Created By: zarpaulus on December 3, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on October 9, 2016
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Biotech Is Better

Organic Technology is presented as being more advanced and superior to inorganic tech.

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Trope
Science-fiction works have a tendency to portray Organic Technology as being the bleeding edge of technology or even used by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens. This may stem from the fairly recent advances in biotechnology (granted mostly in agriculture and medicine rather than the fields typically portrayed in these works), the visceral themes, and the appeal of equipment that repairs itself.

Film
  • In the climax of Iron Man 3 the Extremis super soldiers rip several Iron Man suits to pieces. Killian is only killed by Extremis-enhanced Pepper wearing a gauntlet she ripped off one suit.

Literature
  • The Yuuzhan Vong in the Star Wars Expanded Universe used nothing but organic technology, and they were shown to be devastating against the conventional fleets of the New Republic and Imperial Remnant. The first known encounter with one by Canderous Ordo had him describe it as firing plasma that melted his ship's armor like wax, and then escaping at a speed that was impossible to keep up with. Three thousand years later, when the main force arrived in the galaxy, they would still have a considerable advantage.
    • Though one of the later New Jedi Order novels notes that the Republic and Empire have an easier time replacing their losses as fabrication is still faster than growing ships and weapons.
  • In Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series the Darwinists' "fabricated beasts" often seem to have the advantage over the Clankers' machines. I couple times the titular living airship takes on Clanker planes and zeppelins two-to-one and wins. Of course, it's packed with flechette bats and strafing hawks that can Zerg Rush the Clankers and breed reinforcements for the next battle.
  • In the later Old Man's War novels the CDF starts phasing out the cybernetic BrainPals in favor of completely biotech ones. It's implied that their long-term goal is to introduce the genes to the baseline human population. In addition the Gameras are 100% biotech in contrast to the CDF's normal soldiers that are a mixture of bio- cyber- and nanotech with the objective of eventually making them capable of breeding true and forming a human species that doesn't need to compete with aliens for planets.

Live Action TV
  • In Babylon 5 the First Ones use living ships that are vastly superior to most of the younger races' vessels, until they start building new ships that incorporate biotech.
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • The ship itself has bio-neural gelpacks that allow the computer to "think" more flexibly and operate faster. (The downside being that they could also be infected with viruses and bacteria.) It's one of the things that marks Voyager out as one of Starfleet's most advanced ships.
    • Species 8472 of has "bioships" which resist Borg assimilation, are vastly superior to Borg cubes, and can destroy a planet by linking together. The Borg started the war with them because they wanted 8472's capabilities so bad.
  • The Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined) use a lot of biotech and they appear to be much more advanced than the humans.

Tabletop Games
  • In Shadowrun, bioware, first introduced in the 1st edition sourcebook Shadowtech, part of the core rulebook in 4th ed, is presented as being the latest and greatest thing in augmentation. In game rules it is more expensive in terms of cash than traditional cyberware but does less damage to your Essence, making it preferred for mages. In the Everything Is Online world of the latest edition, it also has the advantage of having no wireless capability, meaning it can't be bricked or worse by an enemy decker.
  • In GURPS Transhuman Space biotech is generally preferred when possible, and bioroids are cheaper than sapient androids.
  • Played with in Eclipse Phase, many of the most powerful morphs are synthetic, and cheaper (in credits, but not build points) than equally strong biomorphs. But biomorphs are easier for transhuman Egos to adjust to and many polities discriminate against synthmorphs.
  • In Hc Svnt Dracones Transcendent Technologies Inc is widely believed to have the most advanced technology in the civilized solar system and they use Organic Technology. However, the second rulebook shows that Applied Sciences and Robotics has some secret projects that involve Reality Warping as well, and the sapient robots known as Cogs can receive Transcendent Implants, albeit illegally as TTI doesn't want that to be known.

Video Games
  • In Galactic Civilizations II the Dread Lords have ships that look and act like they were alive. Not even the most technologically advanced ships that can be built by the playable races can match them, the only way to beat them is through attrition.
  • In Colobot, at the later stages of the game you finally start finding nests of giant ants you were encountering earlier. In these nests, you can find what can be best described as green, gooey pods that spawn pieces of organic goo. One of the missions concentrates on acquiring one of such pieces and bringing it back to the base, where you can examine it and use it to unlock a new type of robots: robots walking on ant-like legs (which quite literally look like half-robots, half-ants). They are faster and more capable of getting past steep hills than robots driving on wheels or on caterpillar tracks.
  • In EV Nova Polaris ships are Organic Technology grown over an artificial skeleton. Their ships have frankly ridiculous firepower and are well-shielded, but they're quite fragile once the shields go down.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In G.I. Joe: The Movie, the denizens of Cobra-La are the original dominant species of Earth and exclusively use biotech. Their technology and wildlife are constantly shown to overpower even the most advanced weaponry and vehicles the Joes have to fight back with. They even have a biotech equivalent of WMDs complete with rockets.
Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • December 3, 2013
    Quatic
    Real life!!
  • December 3, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ What do you mean?
  • December 3, 2013
    omeganian
    Discussed in one of the essays on Stardestroyer Net.
  • December 3, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • Star Trek Voyager
      • The ship itself has bio-neural gelpacks that allow the computer to "think" more flexibly and operate faster. (The downside being that they could also be infected with viruses and bacteria.) It's one of the things that marks Voyager out as one of Starfleet's most advanced ships.
      • Species 8472 of has "bioships" which resist Borg assimilation, are vastly superior to Borg cubes, and can destroy a planet by linking together. The Borg started the war with them because they wanted 8472's capabilities so bad.
  • December 4, 2013
    Arivne
    In Shadowrun bioware was first introduced in the 1st edition sourcebook Shadowtech, not 4th Edition. I have changed the entry accordingly.
  • December 4, 2013
    DAN004
    Not sure how Galactic Civilizations II portray Biotech Is Better. To me it's still zero context.
  • December 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^^ But it wasn't in the core book until 4th. Was it?

    ^ I figured Abusive Precursors was explanatory enough. But I added some detail.
  • December 4, 2013
    KingZeal
    In GI Joe The Movie, the denizens of Cobra-La are the original dominant species of Earth and exclusively use biotech. Their technology and wildlife are constantly shown to overpower even the most advanced weaponry and vehicles the Joes have to fight back with. They even have a biotech equivalent of WM Ds complete with rockets.
  • December 4, 2013
    kjnoren
    Some small but still important stylistic things:

    • Don't Wiki Word the laconic
    • Please aboid using sci-fi when talking about science fiction in general. The term "sci-fi" has bad connotations with many science fiction fans (it's a long history)
    • Starting off with "many works have" or similar dilutes the opening of the description, and opens up to arguing and aversions. Better to simply describe the trope first—let the examples show how widespread the trope is
  • December 4, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ Picking at nits, it's annoying.

    And still waiting on Quatic to explain that "real life!!" comment.
  • December 4, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
  • December 5, 2013
    Shinr
    Do Nano Machines count as biotechnology?
  • December 5, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^^^ But small things matter too. These are also mistakes that a lot of people do here.

    For that matter, currently the description gives a slightly different emphasis than the name and the laconic. The description seems to go for "advanced Organic Technology", but the laconic and name goes for that "Organic Technology is superior to the alternatives". I think the latter should be clearly stated in the description (that, or the name and laconic should be changed).

    I think the opening sentence should be simply "When Organic Technology is portrayed as superior to other forms of technology." Then things like Sufficiently Advanced Aliens and other stuff can come aftewards, after the trope is defined.
  • December 5, 2013
    ZuTheSkunk
    • In Colobot, at the later stages of the game you finally start finding nests of giant ants you were encountering earlier. In these nests, you can find what can be best described as green, gooey pods that spawn pieces of organic goo. One of the missions concentrates on acquiring one of such pieces and bringing it back to the base, where you can examine it and use it to unlock a new type of robots: robots walking on ant-like legs (which quite literally look like half-robots, half-ants). They are faster and more capable of getting past steep hills than robots driving on wheels or on caterpillar tracks.
  • December 6, 2013
    Tallens
    • The Yuuzhan Vong in the Star Wars Expanded Universe used nothing but organic technology, and they were shown to be devastating against the conventional fleets of the New Republic and Imperial Remnant. The first known encounter with one by Canderous Ordo had him describe it as firing plasma that melted his ship's armor like wax, and then escaping at a speed that was impossible to keep up with. Three thousand years later, when the main force arrived in the galaxy, they would have a considerable advantage.
  • December 8, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Maybe an analysis by application.

    Spaceships Often Living Ships are portrayed as having the advantage of healing themselves or self-replicating. But in real life regeneration and growth are very slow compared to fabrication and repair of similarly sized things. The largest organisms on earth, redwood trees and baleen whales, live for centuries because it takes several years for them to grow to full size. Not to mention that a living ship would be constantly healing from radiation damage and impacts that wouldn't even affect a metal ship.

    Replacement body parts Presently mechanical replacements are vastly inferior in performance to biological ones, and electrical interfaces to nerve endings degrade over time, the record is currently 18 months. But transplanted organs require immunosuppressant drugs to prevent the body from rejecting them, and it takes more time to gain control of a transplanted or reattached limb than a prosthesis as the nerves have to grow into the limb. And until we're able to clone them transplants are much more scarce than prostheses.
  • December 8, 2013
    Tallens
    I just had a thought that it might also be used to make the aliens appear that much more god-like, in that they don't just create new strains or breeds, they create entire new organisms to suit their purposes.
  • December 17, 2013
    Sahira
  • May 29, 2014
    Tallens
    Bump
  • May 29, 2014
    reterusu
    is Half Life 2 an example?
  • May 29, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^ Elaborate.
  • May 31, 2014
    fetchystick
    How could nobody have mentioned the zerg from starcraft?!?!

    • The Zerg from Star Craft are shown to be this. Purely biological weaponry and units (with the exception of infested terrans) prove to be more than a match for not only cutting-edge human technology, but also for the futuristic Protoss as well.
  • June 24, 2014
    Tallens
    Bump
  • June 24, 2014
    zarpaulus
    ^^ No, the only advantage the Zerg have over the other factions is sheer numbers. A Terran marine can usually take out at least one zergling before he is overwhelmed and Protoss zealots cut them to pieces.
  • June 24, 2014
    Tallens
    • Sea Quest DSV: One of the advanced features seaQuest has is a genetically-engineered organic skin covering the hull, which is able to seal itself in the event of a hull breach. It's also apparently unique, as no other ships or subs are seen with anything similar.
  • June 29, 2014
    zarpaulus
    You know, this might just be Strong Flesh Weak Steel.
  • June 29, 2014
    Mr.Movie
    In one ending of the Mass Effect trilogy, you can merge organisms and robotics all across the galaxy. Biotech is better in a philosophical sense, it that organics and robots can no longer conflict now that they are one.
  • June 29, 2014
    paycheckgurl
    • Doctor Who: organic TARDI Ses are better time travel tech than inorganic vortex manipulators. The comparison the Doctor gives between the two that a TARDIS is a "sports car" and a vortex manipulator is a "space hopper".
  • June 30, 2014
    Tallens
    ^^^Strong Flesh Weak Steel is for cases where weapon that destroys armor is nearly useless against the human epidermis. This is something else.
  • June 30, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ still related tho.
  • June 30, 2014
    Tallens
    ^Not really. That's more an unintended consequence in game programming. What we're talking about here is when bio tech is intended to be superior.
  • May 5, 2016
    ZuTheSkunk
    Bump?
  • May 5, 2016
    zarpaulus
    Oh, I forgot all about this.

    Though I suspect now that Strong Flesh Weak Steel covers it already
  • September 23, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump
  • September 23, 2016
    zarpaulus
    I'm thinking of discarding this as redundant.
  • September 24, 2016
    aurora369
    Also in Star Wars, the biotech-based Clone Troopers were shown as vastly superior than robotic Battle Droids.
  • September 25, 2016
    Tallens
    ^^The gist of this trope is that biotech is the realm of highly-advanced aliens, or the cutting-edge science, things that may not include being shot at, so comparing this to Strong Flesh Weak Steel is a case of Square Peg Round Trope. If anything, you ought to break the non-video game examples off that one and either put it here or make it it's own trope.
  • September 25, 2016
    zarpaulus
    ^ Now that I look at it again, most of the non-video game examples on Strong Flesh Weak Steel actually wouldn't fit here, but I'll incorporate the ones that do.
  • September 25, 2016
    zarpaulus
    ^ Now that I look at it again, most of the non-video game examples on Strong Flesh Weak Steel actually wouldn't fit here, but I'll incorporate the ones that do.
  • September 29, 2016
    shadowbeast
    I'm trying to think of an example from Rifts, but can't really find much that isn't either simply comparable (Bio-borgs to cyborg, Necron bio-ships to any other equivalent ship in the Three Galaxies) or simply the users opinion (the amount of races that use bio-tech or bio-magic who look down upon, or are openly hostile to, civilsations that use hard tech or normal magic). If you're a psychic or sorceror, however, needing a transplant will harm your powers if you have biomechanical replacements, and extensive reconstruction will wipe them out completely. Artificial bio-systems will help to some degree, and will leave any patient feeling a lot more like a human being, as they have less hard tech in them than bio-tech, but the feelings and sensations are not perfect, and there will still be some, though lessened, diminishing of powers. One Rifter featured an article on evil techno-wizards, one being a Necro-tech, who could graft on replacement biomechanics made of machinery, dead body parts and mystical ingredients; this would replace a ruined body part from a mage or psychic without any appreciable loss of their powers, however so few patients would ever accept it anyway.

    In Splicers, the bio-tech is shown to be at least comparable to the machines, and often to have significant advantages; though is usually used simply due to its one advantage: that the machines can't take it over and use it against the humans. This is also shown as an advantage of the organitech in Systems Failure, which is difficult for the bugs to pull their usual tricks on.
  • September 29, 2016
    marcoasalazarm
    Trinity Universe: zig-zagged with the availability of many bio-tech devices that can replicate modern appliances, and some of the most sophisticated devices of the setting (like the jump ships) using it severely. On one hand, they can replicate tje appliances' work just as well and Psions can bond with them and get them to work a bit better. On the other hand, they have higher maintenance, are much harder to fix, people are ''not'" comfortable using them (the fluff explicitly says that many biotech devices are sold with normal-looking exterior shells), computers are still better as hard tech, and if Psions get attumed to too many biotech devices, tey develop junkie-like symptoms.
  • September 29, 2016
    marcoasalazarm
    Trinity Universe: zig-zagged with the availability of many bio-tech devices that can replicate modern appliances, and some of the most sophisticated devices of the setting (like the jump ships) using it severely. On one hand, they can replicate tje appliances' work just as well and Psions can bond with them and get them to work a bit better. On the other hand, they have higher maintenance, are much harder to fix, people are ''not'" comfortable using them (the fluff explicitly says that many biotech devices are sold with normal-looking exterior shells), computers are still better as hard tech, and if Psions get attumed to too many biotech devices, tey develop junkie-like symptoms.
  • October 9, 2016
    zarpaulus
    Does this have five hats already?
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