Tuesday, 15 January 2013

More or Less Human

My Son, Keir Colin McLean McNicholl

The first piece of news that I'd like to share with everyone is the birth of my son on the 8th of January 2013. Keir was born healthy, and both he and his mother are doing well, though we could all do with a bit more sleep. Who knew that he would be part bat, and like to be wide awake between midnight and about 8 in the morning?

Anyway, I know I have been silent for a long time, life is like that when you have a new arrival bearing down on you. But I offer my apologies to all who have been weighting very patiently. In the last few months I have not been idle, in fact I have been leaning the nuances of Adobe InDesign so that I can do my own layout for Dark Stars. I guess its just that this is my baby and I'm a bit control freakish about it at the moment.

Anyway here is a little something for you read, just battered out on the old keyboard so its still raw and unedited, but I'm sure that you can get the gist of where I'm going with this. This is intended to be part of my introduction to Dark Stars.

More or Less Human

In the days of prehistory, before mankind achieved star flight and spread out from Ancient Earth to grasp the stars, it might have been easy to define what it was to be human. In those days there was only one single human race, certainly it had a number of sub-races with slightly differing physical appearances. But these differences were literally skin deep. 
In the centuries after the first star flights and the mass migrations to the first expansion colonies the transhumanist movement grew in influence and strands of mankind separated to follow various evolutionary paths. Life on the colony worlds was tough in those early centuries and evolution reasserted itself, selecting for genetic characteristics that brought about the best environmental adaptations relative to each world. Mankind diversified and although individuals died, the race went on.
The adage “adapt or die”has never been more true that it was in those early centuries. Advances in the genetic sciences allowed for gene sculpting to remake mankind in the image of perfection, extending life span as well as physical and cognitive capabilities. Most importantly it allowed the race to diversify by incorporating nonhuman gene code into the human genome. Initially these were environmental adaptations, the ability to better survive the often brutal life of a colonist, surviving the desert heat, retaining moisture, adding anti-freeze to blood, providing more efficient insolation to the body, adding membranes to eyes, nose and throat to counter air-born parasites.
These genetic adaptations formed the basis of the “Superior Genome” a catch all term to describe a range of basic modifications to allow the individual and thus the race to not only survive, but prosper on a hundred worlds.
There were those who rejected the biological as a means of improvement, and instead turned to technology to over come the challenges of colonisation. These efforts were largely less successful in those years of the first expansion. Cybernetic implants while contributing significantly to individual survival probability, lacked the heritable properties of genetics and so with the exception of few scattered colonies with specific resources, died out, became extinct.
As the first expansion colonies matured and the second expansion began, genetics were used increasingly for frivolous cosmetic purposes. Expanding the range of human phenotypes with a broader range of hair, eye and skin pigments, even bioluminescence. Encounters with other intelligent species even brought about the transmigration of genetics between these different, but compatible species. At least two exo-sentient species were fully incorporated into the expanding human genome, and ceased to be distinct life forms in their own right.
The development of life extension technologies had effectively stalled evolution on the central worlds, with the ability to life longer, reproduce later, transfer memories into new cloned bodies, or even rejuvenate an existing body. In the early centuries of this field of high science life could be extended first decades, then centuries and finally indefinitely. Racial evolution became less of consideration for colonial longevity and transhumanist thought again resurfaced.
Former staples of biological life such as gender identity began to fall away as some humans became multi-gendered able to both genders, or switch from one to the other in a trans-formative process that only a few weeks to complete. Some even developed entirely new genders or modes of reproduction.
Developments in synthetic intelligence allowed for the creation of sophisticated robotics and the integration of synthetic minds with biomechanical or biological bodies. Although the thought processes of synthetic and evolved (human) intelligences were different they now became indistinguishable from one another and interchangeable with the host body. That is to say a human evolved intellect could exist in a robotic or biomechanical body, while a synthetic (artificial) intellect could live in a biological host form. Increasingly a synthetic mind was no different from an evolved one, and could biologically procreate if the hardware (the body) allowed it to do so. Many of these beings and the fusions they created became known as the “Post Humans” their intelligence rather than physical host becoming the definition of their existence. Some divorced themselves from the physical reality of the universe seeking artificial realms of pure thought, others retained physical interaction through hosts, or solido projections.
The evolution of nano-viral technologies brought about a second evolution to humanity. The beginning of the of the so called “prime human” phase. The unique property of nano-virals had over the preexisting nano technology was that much like genetics they had an heritable component that could be passed down the the generation. These “augments” as they became known formed a second biomechanical component to prime human life, effectively adding an additional array of nano instructive chromosomes to human cells. The revolution that this technology brought about fulled the human developmental leap to the third expansion and beyond to the so called “final expansion” that brought humanity to first galactic dominance, then as masters of the universe. This was the phase that brought about the formation of the Commonwealth, a hundred billion worlds linked together through the byways that spanned the cosmos and beyond.
The basic definition of human had grown in breadth to encompass biological, biomechanical, and synthetic derived human forms. Even the biological forms alone contained such diversity that mankind could scarcely be a single race.
The final phase of human transmigration was now about to begin. Some dubbed it the “metamorphosis” others the “last migration”. So began the “Transcendent Human” phase, a long awaited and true evolution to a higher state of existence. What happened to these transcendent gods is now unclear, but many hundreds of millions completed the migration, before everything came tumbling down.