This concept of a new life form which I call Macro Life and Isaac Asimov calls “multiorganismic life” serves as a convenient shorthand whereby the whole collection of social, political, and biological problems facing the future space colonist may be represented with two-word symbols. It also communicates quickly an appreciation for the similar problems which are rapidly descending on the whole human race. Macro Life can be defined as “life squared per cell.”

Taking man as representative of multicelled life we can say that man is the mean proportional between Macro Life and the cell, or Macro Life is to man as man is to the cell. Macro Life is a new life form of gigantic size which has for its cells, individual human beings, plants, animals, and machines. …society can be said to be pregnant with a mutant creature which will be at the same time an extraterrestrial colony of human beings and a new large scale life form.

Among the first forms of macro life were earth’s latticework tier cities of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. They were preceded by the historical city-state, and followed by small organized communities on the moon, Mars, the various space bases, and by Asterome, the hollowed-out asteroid that became the core of the first macroworld…. The tier cities were made possible by the application of advanced structural materials. The building of these cities led to the radical reorganization of urban earth society, the stabilization of population at 12 billion, and a decrease in the frequency of disorderly political change (this last change was helped by the influx of psychosocially trained designers and engineers into politics and planning).

The planet was partially macroformed, and the grosser industrial processes, among them solar and fusion power systems, were moved into space…. The start of the century saw the sustained widening of the world’s industrial base through the exploitation of the solar system’s huge reserves of energy (the sun), raw materials (the asteroids, moon, and planets), and off-planet manufacturing conditions (where pollution could never be a problem); earth’s isolation was over, the finitude of its resources no longer a liability. The new economic-industrial base not only created nearly full employment; it gave earth its first chance at creating a Type II civilization. —RICHARD BULERO,
The History of Macrolife, vol. 1, Asterome,
Sigma Draconis Star System, 2041

From the vantage point of several decades in the future, I believe that our children will judge the most important benefits of space colonization to have been not physical or economic, but the opening of new human options, the possibility of a new degree of freedom, not only for the human body, but much more important, for the human spirit and sense of aspiration. —GERARD K. O’NEILL,
The High Frontier, 1976

We are in the teen-age period of explosive growth and acquisition of knowledge. We are achieving control over our environment and our destinies, and even the power and responsibility for determining the time of our own deaths. We have secured weapons with which we can kill ourselves if we choose, and we have now achieved the first sign of biological maturity—we can reproduce. We can send out colonies to other parts of the universe which can take root, grow, and establish themselves as new civilizations…. The next step in evolution is from man—as the most highly organized example of multicellular life—to Macrolife. …we should not be surprised if the race on earth ceases to proliferate its “cells,” achieves maturity, reproduces, continues its growth in other “individuals” (space colonies), and the “individual” remaining behind on Earth, ages through hundreds of thousands of years and finally dies. —DANDRIDGE COLE,
Beyond Tomorrow, 1965

Each of our cells contains dozens of tiny factories called mitochondria that combine our food with molecular oxygen to extract energy in convenient form. Recent evidence suggests that billions of years ago, the mitochondria were free-living organisms that have slowly evolved into a mutually dependent relationship with the cell. When many-celled organisms arose, the arrangement was retained. In a very real sense, then, we are not a single organism but an array of about ten trillion beings and not all of the same kind. —CARL SAGAN, 1978