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"...the people dealing with these new technologies will still be derived from the human stock we're familiar with today."
- Charles Stross

Gillfluid  
  Breathable fluid that provides oxygen to the lungs, allowing greater pressure on the body.  

Interesting depiction of liquid breathing - also called fluid breathing - which has been used for experimental medical treatment.

Taince Yarabokin floated foetal, swaddled in shock-gel, lungs full of fluid, umbilicalled to the ship, nurtured by it, talking to it, listening to it, feeling it all around her. A gee-suit half-completed the image of warrior as unborn, leaving the wearer clothed in a close second skin. Her connection with the ship was via implants and an induction collar rather than a cord into her navel, and her chest moved only faintly as the gillfluid tided oxygen into her blood and scrubbed waste gases out again.
From The Algebraist, by Iain M Banks.
Published by Orbit in 2004
Additional resources -

Here's how to go from air-breathing mode to gillfluid-breathing mode:

A soft light and a gentle chime confirmed all was well. He reached for the double nozzle of the gillfluit root, took a deep breath, let it out, then placd the nozzles at his nostrils.

Fassin lay back, zoning out as best he could, fighting the urge to panic, the gag response of fear as the gillfluid poured into his nose, throat and lungs like the coldest drink anybody had ever taken.

This idea has been used in sf before; Joe Haldeman mentions it in The Forever War (1974). It is used to great dramatic effect in the 1989 film The Abyss.


(Ed Harris getting ready to switch to air breathing)

If you're wondering if you can breath sea water like a fish and get away with it, you're still reading too much sf. However, take a look at this real-life effort to breathe the air dissolved in water - Breathe Like A Fish Thanks To Alan Bodner.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Algebraist
  More Ideas and Technology by Iain M Banks
  Tech news articles related to The Algebraist
  Tech news articles related to works by Iain M Banks

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