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"Every scientist worth his salt that I know of has read science fiction."
- Greg Bear

Power-Wagon  
  Wagon powered by muscular creature from Etamin 9; uses carbohydrate syrup for fuel.  

In this Hugo award-winning novel, Jack Vance creates a world that combines low-tech organic decadence with technology that is capable of taking humanity to the stars. The aristocrats make use of non-sentient (or barely sentient) creatures from various worlds to support their lifestyle.

Xanten ... stole up behind the garages, where a half-dozen power-wagons lay dozing. [He] mounted a power-wagon, twisted the awake key, tapped the go button, and pulled a lever which set the wheels into reverse motion.
From The Last Castle, by Jack Vance.
Published by Del Rey in 1967
Additional resources -

In a helpful footnote, Vance gives us the details on the power-wagons:

Power-wagons, like the Meks, originally swamp-creatures from Etamin 9, were great rectangular slabs of muscle, slung into a rectangular frame and protected from sunlight, insects and rodents by a synthetic pelt. Syrup sacs communicated with their digestive apparatus, wires led to motor nodes in the rudimentary brain. The muscles were clamped to rocker arms which actuated rotors and drive wheels. The power-wagons, economical, long-lived, and docile, were principally used for heavy cartage, earth-moving, heavy tillage and other arduous jobs.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Last Castle
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Last Castle
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

Power-Wagon-related news articles:
  - Musclebot: Microrobot with a Heart
  - Biohybrid Robotics USArmy Adds Muscle Tissue To Robots

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