Thursday, July 20, 2017

Sphere: The Jinn

"I can appreciate their scientific accomplishments. No other culture in the Sphere comes close to their mastery of the biological sciences, not even my own. What I find objectionable about them is how they use that expertise."
- Chilaili Ja-Verge, Flawless Mercenary

"Our encounters with the Jinn have been . . . problematic. We do not think they see us as a people, but, rather, as a work of art. For us, interaction with them can be dehumanizing."
- Verrina Seinaldos, Zarran scholar

"They have the potential to be so much more than they are, if only they will put aside their ridiculous sentimentality."
- Krejci Bo 2.4, Herman trader

"I dated a Jinn once. She was a lot of fun and I thought we had something special, but then I found out she was dating other people. It wouldn't have been so bad, if one of them hadn't been my sister."
- Bit Kwyndahm, Wanderer

"Other cultures treat us as if we are vapid, empty-headed children. We are not. We are simply a people who enjoy the pleasures that surround us, the pleasures we have earned. If that means changing ourselves to better embrace those pleasures, to embrace what the universe can offer, why not?"
- Temple Avisaid, Jinn bio-mancer

The Jinn are the largest, most biologically diverse culture within the Sphere. Although the bulk of the race lives on Venus, representatives of the Jinn can be found almost everywhere in the Sphere. Including some places that you would never expect to encounter them.
Friendly and gregarious, the Jinn are one of the most open cultures within the Sphere. Although famous for their mastery of the biological sciences, they are almost as well-known for their pleasure centers. Thousands of people flock to Jinn resorts to relax, revitalize themselves and indulge in their carnal appetites. A popular saying in the Sphere is, "Where there's Jinn, there's a party."
Although more conservative cultures consider them morally questionable, the majority of the Jinn adhere to a strict ethical code. They abhor violence and will not use their skills on anyone below a legal age of majority, even if the parents/guardians give permission. The Jinn believe that only the individual has the right to alter themselves.
As noted, the Jinn are masters of the biological sciences. Their medical skills are second to none, their ability to manipulate the human genome is legendary, and they routinely use these skills to alter themselves and others.  Altering ones gender is nothing to a Jinn, it's practically child's play for their bio-mancers. It is far more interesting to change one's DNA, to sport prehensile hair or skin with bio-luminescent qualities. More practical changes are also possible, with some Jinn possessing superhuman strength, enhanced senses or amazing regenerative abilities.
As evidence of their ability, the Jinn terraformed Venus, transforming it into a fecund paradise where it is possible for humans to survive without life support gear. They have created a ragtag biosphere full of wondrous, impossible creatures (both animal and vegetable). New species do not so much evolve on Venus as simply appear, released into the wild by Jinn bio-mancers.
The Jinn themselves live in beautiful domed cities. They live in large, extended families where polygamy and polyamory are common practices. A Jinn child will grow up with a dozen sibling-cousins, not to mention foster-siblings and various 'aunties' and 'uncles' who share no biological connection to them, but are members of the extended family group. Visitors to a Jinn home can expect a warm welcome, which will include being swarmed by children of various ages.
When a Jinn child reaches their age of majority, they are allowed to alter their bodies as they see fit.  Some indulge minor cosmetic whims, altering pigmentation of hair, eyes and skin, while others embrace more radical transformations, implanting gills or having their bodies adjusted for a zero-g environment.  Eventually this phase in their development will come to an end and most Jinn choose a standard form with minor superficial differences to showcase their individuality. Of course, there are fashions among the Jinn, and right now the trend is for white hair, a modified nasal cavity and brow-antennae that improve spatial awareness.
Jinn live long lives. They fully embrace longevity enhancements and it isn't odd to encounter Jinn who are into their second and third centuries. Eventually, though, even the Jinn's biological expertise reaches its limit and they succumb to death.
As noted above, the Jinn get along well with most of the Sphere's races. They admire the Flawless' desire for perfection and the free-wheeling individuality of the Wanderers. They are fascinated by the Zarrans, whom they inevitably compare to their own creations, much to Zarran exasperation. The Jinn are one of the few races to find the Hermans intriguing, viewing them as a kind of dark reflection of themselves. Interestingly enough, the Jinn have even established relationships with some of the Wardens who preserve the integrity of the Sphere itself.  More than one offworlder has been shocked to witness a Jinn and a Warden enjoying a pleasant conversation as they stroll down the avenue of a domed city.

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