Neohumans

"What a piece of work is man!" — Hamlet, Act II, scene ii

"New! Improved!" — standard advertising cant

♫ We're great (we're great!) and you suck (you suck!) ♫
♫ We're great (we're great!) and you suck (you suck!) ♫
♫ We're great (we're great!) and you suck (you suck!) ♫
♫ You see there's us (we're great!) and then there's you (you suck!) ♫
— "Sports Song," Weird Al Yankovich

 

People have made many attempts to improve their species by genetic engineering. Many of these efforts came to nothing. Many others entered general circulation in the human gene pool. Some resulted in enduring new races, the neohumans. There are many races of neohumans, but most occupy only one planet or a small number of systems. The neohuman races given here are those that have become widespread throughout the galaxy.

At first, the commonest goal was increased intelligence. However, while there are genes for cleverness, there are none for wisdom, and mere cleverness can be bought, in the form of computers. Genius can be coded for, but it is, in fact, akin to madness—specifically, obsession. No one has ever come within sight of any way to create transcendent intelligence beyond human understanding, though there have been some sadly insane creatures produced in the attempt.

In the end, after all the genetic diseases are cleared up and a modicum of superior traits added, the most useful properties a sapient can have appear to be sanity and endurance.

In the following sections, temperament is given as extrovert or introvert, and then in terms of dominant (and then supporting) humor, from among the classic four:

"Natural life span" refers to maximum life span without benefit of rejuvenation.

The races are given in chronological order.

eohumans

Standard, naturally occurring humans, given for comparison.

Average IQ: 100 (defined). Average stability: 50%ile (defined)
Temperament: varied: ¾ extrovert, ¼ introvert; ⅜ sanguine, ⅜ melancholic, ⅛ choleric, ⅛ phlegmatic
Natural life span: 60–120 years. Sleep requirement: 8 continuous hours.

Between gene-scrubbing, cosmetic mutation, and genetic prosthesis, strictly natural eohumans may become rare in a few centuries. Many people counted as eohumans have some fraction of neohuman ancestry.

Valens

Athletic ectomorph, Mediterranean features and coloring, green eyes.

IQ: 130. Stability: 65%ile.
Temperament: introvert, choleric (and sanguine), independent, testy, mildly multi-obsessive.
Natural life span: 110 years. Sleep requirement: 8 continuous hours.

A near-clone with very little genetic variation. The first, oldest neohuman race. Their big advantage over eohumans is their guaranteed physical and mental health.

Nevertheless, they are noted for continually enhancing and revising themselves and their children — genetic prostheses, additional germ-line gene-tooling, symbiotics, epigenetics, psychotechnics, patharchy, cyborganization, psi-scores, as well as ordinary training and physical culture. Mockers say they do this because their original genetic improvement amounted to little more than gene-scrubbing. Valens retort that the whole idea of neo-humanity is improvement, and those content to rest on their gene-tooled laurels have not grasped that.

Gars
"Citizens of Utopia"

Short ectomorphs, dusky, brown-eyed, blond, with European features.

IQ: 110–115. Stability: 80%ile
Temperament: extrovert, melancholic; low libido, aggression, & dominance
Natural life span: 100 years. Sleep requirement: 8 continuous hours.

Initially a near-clone, but they were soon diversified in talents because you need a range of skills in your work-force. They still have a strong common physical appearance. They are the flip side of the Valens and the prototype for the service clones.

The problem with most utopian schemes, it has long been noted, is the orneriness of ordinary people. So early on in the history of human genetic engineering, some people decided to fix that. Gars are very healthy, reasonably bright, and, in a word, docile. Not natural leaders, they were intended as a work-force. They are mostly found in hierarchical societies, since elsewhere they tend to dissolve into the general population by interbreeding and genetic therapy.

They have been subjected to a wide range of contemptuous epithets: chumps, suckers, eloi, helots, etc. Some people count them in "head," like cattle. However, even though they are predisposed by nature and culture to be laid-back and easy-going, you can still push them too far. Just because it is hard to engage their passions doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Revolt is possible, and then the despots find all that diligence and teamwork turned against them. They also know how others regard them and can get nettled about it, if it's thrown in their faces.

Aurean

Athletic mesomorph, blond, gold-eyed, cinnamon-brown skin, inter-racial features.

IQ: 130. Stability: 70%ile.
Temperament: extrovert, sanguine (and phlegmatic), dominant, aggressive, semi-hypomanic
Natural life span: 120 years. Sleep requirement: 6 continuous hours.

A near-clone with little genetic variation, but there is a rival "platinum" version, Bailang ("white light"), with more variation.

Noted for living very publicly and acquiring entourages of the "lesser breeds," as if each Aurean was a celebrity. On the one hand, stereotypically vain and arrogant, on the other, genuinely accomplished and generally very loyal to their clients. They had much more friction with the general public than did the earlier Valens, even reaching the level of occasional pogroms and purges.

All the near-clones commonly cultivate distinctive personal styles in appearance, including cosmetic mutation, to differentiate themselves, but the Aureans excel at this.

Adro

Ectomorphic, from Mediterranean stock.

IQ: 145. Stability: 65%ile.
Temperament: extrovert, phlegmatic (and sanguine), dominant, aggressive.
Natural life span: 125 years. Sleep requirement: 6 continuous hours.

A near-clone with little genetic variation, designed for high intelligence. Traditional rivals of the Shengs, who were developed at the same time.

Famous for forming cabals and founding or seizing several small states, early in their career, thereby aggravating anti-neohuman attitudes. Their "saving grace" was their factionalism, turning against each other and often siding with the eohuman majority. Even now their stereotype is of blustering schemers in quarreling factions. Also notable for being more exogamous than most neohumans, though they generally require that all children have genetics "upgraded" to Adro standard.

Sheng

Meso-ectomorphic orientals, pale, with black eyes and wavy hair.

IQ: 145. Stability: 65%ile.
Temperament: introvert, phlegmatic or choleric (and melancholic), independent, somewhat prickly.
Natural life span: 125 years. Sleep requirement: 8 cumulative hours.

A near-clone with little genetic variation, designed for high intelligence. Traditional rivals of the Adros, who were developed at the same time.

Famous for rising to the tops of several governments, major corporations, and international organizations and, from that vantage, leading campaigns and various movements against the Adros. This did something to limit prejudice against neohumans to those who were actively obnoxious, such as the conquistadorial Adros. Noted also for a strong tradition of "upgrading" half-breed children to Sheng standard and for continuing to experiment with their own design, in the manner of the Valens.

Bailang

Athletic mesomorph, platinum blond, blue-eyed, cinnamon-brown skin, inter-racial features.

IQ: 130. Stability: 70%ile.
Temperament: extrovert, sanguine (and phlegmatic) or phlegmatic (and sanguine), dominant, aggressive, semi-hypomanic
Natural life span: 120 years. Sleep requirement: 6 continuous hours.

Very similar to Aureans but with more genetic variation.

To avoid conflict and competition with other races, most Bailang lived in space habitats for the first several generations. In that relative cultural isolation, they developed a highly collective society, but resembling a system of loud and argumentative clans, not a regimented totalitarianism. They were major contributors to the development of the Solar System, but contact with them was generally turbulent, until they were gradually assimilated as the Solar System became more settled.

Fortis

Huge, athletic mesomorphs, blond, blue-eyed, with enhanced tanning and semi-Neanderthal musculature (4 times normal strength).

IQ: 120–130. Stability: 85%ile.
Temperament: extrovert, melancholic (and phelgmatic), highly stable and sane, seldom fiery.
Natural life span: 110 years. Sleep requirement: 5 continuous hours.

One of the first races to be developed when endurance was settled on as a key characteristic to aim for. The great size and strength were primarily adjuncts to endurance, though the social advantages of these are also obvious.

Famous for the first several generations joining or forming service organizations – armed forces, police forces, hospital staffs, eco crews, monastic orders. This led to rumors that they were designed to be servants, and their stereotype is of a big, obliging oaf who– well, the next stereotype warns that you consider them oafs at your peril. They are quite smart and quite clear on how far they can be pushed. Actually, the Fortis designers created this tradition of service in an effort to present the Fortises favorably, as a race of helpers.

Saggio

Tall ectomorphs, with Asian features and straight platinum blond hair, yellow-eyed, with skin snow-white from symbiotic bacteria keyed to the racial skin chemistry.

IQ: 145. Stability: 75%ile.
Temperament: introvert, choleric (and sanguine), laid back.
Natural life span: 130 years. Sleep requirement: 6 cumulative hours.

Designed for high intelligence, with wider genetic variation than the Adros or Shengs. The goal was for the high variation to produce a high frequency of geniuses, which worked to a degree.

Saggioes are renowned for creativity and as artists. They treasure their individual styles and inventions jealously, and the stereotype is they like each other no more than cats do. This is an exaggeration, but they are cautious about collaboration with each other. They don't worry nearly so much about collaboration with eohumans and others; they don't expect significant competition. But they are generally pleasant and agreeable. Such was the deliberate design of their culture, to protect them from resentment; their coloration makes them conspicuous, too. Every Saggio expects, even if subconsciously, to be a bit of a celebrity.

Krato

Stocky mesomorphs, medium height, with round faces; hair, eyes, and skin all the same light brown. Neanderthal musculature (4 times normal strength).

IQ: 120–130. Stability: 80%ile.
Temperament: extrovert or introvert, melancholic (and phlegmatic), highly stable and sane.
Natural life span: 120 years. Sleep requirement: 6 cumulative hours.

An endurance-based race, the strength an adjunct to the endurance as well as an advantage of its own.

They are often cast as the polar opposites of the Saggioes, pragmatic and meticulous. They were famous for their arranged marriages, based on eugenics, economics, and repayment of obligations; adoptions of children and trading in reproductive rights follow similar patterns. These cultural patterns have drifted and varied, but many Kratoes still live by them. As a result, they do not interbreed readily with other humans and are usually found in cohesive communities.

Zinshi

Athletic ectomorphs, Oriental features and coloring but with vivid green or blue eyes.

IQ: 135–145. Stability: 70–85%ile.
Temperament: extrovert, otherwise various, dominant, gregarious, highly stable
Natural life span life, 120 years. Sleep requirement: 5 continuous hours.

A near-clone, with little physical variation, but with an adaptable neurology producing considerable psychological variation.

The designers of the Zinshi wanted a race that could integrate smoothly with the surrounding cultures, but then had to come up with a way to prevent their creation from simply being absorbed by interbreeding. Drastically, they speciated the Zinshi, making them biologically incapable of interbreeding. They also instituted a culture featuring closed support networks, in which each Zinshi was supposed to belong to two or three fraternal organizations composed of other Zinshi.

The designers' success was only partial. The Zinshi were too outgoing to want to limit their society to their own small numbers, and saw that being too exclusive was making it harder than usual for a new race of neohumans. They largely took down the artificial species barrier, so that speciated Zinshi are now rare. They invited others into the Zinshi fraternities and joined more wide-spread fraternities themselves. The only thing that keeps the Zinshi from vanishing by interbreeding is their ethnic pride: they very commonly ensure that all their children are "upgraded" to Zinshi spec. This causes conflict when they try to form families with Shengs or Adros, who insist on the same thing for their own genomes.

Durant

Ecto-mesomorphic, interracial features, ruddy brown skin, black-red brindled hair, black to brown eyes.

IQ: 130–140. Stability: 75–85%ile.
Temperament: various, but all highly stable and sane.
Natural life span: 150 years. Sleep requirement: 4 cumulative hours.

Very tough and quick-healing, the most recent neohuman race, based on the policy of designing for endurance.

They were developed in secret, enlarging their numbers for three generations in widely scattered enclaves. Their discovery (spoiling plans for a careful public introduction) caused considerable unrest and cost many Durant lives. This added to the common neohuman tendencies to isolate themselves from the general population. Their adaptations are strongly dominant; this reduces their dilution by interbreeding. Their self-promoted stereotype is, of course, that they can take anything you throw at them; they are famous for not complaining about hardships. (They have no trouble complaining about injustices.)

Chi-min, Colonizer

Developed after hyperdrive. Not a race, but a prosthetic chromosome that could be added to any human germ line. It enhanced tolerance for varying gravity, pressure, UV, and air-mix, and let the bearer make their own vitamins and amino acids.

Calesti, Spacer

Developed after hyperdrive. Not a race, but a prosthetic chromosome that could be added to any human germ line. It enhanced tolerance for zero g, radiation, low pressure, and hypoxia, and made the bearer proof against vertigo.

Service Clones

"I endeavour to give satisfaction, sir." – Jeeves Takes Charge, by P. G. Wodehouse

The service clones are clones of suitable eohumans, originally selected for cloning by the plutocrats of Pleionia for their loyal, diligent, and submissive dispositions. The genomes of the originals were gene-scrubbed of all genetic health defects and fitted with mutations to ensure their propagation as clones:

With some basic genetic therapy, service clones can produce children with ordinary genetics. But, culturally, service clones are usually taught to accept their place in society as loyal workers, and not to look for anything different for their children. They have spread far beyond Pleionian borders, but have often kept their distinctively proletarian culture, whether as emigrants seeing work, contracted service, endentured service, or outright slaves.

Service clones were the basis of the Dulo class in genarchic societies.

The best-known service clones are:

  Women:  Re'Javedan,  R'Al-Jallad,  Re'Cardarelli,   Re'Reddy,  Re'Kurgatt

  Men:  Re'Naylor,  Re'Barcal,  Re'Zhang,  R'Adnan,  Re'Coyne

Androids

Domin: [...] Then you will see the bone factory. After that I'll show you the spinning mill.
Helena: Spinning mill?
Domin: Yes. For weaving nerves and veins. Miles and miles of digestive tubes pass through it at a time.
Helena: Mayn't we talk about something else?
R.U.R. by Carl Capek

Androids are based on normal, gene-scrubbed humans, but their limbic systems have been severely interfered with; they are incapable of spontaneous emotional arousal. Their arousal, interest, and attention are stimulated through nerves in their temples, connected to electrosensitive organs similar to the ones some animals use for navigating or prey detection. In androids, these form a control connector.

Android children wear a headband stimulating this connector while they are being trained and programmed. At puberty, the connections to the limbic system dissolve, leaving only secondary connections, which adult androids can use for communication, through a headband.

As a result, android psychology is radically simplified. They obey orders and do their work. They are not interested in anything else. They are perfect slaves. As was intended.

Because of this disreputable origin, it is very hard to determine exactly when and where androids were created. No one will admit to it. Technically, they are not difficult to produce. They first became generally known when the Agrian Terraformers bought breeding stocks from sources that successfully remained undisclosed.

Androids can be made almost indistinguishable from humans, barring close neurological examination or telepathic observation. Traditionally, however, most androids have blankly black eyes, both iris and sclera solid black. In many societies, these "marker eyes" are a legal requirement. Also, some breeds of android are designed to look quite unlike standard humans.

Clones

Androids come in two broad categories, zygotes and clones. Zygotes reproduce sexually. In societies that accept android breeding, their bloodlines are manipulated like those of any other domestic animals. Some very popular zygotes may be, in fact, "available in limited clones," but they are not usually spoken of as clones.

Clone androids are mass produced. Modern android clones are usually manufactured by tachygenesis, a process by which a liquid culture of undifferentiated cells is guided into coalescing into a complete adult body in a few days. This is usually done over an artificial skeleton, cyborganized to suit the clone's function. The android is then rapidly programmed and educated by download and telepathic imprint. Some popular clones are:

Free Androids

Androids can achieve volition and full personhood. This is commonest in androids with long histories of coping with change and being given much responsibility and discretion.

Once they achieve full volition, they still have to achieve normal emotional reaction. If they develop this way at all, it takes years of therapy.

Whether a volitional android will then seek full citizenship, and whether its society grants it, are additional separate questions. If a society supports android production as a major industry, it is rarely anxious to free those androids. If a society grudgingly tolerates android production or importation, it may make manumission as easy as possible, if it regards androids with more pity than revulsion.

Half-Androids

Zygote androids can usually interbreed with humans. The hybrid children are sterile, barring genetic therapy, and inherit the android parent's control connection and marker eyes. They also inherit the human parent's functional limbic system and emotional reactions. This means that the methods for programming and educating androids will not work on them, though they can be upsetting to experience.

The solid black marker coloring of the eyes can be removed by cosmetic mutation.

The lucky half-androids are born to free androids that marry humans. Even they may prefer to hide their backgrounds. The unlucky half-androids are bastards born to owned androids and some human, on whose charity they are completely dependent.

Since half-androids can reproduce only with genetic therapy, there are no quarter-androids; their children will be fully human, fully android, or half-android like themselves.

Economics and Social Acceptance

Androids compete with both human labor and robotics. Androids consume the same resources as humans, have the same requirements, have the same basic abilities, and are completely compliant. On the other hand, they show no initiative.

Androids can produce, program, and train themselves, like humans and unlike non-AI robotics, but have the same limitations as humans – slow speed, limited environmental range, and limited time-sharing and interfacing.

Androids work best, economically, in jobs that favor humans but which humans do not like doing. This means they displace low-wage human labor. They therefore become tempting or unpopular depending on local politics.

On top of the economic temptation and resentment comes moral and cultural acceptance, pity, or revulsion. On the one hand, androids can be seen as victims of obviously depraved genetic engineering, emotionally atrophied and neurologically enslaved. On the other hand, one can argue that, exactly because of the lack of emotion, they are not vicitmized at all; whoever else is distressed by the condition of androids, the androids themselves certainly are not.

Depending on the balance between those two views in a society, androids may be banned, summarily confiscated and rehabilitated, grudgingly tolerated as imports, allowed as a heavily regulated industry, or a routine part of the infrastructure.

Tachygens

I was born on a morning when the sun didn't shine.
I took my shovel, went down to the mine.
— "Sixteen Tons," by Merle Travis

(A.k.a. tacs, nebs (from "nebbish"), ips (from "Instant Person"), lactogens ("milk-born"), lactos, milkies)

It is perfectly possible to use the same tachygenesis technology that produces clone androids to produce fully grown humans or other sapients. Worse, the same can be done with sufficiently advanced biological telekinesis on a suitable supply of organic material – a tub of milk plus a few mineral supplements will do, hence the names "lacto" and "milky."

These people are then raised/educated/programmed by telepathic imprint, from recordings or from the psychic doing the tachygenesis. They are generally sold as slaves and used as specialized servants, agents, or troops. Production and trade of tachygens is, therefore, illegal in most of the civilized galaxy.

Mechanically produced tachygens are readily cyborganized. Psychically produced tachygens default to the genetic code of the psychic, but can bear any genome if the psychic can transmit it. Psychically produced tachygens can readily be made with anatomical modifications; since we are talking about criminals and slavers here, the results are sometimes grotesque.

Sometimes, tachygenetic clones are imprinted with the fullest possible memory sets of their original, in an attempt to duplicate or resurrect the original. Such a tachygen is popularly called a laz (from "Lazarus") or a "zombie." Few regard the attempt as successful; information and skills are transferred, but not motivations.

Human Engineering – Sequence of Developments

  1. Valens and Gars: green-eyed, Mediterranean near-clones and little dun servants
  2. Aureus, gold-eyed, blond, cinnamon-brown near-clones
  3. Adro and Sheng: Mediterranean and oriental intellectuals
  4. Bailang, a variagated version of Aureans
  5. Fortis, giant blond Nordics
  6. Saggio, gold-eyed, white-skinned intellectuals
  7. Krato, a stocky, light-brown high-strength race
  8. Zinshi, an oriental near-clone
  9. Durant, a strong, fast-healing race
    (FTL developed)
  10. Chi-min, colonizers
  11. Calesti, spacers
  12. Service clones
    (Genarchies founded.)
    (Terraform era begins.)
  13. Androids
  14. Tachygens

Return to Vaster
Return to Wind Off the Hilltop

Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010