Friday, November 22, 2013

326: Soma Fruit

ENTRY 326: Soma Fruit

The genetic codes for opium, tobacco, coca, coffee, and marijuana have been in the public domain for a long time, and the basic mechanisms for the production of caffeine, nicotine, morphine, codeine, cocaine, and cannabinoids are so well known that genescript kiddies have pre-written programs to help them hack together chimera plants that produce the drugs they want in the quantity they want. Hypercorp genetic engineers and drug artists tend to focus on more obscure plant and animal species, and instead of crude script-kiddy software splicing coca genes into space tomatoes they focus on taste, texture, consistent dosage, and aesthetic appeal.

At the consumer level, these drug-infused genetic chimera plants are known as soma fruit, covering everything from the bland "speedball cherries" (cherry tomatoes which codeine and cocaine) popular on Luna to the Superdark Chocolate (mildly hallucinogenic datura-cocoa beans) popular among hypercorp executives on Phobos and Extropia's trademark Munchies (cannabis-potato chips that stimulate appetite and cause mild euphoria). Given that there are no controls on genehacking beyond the technical difficulty involved, both independent and corporate genehackers are in a constant game of one-upmanship to produce the latest and greatest soma fruit, with occasional collateral damage in the form of overdosing customers. 


Soma fruit are generally recreational drugs (Eclipse Phase 320), most of which are based primarily on classical drugs (opiates, stimulants, and cannabinoids), just in combination and different forms - small fruit, chilies, edible tubers, flowers, etc. On the low end, these are functionally the same as Buzz, Mono No Aware, or Orbital Hash. Many soma fruit combine different drugs in their genetic makeup, or higher concentrations, and vary from toxic to the equivalent of speedballing to Grin and Kick at the same time and hoping your morph's heart doesn't explode. Since a full description of effects is impossible, gamemasters are suggested to use the drugs and effects in Eclipse Phase as a guideline - soma fruit tend to be cheaper, but more unpredictable. Players that want to make their own soma fruit can find starter software packages and open-source/public domain gene sequences available for free on the Mesh, they'll just need access to an appropriate kit or lab and a successful Skill Test (probably Interest: Gene Hacking) to design and produce a handful of seeds - actually growing the plants will take time.

Using Soma Fruit

There are good reasons why certain drug-producing plants have been perrenial favorites throughout transhuman history: access, abundance, and effectiveness. However, the advent of genehacking and the trans-Solar Mesh has made the production of classical drugs ridiculously simple and ubiquitous - at the point when anybody can do it (local lows and resources permitting), transhumans in search of a new and better drug experience will turn to effervescent chimeras that promise them novelty. Soma fruit are popular among DIY autonomists and hypercorp wageslaves alike, from the junkie that will consume anything to the drug gourmand that demands only the finest chemical high. For all practical purposes, soma fruit are a way of showing off the difference and occasional casual decadence of the Eclipse Phase future, where re-engineering food to contain drugs is cheap and easy, but doing it well is a technical and artistic challenge.

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