The Transhumanist Wager


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Leading futurist and former National Geographic journalist Zoltan Istvan presents his award-winning, bestselling visionary novel, The Transhumanist Wager, as a seminal statement of our times.

His philosophical thriller has been called “revolutionary,” “life-changing,” and “a masterpiece” by readers, scholars, and critics. The novel debuts a challenging original philosophy, which rebuffs modern civilization by inviting the end of the human species—and declaring the onset of something greater.

Set in the present day, the novel tells the story of transhumanist Jethro Knights and his unwavering quest for immortality via science and technology. Fighting against him are fanatical religious groups, economically depressed governments, and mystic Zoe Bach: a dazzling trauma surgeon and the love of his life, whose belief in spirituality and the afterlife is absolute. Exile from America and reeling from personal tragedy, Knights forges a new nation of willing scientists on the world’s largest seastead, Transhumania. When the world declares war against the floating libertarian city, demanding an end to its renegade and godless transhuman experiments and ambitions, Knights strikes back, leaving the planet forever changed.



Man vs. machine, cryonics, mind uploading…a science fiction book that’s Amazon’s #1 book under the category Philosophy is The  Transhumanist Wager. Istvan says religious people are challenged by transhumanists.” -Fox News Channel

An unwieldy novel of ideas about a freelance philosopher named Jethro Knights who sails around the world to promote the need for 

life-extension research and winds up establishing a floating libertarian city-state called Transhumania–a rugualation-free utopia of tech billionaires and rationalists–from which he wages an atheist holy war on a theocratic United States. -The New York Times

“The novel has been described as a modern version of Atlas Shrugged.” -Yahoo News

“The biggest novel on the transhumanist scene is Istvan’s. ‘The Transhumanist Wager’ reads like Dan Brown’s undergradudate thesis — a rollicking plot setting out futurist thought, manifesto style.” -The Spectator

“Protagonist Jethro Knights may become one of the grand characters of modern fiction.” -Psychology Today

“Transhumanism is snowballing into an international movement. The current wave of debate surrounding the concept began with The 

Transhumanist Wager.” -Breitbart

“This book is an edgy riveting masterpiece that will long linger with anyone who reads it.” -Serious Wonder

“An Ayn Rand-esque manifesto.” -The New Yorker

“The Transhumanist Wager tells the story of Jethro Knights, a philosopher who rails against democratic politics and becomes a revolutionary that seizes control of the world in order to enforce a global authoritarian transhuman regime.” -BBC

“Istvan, a prominent transhumanist writer…enlightens me. In The Transhumanist Wager, transhumanists manage to launch the third world war.” -The Telegraph

“The Transhumanist Wager envisions a radical future.” -CBS News

“It’s a dystopian story that imagines a Christian nation outlawing transhumanism prompting all the billionaires to retreat to an offshore sea-stead where they can work on their advances undisturbed.” -The Times Magazine

“Many say The Transhumanist Wager is the new Atlas Shrugged.” -Marin Magazine

“It’s a page turner. Istvan knows how to tell a compelling story.” -io9 / Gizmodo

“I enjoyed The Transhumanist Wager…an adventurous suspense-filled semi-sci-fi about sailing, love, and life extension.” -Huff Post

“A marvelous work of science fiction.” -IEET

“About a man’s quest to live forever using science, medicine, and technology.” -Popular Science

Thrilling…an important literary work that everyone should read.” -Guardian Liberty Voice

“Bestselling The Transhumanist Wager & famous transhumanist Zoltan Istvan…a new philosophy, a new psychology, a new metaphysics…the concept of people taking a Transhumanist Wager is making a strong impact.” -RT Television

“It’s set in a dystopian near-future America in which transhumanists are on the verge of huge technological breakthroughs but are under attack from conservative politicians and radical Christian fundamentalist terrorists.” -Vox

“A gripping story…it’s my new favorite novel.” -Brighter Brains

“Istvan demonstrates great adeptness at crafting complex characters.” -San Francisco Book Review

“The story is brilliant. It will challenge your thinking.” -33voices

“Fascinating. It’s making waves.” -Good Day Sacramento, CBS TV

“A controversial thriller. As a leading transhumanist, Zoltan presents his reasons for being in favor of humanity merging with machine.”-Red Ice Creations

“Istvan’s novel has the potential to become a cult book. I hope it will be widely read and discussed.” -Ray Kurzweil’s Kurzweil AI

“A philosophical manifesto…the world becomes ruled by scientists.” -Vice (Italy)

“Strongly libertarian…a radical version of transhumanism.” -Patheos

“The action sequences in the book are top notch.” -New York Journal of Books

“The book asks a simple question: how far would you go to fight an anti-science world in order to live indefinitely through transhumanism? Protagonist Jethro Knights would start a world war – and does so in the book” -Wired UK

“The Transhumanist Wager promises to become a cult classic among futurists.” -SASM Institute

“Best-selling and award-winning novel.” -Reason



The Transhumanist Wager presents an original, comprehensive, and rational new philosophy called TEF, or Teleological Egocentric Functionalism.

TEF is predicated on logic, a simple wager that every human faces:

If a reasoning human being loves and values life, they will want to live as long as possible—the desire to be immortal. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to know if they’re going to be immortal once they die. To do nothing doesn’t help the odds of attaining immortality—since it seems evident that everyone will die someday and possibly cease to exist. To try to do something scientifically constructive towards ensuring immortality beforehand is the most logical conclusion.

While most people around the world may believe that human immortality is still centuries off or impossible to accomplish without divine intervention, researchers in the life extension and human enhancement fields know we are only decades away from scientifically achieving individual ongoing sentience.

Irrespective of nationality, culture, heritage, religion, and all social interaction, TEF insists that the most important and urgent goal for any human being is to secure immortality—even if the attainment of that goal means the fundamental transformation of the individual into something nonhuman. TEF also insists that the most important and urgent goal for society is to work towards ending death for the individual.

Such unprecedented change for human beings and civilization would inevitably mean a paradigm shift for our species. Because a vast majority of people around the world are guided by archaic religions, unrefined cultures, and irrational reasoning, most humans and their governments will initially oppose such advancements. TEF sees any opposition that directly interferes with a transhumanist’s attainment of ongoing sentience as a violation of essential freedoms, as an unwarranted act of aggression, and as criminal manslaughter. TEF believes transhumanists must protect their goals via any means necessary.

Beyond the imperative of attaining immortality, TEF has created the Three Laws of Transhumanism to help individuals efficiently navigate the future.

1) A transhumanist must safeguard one’s own existence above all else.

2) A transhumanist must strive to achieve omnipotence as expediently as possible—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First Law.

3) A transhumanist must safeguard value in the universe—so long as one’s actions do not conflict with the First and Second Laws.

These laws provide clarity for long term transhuman ambitions and dominate TEF’s ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological outlooks. Through them, TEF establishes a broad, concrete framework for transhumanists to successfully evolve into the most advanced entities they can become, which is their ultimate goal.



October 2006 — In Costa Rica, Zoltan pens in a journal some of the first ideas of TEF, the controversial philosophy of The Transhumanist Wager.

April 2008 — Writing about protagonist Jethro Knights before the book is started.

Sept 3, 2011 — Printed out 18th draft (of 23 drafts) for editing.

January 2, 2013 —  Early versions of The Transhumanist Wager go out–as well as the original website

-March 30, 2013 — The Transhumanist Wager is officially published and available for purchase on Amazon with updated cover

-May 15, 2013 — Reviews by io9/Gizmodo, Singularity Weblog, Ray Kurzweil’s Kurzweil AI, and other tech sites sends the novel to #1 bestseller in Philosophy and #1 bestseller in Science Fiction Visionary on Amazon.

-December 23, 2013 — Breitbart cites The Transhumanist Wager as responsible for starting an international debate about transhumanism

-May 19, 2014 — The Transhumanist Wager receives “FINALIST” award in Fiction Visionary  by National Indie Excellence Book Awards

-May 21, 2014  — The Transhumanist Wager receives the “WINNER” award for Fiction Visionary by International Book Awards

-May 29, 2014 — Zoltan Istvan begins speaking about The Transhumanist Wager at transhumanism and futurist events. It jumpstarts his public career in transhumanism

-June 22, 2014 — Fox News Channel discusses The Transhumanist Wager in prime time, discussing its bestseller status in Philosophy

-October 13, 2014 — The Transhumanist Wager reaches #5 in all Amazon books. It was also #1 in all Science Fiction & Fantasy. There were nearly 20,000 downloads in 24 hours of the book.

-Zoltan Istvan is on The Joe Rogan Experience to discuss transhumanism and The Transhumanist Wager

-March 21, 2015 — Zoltan Istvan signs books at “Transhuman Strategies” conference in San Jose and other events

-December 3, 2015 — The Verge includes the publishing of the novel as a historic point in transhumanism

-September 2, 2016 — Walmart begins selling The Transhumanist Wager

-May 31, 2018: Dr. Ben Murnane completes his PhD at Trinity College, resulting in book Ayn Rand and the Post Human, which is partially about The Transhumanist Wager. Other academic papers also appear on Zoltan’s novel.

-January 21, 2021: Writer Chris Armstrong publishes 400+ page book: At Any Cost: A Guide to The Transhumanist Wager and the Ideas of Zoltan Istvan

-Feb. 27, 2002: Zoltan Istvan announces in social media he is preliminarily working on a sequel to The Transhumanist Wager

-June 11, 2022, A German translation of The Transhumanist Wager comes out.

-March 30, 2023: Zoltan Istvan turns 50 and his novel turns age 10.

-Dec. 8, 2023: The Transhumanist Wager reaches 1000 reviews on Amazon