Genen, House Genen

House Genen symbol
Image from Andrew P.
House Genen logo

Planet: The official meeting place between the families is Frog's Head (Iota Horologi IX), but in practice the Genen are composed of several hundred families/clans ruling independent volumes of space.

Symbol: A thick circle with a horizontal radius marked by a DNA string. Individual families have very different symbols.

Among the cultures emerging in the solar system after the end of the dark ages was the Genen, a tweak culture largely based on the survivors from the old GeneTEK orbitals. Guided by their AIs they quickly asserted their economic and technological dominance in the biotech field, officially in service of the First Federation. They absorbed several minor tweak lines and organised themselves into a number of families not unlike the later megacorporation and mafia organisations, internally competing and jockeying for position but working together to further the Genen cause.

In the 1300's the Genen began to send emissaries and colonists to the interstellar colonies, usually attempting to recruit the local tweak species. Several new families emerged, and during the second space rush they spread far and wide. The Genen culture proved to be flexible and resilient; for all their differences the families shared a common worldview and AI pantheon. Gradually the Genen became a major House, despite occasional clashes between families and the often unnecessary conflicts with other megacorps.

The Genen ideology is based on their view of themselves as superior to every other human or biont clade in general. It is not a superiority due to genetic perfection, power or any other measurable property, but simply an inherent property of being a Genen. Genenhood is achieved by genetic mixing or addition of Genen chromosomes to a being; this not only confers formal Genenhood, it also introduces a number of genetic codes which identify the strain as belonging to a certain family and adds a few secret Genen traits and "backdoors". Life is about honoring one's Genenhood by achievement in the way best in accordance to one's or one's family's potential. Death is to be accepted, a necessary condition for evolution. Overall the Genen are firm believers in evolution: diversity and selection are necessary for anything to grow and prosper.

Although not formerly affiliated with any one empire, Genen memetics and loyalty is often frequently connected with Zoeific ideals and noetics, and some Genen clades are fierce Zoeific patriots. Many Zoeific phyles, clades, polities, and corporations have crypto-Genen, if not fully Genen, roots and associations. However some Genen clans see the danger of association with the Biopolity as meaning the loss of their famed neutrality, others say Zoeific memetics and metaphysics compromise the purity of the Genen ideal. For these and other reasons there are a number of strong clans that refuse to have anything to do with the Biopolity.

Detractors say that the Genen are a throwback to the ancient Gengineer Republic, practically unchanged since the Gengineer Republic. What they miss is that the Genen are equipped with a very finely crafted worldview, designed to mesh perfectly with their special genome in order to be exceedingly stable and dedicated. This has created one of the best surviving Houses in the galaxy, able to withstand dark ages and federations with little change but still not prone to decadence or rigidity. They are the perfect tools for whatever plans their AIs have.

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

Genen cannot normally reproduce with non-genen, and even different strains often have trouble breeding (since some strains are descended from highly cladized tweaks from the First Interstellar Era, this is not unexpected). Most reproduction occurs artificially. However, in many strains females are parthenogenetic and can give birth to clones of themselves, while the males have modified sperm which replaces the female genome in eggs, also resulting in clone children.

The Genen are as a rule fiercely loyal to each other (one of the effects of their modifications) and their vision, but express it in radically different ways. The Genen of Frog's Head regard themselves as the keepers of tradition, proprietary, and the true Genen etiquette, while the Poh Wan Clan of the Hyades sector see the nature of the Genen best reflected in fierce, unscrupulous economic expansionism and the Klade Lei through subtle, long-range planning for the best of the family and House. In the Sagittarius Cooperation the "renegade" Tatsuo Family has risen to political and economic prominence, giving the Genen a noticeable pull on local politics.

While once the families were competitive megacorps, they have gradually become more like feudal domains ruled by inheritance. Using memory transfer techniques clan leaders transfer themselves gradually into the minds of their successors, and some genen families have made themselves biologically immortal.

Biology is viewed as aesthetically superior to hard technology (with the possible exception of certain forms of nanotech), and many Genen families employ advanced biotech constructions instead of hard technology.

Recently the competition between the families has grown more intense than is healthy for the strength of the House as a whole. It is especially the radically divergent families in the outer sphere that are less and less cooperative with the core families; rumors speak of radical changes that go far beyond Genen policy, political alliances with unsavory forces, and even forbidden cyborgisation.

In addition to the Zoeific Biopolity, already mentioned, the Genen have close ties with the Communion of Worlds, Terragen Federation, NoCoZo, and most major interstellar trade organisations, although they often compete fiercely with them. Their overall reputation is one of arrogant but skilled businessbeings; dealing with a single family is often the best way of dealing with the Genen as a whole. The other more religiously or politically minded Houses and empires regard them with distaste.

Image from Steve Bowers

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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Initially published on 26 June 2000.