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FK 9 - Ancillary Documentation / Intertech

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:02 pm    Post subject: FK 9 - Ancillary Documentation / Intertech Reply with quote

Intertech, a strong research and exploration company based on Outreach Station orbiting Earth, was both the precipitating cause and the primary victim of one of the definitive events in humankind's history: the Humanity Riots.

This chapter's brief summary of Intertech's history covers how Intertech first gained fame creating a microbe that digested plastics (sounds quite useful, indeed), then became a highly profitable company by producing a catecholamine inhibitor, a sedative that became popularly known as "cat". The commercial success of cat allowed Intertech to fund research into other star systems which had become reachable thanks to gap drive technology, and from the exploration of one of these star systems came the discovery of an isotope useful in recombinant DNA procedures.

Intertech's fortunes unfortunately fell from the results of an Intertech probe ship finding a mutagenic material in space sent by an alien race called the Amnion. The result of the material coming into contact with Earth beings was to turn them into Amnioni. (Intertech applied the Amnioni mutagen to various test animals, ending with testing it on a female human volunteer. All subjects turned into alien life forms, and the woman also died "in a state of spiritual shock" after being transformed.) Knowledge of these events precipitated the Humanity Riots.

The Humanity Riots themselves were an interesting demonstration of genophobia. That humankind distrusted anything different from itself had always been common knowledge. As a species--as a biological product of its own planet--humankind apparently considered itself sacred.

In this, Earth's dominant religions were only more vocal than other groups. No other fundamental distinction prevailed. Life had evolved on Earth as it was supposed to evolve: the forms of life provided by this developmental process were right and good; any alteration was morally repugnant and personally offensive. On this point, conservationists and environmentalists and animal rights activists were at one with Moslems and Hindus and Christians. Prosthetic surgery in all its guises, to correct physical problems or limitations, was acceptable: genetic alteration to solve the same problems was not.

As one crude example, humankind had no objection to soldiers with laser-cutters built into their fingers or infrared scanners embedded in their skulls. On the other hand, humankind objected strenuously to soldiers genetically engineered for faster reflexes, greater strength, or improved loyalty. After all, infrared scanners and laser-cutters were mere artifacts, tools; but faster reflexes, greater strength, and improved loyalty were crimes against nature.

For this reason, genetic research was routinely conducted in secret: in part to cloak it from commercial espionage; but primarily to protect the researchers from public vilification.

Contact with the Amnioni substance or the Amnion themselves couldn't be kept a secret. The Humanity Riots commenced, a venting of outrage at geneticists in general and Intertech in particular, with the result that Intertech was hurt enough financially to be forced to sell to Space Mines, Inc. And Space Mines became the United Mining Companies. And the UMC suppressed the mutagen immunity research, apparently, according to Vector Shaheed. Sad, eh? Crying or Very sad

I've noted elsewhere that this Intertech/Humanity Riots side story echoes the situation SRD imagined in his 1978 short story "Animal Lover". One difference is that Vector doesn't seem to have emerged from the experience completely bitter (he retains his sense of humor, for one thing), unlike his "Animal Lover" counterpart Avid Paracels, who devotes his time creating animals dangerous enough to kill off the most experienced human hunters.

[...]humankind apparently considered itself sacred. Do I detect a note of sarcasm in the narrative tone?
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