In the timeframe of this novel, “normal” humans are as humans have always been. Nothing much changed about human nature from the beginning of recorded history until now; I don’t see why much about it would change over the next 2,000 years.
Basic human stock can be found on Earth (of course) but also in large numbers on Mars, which is heavily populated (mostly beneath the surface). To a much smaller degree, humans also live on large orbital habitats and in colony complexes on various asteroids and planets (or their satellites) elsewhere in the solar system. Mankind has not yet ventured to any stars or systems outside our own solar system. Some humans also enjoy a largely spacefaring life aboard vessels that wander the system, but they are the rarest and smallest of all groups among humans.
Neo sapiens have a wide variety of terms for humans, both affectionate and derogatory, among the most commonly used being Humes, Basics, Mundanes and Fundies. Spacefaring neo sapiens will often use terms like Earthers or Terrans (for people living on Earth); Martians, Ruddies or Redfolk (for people living on Mars); Space Monkeys or Prats (for human who live in space); and Fringefolk or Hivers (for humans on planetary colonies other than on Mars). Water-dwelling neo sapiens often use terms like Airbags, Mouthbreathers, Chappies, Clods and Walkers.
Your common, everyday ordinary human. Might have had a nip or tuck or some fat sucked out at some point or might even have received some kind of minor gene therapy, but otherwise indistinguishable from any of us nowadays.
Nanobots (microscropic mechanical constructs) are used for many surgical, cosmetic and other reasons among all humans or even neo sapiens. But generally, once the nanos have done their job, they exit the person or expire and are absorbed into the body as inert materais. However, nano-enhanced humans are those who play host to permanent or very long-term colonies of nanobots for various reasons. For example, people might have permanent cosmetic nanobot colonies to burn excess fat cells or maintain above-average muscle development without having to exercise. There are potential health risks in having nanos remain in the body over long periods of time, and some side effects can occur.
Cybernetically enhanced Humans
These would be “cyborgs.” The degree to which a human might have biomechanical enhancements can vary from the relatively minor (cybernetic eyes with recording capabilities, for example) to the extreme (most or all of the body robotic, with only the brain and perhaps certain other organs still being organic in nature). Few humans have cybernetic enhancements, and far, far fewer have major or multiple cybernetic enhancements. “Total” cyborgs are exceedingly rare.
Of the four primary neo sapien races, one is aquatic (primarily ocean dwelling, though capable of living in fresh water and able to survive on land for extended periods if necessary) and three are spacefaring sorts who typically don’t spend much time on any planet’s surface if they can help it.
Neo sapiens largely resemble humans in terms of genetics, but have been very extensively altered on a whole-genome basis such that while they are “human,” they can no longer be classified as homo sapien, and it is rare for a neo sapien to self-identify as human. While sexual relations can, and sometimes do, take place between homo sapiens and neo sapiens, it is exceedingly rare to see successful procreation occur. Successful procreation between different races of neo sapiens almost never occurs, especially among the “big four.” The most notable exceptions are rare cases of procreation between Ishmaeli and Isaacians.
Although neo sapiens were originally genetically engineered in labs, it is important to note that aside from experiments with new neo sapiens, members of a neo sapien race are no longer “created.” Once a sufficient number have been produced as “seed stock,” they simply reproduce as humans would, and go on to create communities, cultures and the like. Mass engineering an entire race and doing so on a continuing basis would be too complex and too expensive compared to letting biology and nature do the job.
The first neo sapiens to be produced in large enough numbers to constitute an entire race were the Atlanteans, created originally by the government of Oceana circa the year 3380. They were created with the intent of helping the government and population of Oceana carve out a “controlling interest” on undersea resources and were, not to put too fine a point on it, created to be slaves. International pressure, embargoes and dissent among the Atlanteans themselves largely put an end to that by 3620. There is no single Atlantean nation. The race has spread far enough across the various oceans (and some large lakes) of the world that their political landscape and map is every bit as diverse as any that exist on dry land. Arguably the least human-looking of all neo sapiens, Atlanteans have a very smooth and slick skin that is composed of tiny scales, webbed feet and hands, short tails, tendrils or tentacles instead of hair, and facial features that have more fish-like characteristics than human ones. The largest concentrations of Atlanteans are still in the vicinity of the Asia-Pacific region, especially near where the provinces of Oceana are located.
The first Ishmaeli were created in 3591 by a coalition of Arab states, with the intent of trying to establish a monopoly, or at least an overpowering presence, in trade and commerce related to outer space—as well as to harrass Israel from above. The first few generations of Ishmaeli, then called “Starspawn” by their creators, lived and bred on Earth and spent little time in space; mostly using simulators to begin forging their race’s future life in space. Keeping the first few generations on Earth was also considered important to ensure they were raised with Arab, and often Muslim, loyalties and values.
When they were finally freed of the planet and began to spread out through the solar system in spacecraft, all seemed well. But after about three years of success, the Arab coalition on Earth started losing contact with one ship and space station after another until virtually all of them were transmission-silent. All contact was rebuffed, including attempts to physically parley with them. Several years later, the Ishmaeli informed their Earthbound creators that they would be forging their own destiny as a spacefaring race, independent of Earth, and would now be called the Ishmaeli. Not only did they create a race name that identified with the biblical Ishmael, but they eventually founded their own religion around a god called The Abrahm-Elohim, deciding that Hebrews and Arabs had corrupted the God of Abraham and departed from the true faith long ago. In creating a race that was designed with physical, mental and perceptual features suited for life in space, the Arab coalition had created a race that, once in its intended element, simply no longer closely identified with baseline humans. They got along with them mostly, but they didn’t understand them anymore. They have a unified legal code but operate on a clan-style system rather than using centralized government.
Physically, the Ishmaeli appear very human, except that they have extremely pale white skin, hair that is typically a very dark violet, and pale violet or gray eyes. Many of the more substantive changes physiologically, though, are at the metabolic, biochemical and neurological level. Ishmaeli, for example, are not prone to muscle and bone atrophy in extended exposure to zero-gravity, they can survive greater temperature extremes than baseline humans, and they are more agile (though not necessarily as strong). Also, their perception of space and direction is more complex than for humans, and they are mentally more suited for sealed environments and areas that are not “natural” and that do not use compass directions. Ishmaeli are conversant with concepts of up/down, left/right, etc. and use them often in dealings with humans, but in their own descriptions of direction with one another, they think of space as a sphere around themselves, and judge direction on the basis of steradians (of which there are approximately 12.5 in a sphere), with the reference points beginning with the steradian that projects outward in front of them, and the others numbered from that point in a pattern commonly accepted by all Ishmaeli. The percentage of baseline humans who can understand Ishmaeli directional concepts is quite tiny. What is even more incredible is that in giving directional cues to fellow Ishmaeli, an Ishmaeli is able to give cues based not only on his/her own orientation, but that of the Ishmaeli he/she is communicating with.
The cognitive differences also cause Ishmaeli to view people in a more fluid manner as well, often more situationally than statically. So, they often refer to people by only one of their names, attached to a role identifier. So, a head chef at a restaurant might be “the chef Donal,” whereas a line cook might be “Andrew-cook.” Role identifiers change from time to time, sometimes frequently, and sometimes not.
The first Isaacians were created a few years after the Ishmaeli, once Isreal discovered what its Arab rivals were doing, and they were originally referred to as the 13th Tribe. Not only were they created as a direct reaction and counterpoint to the Ishmaeli but they are physically almost the mirror image of their counterparts, having dark gray to black skin and hair that is typically golden or white. Eye color is typically in a range of blue hues, anywhere from aqua to indigo.
When the Arab coalition that created the Ishmaeli began losing contact with their spacefaring kin, Israel saw an opportunity and immediately dispatched the Isaacians to cut off any potential contact between the Ishmaeli and the Arabs on Earth, with the ultimate aim being to destroy or cripple the Ishmaeli and establish an orbital position from which to attack Arab states if necessary. As Isaacian flotillas set out to engage Ishmaeli ships, there were some notable conflicts, but then communications between Israel and the Isaacians began to unravel, as the Isaacians began to quickly lose their identification with Earthers, just as the Ishmaeli had. In the end, far from continuing the millennia-long struggle between Arabs and Jews, the Isaacians ended up becoming a “shared people” with the Ishmaeli and forging a new religion with them around The Abrahm-Elohim god.
Culturally, there are differences between the Isaacians and Ishmaeli, but the way they view humans and the way they view life in space is largely similar, and the two races work together very harmoniously, much to the amazement, chagrin and even consternation of many people on Earth. Whereas the Ishmaeli live a more tribe-based lifestyle with genetically related people generally banding together for work, the Isaacians have a more centralized style of government, but with less of a “family” focus. Among the Isaacians, children leave their biological family early after being tested for their ideal skill sets, and then they enter into Arcs, groups that are organized around closely related fields or skills.
Isaacians have very similar physical traits to Ishmaeli in terms of their adaptations to life in space and their perception of direction. They differ, however, in the way they process information and approach situations. While Ishmaeli tend to be very fluid, Isaacians have a more linear/compartmentalized/rigid thought structure that is more goal oriented. Interestingly, though, they have incredible multitasking abilities and can thus “focus” on several goals at once. The more rigid nature of their perceptions, much like the Ishmaeli’s fluid ones, color the way that Isaacians interact with others. Instead of referring to a person by a single name and a situational role, they tend to use full names, and rarely use nicknames or shorten names. So, an Isaacian would tend to refer to someone like the Peteris of the UFC as “Peteris Gregory Dyson” on initial references and often subsequent ones, and would likely never shorten it to anything less than “Peteris Dyson” or “Gregory Dyson.” The rigidy of their view of personal identity is such that they will not alter their conception of a person’s role officially right away. So, if the Peteris were to leave the UFC church and become a professor, an Isaacian who already had significant knowledge of him would refer to him as something like “previous Peteris Gregory Dyson” until such time as he had been a professor long enough to have “proved” he belongs in the new role, at which point he would become something like “Theology Professor Gregory Dyson” to that Isaacian.
Created for much the same purpose as the Ishmaeli and Isaacians, but by the government of Chinan (a portion of what we consider China today), the Mandarin are different in most ways from the other two spacefaring races.
First, they have less resemblance to humans, with almost serpentine bodies: mostly human-featured heads atop long, thin torsos—with males having six long, thin limbs and a short tail, while females have four strong, stubbier limbs and a pair of long tails. They actually perform best in zero gravity or very low gravity and, unlike the Ishmaeli and Isaacians, almost never operate artificial gravity systems on their vessels or stations.
Second, they remain loyal to and strongly allied with the national entities that originally gave birth to their race. They are fewer in number than either the Ishmaeli or Isaacians (in part because they didn’t enter the scene until the year 3683), but they support Earthers—at least the ones with which they share national loyalty—instead of their own interests exclusively.
Learning from the “mistakes” of the Arabs and Jews, the Sinocentric Asians who founded the Mandarin race made beings that were more physically suited for spacefaring but still largely human in psychological and sensory respects. Thus, they continued to identify with humans but remained very “spaceworthy.” However, one drawback to keeping the brain in a more human mold is that a small but significant number of Mandarin suffer from mental illness related to negative body image. In fact, compared to any other race, homo sapien or neo sapien, the Mandarin have the highest rates of depression, anxiety and suicide.
Because they actually are sentient, AIs should generally be considered a separate race from humans and neo sapiens. Far more than simply glorified computers, AIs are capable of emotion (though not as widely or as deeply as humans), free thought and even procreation. AIs are typically bound to a person, organization or government, and thus lack a certain degree of free will, but they are imaginative and cognitively aware beings nonetheless.
AIs vary widely in their capabilities and uses, from theological work to military defense to academic/research functions to entertainment and the sex trade. Some are so important or complex as to have huge buildings or physical complexes to house and protect them, while others are more “simple” and take up no more space than a large room.
I would have liked to have seen more info on how the Ishmaels and Issacs differ physically. I got that they looked different but I didn’t understand how they were suited for space.
Whereas the Mandarin are more grossly physically suited for space, the Ishmaeli and Isaacians where modified more in terms of biochemistry (to prevent things like bone loss when they’re in possbily extended periods of weightlessness) and in cognition, since their lives are spent in cramped spaces, often in small groups, in environments that are alien to most humans. This is much of the reasons they sometimes interact oddly with baseline humans.
Big Man…Decided to use your “request” as the kick in the ass for me to flesh out the descriptions of both neo sapien races above. Adds a bit more context and probably logic to some of the behaviors and speech of the twins throughout the novel so far.