Key to this concept is that humans have evolved in our future. Neomorphs (humans without human form; "The neomorph— vaguely fish-shaped, limbless—regarded Olmy with a crystalline fox face and picted casual greetings, but no ID."1) and homorophs (essentially human much like your Real Life appearance or mine; "She was a homorph with elaborations designed to heighten both sexual and leadership traits."2) are introduced with as little explanation as necessary and then treated no differently than the more pure, primitive ancestral forms. Being non-human in appearance is as natural as being human in appearance and Bear makes it clear that such is a choice in the book's future society.
|What's on the inside is what counts?|
Why? Why stick with your Real Life gender? Why are most people in Second Life caucasian?
Why, why, why? I'm not being very productive here. Probably because I don't have answers, at least not for anyone but me and that is rather iffy. Being human is what we are comfortable with, I suppose. Being caucasian or blonde or female is familiar to us. But I really doubt that these conventions make us who we are inside. Uccie is a blonde in Second Life after years of being a redhead in both worlds. She is female, like me iRL, as are most of my alts probably because that is what I know best. But she's the only one consistently caucasian for some reason.
Among my other characters, Zyx Flux is now black (sometimes reverting to her original blue) and she's a pre-teen child avatar. Oh, and she's not exactly human. As a pixy she's humanoid. Her big "sister" Zyx Resident is still blue, albeit a darker shade than with which she was created. And when she's black she's obsidian, not a Real Life human shade. My pixies are part of me – a child-like, nature-loving explorer and a confident, aloof loner that lurks and watches – that is often hard to express as Uccello.
Xandah is from India as you may have read elsewhere on this blog. Not really. I was born in Ireland and raised in America, but Xandah the character in Second Life is from India. Through her I've learned a fair bit about the culture of the world's most populous democracy.
My brother and I share log-ins for a few characters: a furry female, a robot, and an all-male caucasian Average Joe. Using these "secret" alts and my known characters I am often reminded of the quote I keep in Uccello's Profile:
"Perhaps it is impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be." O.S. Card
When I'm not being Uccie, I don't feel much like Uccie, though I'm still me ... sort of.
Sometimes when my wife spends time with one of my non-Uccello characters she remarks that she still loves the typist regardless of the virtual form. She sees that I retain my nature and my humanity because when I'm with her I am Uccie regardless of form. With other forms that is not so clear. If you see me when I'm a German Shepherd wearing a hat and bunny slippers my I am different. No, that word is not good enough, but it will do for now.
If I could could make such changes iRL as I do iSL, would the same be true? I'd trade my current physical form to look like the elder Zyx in a heartbeat. Of course, that would simply bring up the debate about becoming the person that others see us being.3 It never ends, does it?
1 Bear, Greg (2014-04-01). Eon (Eon, 2) (Kindle Locations 4952-4953). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.
2 Bear, Greg (2014-04-01). Eon (Eon, 2) (Kindle Locations 5072-5073). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.
3 Conger, Cristen. "How accurate is our mental image of ourselves?" 05 November 2008. HowStuffWorks.com.