By Chet Yarbrough
Written by: Frank J. Fleming
Narration by: Joel Richards
“SuperEgo”, is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of artificial intelligence
and science’s manipulation of the human genome.
In Freudian terms, superego is “…that part of a person’s mind that acts as a self-critical conscience, reflecting social standards learned from parents and teachers.” In Frank Fleming’s fiction, the hero’s social standards revolve around the logic of killing. Fleming’s hero is a trained killer. His education begins with one parent and a criminal organization, aided by futuristic science.
The hero flies to and around universes in a space ship piloted by a “Hal like” algorithmic computer owned by a criminal syndicate. This “Hal” is called “Dip”; a funny choice of names because “Dip’s” meaning varies from taking a chaw of tobacco, to getting the hell out of somewhere, to being stupid. The last two definitions work for Fleming’s story. The space ship’s A.I.’ pilot serves the purpose of getting the hell out of somewhere and often makes obvious and sometimes humorously stupid comments.
The back story of Fleming’s main character is symbolized in a vignette about the hero’s father. The hero’s father shoots his son’s mother in front of him. The hero’s only response is “Who will make dinner, tonight?” The hero is a designer baby, genetically modified to have no sense of morality, care for others, or emotional attachment. His actions are strictly compelled by ordered tasks and logic; without morality or conscience.
The hero’s father is an executive in a criminal syndicate that recruits killers to eliminate competitors and obstacles to corporate goals. The syndicate uses their financial power to corrupt governments. The exercise of the syndicate’s power requires physical as well as financial influence. The hero’s father finds a job for his son in the syndicate as a perfect killer. The hero is an enforcer who executes syndicate’ orders without conscience. He is one of the few designer babies, grown to men, that have succeeded in fulfilling the expectations of the syndicate; i.e. at least, until the beginning of his last assignment.
Fleming has written a somewhat funny story about a future for human civilization that is at once cynical and dystopian, and ironically romantic and redemptive. The obvious cynicism is in a future where evil corporations control worlds and their governments without protection of individual rights. It is a view that carries the fears of some of the “Occupy Wall Street” and Tea Party followers of the 21st century. Fleming infers that sciences’ entry into genetic modification is a threat to humanity. He suggests a dystopian future; i.e. a future where money and logic replace human’ morality and emotion.
Fleming suggests a romantic and redemptive hope for morality’s return through love. The vehicle of return is belief in something greater than oneself. Fleming infers that “something greater” is love for another and/or belief in God. “SuperEgo” is straight forward science fiction; not particularly suspenseful or enlightening, but somewhat entertaining.