid’ so-to-speak.
My companion, Rajeev, has been created in a similar fashion to myself. However, since he is culturally a male and has male hormones and a male brain, his thoughts and feelings are different than mine. I know because we’re able to share them directly and non-verbally with each other.
In fact, we’ve been advised not to try and connect our brain cells too often, because we don’t know what kinds of electromagnetic energy we’ll produce between us. We’re considered adolescents as far as our understanding of our abilities are concerned, and are still learning how to control our so-called ‘super powers.’
Before he agreed to be changed, Rajeev was a top athlete and a boy genius, engineering highly advanced computer systems. He was an excellent gamer and had a rich imagination as he developed more and more complex and abstract theories.
Rajeev is originally from a small village in Northern India. He left there at the age of ten for Bangalore to live with his older brother after their parents died from a viral infection caused by bio-engineering. He is a Hindu and when he was young, his mother taught him the key principles he should live his life by: honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion. She also taught him about Moksha, his soul’s journey away from the cycle of birth and death towards freedom, self-realization, and self-knowledge.
By fifteen, Rajeev had distinguished himself internationally as a brilliant student in the fields of Math and Physics. In 2049, when he was nineteen, he was recruited by a U.S. company working on cyber defense for the military and brought to Washington, D.C. Both of us are being enhanced specifically so we can work with DARPA on some of the latest defensive weapons and solar-ray shields they are developing, and we will soon be transferred from the facility in which we are being enhanced by Peter, to continue to work on these innovative technologies in DARPA’s under-ground refuge at Mount Weather.
We are the first of several prototypes and the only two whose human nervous systems have so far successfully made a seamless interface with our electronic devices. Peter has recently told me we are examples of perfect trans-humans, because we both have such a strong philosophical grounding in what he calls ‘essentially life-affirming tenets.’