“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.”
– an eigeninterview from the Expansion Regions
Cloning Body Parts: It used to be done, but in the current era is obsolete twice over; first, replaced by organ printing tech (basically, 3D printers for organs), and second, by healing vats and having things built by medichines in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.
(Or autophagy restaurants.)
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.)
Clone Army: Just… don’t.
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.