Absurdly Youthful Parents
There are two factors in the Cosmic Era that produce absurdly youthful parents, anagathic treatments and artificial reproduction. Arcanotech biological treatments can and do extend the lifespans of those wealthy enough to enjoy them, which means that the physical appearance of a person is not a very good indicator of how old they are. A wealthy woman can extend her lifespan into centuries, with the current generation of treatments extending lifespans beyond what is known. The second allows for parents to have children without going through the physical stress and aging that comes from reproduction. Growing a child in a tank rather than the womb is much less of a burden on a human body.
Amazing Technicolor Population
Chromids demonstrate altered skin color, and their genes pass on, diluting generation after generation. One of the unmentioned side effects of polychromic alteration is that the children of chromids will demonstrate the same coloration and other gene mods. Red chromids have pink children, blue chromids have light blue children, and thus, create a literal rainbow of humanity. While a minority, there are enough chromid mods that in any given location, they can be found, even if just an odd colored face in a crowd.
Fixing hair into crazy shapes is easy, just the application of styling product and a hair style program for your Valet/Maid droid. The coloration can be handled either through gene modding, or through the application of dyes and treatments. Anime hairstyles are much more common among street gangs, urban gangs like the Ko Girls, and in certain circles. A character in a popular entertainment franchise can set off a hair trend with relative ease, just like any sort of fashion or taste in music or other entertainment.
The Beautiful Elite
The elite have access to all of the best gene therapy, augmentation, and the rest, meaning that among the elite, the true elite, there are no fat people, no bald people, no ugly people. Scars are erased, and imperfections are augmented away. All of these things, these negative things, are the signs of the middle and poor. The elite are wealthy and young, vital, virile, and strong.
Evil Makes You Ugly
One of the things that is true in the Cosmic Era is that malice and malicious intent does make you ugly. Parapsychics gain stronger tells as their power grows, and those who are evil become monstrous in appearance. To this end, it isn't uncommon for those who have become marked by evil to hide their faces under masks, speak through proxies, use surrogate automata, and otherwise operate from positions of secrecy. There is a line between someone who is a generally bad apple, and someone who is outright evil. True evil is actually fairly rare, so there aren't that many individuals who have to hide their faces.
Clothing has been revolutionized, with all sorts of self cleaning anti-bacterial fibers, and strange things like shirts with embedded LEDs that have flashing ads, logos, and banners on them. One of the basic adaptations is biostatic fit, functionally making clothes form fitting, regardless of size. The most obvious application of biostatic cling is the plug suit (encounter suit) from Neon Genesis Evangelion, a loose baggy fitting pilots uniform until a wrist button is pushed and the garment shrinks to fit the wearer.
There are a number of other tricks that basic cloth can be coerced into doing in the Cosmic Era. The biostatic function is a form of material memory, which means that garments can be made that keep their shape, largely ignoring gravity or wind. This includes skirts that don't flip up for magical panty shots, and borderline lingerie that exposes large amounts of skin, but staying improbably in place, often looking more like bodypaint than actual clothing. This allows for the creation of impossibly cool clothes. Add in simple stuff like hydrophobic treatment, color shifting, and stain resistance and it's all ready to go.
One of the unintended consequences of commonplace genetic engineering and augmentation was a change in general morality where it came to nudity. With fewer and fewer physical defects and general unattraction, concealing clothing became something of an anomaly. The people who wore such clothing had something to hide, and this started translating over into the general culture. Thus, form fitting and stripperiffic attire became the norm, while long and concealing clothing became the hallmark of lowness, deception, and general untrustworthiness.
In the Cosmic Era, the denizens of the arcologies and other fortresses of the future consider nudity a sign of honesty and sincerity. This isn't to say that everyone goes around with their bits hanging out, but they on average show much more than they cover. This is amplified in the media, with heroes frequently being depicted nude or near nude (not a far shade from the typically arco-viewer) while villains are dowdy, with concealing clothing to go along with being fat and ugly. In many ways, the difference between the pampered CogNet addicted, robot served arco resident and the wasteland and geofront dwellers is Elves vs Orcs.
Impractically Fancy Outfit
A variation on the form fitting wardrobe, the impractically fancy outfit is something that can be rolled out in the Cosmic Era as a demonstration of wealth, power, and taste, or the lack there-of. The ability to work metal into memory cloth, and manipulating magnetic fields allows for women to have angelic dresses with floating wings linked to it. Jewelry can light up, chime and make music, even orbit around the wearer for flash and dazzle. This can extrapolate out into combat oriented formal wear, such as the combat rated Decontractee armure suits, or encounter suits that have been tailored for style and cut.
In the gendering of robots, the most crass way to show gender is the addition of cybernetic genetalia and breasts. A less crass and more common method is the use of Hartman Hips. In a female gendered robot, the hip to shoulder ratio is high, giving such machines a larger hip section leading up into a smaller torso. Male robots will have a lower hip to shoulder ratio, giving them a trapezoidal torso shap. This technology is seen in larger robots and some mecha that are designed for high speed, as the larger hips can house more robust actuators. Speed mecha are typically detailed as female.
Highly Visible Ninja
With the cults of personality that appear in military organizations (and outside) it isn't uncommon for there to be highly visible special operatives. While the role of the spec ops agent is covert, the overt ops have turned supersoldiers into deterrent forces. Some famous military figures have their own fan clubs, such as some ship captains, hunky super soldiers have juvenile fan clubs, and mecha pilots are the new fighter pilots.
Sentai Squad: it isn't uncommon for mecha units to be brightly colored. The modern application of warfare doesn't apply in the Cosmic Era, and the forces that battle tend to do so in an almost chivalrous manner. The color coordinated teams of mecha slug it out, while their equally colorful pilots are all heroes in the making. There are still rough and tumble, rank and fill, drab olive and desert tan mecha, but these are not the famous pilots. On an inverse level, the sentai squads depend heavily on the combat abilities of their machines, and are actually not the best or even good pilots. They are the best connected, socially and financially, though.
One of the side effects of genetic screening and augmentation was that many of the old maladies of the Petroleum era were banished. Eating disorders or metabolic problems were fixed with a visit to a brain tweaker or a cosmetologist. Accordingly, the physical interests of the Cosmic Era have changed.
Cosmic Thin is biologically impossible, with the desirable models having waifish forms that are almost skeletal. This comes from extensive biomodification (major reduction in the GI tract, metabolic modification, and even having an external gut (The Gastricator is an external digestive system that turns food and food supplements into a paste the model can consume, which is almost 100% absorbed by the body). Cosmic thin is a human being with a comically or disturbingly skeletal appearance. The majority of Cosmic Thin are female, but there are also cosmic thin waif boys, but they are a minority.
Cosmic Buxom/Bimbo is a common phenotype among meretrices and other women interested in sex industry careers. Cosmic Buxom/Bimbo has a large bust and large hips, with a wasp waist. The breasts, lips, and rear are all prominent, and common augmentations include pheromone tailoring, internally regulated fertility, and a resistance to disease. There is a common trope that Buxom/Bimbo phenoclades are below average intelligence and are submissive in nature. This is true some of the time, especially in places where said people didn't have a choice in their augmentations.
Cosmic He-Man is the male counterpart to the Buxom/Bimbo. The Cosmic He-Man has oversized rippling muscles, great hair, and finely chiseled features, regardless of race. Like the B/B He-Men are known for being somewhat single minded, and simple. The CHM is not a military or combat biomod, as they are not augmented for anything other than having big beefy muscles and optimal sized genitalia.
Cosmic Fat is anyone who is more than 5 kg over their optimal weight. The Cosmic Era, with it's eye on responsible resource use, and interest in maintaining good health, obesity is a sign of degeneracy. The Petroleum Era was fat, and now the association is simple, fat is stupid, violent, and destructive. Baddies in the entertainment field are typically both ugly and fat, just so everyone knows who to root for or against.
Make up and the general cosmetics industry has made dramatic changes in the nearly four centuries since the Petroleum Era, and the make up of that time has more in common with ancient Egyptians using lead and other toxic substances for their beauty than it does with the tech of the Cosmic Era. Skin texture and coloration are easy to change, so most people have their complexions and pigments fixed, doing away with foundations and blushes. Things that are colorful, such as lipsticks, eye shadows, and such, are made of 'smart materials' that are hydrophobic and chemically bonded to the skin, and only come off after being given a special treatment, typically a low voltage zap that deactivates it. Thus, make-up only has to be removed periodically, either after the course of weeks or months, or when a change is desired. If no change is desired, make up can be made permanent either through implants in the skin, or localized genetic manipulation.
LED inks and implants exist in the Cosmic Era, allowing for the creation of implanted touch screen devices, and animated tattoos, or televisions implanted in the body. These are fairly common, but have only cursory connectivity, and usually just mirror another device. It is common for arco residents to have their MUSE tethered to their implants so that they can use it as the processor and avoid dealing with physical hardware.
Intimate Marks: Tattoos take on a new dimension with smart ink, and full body tattoos are much more common. This is another form of self expression where people are increasingly looking the same, and instead of a barb wire tat or tribal tats, a person can go full out and get tattoos that start at their face and go all the way down. This can be purely artistic and cosmetic, it can be in the application of a trace on system, or biosensors for greater reflexes and nerve sensitivity. If you encounter a woman with tribal tats on her face, there is a good chance that they are nerve tracers and the other end could very well be tied to her clitoris. Nothing like a girl who can orgasm from face stroking and kissing.
The Kavorka Man
One of the things about everyone looking increasingly the same is that sexual reproduction is generally geared towards finding something different to mix DNA with. Thus, the Kavorka man has a major place in the Cosmic Era media. The Kavorka man (animal magnetism) is not physically attractive, he is ugly, his manners are crude, and he is otherwise unsuitable for the gilded towers. But under this foul visage, the Kavorka man is strong, powerful, not one to be crossed or trifled with. Where the pretty boys and the common boys turn and run, the Kavorka breaks them. The most common application of this trope is the abduction fantasy where the bored arco-wife is kidnapped by a wastelander warlord, or a geofront underboss. She is torn from her happy (ne boring) home to a dangerous other world where she is at the mercy of the Kavorka until she escapes, is rescued, or converts him (ala Beauty and the Beast)
Less common is the Kavorka Woman, but the trope is generally the same. The barbarous woman, typically a Wastelander rather than a geofront dweller, invariably abducts or rescues the bachsel from the slave traders, mutants, or whatever. The empowered kavorka woman then engages in feminine domination with the hapless young man.
One of the major influences of technology and cybernetics is that muscle mass is no longer than important in the Cosmic Era. Robots can be made stronger than humans could ever hope to be, and inside a power armor suit, even a waif could punch holes in walls. Accordingly there is less personal emphasis placed on masculinity and muscle mass. That is until someone with muscle mass shows up. Large muscled up men can and do inspire angst, fear, and trepidation in their Cosmically frail male counterparts. This is often a thing of humor among the muscle men, but ironic as even the strongest of organics can be crushed by run of the mill automation. These men are seen as figures of sexual desire for women in the arcologies, being very much macho and hyper masculine. The female counterpart appears less frequently. Females from outside the arcologies are the equals to or superior to the average male arco dweller and thus are often left being confronted by a sudden lack of femininity. They are almost ogres compared to the waifish waspy arco females.
Yes, these is a slowly diverging change in humanity. Those who live in space and the arcos are tending down towards a general smaller body size, as muscle is less important. Muscle requires effort to keep, and more calories to sustain. Thus, where resources are a commodity, smaller people prevail. Outside of the arcos, in the Wastelands, such people are like children. They are weak, and divested of their technology and such, they are helpless, victims.
According to Rule 63, for every character, someone has done a gender swapped version. In the Cosmic Era, experiencing life as the opposite gender is very easy, and very common. The most common mode is through emoting, usually through the aid of a SQUIDband. This allows for men and women to share their gender specific experiences. Likewise, it is relatively easy for a person to get a surrogate droid of the opposite sex (typically fully functional) and experience a filtered version of the opposite gender. CogNet immersion can allow people to experience and even create new genders and races, but this is just a more in depth version of emoting. Finally, undergoing sex change therapy can alter a person's gender in a matter of a few months or days (depending on if they have enough money, and access to a cosmogenetic spa, where they can tank themselves for the duration of a change).
The people of the Cosmic Era, specifically those of the first world, sitting in the arcos and space stations, are beautiful. One of the costs of this is that they have to subject themselves to genetic treatment, splicing up their DNA for the sake of cosmetic perfection. This typically involves computers, sterile environments, hypodermics and needles drawing deep tissue samples, spending time in suspension tanks, tubes and hoses poked into their bodies. Some of this is done in utero, the rest is done through the typical lifespan.
Played straight, it's medical horror, the use of machines to fundamentally change the base code of who you are. This injection is going to make you thin, it's going to alter your metabolism, but it is also going to alter your taste buds, some of that delicious stuff you can't stop stuffing in your face hole is about to start tasting like burnt shoes. There is also the basic horror of forgetting who you are after years or decades of cosmetic treatments, not remembering who you were as a child, because you've changed genders and races so many times it's not even funny. There are paranoia concerns, because nothing says that genetic alterations can't be messed with. What comes with that subsidized No Fatties gene treatment? Submissiveness to authority? triggerable diseases? Sterility until you pay the bill? Finally, there is genetic homogeneity. If there is one ideal of beauty, and genetic treatment makes that reachable, then the general population is going to drift towards that ideal, until everyone starts to look blandly like one another. Then the cycle starts over with a new trend.
One of the problems with everyone starting to look the same, is that it can be hard to tell people apart at a glance or from a distance. While sometimes this is not an issue as friends with contacts through their MUSE devises will be advised of who is who (subconscious cue, sub-audible input, pop up data on retinal display) but sometimes it can be annoying struggled to stand out. Some answer this with outlandish anime hair, or striking make up, of undergoing skin pigment alteration. The less intrusive method is also known Charming. A charming leaves a physical mark on the face, a sort of identifier, that can be easily seen, but is much less obtrusive than facial tattoos and much less disruptive than flame colored hair. Charms are typically small symbols that manifest as moles or beauty marks. Stars, hearts, tear drops, and other simple shapes are favored.
Achievements and Marks of Shame
With so much of the Cosmic Era being played out in virtual reality of the CogNet, and everyone remaining nearly constantly connected to it even when not immersed in it, it is easy enough for a person's online achievements (and marks of shame) to be readily available. This can range from have credit ranking medals (Jon has a 5 star credit rating, and has had a five star rating for greater than a year) to personal achievements (Shelby has performed CPR twice and saved two people's lives) to negative activities (Edgar has been convicted of black feed use, and unsafe net use). Thus, most people have their highlights and low points on easy display. The most common form of hacking is buffing up the MUSE user profile to show more achievements than have actually been earned, or conceal marks of shame.
There is a social media aspect to this as well, a person's behavior online gathers them reputation points, and the things that people say about them are aggregated to produce numeric values for their profiles. There would be a default Briggs-Meyers profile with numerical values, political spectrum value, personal values spectrum, and so forth. So when you meet Jon for the first time, you can see that he is very much a extrovert judgemental person with strong corporatocrat beliefs, but somewhat liberal personal beliefs. His aggregate brings up keywords like jerk, sarisari man, and determination. You now know a good deal about Jon just looking at his personal legend.
Flat-chested, a variation of Cosmic Thin, Pettanko women have minimal or no breast tissue. This is typically a deliberate choice on the woman's behalf and typically a rejection of biological reproduction and fertility demonstration. The pattanko doesn't wish to be seen as a 'breeder' or a meretrix, but also doesn't wish to become male, neuter, or something else. Other variations include women obsessed with extreme youth, or attracting the sort of men who are likewise interested in extreme youth.
Pettanko is common in deviant sexuality, contrary to the intent of the original phenoclade modification. These pettanko performers pass themselves off as 'children' for the entertainment of others. Vicious legal battles and veritable legal wars have erupted over the legality and morality of the use of genetic augmentation and cybernetics and the exploitation of minors. Is it exploitation if the 'minor' in question is a genetic augment in her 30s? Is it child abuse if the child is a HildeCo Type 23/9 machine? It largely remains a gray area, though the general trend is moving away from criminalizing augments and robotics that are child-like. SQUICK
Bio-Luminescence is by no means new, and it is attainable several ways, genetic augmentation, cybernetic augmentation, or parapsychic manifestation. Genetic augmentation gives the patient the same bioluminescent cells and abilities as other creatures that glow in the dark, this is generally a fixed ability. Cybernetic augmentation implants a microscopic layer of LEDs under the skin, allowing for a digitally controlled glow, often with the ability to manifest patterns or change colors at will. The final way, parapsychic channeling, creates a visible aura around a user provided they are drawing in enough power. This level of manifestation is usually dramatic so that the glow itself is much less impressive than the telekinetically thrown cars or exploding buildings.
Rubber Forehead Aliens
One of the things that will happen when cosmetic genetic alteration becomes a thing is that there are going to be people who leap at a chance to become their fantasy race. Given that most aliens and fantasy races are functionally rubber forehead aliens (actors wearing rubber facial prosthetics) this level of augmentation will be easy. Elves, Vulcans, Klingons, Dwarves, and so forth will be fairly common. The same goes for the cat-people, and other 'hybrid' alien races. The low key alterations are likely to be socially acceptable, and some even preferable (the Vulcan emulating kid getting pointy ears, emotion suppression, and a brain enhancer, he's spot on for the research lab)
With the implementation of MUSEs and biomonitors, it is very easy for security and law enforcement agents to 'scan' anyone they come across to know who they are looking at. Contrary to the mark of the beast barcodes tattooed on the hand and skull, the data is digital and held in the link between the muse and gesund auf device. With the use of local area sensors, sensor drones, or handheld sensor devices, basic information can be gathered without ever interacting with the people being identified.
The nightmare of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley come true, the digital trail of the Cosmic Era citizen is available with a tap of a button. Their personal information comes up, personality profile, blood type, employment, shopping habits, media watching habits, and even predisposition to criminal activity. There are no secrets left.
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