Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ted Chiang's "Catching Crumbs from the Table": Humans live an uncomfortable existence in a mixed society with superhumans

This is not among the better stories by Chiang.

Story summary.

This is a world with humans & "metahumans".

Metahumans are brain-enhanced ones - with incomparably superior cognition abilities. Any human can become a metahuman via "the Sugimoto gene therapy", but it "must be performed before the embryo begins neurogenesis". Means a couple can choose their yet to be born child to be metahuman - only they won't be able to talk to child because of vastly different mental abilities! That is why most parents let their children born as ordinary humans.

So humans generally live off the crumbs of intellectual efforts of metahumans.

Near end, we see a wish among humans that some day their inferiority will end - when someone figures out a way upgrade grown humans. And this can come only from humans' effort, since metahumans are not going to do it - no payoff for them.

Collected in.

  1. Ted Chiang's "Stories of Your Life and Others".

Fact sheet.

"Catching Crumbs from the Table", short story, review
First published: Nature magazine, 1 June 2000.
Rating: B
Related: All stories of Ted Chiang.