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"SF looks towards an imaginary future, while fantasy, by and large, looks towards an imaginary past."
- Frederik Pohl

D-9 Motherspinner  
  An enormous genetically engineered spider used to create large structures in space.  

What do you do when you need a lot more spider silk for your orbital structures? Tens of thousands of miles more? Easy - you build a bigger spider.

"My father works a D-9," she said proudly, pointing at something on the bug's back.

"My god!" I said. "That's a man. Is that your father?"

"No, he works on the new Eight spoke, just getting started on that one..."

It took me a moment to realize that she was talking about her father's D-9 Motherspinner. I was still taken aback by the man riding the eigh-legged behemoth. Until that moment I had not known they were piloted...

The rider was in a pressurized box, like a howdah strapped to the back of an elephant. It was mounted behind the basketball-sized eyes and in front of the giant black sphere of her abdomen. He looked like the operator of a big crane or shovel, and that wasn't too far off the mark. He pulled levers and turned pulleys in a competent, bussinesslike way, and the spider turned or moved forward.

"The D-9's don't weave," Poly said. "They sit in one spot and start extruding silk, and smaller spiders grab those and start running with them. She can put out thousands of miles of silk at one sitting.

From The Golden Globe, by John Varley.
Published by Ace Books in 1998
Additional resources -

Compare to these early ideas of purposive genetic engineering, the designed bacteria from Golden Age great Raymond Z. Gallun's short story Seeds of Dusk and the manufactured monsters from H.G. Wells' 1896 novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Thanks to Erik Glenn for suggesting this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Golden Globe
  More Ideas and Technology by John Varley
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  Tech news articles related to works by John Varley

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