Read an Excerpt
The Confederation Handbook
By Peter F. Hamilton
Warner AspectCopyright © 2000 Peter F. Hamilton
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAdamist Culture
Adamists define themselves as normal humans, a classification governed by their lack of an affinity gene. The name derives from the biblical Adam, who was first and therefore untainted. It was also an obvious choice, given that those who possessed an affinity gene were principally living in the habitat Eden at the time (2090) when the two cultures began to diverge (A Second Chance at Eden). In general, Adamists live on colonized terracompatible planets and in asteroid settlements. Asmall number live in the five independent (non-Edenist) bitek habitats.
Thanks to genetic engineering (geneering), average Adamist life expectancy is approximately 115 years, though this can vary wildly. Most Adamists are now the recipients of geneering performed between 2050 and 2200, with descendants of European, North American, and Pacific Rim nations benefiting from the highest level of enhancements. There are three Confederation planets which are settled entirely by humans who have no genetic manipulation in their ancestry, all of which have pastoral- or religious-based constitutions. Some enclaves of "pure" humans also live on other worlds, though their numbers are now in decline due to constant contact with their geneered cousins. Most of those groups were founded on religious or ethical grounds. Although isolated during the first stages of colonization, such separatism from a planet's mainstream culture is difficult to maintain. After learning of the outside world, the children of such groups normally find it very hard to understand why their ancestors have denied them this beneficial genetic heritage, and they tend to drift away from their enclaves.
With most hereditary diseases eradicated, organ efficiency improved, and substantial enhancement to the immune system, there is little need for geneering to be performed on fetuses now. The type of geneering which is still researched and practiced is concentrated principally on extending life expectancy. Among the very rich there is a fashion for having cosmetic geneering performed on their children; not just for classical beauty, but for blending of distinct racial traits, e.g. combining red hair with black skin.
The main exception to this slowdown of basic physiological alteration is the Royal Saldana family, whose members are still being modified for increased intelligence and memory capacity, and reduced sleep requirement, as well as expanding their life expectancy, which currently stands at 180 years. In short they are (ironically) becoming close to the Edenist ideal, lacking only affinity.
The second exception is the starship owner-operator families (such as the Calverts), who undergo dominant-gene modifications to cope with the long periods of zero-gee on their ships (again similar to that of Edenists). These families have eliminated vertiginous disorientation and organ decay, while bone-calcium levels will not decrease in the absence of gravity. Internal membranes are strengthened to cope with periods of high-gee acceleration (a function which is more commonly augmented with nanonic membranes), thus preventing organs from tearing, and their heart capacity has been increased to ensure their blood supply remains regular under acceleration.
Adamists, however, remain totally opposed to using the affinity bond (see below for exceptions). Although it began as a mild disagreement between users and non-users to start with (2050-2090), this attitude is now irrevocably entrenched among them, and has become the symbolic difference between the two principal human cultures. Because of its association with bitek (which it was originally designed to control), this affinity-bond technology has also been virtually abandoned by Adamists. Both Islam and the Christian Unity Church have proscribed the affinity gene as inhuman. The rationale is that the affinity gene is not part of the genetic heritage which was given to us by God, but instead was artificially designed and has to be sequenced into a fetus's DNA.
Geneering, which is the alteration (the more devout say "tampering with") of existing genes, is permissible (principally because it brought so many medical benefits to the masses that it became impossible for non-fundamentalist Churches to oppose it). Shinto, Buddhism, and Hinduism are not so vigorous in their condemnation; affinity-bond domination of animals, or human communion, is not forbidden but it is frowned upon. No priests in those religions possess affinity bonds.
There are nevertheless some exceptions to this prohibition of employing the affinity bond. Because of cheapness, there is still a limited use of affinity-bonded animals on colony worlds in the first stages of their development (though never on Kulu Principality worlds), before an economy capable of producing domestic consumer mechanoids and cybernetics can be established. The application tends to die out after this phase, as servitor animals are replaced by mechanoids for all mundane tasks.
Such animals are mainly bought from Edenists, along with bitek products (typically landcoral for cheap housing). There are few Adamist sources for these products. Tropicana is virtually the only Adamist world which has no proscription against bitek, and its economy is based around selling affinity-bonded servitors and simple bitek to Adamists (it also has a large proportion of clinics offering rejuvenation treatments of dubious value). Bitek can also be purchased from the five independent habitats, which provide the most prominent exception to the Adamist refusal to use affinity bonds and bitek. These habitats are the main source of blackhawks, whose captain-owners are not the kind of people renowned for their religious principles.
The other exception of note is the Lord of Ruin, who is affinity capable.
Nanonic technology is widespread in Adamist culture. It is a broad-ranging term covering both artificial neural circuits and cellular-replacement systems, as well as medical packages. The most common are as follows.
Neural nanonics, a web of neural-amplification circuits that are meshed directly with the brain, providing a datavise link with electronic circuitry. Most Confederation processors have a datavise facility, enabling an operator to interface directly with equipment, spacesuits, vehicles, etc.; this also provides a link with local communication nets. Other principal functions include neuroiconic displays, imprinting data directly into the brain; enhanced memory capacity; control over implants; and physiological and medical monitoring. Neural nanonics also receive entertainment shows in the form of sensevises, and can play sensenviron memories immersing the recipient in a total artificial environment that has video, audio, tactile and olfactory components, allowing complete immersion in fantasy worlds. The most popular flek recordings are mood fantasy albums produced by artists such as Jezzibella, which can also be used through direct optical interfaces, although these lack the full impact of a direct sensevise. Inevitably there is always a big market for bluesense fleks everywhere in the Confederation.
This technology is extremely prevalent, with something like 75-80 percent of Confederation Adamist adults on developed planets fitted with neural nanonics. They are implanted only when the brain has stopped growing, i.e. at sixteen to eighteen years old. For anyone involved in up-to-date aspects of modern society they are essential: fewer and fewer technological systems are being built with manual interfaces, and professions such as medicine or starship crewing cannot be conducted without them.
The distaff side of neural nanonics is sequestration nanonics, which can be used to infiltrate a person's cortex and puppet the entire body. These systems are highly illegal, and on most worlds their possession or use entails high penalties.
Government Intelligence agencies and the police forces of more authoritarian planets also use debrief nanonics, which can probe the brain's memory centers, extracting information directly.
Edenists do not use neural nanonics.
Medical nanonics come in packages of varying sophistication, which can be used for anything from patching up wounds in the field to complex deep-penetration operations. They consist of microfilaments with various functions, capable of treating individual cells. These include adding or extracting chemicals and proteins, filtering blood, knitting cells together (along a wound), and destroying and withdrawing malignant growths. Whereas first-aid packages can be operated by almost anyone with access to a controlling processor, the more complicated uses have to be supervised by qualified medical personnel. Medical packages are not autonomous.
These are industrial asteroid personnel whose bodies have atrophied due to extensive periods spent in zero-gee ("Astrophied" is the old Adamist joke). Their numbers are now in decline, as the modified genes which provide resistance to this condition are slowly spread throughout the human gene pool.
Biomechanical systems are used to supplement decaying muscle, bone, and organ tissue. Older cosmoniks (for whom the deteriorating condition is most advanced) have replaced their digestive tract and/or lungs with either artificial tissue or biomechanical organs to replenish the nutrients and oxygen in their blood supply. Skin is usually exchanged for a hard, dark, polymer layer resembling thick leather enabling them to step directly into a vacuum or radiation environment without any other preparation or protection, though hard exoskeleton-type casing can also be used. Many have modified their basic humanoid structure, equipping their feet with gripping claws, giving themselves three forearms each with a specialist tool hand, etc. Most starships carry one or two cosmoniks as crew-members. In extreme cases, a cosmonik will abandon his humanoid form altogether, and transfer his brain into something like a small MSV (multifunction service vehicle). In effect, he then becomes a short-range spacecraft.
Despite the relatively stable interstellar situation policed by the Confederation, soldiers for hire are still a large business. Although there are no longer any land wars or interstellar invasions, the requirement for limited "special forces" actions is at an all-time high. Asteroid-settlement rebellions against their founding companies are a frequent occurrence, with each side hiring mercenary groups to inflict strategic damage against the other. In the case of the companies, boosted mercenaries are usually employed to temporarily reinforce local police forces, while the rebels use their mercenaries to strike against the company's assets in another star system.
There also occur insurrections on stage-one colony worlds, which fall outside the usual law-enforcement officer remit, allowing the development-company governor to hire professional soldiers to quell the situation. Between such actions, mercenaries are usually employed by the same development companies to act as marshals on stage-one worlds, their specializations making them ideal for the kind of independent tracking necessary at the frontiers of new planets.
Like cosmoniks, this group relies on extensive biomechanical augmentation to achieve their profession's requirements. There is no standardization when it comes to boosting the human form for combat; mercenaries range from fast scouts to what are essentially biological tanks. Most mercenaries start with simple bone strengthening and muscle amplification through either replacement or additional artificial tissue grafts. Sensor enhancement is also a prerequisite, with implants wired directly into neural nanonics. Weapon implants are not so common: boosted mercenaries tend to modify their limbs to accept plug-ins or to improve normal handling characteristics.
Perfected in 2065 so that couples with fertility problems could have children, they were almost immediately adopted by wealthy women to avoid the physical strains of childbirth and the limitations it temporarily placed on their lifestyle. Exowombs played an important role during the divergence of Adamism and Edenism, and still remain important to the expansion of both cultures.
Their first large-scale use was by the Edenists following Eden's declaration of independence in 2090, when they were employed to increase the populations of Eden and Pallas with germ plasma bought from Earth. This breeding program saw the start of comprehensive geneering for Edenists, improving everyone on an equal basis. It was also an opportunity to give every future Edenist an affinity gene.
They are not widely used on Earth in 2600, although Adamists began utilizing the technology after the onset of interstellar colonization. Exowombs are employed quite extensively by Adamists during the mid-term stage of a planet's colonization. This is when the purely agrarian phase is being left behind and they are moving towards full industrialization, always a time of large expansion and raised horizons. Families of these eras can have typically eight to twelve children without placing repeated childbearing stress on the mother.
Asteroid dwellers and starship crew-members tend to deposit large quantities of germ plasm in storage once they reach adolescence. Radiation exposure during flight is still a problem-certainly accidental exposure- and exowombs give them the opportunity to have "normal" families despite the hazards of their jobs.
On all advanced worlds and asteroid settlements this consists almost entirely of didactic laser memory imprints: subject matter is loaded directly into the brain, the rate being varied according to an individual's ability to absorb it. School for Adamist children consists of a weekly didactic memory-absorption assessment, and then the imprint of a new memory. This leaves children with considerable time on their hands, creating a large industry of day clubs to keep them occupied through organized games and events, and helping to develop their social skills. Basic education is completed at around age sixteen, after which brighter children, nominally 70 percent, have the opportunity to go on to universities, which employ a combination of didactic imprints and traditional tutorial sessions or research projects aimed at developing students' intellects and analytical abilities. For the remainder there are job-related specialization imprint courses, where appropriate, e.g. maintenance and machine operation, which the average citizen will continue to take throughout their working life.
There are as many variations of government as there are colonies. The Confederation embraces almost every ideology and religious society possible, from interactive democracies to absolute dictatorships, religious orthodoxies, monarchies, company fiefdoms, anti-tech pastoral and anarchies, rich and poor.
Excerpted from The Confederation Handbook by Peter F. Hamilton Copyright © 2000 by Peter F. Hamilton . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.