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Following The Curve 2014

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Subject: [Tech Report] Following the curve 2014
From: "Lady Mars" (sailormars@crystalpalace.venus), A.C. Peters (rock_doc@prometheus_forge.fen)
Reply-To: tmp-tdml-56274@steels-lab.luna
Date: 12/5/2014 10:37 AM GMT
To: tdml@steels-lab.luna, smof-tech@smofcon.fen

For some strange reason, people seem to believe I am some oracle of technology here in Fenspace, and as such can answer any question about it.

For Serenity's sake can you stop doing it? Is it so much to ask to not have to deal with 40 emails a day just on tech questions? I may be able to survive on less sleep than most people, but that doesn't mean I don't need it. At least, I think I do.

However, several influential people who shall remain nameless as to keep them guessing if I'm going to take revenge have asked me a large amount of the same questions. Surely they can get the information themselves?

Obviously not, so I'm stuck writing this. I thank my contacts who have supplied me with this information, and the small percentage of you who sent cheesecake.

Now, on with the show.


The encroaching sea ice

One of the big things that has become apparent this year is that fact that wavetech is becoming hardtech. In my own experience as well as others it seems as though the amount of wave needed in mature wavetech is dropping considerably.

Does this mean we're all becoming used to it? I don't know, although there is a lot of... Shall we say 'spirited' discussion on this subject. What I do know is that there is every chance of a surge in hardtech becoming available from the Fen. I know Fred back in Oz is gearing up for the patent swarm.

However, those discussions pale into insignificance to the 'enthusiastic' discussions on the possibility of the Slapstick Effect weakening. No solid proof on this, just a lot of hearsay.


Rocking in the free world

The big story down the well is the Dog and Pony show the US government is putting on over the Banzai Institute's release of working Fusion Power Plant designs. I'll leave the politics alone for now. Clark Universal is putting the finishing touches to the first plant at CERN, and it's scheduled to go live in two to three months. ITER in France have been frothing at the bit about this, but can't do much as it's a gift to CERN.


Bio. Bio. It's off to work we go.

Big breakthroughs in hard Biotech have been made this year, with the first successful vat-grown meat system being announced. Shortly on the heels of that was the first successful cloning system. The latter is more surprising as the results show even biomodded organs can be cloned. This and rapid advancements in artificial blood supplies and gene therapies have catapulted us to a much higher level of medical treatment. On the Cybertech side, we're looking at the first real brain implants and nervous system taps. There's at least one person out there who can walk again thanks to this. These two fields look set to churn out advancements rapidly for the next half-decade.

However, you're probably thinking about the latest in the realm of Biomods.

The first of these is the recently named Biomolding process. Based on detailed examinations of the infamous Catgirling Machine, this allows the victims of that device to change their appearances to something more comfortable. Interestingly, the biomolding process allows multiple moldings of a subject. This means subjects of this and its parent machine are not technically biomods anymore. It's still very rough tech and there aren't many around, not to mention creating the framework design is complex for even Wave A.I.'s, so don't get your hopes up.
There are of course downsides. The first and most important is that, baring the capture of Dr. Asmodeus Grey or a very good medical complete with 3D-imaging scan and a DNA sample, there is no way to return to a pre-molded state. Second, once your biomolded, that's it. You have too much wave in you to be anything else, and if you aren't careful with the framework you'll lose any abilities (biomod or not) you have. Third, every biomold result has a homeostasis effect. While this means that (baring a rapidly fatal or a brain injury) they'll heal rapidly and completely, any change to the body form will regenerate (including lost limbs). So, cybertech enhancement of biomolds is out for the moment. Fourth, the unfortunate discovery of the Heinrick limit when Jules Heinrick died attempting to remold himself two months after he last did it. Currently, the limit is set at three months between biomoldings. Anyone assisting in a remold of someone under this limit is currently to be charged with being an accessory to murder, and any survivors will be charged with attempted murder.

There are also a couple of specific molding machine types around from the development of the general biomolding machines. The Catboying machine proved fairly popular for those desperate to regain their original gender, even if they are very bishonen afterwards. The Puma-ising machine generates some interest from people wanting to join FESWAT, given as it renders the subject into a version of one of the Shirow Puma Twins. Being an extremely tough, hard-bodied and voluptuous six foot plus amazon is a bit of a bonus apparently (even with the cat ears, which are surprisingly useful according to those currently in action).

The second development in Biomods is the Re-modding process developed by your beautiful but long-suffering narrator. This process allows one to restart the morphogenetic process that is a biomodification. Normally, this will add an extension to the abilities granted by the original biomod or be a removal of various quirks. The problem with this is that it requires extensive medical assistance for the subject to even survive the initial 24 hour period after initiation of the remod. And without extensive experience with biomods, the result will normally be an exaggeration of both the benefits and downsides of the original biomod. And while you could remove all a previous biomod's effects, it doesn't remove a biomod itself (might make it easier for surgery though).
The Jason seems to have developed a variant on this which seems (naturally) a better option for plant modifications.


Needless to say, re-modding is very much a new development so this is still an 'if all else fails' only treatment for the moment, much as I wish by the Nine Rings of Betazed it wasn't. Same penalties as for irresponsible remolding apply.

And finally in this area are the results of combining the hard and wave biotech in attempts to moderate quirks through hardtech. Several biomolds have had new organs grown and then had surgery to replace quirky current versions. In most cases this fails utterly, as the new organ is subsumed by the biomold's homeostatic framework. The few cases where it DID work were in instances where the quirk was severe to crippling, and the surgery extensive enough to slow down the sublimation. (In simple terms, it works when countering a major Joker or above quirk and extensive surgery was required. Otherwise it absorbs the implant.)


For Biomods there are organ rejection issues unless the organ is, like the biomolds, correcting a serious to crippling quirk. Why this is happening in biomods is the subject of much discussion and research.


There is one bright spot. New capabilities added by hard biotech are almost always accepted into both biomoded and biomolded systems, as long as they are purpose constructed and specially grown from the subjects tissues. Generic cloned organs are either rejected or absorbed, depending if the subject has homeostatic effects in play.

However, the effectiveness of removal of biomods via surgery seems to have gotten a large boost due to organ/body cloning. No one who's undergone this has yet had occasion to find out if they're immune to biomodding still, so that is still up in the air.

It appears that it is possible for a modded person and an unmodded person to have children together, at least if it's a minor biomod. I was approached by the expectant mother (who is in her early second trimester) last week for medical advice. It's still too early to tell whether the child will inherit the mother's biomod, but both parents have agreed to let this pregnancy be written up for the medical journals so look there for more information over the next seven months.


Pulling Iron

Big industry in the system got a few boosts this year. The most surprising one comes via our old friend the Catgirling Machine. Examinations and reverse-engineering made it very obvious the techniques involved could be better used elsewhere. The Feds just got there first because they had the people to spare.

The first fully automated wavetech production lines are now rumbling to life, meaning both mass production and lower quirk-rates.

Automation has also progressed fast, with programmable drones making a big splash. Both Hephesteaus and we at the Forge have drones selling well, and both the Feds and Warsies are coming out with others. Clark Universal however seem to have gone to Corasant for their new mega-construction systems. It sounds as if Port Lowell will be fully domed in record time.

Fully functional fabrication plants are also starting to come online, and with them improved materials.

And so...


Off we go, into the wild black yonder

A whole swathe of improvements in the space area, hardtech wise. 100% closed-cycle life support is just the one that gets the most attention, but there's also thrusters, sensors, navigation...

Coupled with the automation improvements, the Martian shipyard industry is looking to start production of near-to-full hardtech ships in a couple of months with turnaround times down to weeks. Artemis is looking in that direction, as are the rest of the Factions.

One thing on the horizon to watch for. The newly formed O'Neill consortium is looking to secure funding and resources to build the type of habitats they bare the name of. The Federation Council and Republic Senate look like they may just do this. The Senshi however may just one-up them and start production of variants on their crystal cities as habitats.

And don't get me started on space and Dyson trees...


Modelling supernovae was never this easy

Two of the biggest drivers of tech advancement now available are the increase in processing power due to new 128-bit processors and the huge increase in scientific knowledge available. Researchers both up here and down the well are getting their teeth into both of these. Estimates currently going around put nanotech at five to ten years, contra-grav in less than five years, and a hard FTL system in about twenty years.

Me? I'll say sooner, but don't quote me.


Power to the people

Besides the new fusion power systems coming out, the Trekkies, Warsies, and Senshi have got together and have almost finished the first dedicated solar collection farm down by the Sun's south pole. Why down there? Because it's a prototype Antimatter generation station.

Whether we need it or not is a different story, as Hephesteaus apparently has something in the works that will be much more 'Dane friendly if what I'm hearing is correct.


Boom. Boom boom. Boom BOOM boom. BOOM!!! Have a nice day.

Time to talk weapons. New materials science has shrunk and made more effective coilgun and railgun technology. Coilguns now have the highest sustained rate of fire of the post-Wave weapons, while Railguns have the burst fire rates and the impact.

The big thing was the first Particle Beam weapons hitting the space lanes with all the subtlety of a bomb going off. There are quite a few happy memories of the Moondance's accelerator ring lancing out to cut into Boskone Prime. Since then quite a few other types have come out.

Missile-wise is the new Illudium-P24 Space Modulator warheads. Earth-shattering KaBoom indeed.

Outside these... Well, I hear the same rumours you do.


Holo, holo? Is the camera on? Good, then welcome to the show.

Bleedthroughs of tech from OGJ continue, the most prevalent being holographics. This has allowed more people to get comfortable viewing systems installed, and that in turn is driving the surge in Fen TV productions.

Another factor in that is the increase in bandwidth in the Interwave system driven by the new mark two systems (yes we helped, but so did Hephesteaus, the Trekkies, and the Warsies). Being a quarter of the size of the old systems means more ships can mount them. However the power needs have not dropped yet, but historically lack of power is not a problem the Fen come across much.

And finally, the new and improved KoFen system is almost ready. The new smaller and cheaper interface units are selling well in advance of the June 2nd launch date, and we're gearing up for a successful launch. This system allows us to add more features easily, so people will enjoy it more.


Anyone for Swedish Meatballs?

Developments down the Well are as confused as ever. Reverse-engineering of 'Wavetech is still ongoing, but there have been some setbacks in that area.

The Brits were planning to launch a station from their Edinburgh shipyards based on North Sea oil rigs as a way of having a Military presence up here in the black. No official word has come out, but what I'm hearing is that someone sabotaged the engines and it damn near crashed into the city. The other projects in this arena are on hold as security sweeps are done.

The US Air Force's travails continue even as TSAB reveal several of their finished projects. Opinion is split as to whether these will have any effect on the arguments, given how fast things are progressing up here.

The US Navy, on the other hand, isn't doing as well as expected. After the Stingray launched any 'Wavetech experience got reassigned to the back of beyond or to TSAB. They are however working hard on converting some more subs. It just means they won't be up here for a while.

On the success side, they're probably a little behind the Fen in metallurgy, the greenery in the Sahara looks like its there to stay, and the first undersea mining colony has been revealed to be nearing completion amidst condemnation from eco-groups.


Is it Safe?

More bleedthroughs from OGJ make sure we survive to screw up again. Just about everybody has quick-fix patches for their ships nowadays, but large inflatable ones are also getting common. This doesn't take into account the new self-healing hulls that people are cleverly retro-fitting to their ships, or the rapid-inflation airtight survival pods from pet size through to SUV.

For those with the space to fit them, THE new mod is an auto-med pod or two (or more). Something of a kit-bash between myself and the Professor, moderated by the good folks at Kandor City Hospital and put into production by Stark-Wayne Industries, this is a self contained and reasonably portable automated emergency medical bay. The RSG guys LOVE the things (so the marriage requests, flattering though they are, can stop now people), as they can stabilise or treat 90% of those put in them without assistance and in the remaining 10% of cases help the docs by being surgical bays. Med-kits based on the technologies involved are also rolling of the production lines and being snapped up rapidly by the paramedically inclined in military and security lines. KCH is working on a general purpose version for release later in the year.

And finally, and in pleasant irony for those of us who raided the place, the medical teams have finally perfected the multi-purpose drug synthesisers the Prof built when inspired by the things at Boskone One. Admittedly their range is limited at the moment, and the more complex drugs out here are beyond it, but every little helps and program updates are due at regular intervals.


And in closing...

Well, I hope the waiting public is satisfied with this, 'cause for Federation's sake I ain't doing this again. If you want any more, look it up your self.

Yours in long-suffering Discord,
A.C. Peters