I don't remember the title or too many specifics, but here goes:

  • Genetic engineering is ubiquitous. The system for explaining how genetic engineering works has a fixed number of "points" and something like 10 axis. Individuals' genetic code is a series of numbers along the axis (1,4,6 ... etc..), iirc the maximal number of any axis is 7 but don't hold me to that
  • The transportation system is via flying car. The cars are managed by an AI that's running through the brains of two genetically engineered individuals
  • Each major automated function (transportation, health, police, etc...) is managed by a family, and at the core each family holds some genetically engineered
  • Countries don't exist as we know them - they no longer have physical borders
  • The main plot for the book pivots around an individual that's genetically engineered to be maximally charming and maximally good for some meaning of good. Anyone who meets this individual cannot help but become a follower
  • I don't think humans have gone to space at all
  • Technological advances are, in many ways, held sacred and/or secret

The book stands out in my memory as one which does a really really good job of describing what life would be like if we all had access to unlimited, free, AI powered, flight enabled vehicles for transportation purposes

  • 2
    finally a good use for the enneagram - and it's science-fiction, just like the enneagram ;)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 22:38
  • 11
    Was I the only one who thought "Dune" when they saw the title of the question, and then went "Oh, not Dune" when they read the body of it?
    – nick012000
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 11:15

1 Answer 1


This matches many parts of Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, first book of the Terra Ignota series. First book published in 2016.

  1. One faction (the Gordians) has a method of psychological (not genetic) classification using a series of numbers.
  2. The world is linked by a ubiquitous transportation system of flying cars, so fast that national borders are meaningless.
  3. Two of the characters (Ganymede and his sister Danae) are engineered to be beautiful and charismatic.
  4. The car transportation system is largely run by 2 siblings (Eureka Weeksbooth, and I forget the other name). They are not genetically modified, but have been psychologically trained (some would say mutilated) since birth to repurpose all their senses for data input.

Semi-matching: One faction (Utopia) have a city on the Moon and are working on terraforming Mars, and are the most technologically advanced. Some people revere them and their creations.

Non-matching: major services aren't really owned by families led by genetically modified people. Also, the plot doesn't really center around the people modified to be highly charismatic and beautiful.

  • 2
    Too Like the Lightning is it! Thank you!! Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 23:32

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