Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Biosculp And Fashion

(This might be the last post for May. Round numbers and all that. There are a couple of new posts on Poul Anderson's Cosmic Environments.

If Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series were to be filmed, then one actor would have to play the central role in Ensign Flandry and A Circus Of Hells but one, and only one, other actor would be needed for the rest of the series. This is because Flandry changes his face by "biosculp" but then retains the second face for the rest of his life. First, he does not get around to changing it, then, when he is older, it becomes unfashionable to do so.

His face in his sixties was a...

"...relic of a period when everybody who could afford it got biosculped into comeliness. (The present generation scorned that; in many ways, these were puritanical times.)"
-Poul Anderson, Flandry's Legacy (New York, 2012), p. 31.

We expect technological advances but Anderson also presents changes in fashion and morality.

In The Rebel Worlds, when Lieutenant Commander Dominic Flandry reports as ordered to Vice Admiral Sir Ilya Kheraskov, the Admiral, who has never seen Flandry before, says, "'I see you have a new face.'" -Poul Anderson, Young Flandry (New York, 2010), p. 383. Flandry's identity had been verified by a machine when he entered the building. This would make a good scene in a film. The cinema audience would have noticed that a new actor was playing Flandry but would not expect another character to comment on the changed face!


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Yes, I agree, it would be very interesting if filmed versions of ENSIGN FLANDRY and THE REBEL WORLDS were made. And, yes, different actors would be needed to show Flandry in these films. And, of course Admiral Kheraskov would know what Flandry looked like before and after the biosculping from the pictures his file would contain.

"Biosculping" of course is simply a much more advanced type of cosmetic surgery. And it was in ENSIGN FLANDRY that I first came across the concept of cloning, altho that term was not used, as long ago as 1971. Commander Abrams was shocked to be told by Dwyr the Hook, the Merseian spy he had captured, that his war injuries had been too severe to be repaired using his body's DNA for regrowth. Abrams at once explained that was wrong, that Dwyr had been told lies by his own people. If his injuries had been that bad, Dwyr would not have been alive at all.

I have seen newsreports that cells taken from various organs of the body had been cloned to grow tissue compatible with or belonging to those orgains. Who knows, maybe we will live to see organs being grown to replace worn out "originals"! Cloning arms and legs, however may be more difficult.

One bit of "futuristic" technology we have which the Technic History does not mention are the cell phones we see everywhere. Altho Larry Niven and Jerry Pounelle comes close to that in THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE.


Paul Shackley said...

In "We Also Walk Dogs...," part of Heinlein's Future History, a character's phone buzzes so she takes it out of her handbag to answer it.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Dang! I should have remembered that, because I probably read that story as well. Albeit so long ago I've forgotten.

Another bit of futuristic technology mentioned by Poul Anderson in the Technic History which we still don't have (except as very experimental prototypes) are "air cars." That is, flying devices used in very similar ways as our wheeled cars. Altho, from the occasional descriptions we get, they don't much look like the primitive prototypes I've mentioned.