Designer Babies: Of course. That’s called responsible parenting. What sort of parent leaves the health and future of their children up to the random genetic lottery? One might say that’s akin to child abuse!
(And the chief reason one wouldn’t say that is because legally, it is. Or, technically, “felony dysgenesis”.)
Bizarre Alien Sexes: While the eldrae started out with the standard two (male, female), biotechnology has since added two more to their repertoire (neuter, hermaphrodite). And the standard taxonomy of sexes in their language, which has to cope with other species, includes two more – the most common mappings of other-species sexuality (prenuptial catalyst, postnuptial catalyst). And the language allows for an arbitrary number of other gender affices, because while most species can fit into that six-gender system, usually having no more than four and the mode being two, the one-to-couple-of-dozen-variants spread in how species divide into sexes means that… well. Yeah.
For values of quaint, that is, equal to “Gods below, what is this, the primordial reign of chaos and darkness? With stone knives and bearskins?”
Because even leaving aside practical considerations, such as the gambling (if you went for conception in vivo rather than gene-printing like responsible parents) with felony dysgenesis, or the difficulties that arise when mother and child are not technically the same species, or the heteronormativity that assumes there is even a mother involved in any particular generative scenario, or the risks and stress levels (not to mention the inconvenience) involved to both mother and child in a vivo pregnancy and birth, complete with permanent after-effects, or how much more difficult and less effective it makes pre-natal education, and so on and so forth….
…well, let’s just say that the equivalent of the Betan – or possibly Cetagandan – cultural points of view in this particular area from Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga universe all apply here, too, and have had many centuries to sink in.
No-one expects women to do the work of reproducing personally any more anywhere halfway civilized. The only reason the Citizen Eugenics Board even keeps the capability around at all is long-range disaster-planning.
Hanith Desúmé, Dinéval Eugenesis Pty., to Laurë Minaxianos and Ryal Cerron-ith-Oléron, greetings.
Permit me first to apologize for the delay in proceedings; since both the chloromorph dryad clade and the alaereldrae aquanaut clade represent extensive whole-body modifications, we thought it best to take particular care in stripping clade-template alterations from your parental genomes before attempting recombination.
As is our usual practice, we have sequenced twelve alternative randomized recombinations for you to choose from. All have been upgraded to the latest alpha baseline genetic standard, and equipped with both the rieltelir talentic-world tolerance biomod, and the particular hair color recovered from the archive sample of Citizen Minaxianos’s grandmother, per request. Since no gender preference was indicated, this was left to the randomization process to determine: your current selection includes five female, four male, two herm, one neuter.
Please make an appointment to come in to the office and meet your potential children! If our current designs are suitable, we can begin zygote printing and embryogenesis immediately.
Mix-and-Match Man: Happened a lot more in the early days of genetic engineering – and still sometimes happens when the spouses in a multiple marriage of one schema or another wish to have a child that’s descended from all of them – but these days, if you want your child to have some specific traits, you just order those sequences out of the Colonial Genetics, Biogenesis, FleshTech, etc., catalog.
Half Human Hybrid: Even generalizing this to allow for the lack of humans in the known part of this universe, and even taking into account the amount of xenosexuality going on (refer back to Boldly Coming and Interspecies Romance) – no. Just no. There are absolutely no half-anything anythings wandering around, because these aren’t just different species, they are the fruit of entirely different evolutionary trees. Ain’t going to happen.
If a mixed-species couple really wanted to have children this way, yes, in theory, they could spend millions of currency-units on paying for the design of an entirely new neogenic species incorporating features of both of theirs – but, of course, the child would then be a unique member of a completely new species. Unsurprisingly, this is not exactly a popular option. Instead, most of them just have (through technological assistance) children of one or both of their own species, with the option of engineering in some parallels of the traits of the non-matching parent, contributing genes through memes, as it were.
Designer Babies (formerly known as Gattaca Babies): Well, yes, absolutely, as seen everywhere in the Empire and in many places beyond. Both the people who start out as biosapiences, and the empty vessels cloned for the benefit of minds in need of bodies. (And, also, technically, nanocyborgs, because simple genetic engineering doesn’t cut it any more, but let’s not dwell.)
Actually, averting this one is illegal, by Imperial standards: Unlawful Genesis, or possibly felony Dysgenesis if you succeed in the aversion but produce someone damaged in some way. The notion being, essentially, that there’s a certain legal minimum standard of health and capabilities for a given species, and deliberately creating a new person who falls either (a) below that standard, or (b) below the equivalent of a natural-born child of those parents, is a crime against said child; a pre-birth “actual bodily harm” of sorts. And since around these transsophontist parts, the legal minimum standard is well above the natural endowment of most of these species…
Fantasy Contraception: Full fertility control is built right into the genome of each alpha baseline, and therefore into every clade built on top of that alpha baseline. The male reproductive system does not produce gametes and the female one does not cycle (or their alternate-species equivalents) until instructed otherwise by the proper pharmaceutical and/or biofeedback impulses. And, importantly, default is off. No accidental children, m’kay?
(Of course, most of the time it’s just off and stays off, since actually producing children in vivo rather than in vitro is the sort of appalling, painful, inconvenient, medically hazardous (for both parent and child), etc., etc., relic of a barbarous past that civilized societies don’t expect people to do. The Imperials go even further than the Vorkosigan universe’s Betans in pointing this one out.)