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"The point sticks in your head: physics rules. Virtue does not triumph unless the physics allows it."
- Larry Niven

Semisentient Plastic  
  A durable coating that protects and preserves objects.  

Mark ran a fingertip over the surface of a cabin wall as they passed. He frowned, rubbing his fingertips together. "The surface feels odd ... not much like wood."

"It's preserved. within a thin shell of semisentient plastic, which seals it, nourishes it... Mark, the damn boat was launched in 1843. Over two thousand years ago. There wouldn't be much left of her without preservation.

From Ring, by Stephen Baxter.
Published by HarperCollins in 1994
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