[LMB] Terraforming and gengineering

Karen Hunt huntkc at gmail.com
Mon May 14 12:14:38 BST 2012

On Mon, May 14, 2012 at 6:09 AM, Elin B <elbju at yahoo.se> wrote:
> OK, since it's so quiet I'll post a question that I suspect may be rather stupid: given Enrique's redesigning of butter bugs to be compatible with native Barrayaran biology, could similar things be done to humans in the Vorkosiverse? The Cetagandans particularly come to mind. If the Cetagandan empire were to stumble upon a new livable planet and decide to colonise it, would they be able to engineer colonists whose bodies are more compatible with the alien planet's biology than those of normal humans?

Some things are already being done.  There's a throwaway comment about
heavy-worlders in DI that suggests something is being done with them
for strength, the quaddies are a very extreme version of exactly that,
and we have Guppy as evidence that people can be made amphibious
(Miles' thoughts on the matter very much match your questions, as a

There's mention of Butter Bugs being redesigned to convert inedible
native flora into highly nutritious, um, stuff.  (What a thought -- a
diet consisting solely of Bug Butter.)

> I'm assuming that even if they could, the economy of scale and flexibility (allowing for easy migration of people between planets) would still be heavily in favour of terraforming. But perhaps they could go for a special race à la Quaddies to work in frontier areas clearing the way for others. Though the risk of rebellion might be a lot higher than normal...
> Of course, humans are much more complex than butterbugs and to change them that much may well lie far behind even the Cetagandan hauts' abilities in current canon.

They couldn't do this before they had uterine replicators -- the
experiments would have to be too small-scale and expensive.  But now
that replicators are not that pricy, things are changing.

Karen Hunt

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