Genetekkers, The

Genetekkers
Image from Bernd Helfert (amended by Steve Bowers)
The Genetekkers, an early clade of tweaked humans adapted to live in the Outer Solar System, who later diversified and became the Genen

The Early Colonisation of the Outer Solar System

The outer regions of Sol system were the realm of the gas giants: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Originally, the outer system was dominated by the interests of the Cis-Lunar orbital states. These were dependent on mining the belt and the rings and moons of the gas giants for the volatiles necessary for expanding ecosystems. In addition the ice mined was used as reaction mass for the ships that ply the trade routes of Sol System.

Development of the Outer System

Even well into the 3rd century a.t., the outer reaches of Sol System were generally considered to be second rate territories when compared to the more heavily populated and industrialised CisLunar space, Luna, Mars and the Belt. While the great powers were gaining prestige from their interstellar exploration projects, the gas giants and their moons remained largely unexplored and undeveloped, of mostly scientific value, apart from some helium mining projects (mainly Jupiter Holdings and Alcel Helium) by some of the big Terran and CisLunar based megacorps.

The main problem was distance. Even with the best fusion-drive spacecraft of the time, the outer planets seemed too remote to be of much value. The few outposts beyond the Belt were either scientific stations or mostly automated exploratory mines by the big transplanetary corporations. One interesting corporation of this time was the new Earth-based startup GeneTEK, one of the innovative new tweak-run "biopunk companies" (Corporate Punk, they were called, first by their detractors, then swiftly by their supporters), which were looking at adapting human beings to deep space not in the austerely pragmatic CisLunar sense but in a far more dionysian way. By 190 GeneTEK had established a number of radiation-shielded small cis-Jovian habitats in conjunction with Alcel Helium and TransBelt Development Incorporated.

In the aftermath of Martian Independence, the colonies on Callisto and Ganymede declared themselves independent from their parent nations. The research station on Europa soon followed. The GeneTEK habitats apparently were responsible for some agitating for autonomy, although curiously always with the support of the parent corporation. The news of a newly-formed Jovian League claiming ownership of Jupiter and its moons caused some interest, but was eclipsed by the events on Mars. The megacorps acted quickly however, using the new league as a tax haven, and continuing business as usual.




The Three Outer Polities

There were three major polities in the Outer System: the Jovian League, the Saturnian Ring Territory, and Titan. These consisted of a mixture of ethnic baselines, nearbaselines, superiors, and a culture known as Genetekkers (for their love of DIY gengineering and erotic biomorphism, the original reference apparently was from an old early Information Age science fiction story).
Throughout the 3rd and early 4th centuries, the culture of Sol System was shaped by the still potent but steadily declining nation states of crowded Earth, and the all-powerful Cis-Lunar orbitals, with Mars and the Belt states as the new up and coming powers. But there were also a number of habitats and outposts scattered across the other worlds and moons, and in the frozen reaches of Sol's borderland. It was however to be the Genetekkers that were to gain the greatest influence.




The Jovian League and the Gengineer Republic

By 280 Near-Jupiter space was controlled by the Jovian League, which gradually became more wealthy over the next century, as sales of Helium-3 increased in the outer system.
The most important faction of the Jovian League were the Genetekkers. They were an association of human tweaks initially sent by GeneTEK and other megacorps to colonise and mine the outer solar system.
These tweaks were modified to be tolerant of microgravity and low gravity, and to tolerate high levels of radiation. Physically they resembled normal humans at this time (with prehensile feet and sometimes with tails) but later in their history the Genetekkers diversified greatly. (see below)

A core alliance of Genetekkers, the Homo Superior Co-Prosperity Advancement League, developed close information, trading, and genetic trade links. These became the basis for the Gengineer Republic. After many years of sharing their individual genetic enhancements the genetekker tweaks converged into a single broad gene pool. Possessing high level of intelligence, somatic adaptability, heightened senses, longevity, and erotic and aesthetic enhancement, and gaining great wealth through the vast natural resources of the outer solar system, they were feared even by the other tweaks, to say nothing of the normals and cyborgs.
Although it would be unfair to say, as the cis-lunars claimed, that the Gengineer Republic was nothing but a front for GeneTEK ambitions, it cannot be denied that the Republic and GeneTEK were often in accord, and that each benefited greatly from the other. Within a decade GeneTEK was the most powerful single organisation in the Sol System.




The Rise and Fall of the Gengineer Republic

After only several decades the Gengineer Republic had completely subverted the Jovian League. Through it, the Genetekkers came to represent the greatest superpower of the 24th century c.e., rising up to confront the squabbling Orbitals, and forcing the latter to unite in the face of a common enemy. Yet it was a common fallacy of the time that the genetekkers and genomorphers constituted a single monolithic entity. Whilst many used their superb corporate abilities to engage in far-reaching political, industrial, mercantile, cultural, and colonisation schemes, others lived a quasi-monastic existence in cloistered stations and habitats.
But the original Gengineer Republic did not last long. Even the GeneTEK corporate genetekkers were too anarchic to be in agreement for long. The genetekkers never outgrew their individualistic, anarchistic, and libertarian biopunk and tweakist roots, and by the 380s, as authorities on Earth were trying to come to terms with emerging plague of pirate nanotech, the Gengineer Republic, and hence the Jovian League as whole, which it controlled, was facing its own problems. The original republic with its capital in Callisto high-orbit had cladised into two main factions, or branches, the Genomorphers, who not unlike the original genetekkers and biopunks set about creating a genome-augmented humanity in a methodical way, only with more resources and hence more achievements, and the Mutationists, who emphasised chaotic novelty and rogue genes. The latter especially had some spectacular failures, but also some amazing successes.




The Later Cladization of the Genetekkers

By the middle fifth century the two genetekker branches had further claded, the Genomorphers going three ways, these being the Fusionists, the Atavists, and the Twin Stream, while the Mutationists formed the True Stem, the New Shoot, and a number of minor groups of little historical importance.

The Fusionists were the main Gengineer stem, some like the Sea of Chi moderates, others more aggressively militant than the original republic (of which they considered themselves the sole representatives and heirs). The radicals were considered dangerous subversives by the Cis-Lunars, and managed to acquire control of much of GeneTEK, especially the more inner solar system habitats, where most of the wealth was concentrated.

Of particular interest at the time was the Fusionist Fighting Body project. Ever since the old Gengineer Republic, the genetekkers have had their special warrior caste, enhanced strength, reflexes, and among some extreme clades (including some of the heterodox Mutationists) there even developed a situation not unlike Earth's social insects. By the late 4th century some of the clades developed special fighting mutations. The Fusionist Fighting Body project of the middle 5th century sent the Cis-Lunars into a panic. The radical Fusionists being the most anti-sapiens, there was even cis-Lunar talk of preemptive strikes. Fortunately nothing came of this, the increasing threat of nanoswarm outbreak forcing instead the two groups to work more closely together.
In the end of course all the big powers were brought down by the swarms, although some Fusionists managed to escape outwards.

The second of the three Genomorphist clades, the Atavists, drew on the entire evolutionary past, adapting zoomorphic and even phytomorphic forms for both cosmetic and functional purposes. They ended up going megacorp and finally absorbed into their own markets became the Biopunk Siblinghood. During the nanoswarm era the Siblinghood escaped outwards, later becoming part of the Shadow Federation, although a number were to settle at Lalande 21185.
The Twin Stream on the other hand committed the so-called "mechanist heresy" and incorporated cybernetic technology and implants. It is often stated by First Federation historians that the Twin Stream hybridised with the Backgrounders, but not all Backgrounders are sympathetic to genetekkerese culture and technology, and it is more likely that the Stream eventually became a distinct clade. To this stardate, there are many old and respectable cyborg houses in the Centauri system and elsewhere that persuasively claim to trace their ancestry back to the Twin Stream.

The Mutationists meanwhile claded even more dramatically, but the two main branches were the True Stem, the old guard, which was heavily in control of GeneTEK, although they lost a large number of habitats and corporate branches to the Fusionists. In fact this was their salvation, because they were forced to take their own corporate branches further outwards, and this enabled them to escape the bulk of the goo swarms. During the First Federation period the Mutationists became the bulk of the Genen (although there are also significant Genen minorities that descended from each of the other clades.
Very different were the New Shoot, renowned and heavily romanticised for their forbidden experiments.

Although there was a popular opinion in the inner planets that the New Shoot formed an alliance with the Fusionists, this was actually a smokescreen, which was later exposed. In fact the New Shoot struck a "genes for technology" deal with Neotek, the big CisLunar-based nanotech corporation. It is believed they were deeply worried about the possibility of grey goo swarms. And in fact the New Shoot was the faction that did best survive the nanoswarms, although they later departed halo-wards before the new Federation emerged.


Genome
Image from Anders Sandberg
The Genome, a sacred symbol among Genetekkers and later, among House Genen

The Genetekker Colonisation of nearby Star-systems

Following a number of unmanned probes during the twenty second and twenty third centuries, humankind launched scientific expeditions to the nearest star systems - specifically Alpha Centauri, Barnard's Star, Sirius, Epsilon Eridani, Epsilon Indi, and Tau Ceti, along with various beamrider brown dwarfs. By the twenty-fifth century the Solar System had established outposts at all the star systems, while at home humankind had divided along ideological and astropolitical lines split into several superpowers, between which there was an uneasy truce. The powerful confederation of inner worlds (Earth and the CisLunar Alliance) eventually established a colony at Tau Ceti, and intended to establish another at Sirius. Alpha Centauri, Procyon, and several other promising systems became off-limits because of isolationist ai colonisation. The Martians were heavily involved in the efforts to establish a colony at Epsilon Indi and another at Ross 154.

The emerging Haloist clades were spreading out into the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. There was great pressure therefore for the Jovian League to likewise expand beyond the boundaries of the solar system. The most powerful clades, chiefly Genetekkers, monopolised the empire's resources for this purpose. Some have said that it was this, and not the nanodisaster, that brought about the end of the League, for the League simply did not have the resources to match the Cislunars in interstellar colonisation, and ensure blue goo upgrading of habitats in the Sol System. Others have argued that the League reliance on orbital biotech made them intrinsically vulnerable to the nanoswarms regardless of investment in resources. In any case, during the next one and a half centuries a number of ships were launched, not all of which made it to their destinations. The one's that did succeed can be listed here.

The powerful moderate Fusionist theocratic Clade Sea of Ch'i cooperated with Terran and Non-Aligned Orbital megacorporate interests to launch several vessels to Sigma Draconis in 414 AT. These later became the Penglai colony. In 470 a number of clades - mostly Atavist and heterodox Fusionist, launched a large colony ship towards Epsilon Eridani, and eleven years later In 491 the New Shoot Clade Erotic Ascension embarked on the most ambitious mission of all, a quasi-generation ship, the Rabelais, which was to travel all the way to Iota Horologi. This, the only one of Jovian Quasi-Generationals to make a successful mission, established the Frog's Head colony.




The Heritage of Genetekker Culture

Long before the emergence of the First Federation (the Federation of Worlds) in the early 10th century, the Genetekkers had ceased to exist as a unified clade. But genetekkerese culture, genetekkerese biotech, genetekkerese erotica and poetry and biosculpture and martial arts, these continued to have a tremendous influence throughout the Federation and beyond, not only in themselves and in their original purity, but through various derivative cultures and clades, some of which, like the Penglaian Empire, the Dionysian Erotocracy, the Arcadian Culture and the Lalandian Bioarchy, became large empires; and in the case of the Penglai Empire the biggest empire mindkind had seen until the rise of the Conver Ambi.

Perhaps the most powerful influence the Genetekkers had was in their successors and descendants, House Genen, some of whom are genomically little changed from their ancestors of the late Interplanetary age. Today the Genen remains among the most influential and widespread of the great clade houses, and their rich and diverse culture shows to us the greatness and innovative foresight of the original genetekkers and biopunks. Various derivatives of Genetteker culture and memetics, and even a few pure genomics and lazurogened forms are also still be found throughout the Zoeific Biopolity and beyond.

 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
Amended by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 31 October 2001.