Vinery is a (fictitious) plant-based technology, unique to the Commonwealth of the story.

The simplest summary of vinery is ‘gene-splicing with 17th-century technology’ – though specifically gene-splicing for plants, not animals. Key elements in the technologies of that period include:

  • plant-husbandry
  • brewery and bulk-production of liquids
  • milling and bulk-production of powders
  • blacksmithery and basic mechanics
  • visualisation-based memory-technologies (‘memory-palace’)
  • beginnings of systematic research-methodologies and record-keeping

At this period, these would be supported by the sciences of the period, such as:

  • chemistry and pharmacology (though this still owes more to alchemy than to present-day science)
  • early botany and microscopy

Much of its initial development is also strongly influenced by the religious metaphors, idioms, symbolism and language predominant in the culture of that time. Much of this remains in place, largely unchanged, until the late 19th-century, when the sciences and instrumentation to describe sub-cellular elements of plant-biology at last begin to become available.

The products of vinery parallel those of machine-based technologies of the respective period. These include:

  • late 17th-century: trees as pumps and narrow-span bridges
  • early 18th-century: trees as wide-span bridges, and fast-growth defensive-structures
  • mid 18th-century: trees as street-lights, trees with limited ‘creeping’ motion for agriculture and surface-mining, trees with branch-movement for cranes and static lifting
  • late 18th-century: trees with branch-movement for distance-signalling; first ‘viner-beasts’ capable of ‘walking’ motion
  • early 19th-century: slow-moving fully-mobile viner-beasts capable of significant load-bearing and drag-loads (replacing oxen and some horse-freight), also beginnings of short-distance ‘grapevine’ communication (equivalent of wired-telegraphy)
  • mid 19th-century: faster-moving viner-beasts for local freight and passenger-transport (replacing most horse-drawn vans and cabs), also point-to-point grapevine-communication (equivalent of switched telegraphy)
  • late 19th-century: primitive sentience for viner-beasts sufficient to operate bus-routes, also long-distance point-to-point grapevine (equivalent of encrypted wireless-telegraphy)

A key theme in vinery is that viner-creations cannot self-reproduce. Every viner-creation is a ‘one-off’, a sterile hybrid, that can be reproduced only by a viner repeating the same ‘recipe’ for its creation – the collection of such recipes and broader body-of-knowledge being known as the ‘Viner Codex‘.

Up until the last stages of the overall storyline, there seem to be no ways around this constraint. There are some limited exceptions to this rule:

  • in some cases, partial cloning via grafting and similar methods may be feasible, but is known to be unreliable at best
  • by the late 19th-century, a limited form of mass-production is feasible by focussing the vinery effort on the ‘flowers’ rather than the ‘tree’
  • some viner-creations – particularly for ‘statics’ with special materials- or pharmaceutical-properties – can be emulated via selective-breeding in conventional horticulture, and can thence follow normal plant-reproduction

(Note: although vinery is science-fiction at present, its description aims to follow a ‘hard-science’ genre, in accordance with the science of the respective period. It would be interesting to explore just how much of vinery might become feasible, in our own world and timeline, via present-day gene-splicing and suchlike – and the social and other implications if it does become feasible…)

Last Update: August 26, 2017  

August 26, 2017    Vinery  

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