RHAE 3

Aug 28, 2009 by

Read RHAE 1 here

Read RHAE 2 here

Round 3 Challenge: Incorporate the death of a dog into your next passage. It should be no more than 400 words long.

Machina’s parthenogenesis reached critical mass in 2039, a decade after scientists created the first human being unreliant upon sexual reproduction for propagation. This new sexless human originated through the research of the biogeneticist Michel Djerzinski, who discovered that any genetic code could be rendered structurally intact and isolated from mutations, thereby allowing for the cloning of a species. In sexual reproduction, chromosomal separation could create haploid gametes, thereby introducing structural instability. But with asexual reproduction, perfect replication was possible.

When Frederic Hubczejak unveiled the new human on March 27, 2029 with the gnomic declaration that humanity had created the conditions for its successor, none of the 1.3 billion watching in teleportnet attendance realized just how prescient his statement would prove. The successor, however, would not be this new species of sexless human but a new species of reproductive machine, Homo Machina.

1.

August 28, 2025 – A college student is walking her golden retriever down Massachusetts Avenue. At the Harvard Yard CloneLife Café she turns down Dunster Street. An urge to urinate overwhelms her. Last Friday at her bimonthly STD check she tested positive for HIV. It is the second time in the last year that she has tested positive. The treatment is straightforward—one pill daily for a week—but the side effect, frequent urination, is an inconvenience. Unconstrained sex has its drawbacks. She ties off the leash outside John Harvard’s Brew Shop, one of the few remaining businesses in the neighborhood where one can urinate without subjection to a CloneLife commercial, and dashes in to the bathroom. When she returns, her dog is gone.

2.

The golden retriever, which was muzzled, swabbed, and then incinerated, was the first victim in a spate of dog kidnappings. Biotech had taken increased interest in canine DNA ever since the August 27, 2009 article published online in Science, which found that only three genes govern coat variation in the domestic dog. By isolating each dog’s genome, scientists could look for any single nucleotide polymorphisms that served as the signals of the DNA code mutations associated with particular characteristics.

The right mutation could generate billions in biotech profits. By killing the dog, the black market suppliers ensured that none of the competitors of the biotech firm they sold to would ever have access to that same genetic code. The DNA race had begun.

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14 Comments

  1. Interesting Rhae. AnnaBones was right about the mechanical sounding terminology and I assume that it reflects the newly evolved emotionless characteristics of the species homo machina and its survival ability, at the expense of ‘sapiens’, due to what I sense will prove to be a greater tolerance to the increasing instability of existence. A product of expediency and materialism as opposed to ethical, human (or humane) goals of ‘peace, love and wellbeing’.

    The need to make sense of the chronology helps to increase understanding and awareness of the issues involved. Where’s it taking us? I want to know more.

    • I think that’s a reasonable assumption, JDEvolutionist, although it remains to be seen if the survival ability of Homo Machina is due to a greater tolerance to the increasing instability of existence or to other factors.

      Have you heard of the French novelist Michel Houellebecq? I have integrated some of the material from the epilogue of his novel Atomized (namely the bits about Djerzinski and Hubscezak). I do take issue, however, with his utopic visions of a genetically engineered future, hence the ominous rise of this new species of reproductive machine, Homo Machina.

      • No I’m not familiar with Michel Houellebecq. If I get a chance I may try to correct that! Interestingly though I suspect I would agree with you with regard to taking issue with a genetically engineered future; principally because, while I accept that genetic engineering is a contributor of growing significance to current state, that is Condition of Existence, it can and only operates in conjunction with everything else within that continually evolving state. Hence the process of ‘engineering’ in a deterministic sense is invalid and must be dismissed in favour of ‘influential consequence’. (Though the latter might be arguably defined as having deterministic consequences!!!) – keep up the good work, Jim

        • I don’t think that any geneticists would claim that an engineered future can exist independently of evolutionary processes or that it is predicated upon determinism. I have never heard of the phrase “influential consequence.” I assume it’s your own phrase? Whatever the case, I will make sure to look into it. Thanks for your thoughts, Jim.

          • I think the difference here lies in the reality of genetic engineering (specific modification of the structure of genetic sequence) and the idea of a genetically engineered ‘future’ which I would argue is not possible.
            As for ‘influential consequence’ – consequences brought about by the influence of factors modifying the prevailing environment, recognising that all elements within the environment are mutually interactive both with themselves and with the environment of which they are constituents. Enough, you have better things to do!!

  2. We are getting lots of back story here and it’s all interesting stuff. But where is our protagonist? Where’s the character we are going to be expected to care about? I am interested but not engaged yet.

  3. I’m finding this interesting – but your backstory is competing with other narratives and characters which are galloping fowards having engaged the reader.

    Like Dan I want to see a protagonist. I’m not sure how much further you can push the reader without engaging them with a character.

  4. JD, it appears we have maxed out the number of replies possible on a single nested comment strain. Just one last thing I forgot to mention: Houellebecq’s book “Atomized” that I told you about is published under the title “Elementary Particles” outside of the US.

  5. “… and the idea of a genetically engineered ‘future’ which I would argue is not possible.” – JDEvolutionist

    They said that about flying, going to the moon, subways and submarines. Sometimes it takes a little fiction to give us a little vision. Aldous Huxley? Jules Vernes?

    Moreover, many discussions are presently being held in the scientific community about how ‘human evolution is over’ precisely because we are so conscious of our power as selective agents, and so controlling (manipulative?) over the processes guiding our own evolution & its direction.

    Anyway, am not sure if Rhae’s world is all so improbable in the end! :)

    PS: ‘influential consequence’? Isn’t that just a fancier way of saying natural selection?

    • I’m not sure if this is the right place to discuss this as really this should be about Rhae’s work! But briefly… My problem is that I see in evolution a fundamental uniqueness – think in terms of position in space-time, nothing can ever be other than totally unique from the smallest to the largest. It is this that creates randomness. Under such conditions nothing can ever be engineered to create a known result because nothing knows exactly what the coming ‘present’ will be in terms of its Condition of Existence. The concept of ‘influential consequences’ attempts to capture this in terms of condition – Natural Selection is secondary to this process (a proposal that is generally not readily accepted and usually classes me as talking nonsense!!). I see Natural Selection as an evolutionary process arising out of development of mind and hence entering the evolution of existence later along the time line of its role out – recognising that in terms of the real components of the Physical Universe time does not exist, nothing exists other than in the present.
      For all that, Rhae’s Homo Machina has every chance of becoming one of those real components.

      • Correction – Natural Selection … arising out of the evolution of life forms (organic forms) …, which of course is related to sensory evolution leading to evolution of the brain.

        • my point was: things like going to moon used to be considered (and this was taught in school, in science classes) mathematically impossible. all that matters is he present indeed, a present that doesn’t include homo machina in it, so who are we to say Rhae’s not actually spot on.

          anyway, it’s a great read, and the science sounds as probable as the reading pleasurable. awaiting poll results! :)

  6. I’m really captivated. With SF, I’m willing to wait a little longer for character, because the set up in this tabula-rasa land is so crucial. But get there in the next installment!

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