Code of the Lifemaker
SummaryOver a million years before the present, a robot "Searcher"
ship built by an advanced alien race to seek out suitable worlds to seed with
self-replicating manufacturing facilities for supplying the home planet is hit
by the radiation blast from a supernova, which wreaks havoc on its sensor and
computing systems. All the same, it finds a world that its partly-working instrumentation
judges to be exploitable, and it sets to work initiating a growing system of
replicating factories and attendant robots which will eventually spread over
the surface. Thereafter, everything goes wrong. Fast forward to the near future.
Probes exploring the outer planets discover beneath its the cloud cover of Saturn's
giant moon, Titan, a bizarre ecosystem of living, reproducing machines. More
astonishing still, an intelligent race called the "Taloids" have evolved
out of the chaos, who grow their houses and artifacts organically, but whose
offspring are assembled externally in factories.
Mainly as a publicity gimmick, and to the outrage of the official scientists,
media superstar "psychic" Karl Zambendorf finagles a position for
himself and his support team of strange, assorted talents on the mission despatched
to initiate contact. The Taloids have put together their own brand of religion
based on belief in an ultimate creator of machines--and hence life--that is
not itself a machine, so the effect on them of encountering Terrans can be imagined.
In this weird setting, Zambendorf becomes the Taloids' champion against financial
and industrial interests seeking to exploit Titan's vast production potential,
in the process finding himself cast in a role more bizarre than anything that
has gone before in his erratic and checkered career.