There's a good reason that helicopter looks like a whale.
If a society in Science Fiction
isn't either following Technology Levels
, then you can rest assured that they're making use of Organic Technology
Cars, planes, phones, computers, buildings
, space ships
, and everything else required for a proper Sci-Fi
story will be provided in the form of something that is warm, moist, skooshy and drips goo everywhere. Often, this will go so far as to include a convenient thought-based interface. Advanced nanotechnology
will often be depicted in a similar fashion.
This type of tech is a common feature of sea-dwelling sapients
. Not only are cities entirely made out of cool-looking coral, it's a technological evolutionary path that does not start with the step "set something on fire" or "throw wheels on it." Nor would excessive humidity cause important stuff to short out.
Civilizations who use this technology are also frequently users of Sufficiently Advanced Bamboo Technology
. Depending on the aesthetic choices of the depiction, the organic technology may seem Ambiguously Robotic
Often crosses over with LEGO Genetics
and is depicted as a Sculpted Physique
. See Living Ship
for one specific example. Compare Bio-Augmentation
, which could be Organic Technology
applied to the human body in new and fun ways. Contrast Mechanical Lifeforms
, which are organisms that happen to be mechanical in nature. Often creates the Womb Level
in games. A Hive Caste System
is based on using naturally evolved biology rather than technology made from biology. Applied to agriculture, the end result of this trope is often a Multipurpose Monocultured Crop
This is becoming an actual thing
. Interestingly, Real Life
synthetic biology seems
to be going the reverse direction of this trope: making biology look more like chemistry and nanotechnology, rather than making technology more like biology. Whether we'll get our meaty jetpacks
remains to be seen.
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Anime & Manga
- In an episode of Pokémon an Electabuzz is used to power a chainsaw. In another episode Pikachus were used to power a treadmill. Pokéballs also qualify, as they're created based upon Apricorns.
- The eponymous 'robots' from Neon Genesis Evangelion are actually semi-organic cyborgs with their organic parts cloned from an alien creature.
- Played with in the Witchblade anime: the title semi-sapient artifact got a few series of Black Box bionic knockoffs, including Cloneblades. Cloneblades aren't too choosy in accepting wielders, their performance seems to be superior to Witchblade with a novice host (if not to the full limits of a thing whose raw power blast can ruin half a city), but they have a small problem: as not really living, they do not regenerate. So while the true Witchblade may overload the host's body more, Cloneblades sooner or later drag their wielders into rapid and fatal decay.
- Despite metallic technology being just as, if not more efficient than organic, the Vajra of Macross Frontier have very good reasons for using extremely advanced organic technology as ships: the Vajra are the ships. Each drone, though stupid individually, are linked together by fold quartz, to form the entity known as Vajra, a massive Hive Mind. The Vajra (at least in the Milky Way) is not a species of individuals, but an individual spread out over a species. It makes sense for each cell of itself to wish to remain organic, but efficient.
- Brain Powerd, which used "organic" more as a bizarre form of phlebotinum than anything else.
- One Piece has the Den-Den Mushi (official English translation: "Transponder Snail"), a ridiculous example of this trope : all means of long-distance communication in the series are snails. If that's not ridiculous enough for you, try the snails that can project images from their eyes and onto walls. Or the white one that emits psychic waves to act as a jamming device so the speaker has a secure channel.
- Dials might also be this, being somewhat uncommonly found sea shells possessing various and useful abilities to store things like sounds or explosions.
- Jurai technology has a rare variation in being plant-based instead of animal-based, including spacecraft and log-shaped guardian robots. Justified by the fact that they have a very powerful patron goddess, who decided to experiment and turned herself into a tree a while back. So, naturally, the seeds of the tree that is technically a deity grow into very, very powerful and useful plants. The trees that form the basis of Jurai technology are therefore technically lesser gods or at least demigods, though the Juraians themselves don't think of it that way. Which is a point of contention with one of their major rival nations, the theocratic Airai, who think Jurai doesn't deserve the blessing of gods they don't even worship.
- The 31 Primevals from GaoGaiGar are much like this, and even have the ability to turn organic lifeforms into Mechanical Lifeforms via Zonderization.
- Ubiquitous in Blame.
- Bio Mega, though only makes a plot point out of it.
- The eponymous Bio-Booster Armor Guyver.
- The God-Soldier in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is essentially a robot made of flesh; having to fire it before it's fully mature causes it to slough apart. In the manga, it's an organic being that grows over an essentially metal or ceramic skeleton. No reason is ever given for why the God Warrior skull Nausicaa climbs at the very beginning of the manga has a cockpit.
- Bleach seems to mix this in from normal advance tech to living tech.
- Angel Sanctuary: Part of Rosiel's Body Horror. To summarize, he's basically the Devil Gundam dolled up as the joint clone of Sephiroth and Kuja.
- The aura machine of Aura Battler Dunbine are constructed using body parts from Byston Well's mythic beasts. Aura muscle come from tissue, armor from carapace, etc.
- Dragon Ball Z has the Androids, which range variously from wholly mechanical (like #16 and 19), Cyborgs (such as #17, #18 and #20 a.k.a Dr. Gero himself) and...Cell (#21), who is purely organic and, unlike the other ones, has the ability to actually permanently increase his strength through absorbing other humans and his fellow Androids. He's also essentially the culmination of the various DNA of every fighter in the series with their most advantageous traits at his disposal.
- In Frank Miller's miniseries Ronin, this form of technology plays a critical role.
- The 1990s Jim Shooter comic book Warriors Of Plasm was about an extradimensional civilization which was entirely biotech-based.
- The alien VXX199 of Strikeforce: Morituri arrive in a ship that's half the diameter of the moon, a giant conglomeration of living tissue, and directed by its own biological AI.
- Venom is sometimes used this way, as is its offspring, Carnage, to provide replacement legs for their hosts. Scorn, another symbiote, has used a fragment of the Carnage symbiote to form a new arm for its host.
- In Supergod, Morrigan Lugus is identified by the narrator to possibly be a mycological computer on a meat substrate, essentially a fungal computer. To wit, when not deciding to use sound to speak, it sometimes would communicate by emitting radio signals, and other times would "eject spores, a 4-phosporolated indole full of digital code".
- The aliens in The Abyss can shape water and even seem to have based all their technology around it.
- The Replicants in Blade Runner are genetically engineered artificial humans. there are also a number of artificially created animals, ranging from snakes to owls.
- The Engineers from Prometheus and Alien use this. In addition to creating life on barren planets (like Earth), pretty much everything they build seems to be at least partially alive. The spacesuits are made from some kind of bone (fueling decades of misinterpretation regarding their actual appearance) and blends into their skin. Buttons seems to be some kind of fatty nodule, and their architecture has plenty of rib-like ornamentation. The Aliens themselves grew out of their weapons program.
- E Xisten Z features a number of rather icky biological machines, such as the tooth-shooting bone pistol and the biological computers which “plug in” to orifice-like “bioports” on people. Of course, that was only in the game. The actual rigs are straight tech.
- Cronenberg likes this kind of tech; Videodrome had the exact same sort of pistol in it years earlier.
- He really does. In Dead Ringers, he has a psychotic doctor design surgical instruments that look like metal crabs and insects. And he's a gynecologist...
- Ecoban in Sky Blue is stated to be based on organic technology, and is mainly powered by carbon mined by the Diggers. However, the parts we see look pretty mechanical.
- The aliens in Independence Day have biological Powered Armor. The rest of their tech appears to be purely inorganic though.
- In the novelization, it's revealed during the psychic communication with the captured alien that the "biological powered armor" is in fact an entirely different species that the apparently parasitic Big Bad aliens have harvested and turned into armor/utility apparatus and also that the material from which the alien fighters is made seems to have been grown like a tree or something.
- Eywa of Avatar either is this, or uses this to provide a comfortable standard of living for the "primitive" Na'vi.
- In the Cars series films, plant life is the only nature in their world that isn't shaped like a vehicle. It does, however, have car-related elements if you look very closely (the bark of the trees resemble tire treads, leaves have tire tread and VW logo-shaped veins, and flowers are shaped like either tailfins, head-and-taillights, or cooling fans). In other words, organic fuel.
- Bio-rigged tech in Embassytown. Literally everything produced by the Ariekei falls in this category, weapons to farms to power plants. This becomes a problem when the Ariekei become addicted to Ezra's voice, and the addiction spreads via the biological infrastructure of the city to infect everything they've built.
- The Edenists in Night's Dawn base most of their technology on living creatures; they have Living Ships, living space stations, and organic servitors. They aren't entirely organic though; most common technology is still inorganic/non-living (They use electric jeeps in their habitats), and their ships/stations use non-living technology (like fusion reactors) when using living versions would be impractical or impossible.
- In one of the Dean Koontz's early novels, Fear That Man, the protagonist awakens to an Ontological Mystery aboard at what first seems like a familiar spaceship. Only upon closer inspection does he realize that all of its functions are the result of carefully hidden blob-like organisms.
- In the novel Star Dragon, mankind has passed through enough Technology Levels to achieve this level of engineering, along with mastery of genetic modification. Nearly all technology is organic in nature, including toilets, which feature tongues in lieu of paper.
- The Raalgon from Irresponsible Captain Tylor appear to have gone this route with their technology; their motherships and battle cruisers appear to have been grown rather than built.
- The same may be said of the Yuuzhan Vong in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, for whom this (along with rampant masochism) is their hat. They even declare a holy war against the Galaxy Far, Far Away for daring to create nonliving mockeries of what life can accomplish.
- This is played on part way in when Lando develops a droid so insulting to this belief that most warriors break cover and and attack, thus revealing themselves to fire.
- It's later explained that the Vong's original home planet was a Genius Loci, leading them to naturally adapt living things as tools rather than machines (originally the planet itself would have been responsible for this; later Vong scientists, or "Shapers", learned to do it themselves). Their extreme hatred for inorganic machines, particularly droids, has roots in the fact that early in their history they were nearly wiped out by a race of sapient machines.
- Another Genius Loci, the Rogue Planet Zonoma Sekot the child of the Vong homeworld produces organic starships.
- When the Vong land on Zonoma Sekot their bio-engineered weapons revert to their natural state and refuse to kill anymore, proving that the Vong's extreme violence and war-mongering were in fact a deviation from their originally peaceful nature and a blasphemy against their own gods.
- There's several of Gog's weapons from project Starscream are organic in nature, each designed to perform a specific function, including one similar to the Genius Loci mentioned above, with the last being a combination of all of the successful Starscream projects.
- The novel John Dies at the End has a lot of this tech in the last couple chapters, where the main antagonist is revealed to be a self-modifying organic computer from an alternate Earth where technological progress took a very different route.
- Played for both laughs and horror, often simultaneously. Notably, in the alternate Earth, doctors heal their patients by placing kittens all over them.
- The Yilanč in Harry Harrison's West of Eden fit this trope to a T; they are even decended from seagoing creatures. Everything they use on a daily basis is a genetically modified creature. Their boats are based off ichthyosaurs, their microscopes are modified frogs, even their clothing is a heavily modified furry creature (the impracticality of this tech is lampshaded in a spin-off story where a fatal cold-snap hits and "we can't breed our cloaks fast enough"). Their weaponry is based off a marine lizardnote - as a matter of fact, the very same marine lizards they are most closely related to. The mind cannot help but go down some weird avenues here...
- The Amnion in Stephen Donaldson's The Gap Cycle novels are a hivemind who are all genetically engineered to serve specific roles, and whose equipment (although generally non-living) is processed, created, and assembled via organic processes.
- In Wild Cards the Takisians are very adept at organic technology, including living, sentient, telepathic starships.
- S.M. Stirling's novel In the Courts of the Crimson Kings is set on a Mars that was Terraformed and seeded with Earth life in prehistoric times by Ancient Astronauts. The Martians are human, or as close to human as Neanderthals, and highly intelligent. Almost all technology more complicated than a sword is biological, to a very high level, with living guns (recharging after firing takes time, which is why swords are not obsolete), living engines to supplement the sailpower of desert-crossing wheeled ships, rugs that crawl onto your feet to warm them, giant creatures that eat rocks and vomit road-paving material.
- Never a series to leave any science fiction tropes uncovered, Animorphs featured a Living Ship or two.
- The novel Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings begins with a marine biologist trying to convince others that one of the Humpbacks he is trying to study and save has markings on his tailfin that remarkably resemble the phrase, "Bite Me". Turns out that the bottom of the sea is inhabited by a being known as The Goo, an ever-changing sentient mass of organic material. It is able to create organic devices from itself and has spawned anthropomorphic whale drones and Living Ships disguised as normal whales; Bite Me happens to be one of these. Oh, and it had sex with Amelia Earhart and the result of the tryst is one of the other protagonists.
- In the Into the Looking Glass Series by John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor, the main foes are a form of AI/The Virus with organic technology. Including things such as 'Rhinotanks' a creature modified into a main battle tank role complete with the ability to shoot plasma bolts. Foes of these creatures go as far as creating tribble like spiders specifically attracted to their form of life (different types of sugar starches for different types of suns)
- John Varley's Gaea Trilogy mostly takes place within a huge organic construct called Gaea, who is a mostly Earth-like orbital habitat near Saturn, whose species was designed by some race many millions or billions of years past to create self-replicating space habitats. Being basically a god, the central "Gaea" mind can create or edit any kind of lifeforms living inside her using similarly advanced biotech.
- The Oankali in Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy rely on biological tech for everything (spaceships, buildings, etc.) and dislike using machines. They are actually able to use biological machines to grow replicas of simple human devices such as pens and paper. They have an innate biological drive to seek out new genetic material from other species and make use of it by adding it to their own genes. They have a natural ability to read and manipulate DNA, and this ability is especially strong in their third gender, the ooloi.
- Dune touches on this with:
- The Butlerian Jihad, which outlaws computers with the commandment: "Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind." Several groups fill the space: Mentats, the human computers; the Bene Gesserit, the super-witch training program; and the Spacing Guild, which uses prescient drug-addicts to navigate hyperspace.
- Tleilax's major export is organic technology, raging from clones, shapeshapers, and even rogue mentats. The Tleilaxu get a lot of crap for doing this, but it doesn't hamper business too much. According to the sequel done by the son of the author, they got a bad rep for stealing organs, while there was a big-ass demand in the war with the machines. Even more jarring are their Axlotl tanks which are Tleilaxu females forced in a vegetated state to create gholas.
- Also featured in Herbert's ConSentiency series, where its often used as living furniture, like Chairdogs.
- Michael Moorcock's Second Ether book, Blood: A Southern Fantasy, includes "meat boats", living (and technically amphibious) river boats created by a coalition of fleshcrafters (who also seriously alter their own bodies in bizarre ways) from the bodies of other beings. They are unusual in that they're portrayed as having the same disadvantages as any other large animal: needing to be fed organic material, needing to excrete wastes, and posessing a rather unpleasant smell.
- In The Snow Queen by Joan Vinge, the mers are a sort of living computer system
- The backstory to Julian May's Saga of the Exiles novels features The Ship, a spectacularly large interstellar worm controlled by The Power of Love. (The pilot of The Ship has the title "Shipspouse.")
- John W. Campbell's The Double Minds is set on Ganymede, where electricity was never discovered. Light bulbs are powered by fluorescent bacteria and cars have muscles instead of motors. Unlike most examples of Organic Technology, the story clearly states that Ganymedian gadgets are a poor substitute for electric-powered technology. A bit of an Unbuilt Trope, considered that it was written in 1937.
- The technology of the Graycaps in Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris books is almost completely based around various forms of fungus. They saturate their own bodies with fungus to make themselves almost impervious to harm, they fill the air with spores that can act as anything from organic cameras to neurotoxins that alter human behaviour, and they make monstrous fungoidal constructs that stalk unwary humans in the night. And their Great Machine beneath the city of Ambergris is mostly made out of living Graycaps.
- The Crucible of Time is a Xenofiction about an alien species whose technology is based on bio-engineering.
- The Darwinists in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan trilogy.
- In Cordwainer Smith's novelette "Scanners Live in Vain" (written pre-Sputnik), outer space is suffused with a strange radiation that causes horrible pain to spaceship occupants. The original solution was to sever the nerves of the astronauts, which turned them into unfeeling creatures both physically and metaphorically. The eventual, more workable solution was to surround yourself with other living organisms, who would absorb the radiation. They built radiation shielding out of oysters.
- In David Weber and Linda Evans' series Hell's Gate the Arcanans use magical genetic engineering to create dragons, griffins, unicorns and big mean homing hummingbirds.
- The Magitek computer Hex uses ants for its operating system, and beehives for memory. It also has ram skulls in it, and a mouse has set up a little nest. The skulls seem to make it work faster, and they have no idea what the mouse is for but it stops working when they take it out.
- Technically, imp-powered devices such as iconographs and disorganisers probably count as well, depending on how "alive" you consider the imps. (Making Money says they're just a manifestation of a spell; Raising Steam refers to wild imps being caught and domesticated.)
- In E.T.: The Book of the Green Planet, the novel that serves as a sequel to ET The Extra Terrestrial, E.T. tries to return to Earth by building a spaceship almost entirely out of plants — the hull is a giant turnip, and more exotic alien plants collected by his race are used for lighting, life support, propulsion, etc.
- Professor Mmaa's Lecture: Pretty much all of termite "technology" is made up of genetically engineered termites that function like machines.
- The squid-people in Raymond Z. Gallun's short story "Davey Jones' Ambassador" (1935) cannot use fire or concentrate much heat by other means, since they live miles beneath the sea. Instead, they bio-engineer organisms to serve as everything from transportation to weapons to architectural elements, and produce whatever substances they need as secretions from these creatures.
- The asteroid colony of Summer Home in Linda Nagata's The Bohr Maker has, by the time of the book become a living thing and at the book's climax splits into cell-like segments to seed versions of itself throughout the Solar System and, in a few cases, equpped with solar sails, seek to go beyond the system.
- In Veniss Underground, most of the technology in Quin's lair is made of living creatures, including the maps and the boats.
- Greg Egan introduces this in his inimitable style in a number of places... for example the five-dimensional snail-squids in Diaspora have organized their whole ecology to cater to their needs, and the far-side civilization in Schild's Ladder tend living cities using organic constructs that tailor the local laws of physics to their whims.
- In Kameron Hurley's Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy the planet it takes place on uses mostly this for everything. A lot of it centers around mutated insects controlled by "magicians" who have a psychic link with them.
- Please Dont Tell My Parents I Blew Up The Moon (sequel to Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain), Penny decides she needs a cloning tank. She has no idea what she needs it for, though at least she figures out that general bioengineering tools will work just as well.
- Organic tech is pretty much the only tech The Beloved have as a race - but how!
Live Action TV
- Better Off Ted: in the episode "Bioshuffle" most of the episode's problems are caused by a malfuctioning biocomputer. It was literally getting a stress ulcer from overwork.
- Farscape had Moya, a living ship with all the amenities you would expect on a space ship and all the comforts of home, including larva-like creatures that replaced toothbrushes. And artificial gravity was provided by gravity bladders.
- It should be noted that Leviathans are consistently described as "biomechanoid" rather than "organic" and they display very few of the common attributes of "organic technology" as we would think of it. Moya was unquestionably "alive," and sentient, but many of her systems were mechanical even if they were "grown," such as the beetle-like repair robots.
- Season 4 also introduced Bioloids - similar to robots, but organic. Aeryn is replaced by a Bioloid clone for part of an episode, and Sikozu is later revealed to be a Bioloid.
- The Lexx also worked in the same vein, with a weird intestine like thing that excreted disgusting looking (yet edible and apparently delicious) food and further adventures involving toilets with tongues.
- Thodin's 'bug bomb' from episode 1 might count, and the Moths.
- The Vorlons and the Shadows in Babylon 5 both went this route. It's implied to be in some ways the ultimate form of technology, with ships which can heal themselves and think for themselves.
- The Ikarrans, a long dead race from a thousand years ago, also used organic tech, some of which still works and posed a serious threat to the station itself.
- The Wraith technology in Stargate Atlantis relies on this. In fact it was said that because of the organic composition of their ships and general insufficient power utilization, if they had a significant power source their ships can "grow" and become near-unstoppable juggernauts. In the Grand Finale, one of these ships adapted a ZPM (the magical power sources that Atlantis cannot seem to find enough of) and it became powerful enough to lay waste to any ship it came across. And at this point Earth ships were capable of going toe-to-toe with the Ori ships.
- The Morthran from War of the Worlds use a combination of crystals and organic technology. Note that the aliens of the first season (and of the movie) do not appear to use organic technology, though they do retain the reliance on crystals.
- Cylon Raiders in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica are synthetic organic lifeforms in a armored metal shell. Their Basestars are also partially organic, and are controlled by a human-like organic 'Hybrid' permanently linked to the Basestar. And the Cylons themselves are Artificial Humans.
- The first glimpse of the interior of a Basestar was a horrible gooey gigeresque organic landing platform. Subsequent episodes revealed the "living areas" of the Basestars are more Crystal Spires and Togas - possibly because they're less distracting/revolting/expensive for the longer, more complex scenes set in them.
- Star Trek couldn't resist this one: Species 8472 seems to use entirely Organic Technology. In their introductory episode they made mention that the Breen species used partially organic systems in their ships.
- The USS Voyager itself has its circuitry embedded with bio-neural gel packs, an interesting idea (in that brain cells are supposed to be better at computing than the fastest computer) that was dealt with in a single episode in the first season and then pretty much forgotten. One episode involving a nebula extremely deadly to living things and very damaging to technology was an exception . With the crew in stasis chambers, and only Seven of Nine and the Doctor to run the ship for three months, keeping the ship going was a chore thanks in no part to these gel packs.
- There was the TNG episode "Tin Man" where our plucky crew encounters an entirely biological spacecraft whose crew had been killed off and it was pretty bummed out about it.
- The pilot episode of TNG, "Encounter at Farpoint", involves this trope as well.
- In Star Trek: Enterprise they came across a near magical repair station that apparently used the brain of various unconscious aliens to enhance its computer system. It does have an adverse effect on the minds of those connected, and they tend to make the brain useless for any other purpose if connected for too long.
- Speaking of brains, there is "Spock's Brain" from The Original Series.
- Doctor Who:
- The Zygons haave organic technology.
- The Time Lords themselves—the new series states that the TARDIS is alive. "It's not built: It's grown." Like a coral. And the previous desktop theme reinforces it. This idea is further supported in the Doctor Who Expanded Universe novels. The "Cat's Cradle" arc in the Doctor Who New Adventures novels has the Doctor needing to replace the organic material that the TARDIS uses for calculations that are impossible on conventional computers. Lungbarrow introduces the idea of sentient houses that are the ancestral homes of the different clans (kith) of the Time Lords. One Time Lord of each house becomes the "house keeper" and literally marries and has a somewhat symbiotic relationship with the house.
- The Axons from the Pertwee-era episode "The Claws of Axos" claim that their technology "had taken an organic turn".
- The title submarine in seaQuest DSV is implied to be organic in many ways.
- Only the outer hull cladding—according to the novelization, that is a bio-engineered compound that is both anechoic (sonar-defeating) and self-sealing. The rest of the ship is just a very, VERY big submarine. It's implied in several episodes that the organic skin is flexible and coats a normal steel shell.
- Taelon ships and buildings on Earth: Final Conflict are all grown out of an organic "bio-slurry".
- Tealon weapons, called Skrills, are actually creatures they've "domesticated". They resemble a bug growing out of the host's arm (always a human) and can be used to fire energy weapons. They aren't intelligent but have individual personalties. Taelons also grafted items that enhance senses and reflexes to poorly-trained human soldiers, sending them into combat with their arch-enemies, the Jaridians.
- On an episode of the '80s "The Twilight Zone", a future society uses genetically modified Primates as telepathic CPUs. Members of this society call their organic technology a "biological gestalt."
- According to the Gemara, King Solomon used something called a "shamir" to break down building materials or engrave gemstones. Exactly what the shamir is isn't clear, but one interpretation is that it's some kind of worm.
- Implied in Bally's Centaur; the Centaur appear to be grown from pods, including their motorcycle parts.
- Cthulhu Tech sees this with the Engels, extra-large mecha that are more or less just massive creatures covered in enough machinery to conceal their monstrosity (somewhat). They tend to have a detrimental effect on the psyches of their pilots.
- The Tyranids from the Warhammer 40,000 universe epitomize the trope insofar as it relates to tools of warfare; their every military need, from weapons to starcraft, is met by complex interlocking creatures specially engineered for the purpose. Their 'technology' is not only suspiciously well-suited to its function, but suspiciously sadistic in its execution. The original and ancient Warhammer 40,000 sourcebook, Rogue Trader, had "organic weapons" (such as organic chainswords) that were essentially bio-engineered duplicates of mechanical versions made of flesh and bone rather than steel and ceramics, apparently a curiosity widely used. The Tyranids were notable for always using them, but at this point the Tyranids were just random bugs rather than the galaxy-eating, wall-of-teeth Great Devourer. Since 3rd edition and the 'Nids new models, it is becoming increasingly difficult to spot where the bio-weapon ends and the Tyranid carrying it begins. The game also plays organic technology in the only way it would work, which is to dial it to eleven. Creatures have nothing they don't need to do their job, not even digestive tracts — they're expected to die before they starve. They just eat until they're completely full, then dive into "digestion pools" created by the Tyrannoforming of the planet, recycling the Tyranid and everything it's eaten into genetic material and other raw materials useful to the Hive Fleet. Their close combat weapons are forged in biological furnaces and then affixed to the creature in question and their bodies are almost entirely armored carapace. Even their soft tissues are built of materials similar to Kevlar. They are not your average squishy biological version of this trope, they are armored hell-beasts designed with one singular purpose — relentless assault. Tyranid bio weapons are notably inferior individually to their non-organic counterparts though, and their space fleets are noted to be inferior to every other faction's. It is their single minded purpose and sheer numbers that make the Tyranids so deadly.
- The Eldar make extensive use of a substance called wraithbone, which is a psychoplastic material that also possesses some self-regenerating capabilities. While not Organic Technology per se, Eldar vehicles, technologies, and buildings aren't built, they're grown.
- The Dark Eldar have a large swathe of Organic Technology, particularly in the Haemonculus subfaction.
- The Imperium also uses organic technology to some degree. Since they have a ban on artificial intelligence (after intelligent robots turned on humanity and nearly wiped them out) they use cybernetic slaves called servitors to perform menial tasks and some of the more advanced vehicles have either servitors hardwired to control weapons or Machine Spirits, which appear to be a form of "wetware" AI (although some sources state they are inorganic AIs modeled after animal behavior patterns).
- Depending on the writer, Machine Spirits have been anything from intelligences formed from hundreds of years of a complex program slowly evolving, an inherence within Imperial computing technology, an actual CPU core housing a legitimate AI, or a collective of the fragmented minds of the controlling servitors. While Games Workshop has called each of these excused correct at various times, when you are talking about actual Imperial AI, you are referencing the Cortex. This is a very advanced fragment of Lost Technology which parts of the Mechanicus can still make very well and understand fairly well in comparison to most other things. It is a single, large, solid, crystalline mass which acts like a light-based computer. It is extremely powerful for its size, and can fairly accurately re-create the neurological structure of biological creatures (mammals, birds, pets, fish, humans). Its "firmware" and processing power are set by a combination of predetermined crystal growth patterns and in-growth manipulation (probably electroshock therapy).
- The Akashan Star Sphere or "Space Gods" from TORG preferred biotech to the point that most available Akashan gear is some sort of lifeform (e.g. "kinetic armor" is a symbiotic bodysuit, "geomantic shuttles" are creatures with a natural gravity manipulating ability, "starshredders" are a weaponized cross between a starfish and a piranha). Even their hard tech items tend to lean on biotech; for example, "bataase rifles" are nonlethal weapons which fire a biological polymer, and Akashan Lightships are as much biotech as they are hard tech.
- The Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Setting of Dark Sun had Halflings use this, either symbiotic creatures, buildings made from tissues, adapted wildlife, or types of organic automatons, such as the Scrubslug, which eats dust and debris and transforms it into organic floor wax.
- And in Spelljammer, elven spacecraft are actually living plants with photosynthetic sails.
- The Daelkyr of Eberron are very fond of this. Many of their creations are still around and usable by players, though this has risks.
- The White Wolf RPG Trinity had humans and a number of other races use living "bio-tech." Humans still used it alongside hard-tech and it was considered superior for some applications and inferior for others. Some human nations rejected bio-tech entirely, such as the Japanese, because they had determined the original source of human bio-tech was of unknown alien origin.
- GURPS Biotech is all about this when discussing high tech levels. Aside from the various new pieces of tech presented in the book (including a sentient sponge-brain-tree-Neo Christian house) the writers also suggest that one can simply treat advanced technology from other sourcebooks as being organic in origin.
- The third edition sourcebook "Robots" includes rules for creating biological androids using biotech. This sourcebook also includes rules for combining traditional robots with biotech in the form of living flesh and intestinal power convertors.
- The Pentapods of 2300 AD, a Traveller spinoff, are big on Organic Technology, since their species evolved underwater and never had the option of using metal or fire in their industrial development.
- Several races of Talislanta use plant-based technologies, including the barge-forts of the Green Aeriads (with live viridia trees for masts) and the d'oko lily plants used as houses by the Green Men.
- This is one of approximately 9000 options for Humongous Mecha in one Mekton expansion.
- Call of Cthulhu. The Mi-Go regularly use organic-based tech, such as a creature that can dig through the earth and extract metals and minerals, and a variety of giant fungi that maintain life support in an underground cavern.
- The Dark Conspiracy supplement Dark Tek had a number of Darkling biological devices, such as the Antidoter (neutralized poison in the body) and Facedancer (a living disguise mask).
- Paranoia is better known for Corpore Metal bots and bot-wannabe cyborgs, but The Bot Abusers Manual inverted it with Corporganic, a bot secret society that went so far as to practice "orgcybing" (replacing bot limbs with organic parts). Yes, pretty much everyone else thought it was disgusting.
- In Splicers, the Human Resistance of this Robot War have no choice but to use Organic tech, due to a deadly nano-plague that causes any metal to try to kill any living thing that touches it. Among the technologies developed are customizable suits of Powered Armor, Beasts of Battle bred to replace tanks, and equivalents to regular guns. Of course, this stuff was first developed by the minority who are immune to the plague.
- From Magic: The Gathering, we have the Phyrexians. Even in their first appearances, they blur all sorts of lines between Organic Technology, The Virus, Magitek, Necromancy, and Cybernetics Eat Your Soul. Recently however, the Scars of Mirrodin block gave us Phyrexians in all five colors, not just Black. In particular the leader of the Green-aligned faction, Vorinclex, believes that Phyrexians should be grown, not built.
- Tends to be something of a persistant theme with the Primordials of Exalted, albeit in a somewhat unconventional manner; their world bodies tend to look inorganic (and, in Autochthon's case, actually mechanical), but follow anatomical logic; Malfeas' bones are buildings of brass and stone and the fluids in the sewers are his bile and digestive fluids, because he's a creature that is a city (he also has flora made of metal), and Autochthon's organs are gears and pistons, his nerves are cables, his lungs/stomach is a toxic junkyard, and his blood is lubricating oil. Exploiting the landscape by provoking anatomic reactions is key to life in those worlds.
- The Matoran of BIONICLE have small amounts organic tissue built into them.
- Additionally, the Toa Mahri's submarine (the Toa Terrain Crawler) could be compared to a giant hollow whale pimped out to look like a ship.
- Blizzard's StarCraft have the Zerg, an insectoid/mammalian/reptilian race controlled by a Hive Mind that treated its populace as disposable for the simple reason that they were the meat equivalent of robotic drones. They also had big gross living buildings. And living starships.
- While metal technology is connected with wires and cables to transfer electricity and information, Zerg buildings are connected with a mass blood vessels and muscle tissue called Creep to transfer nutrients and genetic code. Each building is less like an organism and more like an Organ, since they support the central Hatchery and will gradually shut down and die without creep to support them.
- The hostile aliens in the X-COM series of games have always used varying degrees of bio-tech, such as purpose-build footsoldiers - but X-COM: Apocalypse took this trope to the natural conclusion, with alien ships and buildings being fully organic. You actually get to see (and blow up) the facility where they grow their ships (among other vital constructs)...
- Also, the Bio-Drone from Terror From the Deep. It's vat of humans' brains on anti-grav unit, with vocal cords attached to a sonic gun.
- Ditto the Reticulans in the Spiritual Successor series UFO: After(blank), who employ all sorts of purpose-grown weapons, creatures, and equipment. Their successors in later games use more conventionally built goodies, however, inverting X-COM's use of the trope.
- The reboot has an assault on an alien base with giant, pulsing intestines in the background.
- The Mycon, sapient fungi from the Star Control series, are genetically engineered biological planeteering tools, and whatever new tools they need, from pseudopods to space craft to other Mycon, they grow just by willing it ("Mycon just think genetic modification, and it happen!"). Due to the extreme amount of time they've gone without upkeep by their creators, over the generations their original programming "drifted" and has become a religion revolving around the incomprehensible "Juffo-Wup". Heed their babble and you'll get fragments of developers' speech from Genetic Memory.
- The Umgah, another alien race from the same series, are so obsessed with genetic engineering that, even though their ships are mechanical, the corridors and interfaces are all fleshy, for easy modification (read: mutation). Unfortunately for interstellar relations, the Umgah have been so free and careless with their genetic modifications of themselves that every last one of them is violently insane and possesses a warped sense of humor and a childlike oblivious cruelty.
- The Eva Unit-esque Slave units in Slave Zero are this trope, with their production process described as being grown from cybernetic fetuses.
- Though it may not look like it, much of the technology in Metroid is at least partly organic, including the Samus Aran's Power Suit, which, despite all appearances, isn't made of metal.
- Even more so after she is infected by X in Metroid Fusion.
- The most famous example of biotech in Metroid is, of course, Mother Brain. But the Metroids themselves also count, as they were engineered by the Chozo to combat the X Parasites.
- Of note, the Space Pirates in the Prime games progressively began to use Organic Technology almost exclusively. This may be a bit of a plot point, as the game lore in Prime 3 suggests.
- Kanden's scan log in Metroid Prime: Hunters states that his version of the Volt Driver is a Living Weapon.
- Almost all Alimbic technology in Metroid Prime: Hunters has organic parts, and you go through some of the factory areas where the organic components are cultured. You even pass through an area with what looks like a brain-based computer.
- Even the Federation uses it, having created Mother Brain-like super computers called Aurora Units and cybernetic war robots.
- Metal Gear RAY and the Gekkos from the Metal Gear franchise aren't organic but are machines built like they were, even capable of bleeding (it's actually "armor-repair nanopaste"). The Nanomachines in the series is also based on living cells. There's a field in science called biomechanics that's a bit similar to this. Basically, we're studying how our bodies work and how we could use that to our advantage. A good example of biomechanics in motion would be pneumatc artificial muscles.
- The Ark in Creatures 3 has elements of this (check out the Agent Info for that big bellows-like thing in the engineering section.) Docking Station's Capillata takes it further: the main hub is very organic-looking, the Back Story states it was literally grown in a vat, and then there's the slightly disturbing Muco the Egg-Layer.
- Elements, nothing. The ship is explicitly stated to have been grown in several different sources, and in fact it's stated that the Shee use mostly organic technology (having discovered DNA before the wheel)
- Dark Colony: Everything the Taar use qualifies, with the exception of the flying saucer. Perhaps the most... Amusing weapon is the burrowing turret. Guess which orifice the gun pops out from.
- Rlaan in Vega Strike apply biotechnologies anywhere, even in spaceships. They still need normal materials for things like hermetic enclosures or weapons, but grow structures, make construction materials of their generators's refuse and use gravitics instead of thrusters. Of course, for the species living in methane atmosphere it's hard to start with "set something on fire". Also, they don't like AI, so their armed drones are piloted by brain of some pet that presumable passes for a hound where they live. Humans frequently use genetically engineered Wetware CPU too, because it's much cheaper than hardware for AI equivalent.
- The Keepers, the creators of the enormous spherical spaceship in Prey used powerful vomiting-sphincter-based biotechnology to make their ship... uh... go. Additionally, they used one or more gigantic (and disgusting) creatures who ate concentrated nutrients and crapped food for the aliens. Everything the aliens have is partly alive, including guns, pipes, doors, computers and medical stations.
- Quake's resident aliens, the Strogg, sometimes use hearts as pumps, human torsos as bioelectric generators and huge alien creatures as biological corpse-to-food converters, however they rarely resist their urge to stick some giant metal piping and prosthetics in them, for the lulz.
- Earth 2160's aliens, the Morphids, are actually a genetically-engineered army of biological von Neumann machines, which need only water to grow from a single crawling Mantian Lady to a legion of acid-spitting four-legged bear tanks and artillery insects. The trope is also subverted in that their Creators were unable to make biological units into a good airfleet, so they resorted to metal ships that use Nanomachines to clone and morph themselves, just like the ground forms.
- Geneforge is based almost entirely around this, with the plot focusing on (sometimes sentient) magical creatures made by a caste of magi called "shapers" and the moral ramifications of their work. Aside from their more advanced creations, shapers have made biological equivalents of everything from guns (bone-shooting "thorn batons") to doorlocks.
- The isolated Polaris in Escape Velocity: Nova use incredibly powerful living apaceships. Coincidentally, the otherwise peaceful Wraith have an intense animosity toward the Polaris...
- Apparently the ships are so organic that the Manta fighter is as Sentient as a smart dog based of of some text in-game, technically making it an Empathic Weapon.
- The Polaris do utilize some mechanical technologies — the phrasing around their non-ship technologies suggests they aren't much more organic than the other civilizations, and the construction process for their starships starts with something perfectly mechanical: a metal framework.
- Half-Life has several alien organic weapons, including the Hivehand, Snarks, the Shock Roach, the Spore Launcher, and the Barnacle.
- The Combine from the Half-Life 2 use living, grown/built units as powerful shock troops; one example is the Combine Gunship, pictured above. All of them are implied to be aliens turned into Slave Mooks by the Combine, just the same as humans are turned into Overwatch soldiers.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Viridi's army, the Forces of Nature, are constructed from materials found in nature, such as wood and stone. In addition, her Reset Bombs are grown like fruits before being dropped.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind:
- Telvanni architecture is this plus Fungus Humongous. They magically grow fungi and mold them into buildings.
- Players can employ Silt Striders: gigantic, domesticated arthropods that are used to rapidly travel from city to city in the game world. The striders essentially appear akin to enormous fleas. The striders have portions of their shell removed from their back so that the driver, or 'caravaner', can poke at the sensitive flesh underneath to goad the strider in the desired direction. Their shells are further carved or modified to hold cargo or passengers, based on need.
- In Skyrim, the Falmer, a race of fallen elves, have a symbiotic relationship with insectoid creatures known as Chaurus. Much of their technology looks like Chaurus body parts that are still moving. Also, Telvanni technology returns in Dragonborn.
- In The Conduit, the Drudge weapons are all based on this trope, including the Drudge themselves. Reloading a weapon is invariably accompanied by squishy noises.
- The Samorost games all take place on what appear to be combinations of spaceships and planets (nonsentient, so not Living Ship) made out of moss, bark, and rock. It's pretty spectacular.
- Genesis Rising is a space-strategy game where you place "genes" into spaceships to upgrade weapons, ablities, etc. The genes are only improveable by harvesting more advanced genes (by killing and consuming opponent ships) or trading for them. And of course ships are made and healed with the only material resource, blood.
- Play with in Super Robot Wars series. The Einst has ability to mimic machine using their exoskeleton, carapace and tentacles. Play straight in Original Generation mech Rein Weisritter which has both Einst's organ and mechanic join together.
- The Collectors in Mass Effect 2 have a very organic appearance to their ships and weapons. The Reaper technology has some organic components as well, as evidenced by the Keepers, and the finale of the second game.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, this seems to be the design aesthetic of the game, most visible in the (utterly gorgeous) Gapra Whitewood area.
- Introduced in the fourth game in the Space Empires series. Their main use is to generate resources/regenerate damage.
- Hunters and Scarabs in Halo are both partly composed of and controlled by aggregations of Lekgolo, The Worm That Walks.
- In Evolva, the Parasite is able to create a good number of towers connected among them and a whole army from their tentacles.
- In Septerra Core, much of the Chosen's technology seems based on this. Their ships, armor, and even some weapons are grown from the bodies of specially cultivated Helgak, a highly diverse species native to the planet. The ships are partially alive in some cases. Maya's gun also has some organic components, which enables her weapon to actually grow its own ammunition, ostensibly granting it unlimited bullets.
- Fracture features the Republic of Pacifica, a breakaway nation of the USA. Their soldiers are covered in bioarmor, enhanced using genetic engineering and several of their weapons are more grown than manufactured. One such example is the Raptor Rifle whose main component is a bio-engineered organism derived from oceanic coral that grows around a titanium gun barrel. They literally manufacture them by dropping the coated barrels in a protected seawater area and dredge harvest the finished product a few days later.
- In Gears of War, the Locust Horde utilizes some of this, including their various Beasts of Battle, Digger Launchers, Nemacysts (and the Seeders that spawn them), and even the Kryll grenades. It turns out that human technology works this way as well, since Imulsion, the miracle fuel on Sera, is actually a living parasite that's killing the planet from within. By extension, the Lambent and even the Locust themselves operate this way, since they are Imulsion-based mutants of humans and other species.
- Realians of the Xenosaga series.
- Whether or not the bots from Tranformers Beast Wars qualify is up to a great amount of confusion. However, the Maximals became explicitly techno-organic technology in Beast Machines.
- The Vok in Beast Wars seem to utilise this. Series writer Larry Di Tillio even proposed the bits of tech were the Vok themselves. Their third season depiction as giant floating skulls shattered this, though.
- Blackarachnia and Wasp(inator) in Transformers Animated are also techno-organic, the first from using her power-copying ability on giant organic spiders, the second from Blackarachnia using Transwarp energy to fuse Wasp with a hornet. One thing to note is that in Animated, Transformers have either an aversion if not downright fear of organic beings (Autobots) or a deep disdain/hatred of them (Decepticons).
- There's also Prometheus Black AKA Meltdown, who sold "bio-upgrades" until he went full Mad Scientist. This results in a couple Gonks turning into supermodels, a Bane expy, and himself becoming a Walking Wasteland. In his next appearance he's trying to create a fully organic Transformer. Uh... ew?
- Transformers Prime confirms during "Operation: Bumblebee" that Cybertronians do have techno-organic parts, such as Bumblebee's damaged voice box, and their T-Cogs, the part that enables them to transform.
- Pirates of Dark Water: The Big Bad's giant ship is a Leviathan's skeleton. Starfish get used as shurikens. At the local pub, the tap is apparently some kind of vine or tentacle or something. And so on.
- This is Planet Bone's schtick in Shadow Raiders, with everything from spaceships to Powered Armour being a living organism. In fact, the latter is implied to actually be smarter than the Bone soldiers wearing it, and it is capable of taking over if the wearer loses consciousness.
- Any device in The Flintstones that's not made out of rock is one sort of creature or another.
- Everything in the Cobra-La hideout in G.I. Joe: The Movie is alive, even the things that aren't "technology" per se, like bridges.
- The Bugs in the Star Ship Troopers cartoon (a mix of the movie and the book) use bio weapons and Living Ships to attack the human planets
- "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" has an entire planet that runs on this. Plus their plants are sensitive to emotion. The happier you are, the better they work for you.
- R.O.T.H. in Motorcity was made from a KaneBot but his arms appear to be organic, the way they expand. Some of the Terras' weapons might be this as well.
- The Martians from Young Justice favour this, with both their clothes and their space-ships being excellent examples. In season one, the villains manage to combine the bio-tech with more inorganic technology and magic to produce a highly effective mind-control device.
- MSF High: Thanks to their past as terraforming nanobots, the Legion embody this. They're very good at it, too.
- The Troll technology in Homestuck is largely this. For example, Sollux's computer servers are basically giant alien beehives.
- Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger points out the major flaws of Organic Technology vs Hard Technology.
- In A Mad Tea Party, Earth's genetically engineered super-soldiers have organic weapons to use against alien robots.
- In the space arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, the Excalibur once visited a planet on which all the technology was grown on bio-engineered trees. Unfortunately, they spoil easily.
- Mortasheen has a class of robots called Biomecha that are based on this. Word of God says that this is because the artist cannot draw machine parts to save his life.
- SCP-127 looks like an ordinary MP5K sub-machine gun on the outside, but the inside is made of flesh and bone, and the bullets it fires vaguely resemble human teeth.
- From our own World Building project; the Deepspawn use their own young as weapons. Basically, the Deepspawn are The Worm That Walks meets The Assimilator, so by introducing a larval colony to a rapid succession of mammalian and crustacean hosts; extracting them at the proper time, they can more or less "breed" them into weapons or siege-beasts.
- Mankind: Agriculture? Cattle breeding? Genetic engineering? Grafting? Medical Grafting? In vitro fertilization? We're quite big on organic technology ourselves.
- Arguably, some social insects are also fond of this: the beehive is 100% organic, while the ant-colonies can be very complex structures: the Bug War came from somewhere, you know...
- Of course, most of these are not alive. They're just built out of various bodily excretions. However, when an army ant colony enters its stationary phase, its members form a living nest by latching onto each other to form walls. During the swarm phase, soldiers can also form living bridges, rafts, and scaffolds.
- Richard Dawkins calls this "the extended phenotype." Basically, the way they build their nests or hives is determined by the genome, hence there is little difference between it and, say, their feelers. Then there's some debate if a beehive or ant nest as a whole can be considered a living being, similar to the cell colony with some inorganic material in between that we call human.
- A friggin bacteria computer.
- The polymer composite described here might lead to real life organic ships. (organic as in both the real world and Sci Fi meanings )
- "Biotechnology" is not only an adept description of many jobs available in the biological sciences, but many universities offer it as a course.
- Carbon nanotube transistors. Okay, so they're closer to the scientific definition of Organic Technology than most examples, but having your computer's circuitry be made out of the same stuff as you are fits the idea.
- An expert at the IEEE says this is the only way we'll get Nanomachines in Real Life.
- Researchers at Plymouth University have managed to grow components for a music synthesiser from slime mould.