"Make Way for the Super Humans" by Michael Bess (2015)
"When you acquire a godlike power (and you are not a god), an excellent virtue to cultivate is that of humility."
Michael Bess is a Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. He has written four other books, but only one of them, Our Grandchildren Redesigned, explores topics similar to those presented in this book.
Like The God Species before it, and like Homo Deus after it, this book tackles the subject of how humans will adapt to changing technologies, and also how these technologies will work for good or for ill in the subsequent evolution of the human species.
Yet where The God Species was ecological, Make Way for the Super Humans is anthropocentric. Where Homo Deus was historic/philosophical, Make Way for the Super Humans is practical, and far more focused on concrete examples.
Make Way for the Super Humans is also less depressing than either of the other two books, for obvious reasons. I have the feeling that the author of The God Species would complain that Make Way for the Super Humans ignores Man's place in nature, and the obvious ecological catastrophes which could circumvent our development into near-gods. I also have the feeling that the author of Homo Deus would complain that Make Way for the Super Humans is entirely too optimistic, and that the author's Humanist views fly in the face of how current technology is already diminishing (what we perceive of as) our individuality.
Both authors would have a point, but I have to say I like Michael Bess's optimism - even if it might not be the most realistic point of view. Sure, it's cool to think about a future in which we can read each other's minds, engineer ourselves into Olympian levels of athletic performance, and live in peaceful coexistence with the Internet-of-All-Things. And at the end of the day who knows how it's all going to turn out? Maybe all three authors are wrong. Lord knows that the topic of futurism is littered with books whose predictions ring false now.
If I have a complaint about this book, it's the "vignettes" (short stories) that head some of the later chapters. I think such vignettes weakened the author's points, and in presenting them he sometimes comes across as a frustrated science fiction author. I get that he was trying to liven up the subject, but any number of sci-fi anthologies are full of much better, much more insightful stories.
Oh, and that jibe that most science fiction authors haven't anticipated the epigenetic developments he speaks of? Plenty have. Frank Herbert, William Gibson, and John Varley among them. There's a long history of such fiction, and saying that there isn't only indicates that the author has some reading to do. Even his list of "relevant" science fiction films leaves a lot out.
Props for including Moon in that list though. That's one underrated movie.
"Homo Deus" by Yuval Noah Harari (2015)
"Alan Turing: The Enigma" by Andrew Hodges (1983)
"House of Suns" by Alastair Reynolds (2008)
"Neuromancer" by William Gibson (1984)