I have been workshopping a concept where the player's character is a clone instead of
a "normal" crew member. The idea started off as a way to be able to inject the player
character into an established crew. At first I was thinking the player's character
is a one-off. Either a mad scientist's ghost, or possibly an emergency improvisation
to handle a crisis.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that any sort of cloning program
would need a support system. And by support, I mean a lot of highly educated people,
and specialized in fields that would not otherwise be applicable to space travel. And
those Ph.Ds need a lot of other people growing food, making clothes, and keeping
the lights on around the ship.
So what if we established that cloning was a well understood technology in the day and
age the Iliad is set? Instead of having to invent the technology, you just need a few
technicians who can run the equipment. Equipment that is available off the shelf, just
the same as the fusion reactor, or the laundry machines.
How would this all work? Well a clone who is just a genetic copy is kind of useless. There
would have to ALSO be some sort of way to speed up the maturation process. And to be
really worthwhile, as the clone is rapidly maturing, it receives and imprint of all of the
life skills it will need as soon as they pop open the VAT.
Something this preposterous would probably need a well heeled mad scientist at the
nucleus of development. And he or she just kept chiseling away at problems one by one
until a working model was developed. It probably didn't achieve all of his or her goals
though, but what they did produce turned out to be commercially useful.
Imagine if the inventor had set off to make a copy of themselves. And instead of getting
all of their memories during the imprinting process, the clone only got all of the skills
that the person had learned in life. No memories of growing up on the rough streets of, say,
Newark. But the clone does wake up speaking perfect English, is able to field strip a
flying car, can write software, and can even cook a mean soufflé.
Even if it takes a year to
grow a clone, and even if they cost 1,000,000 dollar each, and even if they violate 100
federal and international laws, that they can set to work almost immediately after
hatching would be an absolute boon to any kind of technical project.
Particularly projects that are operating in space and doesn't need to worry about pesky
things like laws.
Every decent Sci-Fi/Fantasy Myth needs the ground rules laid down. Hear are the rules
- Clones are perfectly human. And in fact HR prefers we call them "Specialists."
- A person that a Specialist is a copy of is called the Pedagogue.
- The memories for a Pedagogue are captured in a machine that can take a detailed
snapshot of his or her brain structure. The snapshot is like a mental hologram.
- Specialists get all of the skills of a Pedagogue, including spoken languages, computer
languages, and familiarity with technologies and specific systems the Pedagogue worked on
and can actively recall at the moment the snapshot was taken.
- Specialists do not get memories of specific events or people from Pedagogues. Though
it has been reported that Specialists sometimes express familiarity or gut-feeling level
of responses to people they have never met, but the Pedagogue was familiar with.
- Specialists also pick up the personality and temperaments of the Pedagogue
- Because they pick up temperaments, Specialists tend to be pre-tuned for their expected
occupation. Pedagogues must be screened for both competence in their field,
as well as career satisfaction. If a Pedagogue thinks he or she is an expert, so will
the Specialist. If a Pedagogue secretly hates his or her job, so will the Specialist.
- Pedagogues also have to be screened for racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry.
Those patterns will be reflected in Specialists derived from them.
- Specialists are sterile. While they have all of the anatomical parts of the human body,
the process in which they are made doesn't produce sex cells (sperm and ovum).
- Some Pedagogues can be imprinted on virtually any clone regardless of the
underlying genetic makeup. Others require a pairing with a unique genetic abnormality
that must be replicated during manufacture.
- It is possible to combine the snapshots of several compatible Pedagogues to from
a composite specialist. The results can be complex.
- Specialist can be Pedagogues for other specialists. And in fact several commercial
lines of specialist are available where the same base personality was trained in several
fields over multiple lifetimes.
- Specialists have a shortened lifespan compared to humans, largely because they start
as an adult.
- There is a running debate about the increased rate of medical and psychological issues
with clones. Some experts blame the cloning process. Others point out that clones are often
involved in occupations where injuries and mental illness tend to also occur at higher rates.
- Pedagogues can be recorded in a digital format for later imprinting. Their genetic
code is also interpolated into instructions for conventional artificial life printing
- The rapid maturation of clones is caused by allowing them to continue to develop
at a fetal development rate right through to adult size. They still grow normally,
and go through all of the same processes that humans go through, just at an accelerated rate
and under ideal laboratory conditions.
- Specialists take 76 weeks to grow to adult size.
- If the Pedagogue is a child, the resulting specialist will be physically mature, but
mentally at the age the child was at during the snapshot.
- Some forms of senility and mental illness are copied in the cloning process. It depends
on the specifics of the condition.
The 76 week lead time on clones kind of tells you the story of why they don't make any more
than they have to. I have the sense that it is only used to fill positions where you can't
rely on someone growing up at random and deciding to become one, naturally. Though on
a ship like the Iliad, where the population size is not large, and the jobs requires
an extremely high level of skill, I could see a definite business case for installing
a few cloning vats and a library of specialist Pedagogues for every speciality on board
that requires a graduate degree or equivalent work experience.
I've taken this idea and worked it into a new design for the Iliad for my next installment,
Back to a small Iliad
- Spreadsheet - Clone Growth Projections - View clone-growth.xlsx