Tag Archives: genetic engineering

The Idea Mill #23

It's been a while since I ran one of these out, but the news has been a little bit slow lately. I collect articles that pique my interest as a writer of speculative fiction. I have used some of the things from these posts, and might will use some of the stuff I bring you today.

Let's start out with the Tree of Death. The manchineel tree is a tropical plant that can even be found in Florida. This thing has more defenses than the acid filled creatures in Alien. It appears that everything about it is toxic; its fruit, sap, bark, leaves, everything.

It is written here that natives used to stake people out under the trees as a form of torture. The frequent rains would wash across the leaves and an drip onto the victims causing acidic type burns. Read the article I saw here.

From my point of view, this becomes a great murder weapon. Murder happens in all kinds of fiction and isn't limited to just mysteries and thrillers. It also lends some credence to any kind of alien environment you might want to create. These trees could also play into a global warming kind of story. They push their way north and south of the tropics to drive the people away as nature tries to recover some room for itself. Could be an interesting magical ingredient too.

The next section is a combination of two articles. Neural Dust is the name given to tiny implants into potentially human brains. There are two hopes, the first one being a way to treat some impairments like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The second part appeals to me, where it may allow some patients to control various robotic items. Here is the link to the first article.

The second article doesn't seem to come right out and name the technology, but appears to be the same idea. It puts a different spin on things with a warning about protecting our own brains from hackers. Here is the link to the second article.

These two really appeal to me, because I outlined a novel last summer about bio-hackers and grinders. I have a hunch these ideas will work their way straight into that book. (I just need to get finished with The Yak Guy Project.) It also fits right into something I was working on yesterday about a futuristic baseball league called The Enhanced League.

So what would you do with these? There are any number of mind control ideas that could happen. Need an innocent person to pull of the heist of the century, drop off the ransom, commit a terrorist act. Here's the reference point to make it work. It gives a whole new spin to date rape drugs, political puppets backed by corporate entities, or even a cyber-zombie outbreak when long term implants go wrong.

Finally, the US has authorized researchers to implant human stem cells into the brains of animal embryos. They've even dubbed the creations as Chimeras. Again, the hope involves various brain disorders and extends to growing transplantable organs. Read it yourself, right here.

What could possibly go wrong? Let's explore that. Need some science to back up your Planet of the Apes science fiction, here it is. Need spies to infiltrate a secure government facility? How about some human intelligent rats, or aerial ravens. Nobody would look twice at the sparrow outside the White House.

Part of these posts involves me describing a schlocky story using all the elements. This is always tough, but this one comes with special problems. The Enhanced League and the Grinders novel are screaming at me, and I don't want to spoil anything. Top that off with the manchineel tree not fitting into the science fiction base of the other articles and it gets exponentially tougher. Let's see where this goes…

Iguanas are immune to the poisons of the manchineel tree. A group of genetically enhanced iguanas are forced to plant the poisonous trees around a perimeter to build an invasion camp. Might as well use Florida since they already have iguanas.

The President's brain has been hacked via the national security Neural Dust chip he is required to have. He authorizes a secure facility inside the perimeter where evil scientists will create an army of chimera cyborgs who control their weapons via their own neural chips. Imagine cyborg gorillas and minotaurs marching upon Washington.

The only hope is an ethical scientist who must break her personal code and accept her own Neural Dust implant before it's too late.

Okay, that sucks, but individually there are some great story elements here. They might not drive an entire novel, but a couple of them could. I know I'm going to use neural dust in one, if not two, stories. I may use chimeras too if only as designer pets to do some world building.

What would you do? Manchineel smoke in your voodoo? Designer organ farming for the super rich? A cultural rift between those who are all born lithe and beautiful due to embryo manipulation and those who have to take what God gives them? Let me hear it in the comments.

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