Kirk Hixon, Nova artist-entrepreneur

   
 

Artist, entrepreneur and old man: Kirk is 165 years old, pushing the limits of Nova medical technology. Most of his life he has been an artist, working in radical new media: neural activity, genetically modified bacteria and plants, bionics and even sociology. While most of his work is little known today except among scholars, some of his wild ideas were great success stories like the wall-cultures (brightly colored, involved patterns created from bacterial colonies growing between two glass plates hung on the wall; they were a fad around 2236) or his performance piece "Mt. Mitternacht eruption: Gebratenes Hammelfleisch" (2267).

One of his most spectacular performances, "Vox Populi" (2282) was not much of an artistic success but the technology had unexpected (and profitable) spin-off effects. Vox consisted of wiring 143 volunteers with neural implants to measure their attitudes in realtime on a variety of subjects. The data was then fed into an AI system to produce muzak, political speeches, furniture and food to suit them; this was then displayed and served at an exhibition as an ironic comment of the media obsessed and commercialised society they lived in. A group of entrepreneurs became interested in the idea to actually use this system for real, and they managed to convince Kirk (never the man to say no to the chance of earning back the fortune he had spent on Vox) to join in. They founded Neuropoll Inc, and Kirk to his surprise found that he was a fairly good entrepreneur. Over time the others cashed in their stocks, while Kirk slowly amassed the majority and eventually "retired" to a position of president while leaving the actual running of the company to his hirelings.

Age has taken its toll on him: even advanced Nova medicine cannot keep the body functioning indefinitely. Instead he has replaced failing or weakening organs with bionics like many other old Novas. He has been lucky so far, and outlived 99% of his generation. His heart, eyes, joints and kidneys are artificial, his liver is a graft, his lungs, muscles and skeleton are being helped an exoskeletal device, his brain has been given several treatments with cloned neurons and is supported by a dense network of electronics, he is given artificial antibodies and cultured immune cells and he has more drugs and hormones in his bloodstream than a teenager on Dionysos. Since his neurons are getting slower, many of his brain functions are done or augmented by specialised neural AI extrapolating his actions; this treatment is so risky and disconcerting that few use it, but Kirk has nothing to lose. He is irrationally afraid of cryonics, and plans to live every second he can in realtime. As he puts it, "Iím not aging gracefully, but Iím ageing rather than dying!".

He is a quirky character, often behaving in strange ways due to his various AI systems. While he looks like a decrepit old man lost in virtuality (which is not far from truth), he can move extremely fast when he needs to thanks to his exoskeleton, which also houses an AI nurse which constantly monitors his biochemistry and injects substances based on his current and predicted state.

His current goal is to get to Atlantis to get some anti-aging treatments. He wants to live forever, and he will do everything to achieve it. Beyond that, he wants to raise hell Ė he likes being in the centre of attention, being one of the characters that if not change the course of history at least puts a mark on it.

Future events: After being treated, Kirk will spend a few months on Atlantis. In many ways it is a primitive and silly place from his point of view, but the vitality and freedom appeals to him. He will also note that Atlantean culture can be used as a tool to both make a tidy profit on Nova, as well as make some waves. His idea is to set up an Atlantean enclave at Nova, acting as a tax haven.

The project is called Orbital Nation. Hixon will gather together some of his Atlantean and Nova contacts to fund the creation of a habitat (bought from Unity) which will be formally declared part of Atlantis. They hope to set it up in orbit around Nova and make it a center for trading, a tax haven at a short net lag and the stylish place to be. Unlike the Alliance it would have a good infrastructure and serious backing (especially if he can get the Process to help). That the Landfall government will not be happy is obvious, and Kirk looks forward to the game. If it works out, he has plans to branch out other enclaves to other planets.