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"I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to!"
- Charles Stross

  Artificial life, tougher than protoplasm.  

We got back to his old house under the trees of the campus. From a cabinet in his quiet living room he took a plastic box. In it was a small, oblong bar of pinkish substance that wriggled slightly, as if it were animated.
"Touch it,Ē Dr. Lanvin commanded.
I obeyed. The stuff was warm, and in response to contact with my finger, it writhed violently. "Unh ó what in hell!Ē I grunted.
"Itís something a big commercial laboratory managed to produce for abstract reasons,Ē he answered. "It isnít any one substance, but its structure does include quite a few complex silicone compounds. Chemically itís not static. Processes and structural changes are going on inside it constantly. Its microscopic texture is cellular, like animal tissue. Pour, say, sugar dissolved in water on it, with the addition of certain salts, and it absorbs the solution slowly, along with oxygen from the air, to produce a kind of tissue-combustion, heat and movement. But it can convert sunlight, or simple heat from an outside source, or electricity, into motion, too. And it grows. Cut a piece of it off, and that will grow, too, as if reproduction had occurred. So ó would you call it life of a sort? Itís a lot more rugged than common life. Here, Iíll show you, Charlie . . .Ē
Doc picked up a small soldering tool. When its point glowed red hot he held it close to that pinkish oblong. It did not recoil from the heat. Instead, as if impelled by some inherent automatism or instinct, it curled itself around the tool, and, hissing softly, seemed to enjoy the warmth. When Doc switched off the current, it uncoiled itself as if in disappointment. It wasnít burned.
"Call it íprotoplastí as its creators do ó a tougher, upstart brother of protoplasm ó life. It isnít molded. But what if, in a vastly improved form, it could be someday?Ē
I frowned. "An animal?" I questioned. "Artificially made? Or ó a man? An android, that is? Pure fantasy, of course, yet A robot, with a robotís ruggedness, but made completely in human form. Servants maybe?Ē
From Dawn of the Demigods, by Raymond Z. Gallun.
Published by Planet Stories in 1954
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