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Biotech Is Better

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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.

Contrast with its near-mirror twin, Artificial Limbs Are Stronger.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 

  • 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.

  • The Yuuzhan Vong in the New Jedi Order 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.
    • And it's also worth noting that the Vong biotech isn't presented as being better so much as different. It has its own set of weaknesses, but at the beginning of the story the Vong know the Galactic's weaknesses (due to advance scouting), while the galactics don't know the Vong's.
    • At one point the Vong also run into trouble when their living armor has an allergic reaction to some pollen from a grove of Ithorian trees. It's so severe that many of the Vong troops end up either crushed or suffocated by their own armor. It's such a potential problem that the Vong unleash a bioweapon on the planet that, combined with one of their immense "worldships" crashing to the planet, all but destroys the planet's biosphere. Hundreds of years later, visitors still need to wear protective gear.
  • In Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series the Darwinists' "fabricated beasts" often seem to have the advantage over the Clankers' machines. A couple of 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, and partway through the first book is equipped with Clanker-made engines that make it faster than any other Darwinist airship.
  • 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 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 (2003) use a lot of biotech and they appear to be much more advanced than the humans.
  • The Expanse uses this to establish class disparities. After a hauler on the Canterbury loses his arm below the elbow to an ice block, he's told he could go for the biogel that regrows limbs. He admits that he's much likely to be able to afford a prosthetic cyberlimb.
  • Played with in Westworld: The more up-to-date Hosts use Organic Technology down to the bone, instead of just as a facade over a mechanical framework, but the Man in Black claims this was because it's cheaper that way and doesn't see it as an improvement.

    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.
    • Shadowrun's pure-science-fiction contemporary, Cyberpunk, goes the same route of 'pricier, but you can get more of it before you cap out'. The 'cap' here being 'before you disassociate from humanity and go on a killing spree', since even if it's has kevlar and polymers lased through the flesh and bones, it's still your arm doing the punching. The bioware here also has some varied and weirdly specialized applications, from a nanobot-based auto-grooming system (alongside the more obvious Healing Factor system) to a gland that secretes organic antifreeze.
  • 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.
  • Trinity: 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) making major use of it. On one hand, they can replicate the 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 attuned to too many biotech devices, they develop junkie-like symptoms.

    Video Games 
  • Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords: 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.
  • Colobot: In 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: ones that walk on ant-like legs and 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.
  • Warframe: The Technocyte Plague merges biological and mechanical systems into dangerous amalgams of twisted flesh. While the normal Infested enemies are a bit weaker than the other factions (their main advantage is limitless numbers), properly cultured and controlled, the plague can be used to create near-invincible super soldiers that can fight entire armies. This is actually the origin of the warframes. The Orokin couldn't use traditional technology against the Sentients (since the Sentients could just control it), so they infested hosts with a modified Technocyte Plague, giving them skin as strong as steel and reinforced organs.
    • On a related note the Sentients themselves are ambiguously biotech; despite appearing as machines at first glance they have gelatinous flesh and blood, and their cores are described as organs. They also have all the advantages of this trope, and are generally the one thing that really seems to be a threat to the Tenno.
  • The Big Bad of Dragon Ball Fighterz, Android 21, is another of Dr. Gero's bio-androids like Cell, but she's much stronger.

  • Like so many other sci-fi tropes, Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has a rebuttal for this one. The strip claims that biotech has so many downsides that it's more trouble than it's worth. An organic machine can heal from damage a mechanical machine wouldn't have had to worry about in the first place, they can get sick and/or die, etc.

    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.