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"Science fiction is really sociological studies of the future, things that the writer believes are going to happen by putting two and two together."
- Ray Bradbury

Power-Wagon  
  Wagon powered by muscular creature from Etamin 9; uses carbohydrate syrup for fuel.  

In this Hugo award-winning novel, Jack Vance creates a world that combines low-tech organic decadence with technology that is capable of taking humanity to the stars. The aristocrats make use of non-sentient (or barely sentient) creatures from various worlds to support their lifestyle.

Xanten turned back and crossed the landing area to the barracks and garages. Once more, frowning in discomfort, he felt the need for discretion. What times these were when a gentleman must skulk to avoid such as the Meks! He stole up behind the garages, where a half-dozen power-wagons lay dozing.

Xanten looked them over. All were of the same sort, a metal frame with four wheels and an earth-moving blade at the front. Nearby must be the syrup stock.

Xanten mounted a power-wagon, twisted the awake key, tapped the go button, and pulled a lever which set the wheels into reverse motion. The power-wagon lurched back. Xanten halted it and turned it so that it faced the barracks. He did likewise with three others, then set them all in motion, one after the other.

They trundled forward. The blades cut open the metal wall of the barracks, the roof sagged. The power-wagons continued, pushing the length of the interior, crushing all in their way.

Technovelgy from The Last Castle, by Jack Vance.
Published by Del Rey in 1967
Additional resources -

In a helpful footnote, Vance gives us the details on the power-wagons:


(Power-wagon from 'The Last Castle' by Jack Vance)

Power-wagons, like the Meks, originally swamp-creatures from Etamin 9, were great rectangular slabs of muscle, slung into a rectangular frame and protected from sunlight, insects and rodents by a synthetic pelt. Syrup sacs communicated with their digestive apparatus, wires led to motor nodes in the rudimentary brain. The muscles were clamped to rocker arms which actuated rotors and drive wheels. The power-wagons, economical, long-lived, and docile, were principally used for heavy cartage, earth-moving, heavy tillage and other arduous jobs.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Last Castle
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Last Castle
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

Power-Wagon-related news articles:
  - Musclebot: Microrobot with a Heart
  - Biohybrid Robotics USArmy Adds Muscle Tissue To Robots

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