Hyperpigs are humanoid beings derived from domestic pigs, uplifted to sapience and humanoid characteristics by extensive genetic manipulation and engineering.

By the time of the Human-Inhibitor War, they are seen as something of a relic of past genetic engineering. In the Epsilon Eridani system, many of them perform various menial occupations and work in law enforcement (especially in Chasm City and other surface or orbital settlements of Yellowstone) or live a life of crime and nomadic piracy.

Description Edit

In Chasm City Edit

Then something else emerged from the darkness. It was crouched, and at first I thought it was a dog. But it was much too large for that, and its flat face looked a lot more like a pig. The thing began to stand up on its legs as far as the low ceiling would allow. It was roughly human in build, but instead of fingers on each hand it had a set of five elongated trotters, both sets of which were gripping a vicious-looking crossbow. It was clothed in what looked like patches of leather and crudely fashioned metal, like mediaeval armour. Its flesh was pale and hairless and its face was somewhere between human and pig, with just enough attributes of each to make the composite deeply disturbing. Its eyes were two small black absences and its mouth was curved in a permanent gluttonous smile. Behind it I could see another couple of pigs approaching in the same four-footed manner. The way their back legs were articulated seemed to make walking awkward at best.

- excerpt from Chapter Eighteen of the novel [1]


They were refugees from the Rust Belt. Before that, they'd been refugees from somewhere else-the cold, cometary fringes of another solar system. But the cook and his wife-I couldn't think of them as just pigs any more-had no real idea how the first of their kind had ever got there, just theories and myths.

The one that sounded the most likely was that they were distant, abandoned descendants of a centuries-old programme in genetic engineering. Pigs' organs had once been used for human transplant surgery - there were more similarities than differences between the two species-and it seemed likely that the pigs had been an experiment to make the animal donors even more humanlike by blending human genes into their own DNA. Perhaps it had gone much further than anyone had intended, so that a spectrum of genes had accidentally transferred intelligence to the pigs. Or perhaps that had been the idea all along, with the pigs an aborted attempt at producing a servile race with none of the nasty drawbacks of machines.

At some point, the pigs must have been abandoned; left out in deep space to fend for themselves. Perhaps it was just too much bother to systematically hunt them down and kill them, or perhaps the pigs themselves had broken free of the labs and established their own secretive colonies. By then, Lorant said, they were more than one species anyway, each having a different mix of human and pig genes, and there were groups of pigs which lacked the ability to form words, even though they had all the right neural mechanisms in place. I remembered the pigs I'd met before being rescued by Zebra; how the first of them had made grunting sounds at me which had almost seemed like an attempt at language. Perhaps the attempt had been a lot closer than I'd imagined.

- excerpts form Chapter Twenty-three of the novel [2]

In Redemption Ark Edit

He pushed a thought into the head of the soldier with the torch. Get that blanket off him, will you? I want to see who we’ve found.
The soldier reached into the hole. Clavain wondered who the prisoner would turn out to be, his mind flashing through the possibilities. He was not aware of any Conjoiners having been taken prisoner lately, and doubted that the enemy would have gone to this much trouble to keep one alive. A prisoner from the enemy’s own ranks was the next most likely thing: a traitor or deserter, perhaps.
The soldier whipped the blanket away from the huddled figure. The prisoner, crouched into a small foetal shape, squealed against the sudden intrusion of light, hiding its dark-adapted eyes.
Clavain stared. The prisoner was nothing that he had been expecting. At first glance it might have been taken for an adolescent human, for the proportions and size were roughly analogous. A naked human at that—unclothed pink human-looking flesh folded away into the hole. There was a horrid expanse of burned skin around its upper arm, all ridges and whorls of pink and deathly white.
Clavain was looking at a hyperpig: a genetic chimera of pig and human.


Somewhere before the dawn of the Demarchist era, in the twenty-first or twenty-second century, not far from the time of Clavain’s own birth, a spectrum of human genes had been spliced into those of the domestic pig. The intention had been to optimise the ease with which organs could be transplanted between the two species, enabling pigs to grow body parts that could be harvested later for human utilisation. There were better ways to repair or replace damaged tissue now, had been for centuries, but the legacy of the pig experiments remained. The genetic intervention had gone too far, achieving not just cross-species compatibility but something entirely unexpected: intelligence.
But no one, not even the pigs, really knew what had happened. There might not have been deliberate tinkering to bring their cognitive faculties up to human level, but the pigs had certainly not gained language by accident. Not all of them had it—there were distinct subgroups of pigs with various mental and vocal capacities—but those that could speak had been engineered that way by someone who had known exactly what they were doing. It was not simply that their brains had the right grammatical machinery wired in. They had also had their throats, lungs and jaws adapted so that they could form human speech sounds.

- excerpts from Chapter Three of Redemption Ark [3]

Notable hyperpigs Edit

RS Glossary entry Edit

Hyperpigs: Pig-human chimera of human-level intelligence.
- description from the official RS glossary [4]


  1. Chasm City (2001), chapter 18
  2. Chasm City (2001), chapter 23
  3. Redemption Ark (2002), chapter 3
  4. Revelation Space universe - RS Glossary - H,, the official website of Alastair Reynolds

See also Edit

  • Hyperprimates - Non-human great apes, such as chimpanzees and orangutans, uplifted to sapience in a similar manner to hyperpigs. They occur on Yellowstone and in the Rust Belt.
Species and lifeforms
Sapient species: Humans | Denizens* | Hyperpigs* | Hyperprimates*
Other species: Earth flora | Earth fauna

Amarantin | Grubs | Inhibitors ("Wolves") | Jumper Clowns
Nestbuilders | Scuttlers | Shrouders | Slugs

Hamadryad | Pattern Jugglers**
Screech Mat | Setterholm’s Worms | Slime Scraper

* - created via genetic engineering
** - colony lifeforms of dubious classification
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