Trope-a-Day: Living Battery

Living Battery: Given the amount of biotechnology around the place, it should not surprise you that there are, yes, more than a few living batteries.

It’s just that they’re all lifeforms specifically created to serve as living batteries – large cultures of Spheroporus electri inside microbial fuel cells, artificial organs rich in electrophores, that sort of thing. Insert food, get pumped electrons. This is vastly more practical, you see, than trying to use existing living creatures, which are generally not designed to optimize the production of electrical power.

Oops

acc3BE: A gene complex used with artificial chromosomes which causes those chromosomes to lose their centromeres in the process of meiosis, thus reducing the genome present in the resulting germ cells to baseline-equivalency. This permits clades augmented with artificial chromosome-based enhancements to be reproductively compatible with both the baseline and with the majority of other clades also possessing the acc3BE complex.

– Bioaugmentation: A Pocket Reference

* * *

From: Clinic Director
To: All Staff
Subject: Nomenclature and Tact

Gentlesophs,

Please remain aware that here at the Nepenene Somatic Clinic a majority of our clients are from out of town, including many from polities where enhancement is not, as it is in Imperial space, thoroughly pervasive; baselines are not rare to the point of nonexistence; and, indeed, the use of biotechnology is considered with varying degrees of caution, skepticism, and even aversion.

As such, when explaining the function of artificial chromosomes and the fertility-preserving function of the acc3BE complex to our clients, be sure always to refer to its operation by its proper technical name, “baselining excision”, and not, whatever the current chic snark may be at other augmenteries, as “bestiality enable”.

A certain junior attending’s slip of the tongue has already required me to calm down and make contractual concessions to one offended client this month, and I do not care to do so again.

Am I clear?

Doctor AGATTACCATTAGGCG, EFGc, IRCGE, IFNS,
Director of Augmentation,
Nepenene Somatic Clinic

 

Trope-a-Day: Biodata

Biodata: Something common among the esseli, the eldrae who colonized Kythera (Thirteen Colonies), the mezuar, and other wearers of the masters-of-biotechnology hat, with particular note to the Kytherans’ cortextures, immense computers grown from cultured neural tissue, and the Genetic Memory of the esseli, which both is and has been turned into a general-purpose technology for encoding arbitrary data onto DNA plasmids.

Plus, of course, the identifying, copyright, and GRM information encoded into virtually any product of biotechnology…

Trope-a-Day: Artificial Limbs

Artificial Limbs: Quite possible, but a disfavored technology in Imperial society; in the modern era, when biotechnology is also advanced, it tends to be preferred for internal solutions, or at the least it should be used to ensure that the bionic technology is well integrated with the meat: bones reinforced with carbon fiber, muscles interwoven with myomar, a skin supplemented with a layer of armor gel, and a well-concealed mass driver hidden mostly within the flesh are much more likely than simply chopping off a perfectly good arm and replacing it with a mechanical prosthetic one.

(And, of course, cloned grafts are the way biotech solves the pure replacement issue.)

Wetware

2016_W(Alternate words: Walk, whitelist, wellspring.)

The Dreamhall on Kythera is without a doubt the most… fragrant supercomputing center in the Empire.

As much can be said of Kythera as a whole – when you’re heavy biotechnology users, living in buried hives along with an entire commensal symbitech ecosystem, a certain organic pungency to the air is inescapable. The locals don’t notice, and given anything more than a stopover, the nose adapts. But even allowing for that, the Dreamhall is special.

For the Dreamhall is no less than the greatest concentration of cortextures ever constructed. In the dozen massive shells beneath Chira-hive, thousands of open pillars climb from floor to ceiling, each with dozens of racked trays housing the quivering, gray-pink, involuted masses of cultured neural tissue kept warmed and wetted by the nutrient fluid that gives the Dreamhall its copper-salt, amniotic smell. The throb of peristaltic biopumps fills the air; while some mechanical support is used for peripheral functions, the Kytherans pride themselves that as much of their super-thinker as possible is purely biological, a product of their art.

It is a marvel of the Empire, for certain. A massively parallel supercomputer, but more, one with an active and creative imagination, for want of a better word. Indeed, many of its most impressive products have come not from submitting problems to its attention, but from allowing it to browse idly through the ‘weave’s data stores and dream.

Using it always makes me hungry, though.

– Rúlf Draehév, “A Dog and Program Show”, Goodbytes Monthly

Truffle House

mycofibrillin was originally a product designed by the space division of Molecular Architecture, ICC, under the Mycofibrillin™ trademark. It was a development of early experiments in creating spaceborne life, such as the regoformer “asteroid lichen”, which sustains itself using solar energy and water extracted from icy regolith.

Unlike its predecessors, mycofibrillin was designed not as an experiment or artwork, but as a functional tool. A designed-from-scratch neogen, it was a reinterpretation of various fungoid lifeforms – which took the form of an intertwined mat of fibers – for the space environment: a recreation of similar reaction networks making use of silicates, silanes, and silicones, at much lower temperatures, relying upon both a trickle of solar energy and provided radio-frequency energy broadcasts to power its metabolism.

The function of mycofibrillin was simply to stabilize aggregate-class “rubble pile” asteroids for relocation, or indeed for other exploitation. A rubble pile infected with a mycofibrillin culture, along with a microwave beacon to feed its growth phase, would swiftly find itself perfused by silicone-sheathed rhizomorphic hyphae of substantial tensile strength, acting to bind the many components of the rubble pile together into a single coherent mass.

Since this promising start, later offshoot technologies have included the thermophilic bionanotech weaves developed in conjunction with the chfsssc for stabilizing tectonically vulnerable regions of planetary crusts along with a variety of refined mycofibrillin derivatives, including a number of strains whose tensile strength is claimed to be suitable for maintaining the stability of large asteroids or small planetesimals when spun up to usable gravity-simulating speeds (although, in practice, the majority of residents of these worlds prefer microgravity environments).

– The Biotechnology of Space: A History, Kynthia Naratyr-ith-Naratyr