- Series: Transhuman Space
- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Steve Jackson Games (April 26, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 155634726X
- ISBN-13: 978-1556347269
- Package Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.3 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,116,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Toxic Memes (Transhuman Space) Paperback – Illustrated, April 26, 2004
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Memetics - the science of analyzing, engineering, and manipulating ideas. Memeticists know how to get into your head for power, money, and religion. Or, just for the fun of it! Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes explores the world of cults, conspiracies, urban legends, myths, and fads rooted at the end of the 21st century, and features new characters, templates, campaign ideas, and adventure seeds.
Top customer reviews
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Jamais Cascio is certainly an A-list author. He's a noted futurist who's given TED talks, published in major media and has appeared in TV documentaries talking about trends in human history. So he's definitely qualified. And Broken Dreams (his other THS contribution) is sterling.
Where this supplement breaks down is in two areas. First, memes are never described as much more than fads or urban legends. "Ideas as epidemiology" has a long history that he could have integrated to make the subject about much more than fashions and conspiracy theories (at the least mentioning people like rogers, bass, polanyi, march, or nonaka). More detail, especially jargon, would have also been a good way for players to convince themselves and their fellow players that their meme-hacker character is actually doing something in the game.
That leads to the second problem: there isn't much attention to highlighting material that could actually make it into a game as a plot point. Ideally, most of the information in the supplement should be usable for driving the PLOT or developing the CHARACTERS, but either way, it should influence gameplay. Much of the detail here is excellent, but not applicable in a game setting. The book tries really hard to get things back to the game world, but never quite makes it.
Now for the strengths: there are some real gems here. First, the chapter on cognitive ecologies and reputation networks is excellent; fleshing out lifestyles of the Fifth Wave but also providing the in-game relevance people need. Farmed as a source of campaign concepts, many of the conspiracy theories are better used not as memes but as plot arcs. Finally, the "transhuman style" boxes are cute window dressing that give you a feel for the culture.
Overall, I'd say this is worth buying-- but only after you've bought everything else.