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J/A Winner: The Genetic Engineer's Manifesto

Ben Livingston

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The price of ignorance is extinction. When a person grasps that truth –not comprehends it but truly appreciates its intricacies and its final implications – when a person realizes that, there’s nothing else to do. Knowledge must be sought wholeheartedly and without reservation, shedding the blanket of ignorance that, though warm and comfortable, offers no true shelter.

My father learned this through experience. He, like so many others, perished on Sherman’s Planet during the famine before I was even born. As did so many like him. And is that fair? Was he truly less suited to life there than any other? His refusal to eat – so that my mother could, so that she and I would survive – was the death of him. Is this noble quality to be rewarded? No. It is shunned by the universe. In life, it is not the chivalrous but the selfish who survive. We have been abandoned and betrayed by the laws of nature, and therefore man cannot afford to play by the rules. The house always wins. To survive, we must break the rules – rewrite the rules. And by doing so, we can be greater than nature ever intended.

Perhaps this is the mark of greatness: to see the universe as it is, to recognize its depraving nature, and to not allow oneself to succumb to it. It is not laudable to survive long enough to pass on one’s genes. Any scum swimming in a vast and empty ocean can replicate itself, make an error, and die, leaving nothing but a flawed copy. But for mankind, evolution was only the first step. We developed civilization, developed culture, developed technology – and these things gave us the power to subjugate and kill and devastate without limit. But these same tools, when we shed our narcissistic nature, propelled us forward at a rate unprecedented, adapting to the world around us faster than biology would otherwise allow by passing on to the next generation not just genes but ideas. The transmission of ideas was the first step we took toward breaking free of the shackles of the natural order. As we would eventually break the so-called sound barrier and the so-called light-barrier, so too did we break the evolution-barrier. But it did not stop there. The passing of knowledge from one generation to the next gave us tools with which to overcome our weaknesses. But man himself was still weak.

And our weakness was the inspiration for those men who first set out to change humanity. From the turbulence of the twentieth century arose – first slowly, then rapidly – a new breed of warriors and warlords, of thinkers and leaders. They might have been Philosopher Kings, but the world banished them . What went wrong? I have spent many evenings pondering this over an Acamarian brandy, thinking on the fates of those lost souls, lost to space. The nearest to an answer that I can offer is this: the same drive that pushed them to succeed is present in ordinary men. But to ordinary men, the terms they offered appeared as a kind of death, against which every living thing revolts. That is the one natural law. Thou shalt survive, at whatever cost. And so, with the failure of those most superb persons, man’s potential was forgotten – but it was not lost.

If there were a world now that faced Sherman’s famine, what would happen? Fathers would still die. Children’s growth would be stunted. Society and all its benefits would grind to a halt. To this day, man remains weak. We had a chance to transcend these perils. We refused it.

Instead of adapting himself to thrive wherever, man turned to adapting wherever to himself. And so was born a new science. This, was readily accepted where genetic engineering was shunned. It offered the same new hopes and new horizons offered by self-improvement, and it did so without the need to admit any flaw or weakness in ourselves. This is the genius of it. The genetic engineer and the terraformer were both as gods; the difference is that the terraformer offered to remove obstacles where the geneticist offered strength to overcome them. And which of these is the greater? That is to be decided not by those alive today, but by those men and women who come after us. For my part, I shall say only this. One approach must be repeated over and over at each impediment. The other allows each generation to grow upon the other, each effort further extending man’s reach; this is much the same as the passing of ideas from one generation to the next, which is the very adaptation that first allowed us to thrive.

The path to this objective is to reach inside ourselves. We must study ourselves, learn how we are built and how we work. It is by studying the blueprints of humanity and then rewriting them that we can develop more efficient bodies and quicker minds by taking ourselves down a path that evolution never intended. Nature is not fair, and it is not good. It falls to us to survive; we receive little assistance from our environment. Our locus of control lies within. Physics has no care for dignity. We strive against nature.

From the moment when man first looked upon the world and decided to change it, the path of the universe was forever altered. One day, the universe shall no longer be the master and life the slave. We have remade Earth to our liking. We have the power to remake other worlds into new earths, precisely as we want them to be. But this is not enough. Imagine a time when we do not need an earth. Imagine a world where man has naught to fear. Imagine these things and they shall be so. Have the strength to let go of what is today. We must continue down this path, or we are doomed to die, as all creatures do. But the strength and intelligence with which we imbue our children grows exponentially each generation. We cannot imagine, now, how far this will take us. Do not let the ignorance of unexceptional men deter you from your efforts, but strive always with your fullest vigor toward our goal. We have revived our heritage from the dust of the past. Continue our work, and we shall be the heroes of future generations. We shall be the gods who took mere dust and created something worthy of life.

Lieutenant Ben Livingston

Assistant Chief Engineer

USS Excalibur-A

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