Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Prize Beyond Gold

Short Story by Ian Creasey
Read for Escape Pod (free text & audio) by Josh Roseman

It stands to reason that the further we go into the future, the harder it is to break Olympic records, as we inevitably approach the asymptote of what is humanly possible. Delroy is one such Olympic athlete, and going into a race, he finally has the perfect wind, humidity, and pressure conditions to have a shot at breaking the 70-year men's hundred-meter dash record. The titular Prize Beyond Gold.

But what starts out as a sports story is really anything but. If Delroy breaks the record, his decision on what sort of bordering-on-transhumanism enhancements he gets, if any. Athletics is, of course, highly regulated, but after breaking the record, he'll presumably retire, and then it becomes a matter of international politics whether he chooses to stick with the "ancestral" model, or upgrade, and which new form of humanity he will choose to endorse.

There are some interesting thoughts here about the transition to new types of human bodies, and it's for the better that we don't see the action, or the result of the race. The important thing here is Delroy's state of mind and his quest for freedom-of-choice against the necessity of perfectly determined preparation. It's reassuring that Creasey knows this. So maybe freedom is the real prize beyond gold, and maybe that's harder to train for.

Not the most exciting thing ever, but worthwhile nonetheless. 3.5 milliseconds left to shave off the record.

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