I have been workshopping a concept where the player's character is a clone instead of a "normal" crew member. The idea started off as a way to be able to inject the player character into an established crew. At first I was thinking the player's character is a one-off. Either a mad scientist's ghost, or possibly an emergency improvisation to handle a crisis.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that any sort of cloning program would need a support system. And by support, I mean a lot of highly educated people, and specialized in fields that would not otherwise be applicable to space travel. And those Ph.Ds need a lot of other people growing food, making clothes, and keeping the lights on around the ship.

So what if we established that cloning was a well understood technology in the day and age the Iliad is set? Instead of having to invent the technology, you just need a few technicians who can run the equipment. Equipment that is available off the shelf, just the same as the fusion reactor, or the laundry machines.

How would this all work? Well a clone who is just a genetic copy is kind of useless. There would have to ALSO be some sort of way to speed up the maturation process. And to be really worthwhile, as the clone is rapidly maturing, it receives and imprint of all of the life skills it will need as soon as they pop open the VAT.

Something this preposterous would probably need a well heeled mad scientist at the nucleus of development. And he or she just kept chiseling away at problems one by one until a working model was developed. It probably didn't achieve all of his or her goals though, but what they did produce turned out to be commercially useful.

Imagine if the inventor had set off to make a copy of themselves. And instead of getting all of their memories during the imprinting process, the clone only got all of the skills that the person had learned in life. No memories of growing up on the rough streets of, say, Newark. But the clone does wake up speaking perfect English, is able to field strip a flying car, can write software, and can even cook a mean soufflé. Even if it takes a year to grow a clone, and even if they cost 1,000,000 dollar each, and even if they violate 100 federal and international laws, that they can set to work almost immediately after hatching would be an absolute boon to any kind of technical project.

Particularly projects that are operating in space and doesn't need to worry about pesky things like laws.

Every decent Sci-Fi/Fantasy Myth needs the ground rules laid down. Hear are the rules for clones:

The 76 week lead time on clones kind of tells you the story of why they don't make any more than they have to. I have the sense that it is only used to fill positions where you can't rely on someone growing up at random and deciding to become one, naturally. Though on a ship like the Iliad, where the population size is not large, and the jobs requires an extremely high level of skill, I could see a definite business case for installing a few cloning vats and a library of specialist Pedagogues for every speciality on board that requires a graduate degree or equivalent work experience.

I've taken this idea and worked it into a new design for the Iliad for my next installment, Back to a small Iliad

  1. Spreadsheet - Clone Growth Projections - View clone-growth.xlsx