“You don’t need a license for patent S/03218B915. If you’d looked it up, you’d have seen that – it was granted to Cognitech and Biogenesis back in the 2300s. Five-thousand years in the public domain, more or less.”
“So what is it, and why are you killing people over it?”
“‘A Method and System for Artificially Stimulating the Growth of Mature Synaptic Function in the Biosapient Brain While Preventing Logos Iteration’.”
“How you grow a working brain without a mind in it, and without accidentally getting a mind in it, when the brain requires stimulus and interaction with the world in order to structure itself properly. Very complex, very technical – or it was back in the 2300s – still quite expensive, and ethically critical, of course.”
“I don’t get it.”
“There are two ways to grow a working bioshell. One of them is described in patent number S/03218B915. The other one is to grow yourself a regular kid, let ’em walk and talk and run and jump and play when you aren’t putting them through hard conditioning routines until the crucial brain structures have been laid down. Or grab one off the street, but the customers like their meat fresh.
“Then you hit ’em with enough catacinin or other selective synapse-buggerer to turn their cortex into neuron soup and sell the result as a cheap blank. Usually without a label describing how your low, low prices are the product of murderous industrialized paediculture.”
Cloning Body Parts: It used to be done, but in the current era is obsolete twice over; first, replaced by organ printing tech (basically, 3D printers for organs), and second, by healing vats and having things built by medichines in situ. Hospitals and clinics probably have some organ printers lying around for special cases, but revolutionary as it was when it was first developed, organ cloning is now strictly for museums.
Clone by Conversion: It’s possible, with the right abominations of technology (basically, start with a healing vat and a cerebral bridge, then add evil) – but since you’re just using the original person as organic raw material, the applications are sharply limited. Basically, if you need reinforcements and have the equipment such that this looks like a reasonable way to go, bear in mind that you can get to exactly the same place in the end by popping along to your friendly local butcher and explaining that you’re buying meat for a family pig roast.
In many cases, this also avoids the ensuring war crimes trial, which is often a point in its favor.
(There is also the technique used by… certain intelligence agencies of covertly implanting sleeper agents with a Trojan device that permits an agent or an intel AI to be remotely downloaded into their brain, overwriting their original mind-state. But decent people shouldn’t think about such things.)
In its simplest form, where you’re just using cloning technology to replicate military-grade bodies as quickly as you can, it may be valuable. It won’t help you with absolute growth rates, since the expensive part is growing the minds to put in the bodies which is much harder to rush, but if you have noetic backup technology at least you can get your casualties back into the field faster.
If you are actually attempting to run what is functionally a non-divergent fork army, however, this will fail dramatically as soon as anyone notices – because, gee, do you think having your entire army react in the same way to every situation and stimulus might just open up a few security holes?
If you’re really lucky, this won’t get everyone killed.
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.)
(I thought I’d do my trope-a-day to match the Blogging from A to Z letters, too, if you’re wondering. That way everyone gets double the pleasure, double the fun… or at least double the posts.)
Belly Buttonless: Averted. Of course clones have them. How did you think they got their nutrition in the exowomb/cloning vat?
(Bioroids, now, they don’t have them because they’re assembled from the equivalent of 3D-printed organs on a framework, not grown as a single organism. But they’re meat robots, not any kind of natural being.)
Adam and Eve Plot: The colonization of Valiár (Thirteen Colonies), in which the catastrophic failure that destroyed the majority of the colonists in cryostasis aboard the Swiftrunner left a first-in team half-a-dozen strong as the only people around – and it’s not like in subluminal colonization you get to turn around and go home. You colonize or you die.
Subverted inasmuch as they knew perfectly well that their genetic pool was in no way up to the job, even for such fine examples of genefixed Eldrae anthalis as they were. As such, after maximizing the genetic diversity that was available, it was time to send in the clones ; and Valiár today remains almost entirely populated by serially cloned descendants of the original set of archetypes.
 Yes, they could handle this differently NOW, but they could not THEN, and NOW NOW is based on THEN THEN.
DISCLAIMER: All population figures found herewithin should be considered provisional and contested.
Ongoing controversies exist where the correct measurement of population figures is concerned, including:
Accounting of clone families;
Accounting of fork families, both synchronized (cikrieth) and desynchronized, and the measurement of repeated non-persistent forks;
Accounting of group intellects, including both true hive-mind species (such as the hjera and cusaron) and independent Fusions, representing single minds in a multiplicity of bodies, and collective consciousnesses (such as the Eldraeic Transcend), representing multiple independent minds sharing only specific layers; as well as multiple intermediate and overlapping cases;
Accounting of collegiate-intelligence species, such as the embatil and aklaknak;
Accounting of naturally fork/merge capable species, such as the codramaju;
Accounting of biologically casted species in which only a single caste or a subset of castes is sophont, such as the vlcefc, or the gender-based equivalent;
Accounting of polysapic species possessing multiple natural minds acting in accord, such as the múrast and voctonari;
Accounting for members of species not possessing sophoncy at all points during their lifespan, including but not limited to the majority of r-selected species;
Accounting for presently-inactivate species members, including those in long-term cryostasis/nanostasis or data storage;
Accounting for the deceased retaining active cognition within technologically-mediated afterlives;
Accounting for unconventional forms of identity, such as teleological threads;
Location accounting of infomorphs (by processor or by avatar/point-of-interaction location);
Legal differences of opinion on the prosophont/sophont boundary;
Calibration of population accounting for post-sophont entities, both regarding the appropriateness of categorizing such minds on an equivalent scale with baselines, and inasmuch as high post-sophont minds are capable of generating transient and/or lasting sophont memes in the normal course of cognition;
And so forth.
While recognizing that in many cases appropriate answers to these questions is determined contextually (the computation of required life-support capacity obviously is dependent on bioshell-population, for example), the meaning of population in the generalized sense requires the resolution of these questions, many of which are hotly debated philosophical, theological, and/or political topics in many of the Worlds’ polities.
As such, we have chosen to use population figures, in all cases superseding those locally provided, established by the Imperial Grand Survey, whose methodology has the virtue of being consistent, transparent, and well-documented (see publication IGS-1134/P rev. 112).
– from the preface to the Associated Worlds Factbook, Conclave Press
Latex Perfection: Unfortunately, no longer nearly so useful as it once was, due to the difficulty of compensating for all the exotic sensoria of all the species out there, never mind the sheer range of possible sensors. (Mass-market cameras, for example, tend to cover everything from high radio bands through X-ray, in EM spectrum terms.) Disguising yourself as someone else tends to involve growing clone-bodies, or bodysculpt, at the very least.
Half-Identical Twins: Much more common in the Eldraeverse than in real life, while still not exactly common, since this sort of minor zygote-split with sex-chromosome flippery is very much on the list of Easy and Fun Genetic Manipulations You Can Do At Home, or at least if you think it sounds neat. And yes, arguably, this makes them a type of Opposite-Sex Clone.
(NOTE: Yes, I know the trope name doesn’t match the scientific definition of the term. Don’t write letters.)
Opposite Sex Clone: Fairly trivial, for an Imperial level of bioengineering (X-doubling, made easier by earlier eugeneering out of bad recessives, or synthetic X), and done (a) on a relatively infrequent basis for reproduction and (b) rather more often to produce spare (empty) bodies of the other sex. See Gender Bender.
It is also probably worth noting that “opposite” is a little inaccurate, since “herm” and “neuter” are among the common possibilities…
(If you’re planning to Screw Yourself, on the other hand, you’d better take option (b) and occupy your clone’s brain with a fork of you, since if you make a new person and you’re the one who raised them, you’re going to run straight into major consent problems of the intergenerational incest kind, which is very, very much an ethical and legal no-no.)
Expendable Clone: Not clones, no, both because clones are their own people, and because the number of suicide missions in which you’d be better off sending a cloned meathat rather than, say, instantiating your forked mind-state in the MB-77 “Glorious Song of Bloody Slaughter”-class heavy-duty war mechanical are very small indeed.
Expendable forks, on the other hand, yes – some may get to merge back with their original post-mission, if their vector stack can be recovered, but most of the rest just get to know that while they die, they will also live on. Curiously to some, that often seems to be enough, but then, the originals all live in a culture that believes in pattern identity theory – and, of course, know how important the mission is to, well, them. Or may be the kind of idiot-savant forks described back in Me’s A Crowd.
Decerebrate clones, or in more modern times, organ-level clones, on the other hand, are not people by virtue of being mindless, and may be freely expended for, say, organ harvesting. Or, indeed – among the more decadent set – steak.
Cloning Gambit: As mentioned under Mundane Utility, the Imperials routinely use their cloning, body-swapping and mental-editing-forking-merging technology to resolve problems as routine as being invited to two parties on the same night. And the same technology is used to routinely reinstantiated anyone who dies, either from the record stored in the vector stack in their head, or from an earlier backup stored off-site.
Clones Are People Too: Played straight, three ways. Fork-clones (or reinstantiation/resurrection clones) are duplicates of people, therefore also people. Reproductive clones will grow up to be people. And shell-clones will have people downloaded into them. Whichever one it is… they’re people.
In official Eldraeic, there is a single word – not hyphenated, even – which means ‘one who creates a forced-growth cross-gender clone of him/herself, imprints the brain of said clone with an animus/anima-inverted fork of his/her own mind-state, and then proceeds to marry his/her new duplicate’. (There is also a parallel word that refers to following this same procedure with a same-gender clone and a non-a/a-inverted fork.)
Having established this, we can now make the following four deductions:
1. That when you put over a trillion sophonts together, even the most weird people and socioforms get their own words.
2. That however weird you might think yourself to be, you’re almost certainly weak beer in comparison with what is, statistically, quite a large number of people.
3. That Eldraeic, as a language, is more agglutinative than any language has a right to be.
4. That it’s probably a good thing that it’s quite a long word.
Ambiguous Clone Ending: …as pointed out back in Cloning Blues, people are really quite comfortable with the pattern theory of identity and their personal self-awareness, so no-one from the advanced bits of the galaxy is going to angst over maybe not being the real one, because they all know that they’re both the real one.
Now, grieve a little over their now-dead full-fidelity fork, maybe.
Cloning Blues: Just no. Completely averted, even for forks, which are like standard SF instaclones inasmuch as they run a duplicate copy of the original’s mind-state. And occasionally, sure, a fork that’s separate for long enough to diverge will have some problems inasmuch as duplicating yourself doesn’t double your bank balance, replicate all your property, or guarantee that your spouse will do so as well, but no-one gets their serious angst on about not being “real”, on account of being just as self-aware as the original, and aware of that, too.
Clone Degeneration: Averted. Mind-states (when the clones are forks) are stored as digital information. Much of the time, so are genomes, but even when using tissue samples, the recovered DNA is run through a verify-and-repair process before being used specifically to avoid things like this.