Upgrade

Some people take the future too seriously.

“We’ve got another modder, ma’am.”

“Again? We shouldn’t have an ER. We should have a receiving bay for imbeciles.”

“I mean, it’s a simple idea, incrementally replacing your own body with mechanisms, one piece at a time, but it just doesn’t work. At least not yet. One of the surgeries always fails.”

“Obviously. It’s such a suicidal way to achieve immortality.”

Tales From the Midnight Campfire

. . .

“Long ago, when the world was younger, there was a great king who ruled a vast kingdom. His daughter, a princess, was renowned for her beauty. Yet none dared to court her, for though she longed for a husband, she was quick to judge and loath to forgive.

Finally, two brothers came to the castle—and like those before, the princess rejected them. Yet as they turned to leave, she hailed them. That they would not go away empty-handed, the princess told the men that each had but to rest his eyes upon a thing, and it would become theirs.

The elder brother, who was crafty, quickly set his eyes upon the princess, but she shook her head sadly, for in her offer she excepted herself alone. In disappointment, he climbed the highest minaret in the castle and set his eyes to the horizon. And so the duchy became his to rule.

The younger brother closed his eyes in thought. Then, wandering through the castle, he came to the great doors, flooded through by setting sun. He opened his eyes to the crimson sky, and the princess, who followed his gaze, smiled.

‘My foolish brother,’ said the elder, ‘you could have had an empire!’

‘True,’ said the younger, as the world faded into darkness, ‘But I have the stars.’

And so, the younger brother departed the castle with empty hands. Yet, in his heart, there was eternal joy.”

sky


Ed. note: the artwork in this post was created by my new friend, painting under the pseudonym “Dizzy Chen”. It is my hope that her artwork and my stories will continue to compliment each other for many posts into the future.

Homo sapiens sapiens

Nothing to do with corn.

“Ladies, Lords.

Today, with the advent of cheaply available nanomutagens, we are seeing an explosion in human genetic alteration ranging from pre-natal to geriatric—and from targeted risk factor reduction to wholesale alteration of secondary sexual characteristics. The government does not possess any agency for regulating such operations, and the recent passage of court bill 2301AP-8903 legally binds it to inaction. I believe this is a failure on the part of this committee, inasmuch as we are obligated to also advise policy.

The problem is that legalization of all such genetic engineering doesn’t merely pass the burden of inevitable failures onto the expectant parents or individual requesting the treatment (as the legislature appears to have concluded); it also creates a sociogenetic debt.

True, we have overseen the almost complete eradication of the more common genetically linked susceptibilities—as well as single-gene genetic disorders proper, such as CF and TS in the last decade alone. In the case of the former, we can all agree that eliminating the most common ΔF508 mutation was a triumph of science and humanity.

But what about myopia? If present trends continue, genes for imperfect eyesight will be ruthlessly bred out until no human wears eyeglasses. Gone will be the bespectacled academic, the horn-rimmed librarian, the bookish teen. This correction of a genetic fault will thereby alter our culture.

People have preferences for hair, eye color, and so on. So far, diversity has been preserved only by the presence of differing racial and societal expectations of attractiveness. But already we see evidence of women crippled by their parents’ absurdly idealized notions of beauty, especially body weight, and men too Hellenistically sculpted to fit into standard space suits. We’re at an inflection point where an entire generation could be born blond if some hypothetical singer with sandy hair became sufficiently popular.”

SPEAKER HER LADYSHIP SUSANNA CHRISTINE ATTWATER
ARGUMENTATION IN SIG GENIC OVERSIGHT
TS [2301-05-22 13:28, 2301-05-22 13:33]
APPROVED FOR RELEASE WITH EDITS 2301-07-09 DEPT REF 009

Xenoarchaeology

Some things are more important than gold statues, Indy.

Forerunner galactic civilizations are a staple of xenoarchaeologic research grants, yet their underpinning, background ubiquity seldom enlighten those who study them. Currently, no fewer than eleven separate forerunner civilizations are known to have colonized the Milky Way to various degrees, the earliest surviving artifacts of which date back some eight billions of years.

It seems that some natural cycle of rise and recession alternately unites alien races and then isolates them, creating a chronology of forerunner civilizations—of which ours is merely the latest. There is no reason to believe our present civilization is privileged, and yet no one is quite sure why no iteration has ever really caught on permanently.

Some of the very longest-lived species have surviving legends that possibly implicate membership in the previous civilization—which decayed some tens of millions of years agobut on such timescales of millions and billions of years, it is more common for member races to die out entirely.

Surviving artifacts are common, but often maddeningly uninformative. Almost no devices survive the ravages of time intact, save only those few that self-repair. (The most famous examples are the ring devices—featureless wheels whose only interesting property is making investigating vessels disappear. For 30,000 years, nothing more about them has been discovered.)

It seems that, just as galactic-scale government is not fit for cosmic longevity, nor are any individual species, let alone their technologies.