A Posthuman Tarot

‘Homo Arcanum: A Posthuman Tarot’ is a sequence of twenty-two 140-character microfictions, originally posted between 19 and 25 April 2010 to celebrate the first anniversary of my Twitter account, trapphic. The stories form a self-consistent future history, inspired by the Major Arcana of the Tarot pack.

(The Tarot cards reproduced below are from the Rider-Waite deck, and don't particularly relate to the stories. However, you can click on any card for Wikipedia's information on that particular Major Arcana archetype.)

A Posthuman Tarot

The Fool

Chapter 0: Fool

‘Welcome to my stream of consciousness – aka the Tom Fewell Channel. I didn’t read the small print when I signed up with HeadCast. Did you?’

Chapter 1: Magician

‘Genessence, phorm-morph, borganics, ReMes, augMentals – I make them happen.’ Once he’d have been a miracle worker. Now? A personal shopper.

The Magician

The High Priestess

Chapter 2: Oracle

‘Next: LeLa to play Romeo/Juliet in one-person show! “My kids – my pouch,” says marsupial Wendi! And has Vix pupated again? I’m Jaq Boaz...’

Chapter 3: Empress

Men offer themselves to her, unconditionally. She accepts. Her hormones become their will, their minds blank save for her chemical commands.

The Empress

The Emperor

Chapter 4: Tsar

‘The power to ban selected augmentations isn’t draconian, if it’s exercised prudently. It may be your biology, but it’s everyone’s society.’

Chapter 5: Pope

It sits enthroned – a sexless, seraph-winged, eternally youthful unbroken soprano. God never forbade the Church from perfecting His work of creation.

The Hierophant

The Lovers

Chapter 6: Lovers

Erogenous zones blossom – branching like antlers, unfurling like origami. Your ancestors’ genitals are as obsolete as their flint axe-heads.

Chapter 7: Chariot

‘Phaeton’s the first person to leave the solar system...’
‘...The probe was generated from a human-derived genetic source.’
Opinion differs.

The Chariot


Chapter 8: Justice

The penal colony is a flooded cave network. Prisoners are given the necessary adaptations. Justice is blind. Justice has scales – and gills.

Chapter 9: Hermit

His brother in the Kuiper Belt reflects the solar system’s voices to him. Heard from beyond that threshold, humanity sounds isolated, alone.

The Hermit

Wheel of Fortune

Chapter 10: Wheel

‘Lagrange Coliseum’s closing E Ring.’
‘Tough on the hi-grav combat artists.’
‘So what? Non-hom adapts freak me out.’
‘Yeah, all those legs.’

Chapter 11: Strength

‘Sturdy, malleable, the hominid form is our birthright. Abandon it wholly and we cease to be human. Diversity is strength: chaos, weakness.’


The Hanged Man

Chapter 12: Traitor

A hominidist mob hangs the young chimerapunk from a tree, his tendrils and membranes flailing. The tree is horrified, but keeps her silence.

Chapter 13: Death

‘It’s just another transition,’ thinks Phaeton. He activates his parents’ von Neumann protocols, and seeds a foreign star with his humanity.



Chapter 14: Temperance

‘Much meddling is still permitted – yet even increasing strength and lifespan defies our human heritage. We Real Men resist such decadence.’

Chapter 15: Devil

‘Abhuman cells have markers in the junk DNA,’ says Dr Shaitan. ‘Proprietary logos, hallmarks, artists’ signatures. The virus targets these.’

The Devil

The Tower

Chapter 16: Tower

Earth has become at last a monument to uniformity, a construct of identical blocks. When the asteroid arrives, to adapt will be unthinkable.

Chapter 17: Star

They walk its worlds and swim its seas in myriad forms, flitting between them on solar wings. The name it had is lost: they call it Phaeton.

The Star

The Moon

Chapter 18: Moon

Reflective, changeable – sometimes brilliant – her vision mirrors her father’s. She dreams of other systems, and of children yet to be born.

Chapter 19: Sun

‘Here, light is universal. But, beyond our mundane photosphere, the darkness of God’s heavenly night extends.’
(Myth, like biology, adapts.)

The Sun


Chapter 20: Revelation

Our ancestors learnt to augment bodies and minds, but throughout our history the soul has been a constant, impossible to improve. Until now.

Chapter 21: World

Humanity’s descendants fill the heavens. Our life is all there is, and we proliferate eternally. We are the universe. We will be still more.

The World

www.infinitarian.com created and maintained by Philip Purser-Hallard.
trapphic icon extracted from Sapphire and Steel logo © and ™ Associated TeleVision 1979. No infringement is intended.
The artwork from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck is in the public domain.
All material © Philip Purser-Hallard 2010 except where otherwise noted, and not to be used without permission.