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"One can see the free software movement as a precusor for a "free hardware" or "free wetware" movement--one that will provide free libraries of designs for biological or nanotechnological products that replicators can be programmed to churn out."
- Charles Stross

Shadow People  
  Alien knowledge leads to alien results - for humans.  

He had thought of them as shadow people, but that had been just a name he'd thought up for himself, for his own convenience, a handy label that he had tagged them with so that he would have some way of identifying them when he thought of them.

But the label had been wrong, for they were not shadowy or ghostlike. To the eyes they were solid and substantial, as real as any people. It was only when you tried to touch them that they were not real-for when you tried to touch them, there was nothing there.

A figment of his mind, he'd thought at first, but now he was not sure. At first they'd come only when he'd called them up, using the knowledge and the techniques that he had acquired in his study of the work done by the thaumaturgists of Alphard XXII. But in recent years he had not called them up. There had been no occasion to. They had anticipated him and come before he could call them up. They sensed his need of them before he knew the need himself. And they were there, waiting for him, to spend an hour or evening.

(Shadow People from 'Way Station' by Clifford Simak)

Figments of his mind in one sense, of course, for he had shaped them, perhaps at the time unconsciously, not knowing why he shaped them so, but in recent years he'd known, although he had tried not to know, would have been the better satisfied if he had not known. For it was a knowledge that he had not admitted, but kept pushed back, far within his mind. But now, when all was gone, when it no longer mattered, he finally did admit it.

David Ransome was himself, as he had dreamed himself to be, as he had wished himself to be-but, of course, as he had never been. He was the dashing Union officer, of not so high a rank as to be stiff and stodgy, but a fair cut above the man of ordinary standing. He was trim and debonair and definitely dare-devilish, loved by all the women, admired by all the men. He was a born leader and a good fellow all at once, at home alike in the field or drawing room.

And Mary? Funny, he thought, he had never called her anything but Mary. There had never been a surname. She had been simply Mary.

And she was at least two women, if not more than that...

Technovelgy from Way Station, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Doubleday in 1963
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