By 2050 the wealthy countries, namely the G8, had instituted human breeding programmes. This did not mean that many other countries were not sub rosa conducting their own programmes.
At first, such programmes were a natural extension and development of human embryonic studies and stem cell research. The routine screening for congenital diseases also contributed a fund of knowledge and personnel to the breeding programmes.
2050 was a watershed year because it was in this year that the United Nations recognised the programmes as being in the interests of the survival of the human genome.
Super diseases were threatening human populations with increasing frequency and severity every year. It was argued that the human genome ought to be considered as within the remit of human custodianship of the creatures of the earth, as biblically granted, but apparently so in many other traditions as well.
Muslim and poorer countries objected and there was talk of reprisals in both directions and of those reprisals taking the turn towards the deployment of nuclear armaments.
The U.N.’s public endorsement of human breeding programmes also stated that besides being in the global interest the programmes were in the national interest of participating countries and would therefore be funded at the national level.
The spectres of racism and eugenics were revived. However the spread of global pandemics had brought to a halt almost all international travel.
Fully immersive worlds in virtual reality had been in use since the twenties, for entertainment and profit. Large portions of the communications network, the hardware infrastructure, were now annexed for sole use by parties acting in the national interest. The corporate-military alliance had never been so strong.
Business was conducted in V.R. rooms, along with trade talks and all international dialogue. The U.N. had its H.Q. off-world. Its buildings came to serve a purely archival function. As indeed did most real-world architecture.
Further, no consensus could be reached as to the aims of the human breeding programme. It therefore fell to individual countries to decide what form the new man and new woman would take. There was supposed to be some multilateral discussion about the aims of the various programmes and a registration process, overseen by the U.N., was initially undertaken, which required full transparency and disclosure of all research and development in human breeding.
In practice, however, this could not and did not work. Nations pursued their own lines according to whatever each decided was in its interests, with results that bore out the general absurdity of national stereotypes.
The Japanese bred Samurai, the Russians Cossacks and the Danes Vikings, not, however, exclusively. H.G. Wells would have recognised in the experimental rejects his own troglodytes.
The Russians, with extreme weather events more common, tended to go underground; the Japanese took to the air with their new-breed Samurai; Vikings were born with fat layers and nutrient pockets allowing them to swim unheard of distances.
A diversity of lines was followed by the United States. But, unfortunately, all efforts to realise the Hollywood cliché of a Superman or Terminator, a Bourne or a genetically enhanced clone army, came to nothing. Where they could not be euthanised, protected by the pro-life movements, rejects were sent to California.
The North Americans prepared a ship bound for Mars, while its programmes bred Sky-farmers and super-aggressive hyper-suggestible Land-pirates, otherwise known as Cowboys.
The Germans, who at one time had had the project of a master-race within their grasp, considered the future to belong to a race of athletic women with empathic powers that were almost telepathic.
The French went for a stereotype which combined the Foreign Legionnaire with an enhanced capacity for sensuality and memorising cultural minutiae. The aim was a walking repository of French culture and history who could appreciate a fine cheese and recapture it if it fell into enemy hands. The Teutonic Amazons also appealed as targets of Gallic attentions.
The English bred dwarves. Nobody could work out why, or if this was simply the Irish influence, until the dwarves started building machines.
Of the unofficial breeding programmes, two are worth mentioning here: the Brazilian and the South Korean.
The Brazilians had by 2100 succeeded in breeding naked apes impervious to all forms of disease. He-ape and she-ape were walking biochemical laboratories.
The Koreans, meanwhile, had increased human fertility to the point where in a single lifetime a woman would and could produce upwards of 6,000 viable foetuses. A caste system developed which separated those who were reared by machine from the chosen special ones who were brought to term en ventre sa mère and thereafter were cared for by humans.
Albeit that by this time all-human families were scarce on earth, still the so-called human-breed were naturally given privileges not afforded to the swarms tended by machines.