Friday, March 14, 2014

The Transhumanist Wager by Zoltan Istvan

(Image found on Goodreads)
"The crazy thing is that people don't even know it; they still think they're free. " -Zoltan Istvan, The Transhumanist Wager

I'm taking a slight break from Young Adult Novels for right now. This book is definitely more suited for adults as it talks about concepts that might be difficult for younger audiences to comprehend. That being said, it was a great read. The Transhumanist Wager is set in the modern day world, at first New York but it will take you everywhere through the course of this book. Jethro Knights is a character that you don't most often see, and after a certain situation, his desire for immortality is ignited. The problem is that the religious groups, governments and multiple people think that the ideas that would allow human beings to live forever would turn them into something else; something monstrous. The transhumanists eventually withdraw from the world, forming their own floating city that Jethro Knights heads, waiting for the day that they will eventually be able to return to their homelands and research openly.

 At first, I found that this book was difficult to get into. A few times, I contemplated stopping but something kept me reading. 
Maybe just curiosity or I knew that once I got to a certain point I would be drawn in.  So I stuck with it. And boy, did that pay off! I found myself drawn into the character's worlds, most notably Jethro Knights, watching him fight for what he wanted and finding myself cheering for him, even when the odds weren't in his favour. And what a fight he had! He had to take on religious groups, bent on bringing his movement to an end, a government that is influenced by those religious groups, and politicians desperately trying to get re-elected and looking for the best way to do so. This fight isn't necessarily without casualties either.  The Transhumanist Wager shows so many conflicts, mainly Religion vs. Science, Science vs. Government and the Religion against the atheists and antithesists. 

Not only do we see those conflicts played out but there are also difficult questions that are brought up through this book. For example, what is it to be human? Can people be human when they are more like gods? Is it right for religions to fight against science that could potentially save human lives? Is transhumanism our future? Those are only a few of the many questions the book raised, and Zoltan Istvan gives you answers through the book. Although they may not necessarily be the answers that you believe in. But while this book raises this questions, it also involves humanity and the lengths they will go to in order to save what they believe in.  Zoltan Istvan shows a desperate society, one that is attempting to do what it thinks is morally right. He also shows one man's determination to see the future he envisions come to be.

Jethro Knights is a character unlike many others. At first, I believed that he was more robot than human as he seemed to care little for human feelings or emotions. Maybe that's why I found the book so difficult at first. I just couldn't get into his mind and feel that I was transported to the world that he was searching to create. But after a little while, I started to understand Jethro more and more. He's not the unfeeling human robot that you think he is. He just had an experience that has created a drive in him, one that does not allow him to be distracted by much. And he can feel pain. He feels it through most of the book. Jethro Knights is certainly a unique character and one you don't see often. It was a refreshing change. 

The one thing I found about the book is that occasionally Jethro's speeches can get quite long. Nothing against it, but it got to the point where I was begging that the final speech he gave from the floating city he had built would just be over. But other than that the book was a fantastic read, one I suggest those who like to have difficult questions raised and see the struggle that many face should give this book a chance. You'll find yourself questioning many things you once thought were concrete and perhaps adjusting your opinions a little bit.

Feel free to leave comments in the area below, letting me know what you felt about The Transhumanist Wager, or if you'd like to read it!


  1. Thank you for reading and reviewing my novel, Aly. I appreciate that. Cheers. Zoltan

    1. You're very welcome. I enjoyed reading your book!


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