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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

Face Dancer  
  Mimicry enhanced through genetic manipulation.  

Scytale shrugged. He had chosen a bland, round-faced appearance for this meeting, jolly features and vapid full lips, the body of a bloated dumpling. It occurred to him now, as he studied his fellow conspirators, that he had made an ideal choice -- out of instinct perhaps. He alone in this group could manipulate fleshly appearance across a wide spectrum of bodily shapes and features. He was the human chameleon, a Face Dancer, and the shape he wore now invited others to judge him too lightly...

The Reverend Mother drew back, and Scytale saw her reassessing him. They were all products of profound prana-bindu training, capable of muscle and nerve control that few humans ever achieved. But Scytale, a Face Dancer, had muscles and nerve linkages the others didn't even possess plus a special quality of sympatico, a mimic's insight with which he could put on the psyche of another as well as the other's appearance.

Technovelgy from Dune Messiah, by Frank Herbert.
Published by Putnam in 1969
Additional resources -

Here's a description of what a Face Dancer does.

"A Tleilaxu ghola," Irulan whispered, looking sideways at Scytale.

Scytale, observing her attention, exercised his Face-Dancer powers -- shape flowing into shape, flesh moving and readjusting. Presently, a slender man stood before her. The face remained somewhat round, but darker and with slightly flattened features. High cheekbones formed shelves for eyes with definite epicanthic folds. The hair was black and unruly.

"A ghola of this appearance," Edric said, pointing to Scytale.

Compare to the abilities of the TW-55 from Babel 17 by Samuel R. Delany.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Dune Messiah
  More Ideas and Technology by Frank Herbert
  Tech news articles related to Dune Messiah
  Tech news articles related to works by Frank Herbert

Face Dancer-related news articles:
  - Face Dancer Puts Fizz In Your Phizz

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