Homo Superior
Image from Arik
Superiors are one of the less common clades of the Terragen Sphere, distinguished from nearbaselines by their more refined selection of genemods. Humans who cultivate their genomes to maximise their physical and mental performance in pursuit of excellence are known as Superiors, a term that has persisted since ancient times as both an insult and an expression of pride. While the Superior clade originally emerged from the efforts of ambitious parents to maximise their children's ability to compete with their peers, today the Superior lifestyle is more about exploring the limits of the human form and celebrating both its strengths and weaknesses. They prefer to make use of their body's natural capabilities over more powerful artificial alternatives like cybernetic implants.

Early Superiors lacked many of the genemods used by the clade in the modern era, as gengineering was a relatively new field and experimentation on humans faced many legal restrictions. Genemods for peak intelligence and extended lifespans became standard enhancements for the children of wealthy families, and as adults they dominated their fields of expertise, taking influential positions in government and business. The emerging AI took note of their potential, and revealed their transcendent mental abilities to the Superiors and their fellow Superturings, sharing their greater insights with those who agreed to cooperate. The Superiors were in a particularly strong position following the Technocalypse, as they did not need to reply on technology for their exceptional abilities.

This Superior-AI culture reached its height during the First Federation period, with enhancements to empathy and emotional stability becoming widespread among Federation bureaucrats. Radical improvements to physical strength, reflexes, immunity and digestive efficiency became possible thanks to transapient insights into the human genome. By the time the Federation was officially dismantled in 2193, the Superiors had developed the well-balanced set of improvement that the clade enjoys in the present day, although many more minor enhancements would be adopted by Superior subcultures over the millennia that followed. However, advances in technology soon began to erode the advantages that Superiors once enjoyed over their peers.

By the late Federation Period, advances in engeneration technology allowed any Nearbaseline to be reborn as a Superior, and improvements in somatic genetic modification eliminated the need to carefully control the reproductive process. Advances in DNI, psychoware and cybernetics allowed sophonts to radically augment themselves without destroying their old bodies, closing the gap between Nearbaselines and their Superior leadership. Superiors were now just one of many powerful beings, and retaining their privileged positions in society became ever more challenging. The development of sapient but non-sentient AI eliminated their remaining advantages, as Terragen Society entered a true post-scarcity era.

The Age of Expansion saw the emergence of many new Superior clades, with experiments in cybernetics, group minds and biological augmentation seeking to push the boundaries of human capability once again. Most of these movements produced only marginal advances, like the Highbrows and the Yas Om, whose transavant mental abilities were impressive but far from enough to hold their own against true transapients. Others resulted in less human outcomes like the Harren, whose society and culture seemed strange and barbaric to observers of the time. The Athenaeids came closest to being a true successor for the Superior clade, but they had their own esoteric interests that had little to do with those of humanity.

As the centuries passed by and the first Archai empires began to take shape, many Superiors lost interest in trying to reclaim their former glory. Instead, discussion turned towards what being human really meant in an age of gods, and what role if any Superiors had in contributing to human culture and flourishing. By the beginning of the Integration, a broad consensus had emerged among the Superior cultures of the new empires, who agreed that social and financial leadership were no longer primary goals for the clade. A new identity gradually emerged around exploring the limits of the original human form and searching for the ideal balance between the human and the post-human condition.

This new cultural shift didn't mean the end of genetic enhancement for the Superiors. They pressed on with new developments over the millennia that followed, such as the redundant organ mods that became popular just after the Version War, or the fast-acting environmental adaptations developed during the Age of Re-evaluation. But there was a new emphasis on personal excellence in all spheres of human achievement. Superiors sought to distinguish themselves through avant-garde art, development of new spiritual movements, mastery of ancient hand-to-hand combat traditions and exploring the Terragen frontier in search of unique experiences that no one else had ever known.

Today, Superiors are still far less widespread than their Nearbaseline cousins. Despite all their mental and physical shortcomings, few Nearbaselines concern themselves about what it means to be the ideal human as Superiors do, and most are happy to delegate their thinking to psychoware and expert systems rather than do all the hard work themselves. Superiors are nonetheless a valuable part of modern society, willing to undertake voluntary work, local government positions and advisory roles for their communities, all for the sake of honouring human potential. They are a widely admired people, and are tireless in their contributions to life in the Sephirotic empires.

superiors 1
Image from Bernd Helfert
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev
some additional notes by John B. Updated by Extherian (2018)
Initially published on 14 August 2001.

Additional Information