Donald Moffitt - Genesis 01

Donald Moffitt - Genesis 01 by Genesis Quest

Book: Donald Moffitt - Genesis 01 by Genesis Quest Read Free Book Online
Authors: Genesis Quest
doors left open at either end.
    Mim was making a name for herself as an interpreter of string music. An explosive renaissance of string writing had been inspired by that landmark performance of the Ravel quartet so long ago. The cello and the other string instruments had been modified and simplified since then. No longer were they ugly rectangular boxes on a table, with an unmanageable number of strings manipulated by foot pedals. Now they were six-string instruments tuned in fifths, and the players held them comfortably on their laps, pressing their fingers directly against the frets. The bow had been simplified, too: It had become little more than a lightweight wand, battery-powered, with an endless-chain friction band moving around it on sprockets.
    Mim was living with Olan Byr now, and everyone said they were happy together despite the age difference. Mim had not given birth herself, but Bram had heard that she and Olan had contributed short nucleotide sequences to a genetic construct. He didn’t know if there was anything to the rumor.
    Bram wished them well. He himself was caught up in the excitement of his relationship with Kerthin. So far he hadn’t been able to persuade her to move in permanently with him, but that day didn’t seem far off. They’d had an exploratory sequencing done, just for a lark, and while their gene mapping was still incomplete, they had every reason to hope that they would be allowed to contribute a preponderant number of their genes to a composite genome and rear the child as their own.
    It was a sobering thought. Was he ready for a serious step like that? He stared out the oval window and told himself he was. Life was like a ride in a bubble car. You chose your car. And then you went to wherever the monofilament cable led to. He had made his choice the day he had gone to Voth and accepted the apprenticeship. He couldn’t complain. The problem was Kerthin. She kept telling him he was too complacent.
    Bram sighed. Kerthin was sometimes difficult, but the emotions she stirred in him were a far cry from the placid contentment he had felt with Mim.
    The conference across the way was breaking up. Through the chinks in his shelving, Bram could see the three participants taking leave of one another and ambling toward their workplaces. One of the juniors poked a crown into Bram’s niche and hooted at him.
    “We’ve decided to apply a dose of colchicine to the meristematic tissue and try to force polyploidy. How are you coming with that heterochronic gene?”
    Bram gave a guilty start. Time to stop daydreaming. He could have it out with Kerthin tonight. There was some sort of political meeting she wanted to go to, but maybe he could talk her out of it.
    “I’ve already snipped a piece of the nucleotide sequence,” Bram replied. “I think it will cross species if I can get my nonhistone protein to stick at the end of it. There’s a place where my ribosome-recognition site overlaps your recognition codon. I should have something for you this afternoon.”
    “If it takes,” the decapod said, “we’ll have developed a new species out of the bud scales.”
    “Don’t count on it,” Bram said.
    “It could be a very useful organism,” the decapod said.
    “Sure. A tree that lays eggs,” Bram said.
    The decapod recognized a human joke, gave a credible imitation of a human laugh through its vocal syrinx, and withdrew. Bram settled down to work.
    An hour later he had rescued the fragments of DNA from the buffer medium where he had stored them the day before. He examined a sequence on the little vid screen where it was represented schematically. It couldn’t be looked at directly through a muon scope; not if it was to be used afterward. But the chemical sensors in the tray told the computer what was going on, and the graphics were easier to work with, anyway.
    The Nar did the same thing by touch, using a tactile display and feedback glove for the micromanipulators. For humans like Bram,

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