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Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5

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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 3:53 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 1889
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

pappilon wrote:
runsforcelery wrote:

The Winton mods are fairly minor, in a lot of ways, compared to, say, Honor's Meyerdahl mods.

The Meyerdahl mods are actually fairly extreme where things like physical strength and tougghness are concerned. The truth is that you've never really seen an example of Honor's brute strength, because her martial arts training usually precludes her needing to do all that grunting, heavy-duty, sweating stuff when it comes to hand-to-hand and she hasn't been schlepping any missiles from the magazine to the launcher the way Harkness was doing in OBS. Trust me, it's . . . impressive. (I did think about pointing out just how much upper-body strength, in particular, she demonstrated when I wrote the scene in which she snatches Andrew LaFollet's dead weight up off the deck, tosses him over her shoulder, and sprints for the lift with pulser darts whining and skipping all around her. But even though I know some of you will find this difficult to believe, I decided that wasn't the point to interrupt the action to drop an infodump on you! :lol:)

On the other hand, although I can't remember exactly where it happens, at some point in one of the books Hamish comments that if they run into a mugger (or something like that) he'll hold her jacket and feed her bonbons while she deals with it, and it isn't entirely a joke. He's not even in her class at that sort of combat, and the bonbons were an oblique reference to her metabolism. (There are quite a few of those buried in the books, actually.) The truth is that Honor could arm wrestle Thandi and probably win at least two out of three times despite the fact that her apparent muscle mass is much less than Thandi's. Her reaction speed is also better than Thandi's, and her bones and internal organs are stronger and tougher (respectively), as well. On the other hand, Thandi doesn't have the ravenous sort of metabolic requirement Honor does.

The Winton mods actually predate the colonists' departure for Manticore by one generation, which makes them a fairly early package. They included adjustments to increase intelligence, longevity, immune system function, and a couple of associated elements. It is probable ( ;)) that the famous "Winton Temper" owes something to the intelligence mods, since (as Allison explains to Honor at one point) the geneticists have discovered that modding for extra smarts often has secondary effects. (Those secondary effects are one reason the Bardasano line was almost culled by the Alignment. In that case, the secondary consequences tended to be pretty . . . extreme.) The basic Meyerdahl mods don't include an intelligence adjustment, but Honor and her dad are descended from the relatively small group who received the Meyerdahl Beta package, which does. And Honor is darned sure in her own mind, after discussing it with Allison, that her temper is a direct result of that part of her own modifications.

The original reason for the Winton mods (it was the original Roger Winton's parents who ordered the package for their children, and there's still a branch of the family on Old Earth) was to correct/delete a family tendency towards both diabetes and pancreatitis. They simply decided that while they were paying the hefty price tag associated with fixing those, they might as well go for a few other benefits, as well. This is rather different from the original reasons for the Meyerdahl mods, which were designed to suit human beings to an environment in which they had never evolved. As such, the Winton mods have no readily apparent "external" differentiation like Honor's strength or her metabolism. Also, unlike the Meyerdahl package, the Winton mods aren't "locked," although they have a very pronounced tendency to "breed true" or re-emerge after missing a generation.

They are also distributed fairly broadly through the population of the planet Manticore, considering that they arrived in-system solely with the Winton family, because of the constitutional requirement for the heir to the throne to marry a commoner. They have nowhere near the penetration of the population as the Meyerdahl (and similar heavy-grav) mods have on Sphinx, but a surprisingly high percentage of Manticorans are directly related to the Wintons after all these years!

At any rate, remember that the original colonists left Old Earth well before the Final War, which occurred while they were in transit. That means the SKM never had the same degree of anti-genie prejudice other star nations had (I think Stephanie actually reflects on this in ABF), and that was yet another reason Manticore's always been such a strong supporter of the Cherwell Convention.


IIRC, The Winton Mods were a most highly classified state secret, at least the specifics of them, not the fact that they had them.





I don't think I ever said that, although at one point I had Allison comment on the fact that she didn't have access to the royal family's genetic profile. That was when she was talking to Honor in At All Costs about the possibility of teaching Nimitz sign language, I believe. The nature of the Winton mods is scarcely classified, however. The actual chart of the genome involved, on the other hand, is. This is a standard safety measure in a society where genetically tailored assassination techniques are always a possibility for anyone prepared to violate the Beowulf Code. Honor's genome was never classified as a state secret by the SKM, since when she was "only" a serving officer in the navy she was scarcely a member of SKM's aristocracy (far less the royal family), but gaining access to it would still have been extremely difficult, given the fashion in which even individual citizens' medical data is guarded and protected. (And even if it wasn't a "state secret," the Navy is very careful about protecting its personnel's data. Especially for officers who wear white berets.) Since she became a Steadholder it's gotten much, much, much better protection, of course and I suppose it does constitute a state secret these days. Protecting that sort of data is the high-tech version of making sure that enemy sorcerers don't have any of your fingernail trimmings to use to cast death magic on you. Except that this time around, they can really do it.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by TangoLima   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:07 pm

TangoLima
Commander

Posts: 168
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It seems at this point in time that the majority of
the human race has some genetic engineering in their
lineage. If we count removing disease states and
prolong it is probably the vast majority.
The quibble is what constitutes 'genetic engineering' ?
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by JohnRoth   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:21 pm

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pappilon wrote:IIRC, The Winton Mods were a most highly classified state secret, at least the specifics of them, not the fact that they had them.


runsforcelery wrote:
I don't think I ever said that, although at one point I had Allison comment on the fact that she didn't have access to the royal family's genetic profile. That was when she was talking to Honor in At All Costs about the possibility of teaching Nimitz sign language, I believe. The nature of the Winton mods is scarcely classified, however. The actual chart of the genome involved, on the other hand, is. This is a standard safety measure in a society where genetically tailored assassination techniques are always a possibility for anyone prepared to violate the Beowulf Code. Honor's genome was never classified as a state secret by the SKM, since when she was "only" a serving officer in the navy she was scarcely a member of SKM's aristocracy (far less the royal family), but gaining access to it would still have been extremely difficult, given the fashion in which even individual citizens' medical data is guarded and protected. (And even if it wasn't a "state secret," the Navy is very careful about protecting its personnel's data. Especially for officers who wear white berets.) Since she became a Steadholder it's gotten much, much, much better protection, of course and I suppose it does constitute a state secret these days. Protecting that sort of data is the high-tech version of making sure that enemy sorcerers don't have any of your fingernail trimmings to use to cast death magic on you. Except that this time around, they can really do it.


I hate to break it to you, but these days, if someone opens a door, you can get their genome off of the door knob, if you want to spend enough money. Heck, if someone so much as breathes in a room, you can probably get their genome.

That DNA tracer that Eric Flint arm-waved into existence in Crown of Slaves would be perfectly feasible in the time-frame, if not many centuries earlier.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 4:51 pm

runsforcelery
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Posts: 1889
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JohnRoth wrote:
pappilon wrote:IIRC, The Winton Mods were a most highly classified state secret, at least the specifics of them, not the fact that they had them.


runsforcelery wrote:
I don't think I ever said that, although at one point I had Allison comment on the fact that she didn't have access to the royal family's genetic profile. That was when she was talking to Honor in At All Costs about the possibility of teaching Nimitz sign language, I believe. The nature of the Winton mods is scarcely classified, however. The actual chart of the genome involved, on the other hand, is. This is a standard safety measure in a society where genetically tailored assassination techniques are always a possibility for anyone prepared to violate the Beowulf Code. Honor's genome was never classified as a state secret by the SKM, since when she was "only" a serving officer in the navy she was scarcely a member of SKM's aristocracy (far less the royal family), but gaining access to it would still have been extremely difficult, given the fashion in which even individual citizens' medical data is guarded and protected. (And even if it wasn't a "state secret," the Navy is very careful about protecting its personnel's data. Especially for officers who wear white berets.) Since she became a Steadholder it's gotten much, much, much better protection, of course and I suppose it does constitute a state secret these days. Protecting that sort of data is the high-tech version of making sure that enemy sorcerers don't have any of your fingernail trimmings to use to cast death magic on you. Except that this time around, they can really do it.


I hate to break it to you, but these days, if someone opens a door, you can get their genome off of the door knob, if you want to spend enough money. Heck, if someone so much as breathes in a room, you can probably get their genome.

That DNA tracer that Eric Flint arm-waved into existence in Crown of Slaves would be perfectly feasible in the time-frame, if not many centuries earlier.


I'm aware of that. I never said that anyone expected it to be perfect protection, did I? And Eric isn't the only one who's had genetic sniffers working in the books. In fact, I was the one who inserted it into the very first Victor story. The fact that someone can get genetic information if they gain physical access to the individual or the individual's immediate surroundings doesn't mean that there's no point in protecting them from, say, electronic theft from someplace on the far side of the planet.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by roseandheather   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 5:05 pm

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runsforcelery wrote:
I'm aware of that. I never said that anyone expected it to be perfect protection, did I? And Eric isn't the only one who's had genetic sniffers working in the books. In fact, I was the one who inserted it into the very first Victor story. The fact that someone can get genetic information if they gain physical access to the individual or the individual's immediate surroundings doesn't mean that there's no point in protecting them from, say, electronic theft from someplace on the far side of the planet.


Or, to make a current-day analogy: just because someone can sneak into the doctor's office and make off with patient files doesn't mean HIPAA protections aren't very, very necessary and important.
~*~


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"You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley..."
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by lfesdaille   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:03 pm

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[quote="runsforcelery"

Good point . . . except that Mike is a genie. :twisted:

To be honest, I'm a little surprised that no one (to the best of my memory) has ever made the connection between the SKM's ferocious opposition to genetic slavery and that fact that its ruling dynasty are all genies! :lol:[/quote]


I did, just never commented about it and numerous other clues or threads you tucked away in some obscure manner...

It's fun trying to guess which way you will actually sanction in your books!! We my group of fans just dont discuss it online.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by ldwechsler   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:05 pm

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roseandheather wrote:
runsforcelery wrote:
I'm aware of that. I never said that anyone expected it to be perfect protection, did I? And Eric isn't the only one who's had genetic sniffers working in the books. In fact, I was the one who inserted it into the very first Victor story. The fact that someone can get genetic information if they gain physical access to the individual or the individual's immediate surroundings doesn't mean that there's no point in protecting them from, say, electronic theft from someplace on the far side of the planet.


Or, to make a current-day analogy: just because someone can sneak into the doctor's office and make off with patient files doesn't mean HIPAA protections aren't very, very necessary and important.


In 2000 years our whole concept of genetics and secrecy may be very different. I would bet we'll be doing genetic mods for diseases within a few years. Scientists are already experimenting with them. Therapies, of course, but making a genetic change into a single cell will be technically easier.

There are already cancer therapies advertised that are adjusted to your genome. Given time a lot more will be known.

It will be likely that genetic ID will become likely and soon. Face recognition and the use of fingerprints are not working as well as they like. DNA would be a better security barrier.

Note, by the way, in Crown of Slaves, the Masadans had devices that could recognize genetic traits at a distance, using it to track Ruth Winton. If that could be done from a distance, it seems obvious that anyone's genome could be picked out readily.

Some of the potion used for MAlign's executions also depend on that.

I would guess there will be a real change in a lot of things. And, if you think about it, getting mods to prevent diseases will be common enough that just about everyone will actually be a genie even if they don't realize it.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:21 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 1889
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Location: South Carolina

ldwechsler wrote:
roseandheather wrote:
Or, to make a current-day analogy: just because someone can sneak into the doctor's office and make off with patient files doesn't mean HIPAA protections aren't very, very necessary and important.


In 2000 years our whole concept of genetics and secrecy may be very different. I would bet we'll be doing genetic mods for diseases within a few years. Scientists are already experimenting with them. Therapies, of course, but making a genetic change into a single cell will be technically easier.

<SNIP>

I would guess there will be a real change in a lot of things. And, if you think about it, getting mods to prevent diseases will be common enough that just about everyone will actually be a genie even if they don't realize it.



Of course there will and of course they are.

I will guarantee you, however, that the medical records of a head of state, or a multi-trillionaire like Klaus Hauptman, will be shielded by every form of security known to man, and that would include shielding them against unauthorized “genetic sniffing.” And whatever you might project about using genotypes as ID codes, that’s not going to happen in the Honorverse. Realistic or not, it isn’t. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be specific security functions that use DNA-level biometrics. It simply means that — again, thanks largely to the Beowulf Code — genetic information is not and will not be (by anybody outside the Alignment, anyway) as a routine means of identification. I’m sorry if you find this unrealistic, and I can understand why a lot of people would. It’s simply a philosophical position I’ve taken and which I believe is defensible in-universe given the entire tangled history of genetic modification, prejudice, and missed opportunities.

And as far as everyone being a “genie” (at least technically) whether they realize it or not, that’s a point that Leonard Detweiler made all those centuries ago when he commented on the naturally mutagenic environment of extra-solar space. The difference here, for Beowulf, isn’t whether or not someone has genetic mods, whether they were designed or "just happened" as a result of environmental factors. It’s whether or not someone is deliberately designing someone, or a group of someones, with the avowed intention of creating a strain which is quantifiably — as a group — genetically superior to the spontaneously occurring wash and flow of individual modifications and strictly targeted environment-specific mutations or those spontaneously occurring environment-induced mutations which have produced humanity as a whole.

If you think about it, that’s actually a factor in the bias against genetic slaves. Every one of those genetic slaves was modified to suit a specific purpose or a specific set of desires or needs. Their genotypes weren’t produced because their parents wanted their children to be healthier and smarter than they’d been. They weren’t produced because they needed it for a specific planetary environment in order to survive. Their genotypes, and they as individuals, were produced — generally as large groups — to fit them into a specific niche, a specific slot, like worker bees in the hive. And that is precisely what the Honorverse’s inhabitants grew to loathe — and fear — in the wake of the Final War.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by Vince   » Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:54 pm

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runsforcelery wrote:****SNIP****

On the other hand, although I can't remember exactly where it happens, at some point in one of the books Hamish comments that if they run into a mugger (or something like that) he'll hold her jacket and feed her bonbons while she deals with it, and it isn't entirely a joke. He's not even in her class at that sort of combat, and the bonbons were an oblique reference to her metabolism. (There are quite a few of those buried in the books, actually.) The truth is that Honor could arm wrestle Thandi and probably win at least two out of three times despite the fact that her apparent muscle mass is much less than Thandi's. Her reaction speed is also better than Thandi's, and her bones and internal organs are stronger and tougher (respectively), as well. On the other hand, Thandi doesn't have the ravenous sort of metabolic requirement Honor does.

****SNIP****

Regarding the part of your post that I bolded: Thandi definitely does have a ravenous metabolic requirement (especially considering the Mfecane world's own genetic modifications). If you don't remember that, I suspect Eric Flint wrote that point in Crown of Slaves in at least 2 sections.

Thandi Palane speaking to Victor Cachat:
Crown of Slaves, Chapter 18 wrote:"I need to eat," she said abruptly.
He paused, scrutinizing her. "Sorry. I'm always forgetting to eat, myself. I'm overlooking the price you'd have to pay for your physique. You must have a metabolism like a furnace."
He turned and motioned at the waiter. The man began slouching over. A bit disgruntled, obviously, that he was going to have to do some work.
After she and Victor gave the waiter their orders, Thandi cocked her head. "And what would you know about my metabolism?"
"I study things. Ginny tells me I'm compulsive about it. So after I met you, I did some research on the Mfecane worlds. Ndebele, in particular."
"And?"
He made a face. "If you'll pardon my saying so, your ancestors were a bunch of lunatics."
"Tell me something I don't know."
"Still, there was a method to their madness. At least, once you get past the initial premise that the African genotype is the purest human stock. It's actually the most variegated, since it's the oldest. However, in an odd sort of way, that initial racialist obsession worked to their advantage. Because it meant that they had the widest genetic variation to start applying natural selection to, not to mention—"
"Their own grotesque genetic manipulations."
Harshly: "Tell me something I don't know."
He shrugged. "What I suspect you don't know—fully realize, anyway—is that the combined effect of the whole process made the Mfecane worlds an even greater experiment in human development than the Ukrainian laboratories which produced the so-called 'supersoldiers' of the Final War, whose modern descendants we call 'Scrags.' About the only thing comparable is the slave breeding laboratories run by Manpower Unlimited. Except that Manpower is deliberately trying to contain development within narrow limits, whereas your ancestors were trying to exceed all limits. Which they certainly did, as far as most physical characteristics are concerned."
"Yeah, great," she said sourly. "That explains why we're all serfs today."
"Well, I did say they were a bunch of lunatics. I know this will sound cold-blooded, but I actually find the fact that neither the Ukrainians nor the Mfecane founders succeeded in their aims to be profoundly satisfying. Philosophically, if you will." A bit stiffly: "I've detested elitism my entire life. That much hasn't changed, whatever else I've changed my mind about."
Thandi smiled crookedly. "Shrimps of the world, unite, is that it?"
His own smile was just as crooked. "What can I say? I'm not much good at it myself, but the crude and simple fact is that the main way the human race gets ahead is by being lovers, not fighters. Mix it all up, and let the devil take the foremost. If nothing else, the supermen will starve quicker."
She burst into laughter. And since, fortunately, the waiter had just plopped down bowls of soup, didn't find the humor of the moment undermined by famine.
She more or less inhaled the soup. The waiter appeared with a basket of rolls, and she began mopping up what was left of the soup. Victor was trying not to stare at her.
"S'true," she mumbled, after more or less inhaling her third roll. "I have to eat—lots—at least four times a day. If I don't, I start suffering starvation symptoms way, way faster than most people."
There was a fourth, and last, roll left. She eyed Victor and he gestured politely.
After inhaling the fourth roll, she'd taken the edge off. "It's something of a problem for me, actually. On campaign, I need to carry a lot of extra rations. Luckily, the weight's not a big deal for me. As it is, my field kit's about twice as heavy as that of most Marines."
Italics are the authors', boldface and underlined text is my emphasis.

Victor Cachat to Walter Imbesi and Web Du Havel:
Crown of Slaves, Chapter 26 wrote:"The thing is, Walter, that if the Mfecane worlds had remained isolated from the rest of the human race—say, maybe twenty more generations—they probably wouldn't have been part of the human species any longer. Not, at least, in the precise biological sense of the term 'species.' "
The scions of Erewhon's great families were highly educated, so Walter understood the point immediately. "Part of the same gene pool, able to interbreed. The variation had diverged that much? In such a short space of time? Those worlds were only isolated for a few centuries, as I recall."
As usual, an intellectual problem was enough to settle down Du Havel.
"Over a full millennium, actually," he said. "Their ancestors were almost as lunatic as the original Graysons, if for somewhat different reasons, and they set out about the same time and had less distance to travel."
The professor glanced around at the carnage, wincing. "Natural selection on those two planets was ferocious, Mr. Imbesi. I know a fair amount about the Mfecane worlds, as it happens, because they're one of the standard extreme cases used by theorists when we calculate the effects of genetic variation on political processes. The child mortality rate in the first few generations approached eighty percent. Worse than that, on Lieutenant Palane's home planet of Ndebele, which was the more extreme of the two environments. Combined with an isolated population, those are the classic conditions for rapid speciation. Plenty long enough, even leaving aside the genetic manipulations of the founding colonists. In fact, if the population had been one of simple animals, they probably would have become a separate gene pool. But that's always harder to manage, when the animals involved are intelligent. A lot harder. It's—ah—" He smiled, perhaps a bit ruefully. "The final step in speciation is always the development of a distinct set of mating rituals, and that's very hard to do with humans. We're just too bright not to be able to figure out how to screw around."
He examined Templeton's corpse again. "So, she's still human, in all that matters. Still part of the same gene pool—as Manpower proved by incorporating so much of the Mfecane genotype into some of their breeding stock. For that matter, I'm sure you've heard of Duchess Harrington?"
Both his listeners nodded, and he grinned crookedly. "The Salamander" was one of the very few Manties whose name had not become "Mud" in Erewhonese ears.
"Well, she's not as extreme a case as Lieutenant Palane, but that's probably only because her ancestors managed to avoid an environment quite as extreme as Ndebele."
Victor chimed in here. "When the Navy captured her—back before she escaped from Cerberus and blacked both of StateSec's eyes in the process—we were . . . motivated to assemble even more data on her. That's when we found out that she's descended from a genetic modification program which has a lot in common with Thandi's ancestors.
"But Thandi's ancestral environment's taken it quite a bit further. For instance, her bones are much denser than those of most people's. Harrington apparently really enjoys swimming, but someone like Thandi Palane would have a hard time doing that without artificial aids, because her body won't float. For any distance, that is, although she could certainly sprint faster than most people. But, per unit volume, even with her lungs full of air, she's heavier than water. Her muscles aren't simply harder and stronger; like Harrington's, they have a different composition. A higher percentage of quick-firing cells, a—"

He broke off. This was not the time for an extended lecture on human physiological variation. "It's a mixed bag, of course. These things always are. Gain here, lose there, there's no magic involved. She can break most people in half, including strong men—but put her in a concentration camp on starvation rations with a bunch of withered crones, and she'd be the first to die."
"No endurance, you're saying?"
Victor shook his head. "No, that's not it. As long as she's fed, her endurance will be phenomenal.
Way better than yours or mine."
Italics are the authors', boldface and underlined text is my emphasis.
-------------------------------------------------------------
History does not repeat itself so much as it echoes.
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Re: Uncompromising Honor, Snippet #5
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Oct 03, 2017 12:59 am

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 1889
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Vince wrote:
runsforcelery wrote:****SNIP****

On the other hand, although I can't remember exactly where it happens, at some point in one of the books Hamish comments that if they run into a mugger (or something like that) he'll hold her jacket and feed her bonbons while she deals with it, and it isn't entirely a joke. He's not even in her class at that sort of combat, and the bonbons were an oblique reference to her metabolism. (There are quite a few of those buried in the books, actually.) The truth is that Honor could arm wrestle Thandi and probably win at least two out of three times despite the fact that her apparent muscle mass is much less than Thandi's. Her reaction speed is also better than Thandi's, and her bones and internal organs are stronger and tougher (respectively), as well. On the other hand, Thandi doesn't have the ravenous sort of metabolic requirement Honor does.

****SNIP****

Regarding the part of your post that I bolded: Thandi definitely does have a ravenous metabolic requirement (especially considering the Mfecane world's own genetic modifications). If you don't remember that, I suspect Eric Flint wrote that point in Crown of Slaves in at least 2 sections.

Thandi Palane speaking to Victor Cachat:
Crown of Slaves, Chapter 18 wrote:"I need to eat," she said abruptly.
He paused, scrutinizing her. "Sorry. I'm always forgetting to eat, myself. I'm overlooking the price you'd have to pay for your physique. You must have a metabolism like a furnace."
He turned and motioned at the waiter. The man began slouching over. A bit disgruntled, obviously, that he was going to have to do some work.
After she and Victor gave the waiter their orders, Thandi cocked her head. "And what would you know about my metabolism?"
"I study things. Ginny tells me I'm compulsive about it. So after I met you, I did some research on the Mfecane worlds. Ndebele, in particular."
"And?"
He made a face. "If you'll pardon my saying so, your ancestors were a bunch of lunatics."
"Tell me something I don't know."
"Still, there was a method to their madness. At least, once you get past the initial premise that the African genotype is the purest human stock. It's actually the most variegated, since it's the oldest. However, in an odd sort of way, that initial racialist obsession worked to their advantage. Because it meant that they had the widest genetic variation to start applying natural selection to, not to mention—"
"Their own grotesque genetic manipulations."
Harshly: "Tell me something I don't know."
He shrugged. "What I suspect you don't know—fully realize, anyway—is that the combined effect of the whole process made the Mfecane worlds an even greater experiment in human development than the Ukrainian laboratories which produced the so-called 'supersoldiers' of the Final War, whose modern descendants we call 'Scrags.' About the only thing comparable is the slave breeding laboratories run by Manpower Unlimited. Except that Manpower is deliberately trying to contain development within narrow limits, whereas your ancestors were trying to exceed all limits. Which they certainly did, as far as most physical characteristics are concerned."
"Yeah, great," she said sourly. "That explains why we're all serfs today."
"Well, I did say they were a bunch of lunatics. I know this will sound cold-blooded, but I actually find the fact that neither the Ukrainians nor the Mfecane founders succeeded in their aims to be profoundly satisfying. Philosophically, if you will." A bit stiffly: "I've detested elitism my entire life. That much hasn't changed, whatever else I've changed my mind about."
Thandi smiled crookedly. "Shrimps of the world, unite, is that it?"
His own smile was just as crooked. "What can I say? I'm not much good at it myself, but the crude and simple fact is that the main way the human race gets ahead is by being lovers, not fighters. Mix it all up, and let the devil take the foremost. If nothing else, the supermen will starve quicker."
She burst into laughter. And since, fortunately, the waiter had just plopped down bowls of soup, didn't find the humor of the moment undermined by famine.
She more or less inhaled the soup. The waiter appeared with a basket of rolls, and she began mopping up what was left of the soup. Victor was trying not to stare at her.
"S'true," she mumbled, after more or less inhaling her third roll. "I have to eat—lots—at least four times a day. If I don't, I start suffering starvation symptoms way, way faster than most people."
There was a fourth, and last, roll left. She eyed Victor and he gestured politely.
After inhaling the fourth roll, she'd taken the edge off. "It's something of a problem for me, actually. On campaign, I need to carry a lot of extra rations. Luckily, the weight's not a big deal for me. As it is, my field kit's about twice as heavy as that of most Marines."
Italics are the authors', boldface and underlined text is my emphasis.

Victor Cachat to Walter Imbesi and Web Du Havel:
Crown of Slaves, Chapter 26 wrote:"The thing is, Walter, that if the Mfecane worlds had remained isolated from the rest of the human race—say, maybe twenty more generations—they probably wouldn't have been part of the human species any longer. Not, at least, in the precise biological sense of the term 'species.' "
The scions of Erewhon's great families were highly educated, so Walter understood the point immediately. "Part of the same gene pool, able to interbreed. The variation had diverged that much? In such a short space of time? Those worlds were only isolated for a few centuries, as I recall."
As usual, an intellectual problem was enough to settle down Du Havel.
"Over a full millennium, actually," he said. "Their ancestors were almost as lunatic as the original Graysons, if for somewhat different reasons, and they set out about the same time and had less distance to travel."
The professor glanced around at the carnage, wincing. "Natural selection on those two planets was ferocious, Mr. Imbesi. I know a fair amount about the Mfecane worlds, as it happens, because they're one of the standard extreme cases used by theorists when we calculate the effects of genetic variation on political processes. The child mortality rate in the first few generations approached eighty percent. Worse than that, on Lieutenant Palane's home planet of Ndebele, which was the more extreme of the two environments. Combined with an isolated population, those are the classic conditions for rapid speciation. Plenty long enough, even leaving aside the genetic manipulations of the founding colonists. In fact, if the population had been one of simple animals, they probably would have become a separate gene pool. But that's always harder to manage, when the animals involved are intelligent. A lot harder. It's—ah—" He smiled, perhaps a bit ruefully. "The final step in speciation is always the development of a distinct set of mating rituals, and that's very hard to do with humans. We're just too bright not to be able to figure out how to screw around."
He examined Templeton's corpse again. "So, she's still human, in all that matters. Still part of the same gene pool—as Manpower proved by incorporating so much of the Mfecane genotype into some of their breeding stock. For that matter, I'm sure you've heard of Duchess Harrington?"
Both his listeners nodded, and he grinned crookedly. "The Salamander" was one of the very few Manties whose name had not become "Mud" in Erewhonese ears.
"Well, she's not as extreme a case as Lieutenant Palane, but that's probably only because her ancestors managed to avoid an environment quite as extreme as Ndebele."
Victor chimed in here. "When the Navy captured her—back before she escaped from Cerberus and blacked both of StateSec's eyes in the process—we were . . . motivated to assemble even more data on her. That's when we found out that she's descended from a genetic modification program which has a lot in common with Thandi's ancestors.
"But Thandi's ancestral environment's taken it quite a bit further. For instance, her bones are much denser than those of most people's. Harrington apparently really enjoys swimming, but someone like Thandi Palane would have a hard time doing that without artificial aids, because her body won't float. For any distance, that is, although she could certainly sprint faster than most people. But, per unit volume, even with her lungs full of air, she's heavier than water. Her muscles aren't simply harder and stronger; like Harrington's, they have a different composition. A higher percentage of quick-firing cells, a—"

He broke off. This was not the time for an extended lecture on human physiological variation. "It's a mixed bag, of course. These things always are. Gain here, lose there, there's no magic involved. She can break most people in half, including strong men—but put her in a concentration camp on starvation rations with a bunch of withered crones, and she'd be the first to die."
"No endurance, you're saying?"
Victor shook his head. "No, that's not it. As long as she's fed, her endurance will be phenomenal.
Way better than yours or mine."
Italics are the authors', boldface and underlined text is my emphasis.



I remembered both correctly and incorrectly, probably because she wasn't one of my creations. Mind you, I like her a lot; I'm just not the one who thunk her up.

I remembered that Thandi was the result of rather brutal natural selection in an extreme environment rather than the result of deliberate genetic engineering. I didn't remember her metabolism, and you're right, that was an Eric-sim. And, to be honest. some of the more extreme consequences of her adaptation are probably stated a bit more strongly than I'd have done it on my own. The comment about her bone density being so great that she can't float, for example.

One of the things about collaborations, though, is that they're collaborations. You have to let your fellow writer throw his own pitches as long as he generally plays nice with the local literary universe's rules! :lol:


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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