Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

M Pax's Guest Post "Evolution in Our Hands"

Thank you, Catherine for having me on your great blog today.
I'm delighted, M. Pax.

Catherine asked me to write about bioengineering. Seems we’ve written stories about the same intriguing branch of science. There have been so many fascinating breakthroughs in the discipline.

Unlocking the key to DNA and what individual genes do brings on the next wave in evolution: alfalfa that’s spider silk, crops that grow more nutrient rich food with less land and less water, people who thrive on less with the ability to maintain optimum health so that there is less stress on the environment.

There are many great and beneficial uses for manipulating biology and evolution on our planet, and off it. Already the population on Earth requires the resources of four planets this size. Stresses on our world, will push us to find ways to survive, including colonizing other planets.

Over the millennia we’ve become so adapted to this planet, it may be necessary to change ourselves so that we can adapt and thrive. I envision our first settlements off Earth as versions of ourselves, people bio-engineered to quickly adapt to the world they land on.

At first, I think the changes to our biology will be small. Over time they may become more radical. That’s what I based The Backworlds on, when the alterations start to stray farther from the basic, current human.

The main character, Craze, can hibernate, has more sensitive hearing, has living hair, and irresistibly soft skin. These traits often come into play to hinder and help him.

His friends, the aviarmen, have birdlike qualities—strong and delicate, quick and agile, but they don’t fly. There’s a character who is a Jix, a race that can change genders, and another that is squat and strong created to live on a planet with higher gravity.

What differentiates the Backworlds from the Foreworlds is how changed the humans are from the original Earth model. If you could change your genes to gain a special trait, what would you do? I think I’d opt for longer spurts of energy.

Here's the novel synopsis: After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available as an ebook from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble  For other outlets such as iTunes and Kobo, see M. Pax’s Backworlds Page.

Sign up for M. Pax’s newsletter for discounts on sequels in the series and notifications of new stories.

M. Pax with a Telescope
About the author:
M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, and at Wistful Nebulae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

For Catherine's review on The Backworlds go to Amazon and look for the title: Craze is the newest, coolest anti-hero for the space set!


  1. Sounds like a great story! Why don't they use more stories like this to teach about DNA and genes in science class? It'd be a lot more interesting!

  2. Sounds like an intriguing story, Mary. Something like a fantasy movie!

  3. Yeah, I don't think I'd want any physical attributes changed. Enjoying the story though!

  4. I think I'd want to be diabetes free and taller if I were going to bio engineer myself. :)

    Backworlds is brilliant!

  5. The characters in Backworlds are all so creative. I think I'd like to be the aviarmen, I'm such a klutz that being agile and quick seems like such fun to me. Although I'd like to be able to fly too. :D

  6. Jenna, yes, it would have been great to read some science fiction in science classes! Good sci-fi predicts many future trends. And authors invent future tech too, like when Arthur Clark invented satellite technology! Hmmm, what would I like enhanced? I'd like to have extraordinary amounts of energy and strength and need less sleep.

  7. Hi Mary and Catherine. I love this post and, of course, seeing Mary with her big telescope--the one I covet--is a treat.

    I've been thinking about the adaptations our species will have to make for life on other planets, and while I know there will be physical changes, I'm sure our brains are already being reconfigured for that far distant time. The way we process information and the speed we process it is taking it's toll on the older generation, but I see how younger humans interact with technology as if it's an extension of themselves. I leave it to you two futuristic writers to create that "new human" of the year 3000+/-, but I'm already imagining it. Wish I could hang around long enough to see what happens.

    Your book is on my list, and I'm reading as fast as I can, Mary!

  8. I agree, Jenna.

    I think it'd be a great movie, Nas.

    Thanks, Alex.

    Those would be great alterations, Melissa. I might opt for being taller, too.

    I'm a klutz, too, Julie. So that is appealing.

    Hi Kelly.

    I'd go with the energy thing, too, Catherine. Arthur C. Clarke's stories were wonderful. He's one of my favorites.

    I wish I could see, too Lee.

  9. What a fascinating premise for a book, and with an ongoing controversial topic that will widen as our need to create our own food supply grows. On a smaller note to this, I was in the grocery store yesterday and looking at peaches - and missing the days when peaches were fuzzy before hybridization came along. Remember fuzzy peaches?

  10. Yes, Donna, the food supply and what weird crossbreed events can happen with it, is what Fireseed One focuses on. Human bioengineering is also on the forefront. People are already buzzing about how to make soldiers more fierce, babies in poor countries more immune to disease, the list goes on and on.

  11. A wonderful guest post by Mary! This certainly gives me a lot to think about--and maybe a few story ideas:)

  12. They still sell the fuzzy ones, don't they? Maybe I'm wrong, Donna. Things like pluots fascinate me.

    There are good things and worrisome things on that list, Catherine.

    Cool. Hope to read your derived stories soon, Nutschell.

  13. Sounds awesome! And very timely. I think the ways in which humans can be changed - through genetics or technology - are endlessly fascinating to people in general (and me in particular)! ;)

  14. Yes, M Pax, the military aspect is scary. And Donna, yeah, there are already so many hybrid and transgenic fruits and flowers that it would blow your mind.

  15. It's fascinating to me, too, Susan. Catherine, you, and I can start the bioengineered club.

  16. Hey, if you're forming a club, I want in! :) Or I may peek in the tent and see what you're up to.

  17. It's nice to see M. Pax here. I've often wondered what our future holds. I think science is promising, but it will depend on what's happening with our environment. Resources could be in jeopardy.

  18. M Pax, yes! Great idea, a bioengineering club. Or at least a spirited discussion. Remember the hybrid game? That was big fun. Susan, you can join us too.
    Theresa, resources ARE in jeopardy, and that's why we need some brainy sci-fi heads to invent some new food!

  19. Yes, they are in jeopardy, Theresa. Science can help.

    Ooo, a club. :)

  20. The book sounds interesting. I think I had a high-school science class flashback for a second there. I like the "husband unit." Funny!

  21. bioengineering is a fascinating topic. It opens up so many possibilities.

    I love that photo of you with the telescope, Mary.

  22. He prefers to remain nameless, Lexa. :)

    Thanks, Lynda. I find bioengineering intriguing.

  23. wow how complex and creative! pretty different from the creativity of jane austen!

  24. Lynn, I would say so! Wonder what kind of space outfit Jane Austin would wear? Anyone?

  25. I like that you built the story off current technological developments. A lot of the best SF has at least some elements that relate to the present.

  26. Hi Lynn. There's a skit on Jane Austen space Avenger or some such thing. I posted it here Jane's influence on me is more prominent in fall's release.

    I'm more into story than tech, Eagle. There needs to be some, but I kept it pretty minimal in the Backworlds.

  27. M Pax, that's why your characters are so developed and unique. A sign of a talented writer. Craze is one awesome, galactic Candide type anti-hero. Okay, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back. You totally deserve it.

  28. I enjoyed this post so much! I love science so it is always great to learn more. The solar system is one of my favorite topics and I can spend hours on end thinking about the universe and life on other planets. The Backworlds sounds fascinating and I can see how the ideas for the story could happen in the future. I am so glad I popped over. :)|

  29. Thanks, Catherine. I do like Craze a lot.

    I can, too, Jess. It's a fascinating subject.