Fed up with your Avatar and the droning voice giving you constant updates on your journey? Well, worry no more – from 2230 the Dominion of Old Europe has sanctioned the use of aircast versions of ourselves that we can control to drive our hovercars. So in the not too distant future, if you get annoyed with the chauffeur, you will actually be getting annoyed with yourself.
Naturally, the use of what are to all intents and purposes exact copies of ourselves brings personal security risks. However G-Soft, who is leading this development (like every other development…) have assured the Dominion that the aircast MeDrones will be totally secure from hackers. Like their computers are, right?
In the 23rd Century, G-Soft is mega. Massive. This corporation makes almost everything that drives the technology used for communication, collaboration and a whole host of domestic activities as well as for living and working in outer space. No 0ne really knows who owns G-Soft anymore. Its owner or owners are very private and quite mysterious individuals. The last known image of the G-Soft President is over 15o years old now. Presumably, that President has passed on but no one has a clue who the existing President is. They are just known as President G-Soft and he or she periodically makes audio-only aircast announcements about latest advances in their products. This, of course, drives various power mad Presidents of countries and other large corporations to periodically rant about the G-Soft President and blame him or her for all sorts of ‘ills’ that affect the World and indeed the wider Universe.
I remember when I earned my Digital Badge for the History of Digital technology I learned about G-Soft. If I remember correctly, in the early 21st Century the kind of service and software areas that G-Soft now monopolises were shared between 3 large companies. One I know was named after a fruit – it might have been the Banapple, one of the first hybrid fruits loved across the Earth. Then another big company definitely had ‘Soft’ in its title, might have been Gatesoft or Megasoft. The third big player at the time was called Dongle (but some friends have told me this used to be a device and that the real name of the company was Noodle). Wish I’d paid more attention when attending Junior Virtual.
Anyway, what I do remember is that all three of the big players, Banapple, Mega-Gatesoft (or whatever) and Noodle continually outdid each other with advances in their communication and collaboration tools. Then, one of them (and again not sure which one) patented ‘ThoughtPlay’ which revolutionised the way that users could interact with their communication devices. That company bought up the other two for mega-bucks and G-Soft was born.
Planet X is a deeply mysterious place in the Universe. First discovered around 2085 by the Virgin Galaxy Deep Space Probe, no ‘being’ from Earth has ever actually been there. This is partly because Planet X keeps changing its celestial position quite markedly but primarily because it is shrouded in thick gaseous clouds. To this day even the composition of those clouds remains largely unknown and no space probe that has entered the planet’s upper atmosphere has ever returned intact. Planet X is now followed through the cosmos by Virgin Beacons that denote it as a ‘no-go’ area.
On occasion ships passing near to Planet X have received communication signals, strongly suggesting the existences of some advanced civilisation. Three manned missions have all ended in apparent disaster, with each ship disappearing and none of the astronauts ever being seen or heard of again.
The one exception was the Locator 27 space probe, that returned some biological matter to it’s orbiting mother ship. DNA subsequently extracted from this sample led to the birth of the now famous hybrid, Joosthava X Minot.
In the late 22nd/early 23rd Century, interest in being able to make use of time had blossomed. Early experiments conducted by President Professor E. Poch in the mid-22nd Century had demonstrated the principle of ‘capturing’ time from the edges of black holes.
However, various issues led to Professor Poch’s experiments being suspended. First of all, too many of the spaceships used to extract the time wound up being dragged into the black hole or enveloped in lethal gases from black hole ‘burps’. Secondly, the small amounts of time that were captured by these early experimenters couldn’t be used in an even vaguely controlled manner.
It was only in the 2190s when the first time battery was developed that it became possible to store and the discharge, with some control, packets of time. However, packets of time are notoriously unstable and managing them is as much an ‘art’ as a science. Only a small handful of individuals study time mining as the dangers that confront a trained time miner at work are so great. Statistics show that only one in twenty time miners live into their thirties though in many cases, rather than definitively dying, they simply disappear.
ClonaCat was founded around 2110 by Tjoorbaert Morabitz, at the time the World’s most famous genetic engineer. Tjoorbaert was also a massive cat lover and believed that other people like him would pay small fortunes to have their beloved pet cats cloned and re-created after death. Tjoorbaert was certain that he could do far better than earlier experiments at domestic pet cloning that had not quite fulfilled needs.
However, just like the early experimenters in this niche market, Tjoorbaert found that the cats he created were never totally the same for the owners as the pets they had just lost. ClonaCat was looking like a failed enterprise until fortuitously, scientists working there on the horse genome, reactivated some ancient genes and created the first unicorn on Earth. This led to a whole new sports activity, unicorn racing, and ClonaCat became a prosperous concern through the selective breeding of unicorns for racing purposes.
The income from their unicorn ‘arm’ enabled Tjoorbaert to continue his research into the domestic cat genome, work that was accelerated by the arrival of a cat called Azz-leX. This cat appeared to Tjoorbaert literally out of the blue one evening (well appeared on his doorstep anyway) and turned out to be the ‘perfect’ cat with an incredible IQ. Not only that, but Azz-leX also provided humanity with the Azz-leX transposon, the cure to the DSR virus that had started to devastate the human population around 2170, near the end of the first interstellar war with the Mud Lizards.
ClonaCat ceased to trade in around 2180, being subsumed by CloneMate, another major cloning company of the time. CloneMate then used the expertise that ClonaCat scientists could bring to make the first generation of rubanon based artificial intelligences (AI’s). Cat, the Inspector’s companion, was the first off the production line and the only output from CloneMate that held a completely expressed copy of Azz-leX’s genome.
The Faxons really were a quite charming people and were the other principal civilisation on the planet Zizzdum. They had a sense of smell that was many times more sensitive than domestic dogs on Earth. They had little else in common with dogs, however, walking on 2 legs as well as liking cats, keeping them as pets once the first Earth settlers introduced felines to Zizzdum.
The Faxon sense of smell was so great that they could detect rare minerals and elements in very small quantities. As a consequence, they could command significant salaries working for Earth-based mining companies. Whilst Faxons could speak to each other, and to humans, they often preferred to communicate silently among themselves through releasing odours from their com-gland, situated just behind their ears.
This method of communication, whilst very effective, could become very confusing at dinner parties where humans might unintentionally be releasing their own ‘gaseous’ signals. There was many an embarrassing moment at early official banquets on Zizzdum when Earth ambassadors inadvertently said something rude or on occasion, made a pass at a female Faxon through natural bodily functions that had been activated by the excellent though wind inducing Faxon cuisine.
Cat, we know, is a robot. But how exactly does he come to be so like a real cat? Why does he have such an intensely superior personality? Is it programmed or inherited from Zeus or a similar God?. Well, you may be surprised to hear that it is largely inherited. He actually derives from the Pure Cat Ashley, a domestic cat from the 22nd Century who saved humanity and has essentially never let humanity forget it.
When some of the few human combatants in Interstellar War I returned to Earth around 2175, despite the usual stringent quarantine checks, humankind began to be devastated by a virus that attacked the human immune system. Deaths mounted and the projections were that within 10 years humans could be wiped out. That was looking to be the case until the work of Vice-Professor Tjoorbaert Morabitz from the Austrian Academy of Galactic Science and his assistant Trevor (unfortunately, Trevor’s surname has been lost in the annals of the history of science but some experts believe he actually did all of the work). Anyway, Tjoorbaert was also the founder of ClonaCat and in his efforts to create the perfect domestic cat, he had spent many years trying to fully understand the genetic make-up of Ashley who had been perfect physically and had an IQ almost 100X higher than normal for a cat of the time.
Whilst studying Ashley’s genes and behaviour (and the latter was what you probably would expect from Zeus) Tjoorbaert (or possibly Trevor) discovered that a transposon in Ashley’s DNA had the capability to destroy a range of viruses, including the common cold, that variously afflicted the human population. The so-called ‘friendly-transposon’ also became the miracle cure for the Amora virus, the bug brought back by the early deep space explorers.
Humanity was saved by this serendipitous property of the Ashley ‘Friendly’ Transposon. There were consequences, however. All humans effectively became part-cat, or rather part Ashley, with the phenotype of humans in relation to cat characteristics varying widely. For some there was hardly any effect, others suddenly liked to chew grass and vomit whilst some couldn’t pee unless they were standing on a tray full of litter and quite a few couldn’t survive without being waited on hand and foot. Obviously, despite the social embarrassment some of these actions could lead to, it was better than dying. Fortunately, around 15 years after the introduction of the Ashley Transposon, other scientists found treatments that could suppress most of the cat characteristics that Ashley brought into the human gene pool. This left us with immune humans who occasionally hissed when they got really pissed off and chased anything smaller that moved.
And Cat? Robot Cat? Well, he was the perfect clone of Ashley though he had no living flesh because of course, he was ‘robot’. However, Ashley’s DNA had properties that went well beyond the 4 nucleotide bases found in all living creatures across the Universe to date. Ashley’s DNA had attitude and Cat had inherited elements of ‘attitude’ in extremis.