...then LIFE GOES ON?  

...the buzzing finally stopped.

Juliana could think again.  They must be finished with the 
UpLoading.  Brain and body had been totally shorted out by the 
process, but now she was in control again.  A final wave of 
dizziness passed, she shook her head, wiped her eyes, reached 
for the booth door.

But wait, she thought, closing her eyes again.  This is a 
moment of vast potential, let's not just rush through it.  
Let's play a little game: where am I? who am I? 

At this very moment I don't yet know if I'm my original self, 
or a copy.  Anything is possible--I could be stepping out onto 
the deck of the Starship Zeus, 11 light years away from where 
I just was.  Or... well, or be just where I was.

She looked.  Same UpLoad booths, same crowd of people, same 
technician at the controls.  No changes.  Therefore she wasn't 
a copy, just the same old Juliana.  She felt a slight pang of 

But also a whiff of relief.  And then she was out, it was all 
over, she was done.  Free to go after a year's isolation.  

Juliana wrapped the towel around her torso--normally she would 
have just put it around her hips, which was the style here at 
camp, but out of the corner of her eye she noticed that the 
gaunt technician was definitely watching her with nontechnical 

Normally she didn't mind men looking, she knew she looked good 
without clothes, but for some reason it bothered her when he 
looked at her.  Probably just because he wasn't one of the 60, 
she thought.  Or maybe because he's a creep, who cares?

She looked for her friends.  Calvin had already come out of 
his booth, but she didn't see Vance or Wenda at first.  Then 
she saw them over in a corner of the waiting room talking 
privately.  She noticed that Vance was also showing signs of 
nontechnical interest--in Wenda.  

She felt a little burn of jealousy, then dismissed it: of 
course he was interested, Wenda was flirting with all the men 
right now, Vance was a healthy male animal.  No big deal.

"So, how's it feel to be immortal?" Wenda asked when Juliana 
approached them.

"Pretty much the same," Juliana had to admit, "ask me a couple 
of hundred years from now."

"Okay, but it might not be THIS me doing the asking."

"That's okay; it probably won't be this me answering."

"You know," Vance philosophized, "it's weird enough knowing 
that copies of us will exist in the future, on some planet 
orbiting around another star--but it's equally weird to think 
that they will only be exactly like us right up to this 
UpLoading; everything that happens to us now is not part of 
the package."

"It's the last day in the rest of your lives," Wenda misquoted.

"Really--we're not sharing our lives with the copies any more: 
this conversation, for example, will be unknown to our copies."

"Not quite," Wenda insisted, "I haven't UpLoaded yet."

"That's true, good point."

Calvin and Todo had arrived by then and had followed the last 
part of the conversation.  Always the wit, Calvin announced 
loudly: "Anybody with something really important to say: say 
it now!" 

Deliberately, no one said anything.  They shrugged one and all, 
group joke.  

"Well, I just hope someday we actually get to know how it goes
for our ReGen Copies," Juliana mused, "they'll be sort of like 
our children."

"You mean when we're old and fat they'll be young and horny?" 
Calvin just had to ask.

"Hmmn" Todo mused, "I wonder if I could buy a brand new set of 
you two girls in about 30 years?"  He wiggled his eyebrows up 
and down lecherously.

Continuing in that vein, Vance said to Juliana, "You know, when 
they do start rolling out those ReGens, maybe I could have two 
of you, just for fun." 

"Hey, that's okay with me," Juliana said, joining in the game, 
"as long as I also get two or three of you to play with." 

Wenda was called.  Before she left she said, "Well, it's a good 
thing we all had this stimulating discussion, which can now be 
echoed down through the ages by all copies of me.  'Bye."

Calvin called out as she went to her booth, "But wait, we were 
just about to breach the paradox of the individual human soul 
relative to the phenomenon of ReGen Copies..."

Juliana remembered that day as if it were an hour ago. It was perhaps the high point in her life, at any rate the moment most full of potential. Anything could happen from that point--to her, to her copies, to the copies of her friends. There were a thousand destinies branching out from that day, towards the future, towards the stars. Not that the rest of her life was anticlimax, she had a good life. A full life, of good and bad, happiness and tragedy, a normal life. When she left the Procyon Project there were indeed job offers waiting for her, but she chose to marry Vance and support his career instead. She ended up with two daughters and a messy divorce. But the contacts she had with "the 60" from the Project continued to affected everything; lifelong friends, jobs, affairs, disasters; every major event in her life had a something to do with those days culminating with her UpLoading. Years later, as a geologist on Mars Base, she met Bud again and had a good marriage with him. A good life, but no starship. It wasn't regret, exactly, but she always wondered: what will happen to my copy? what will she experience? And just how many copies will there be? She wrote letters to her own copy/copies, sent e-posts. But they could only be archived for later transmission towards Procyon. That star was 11 light years away, but the Starhip Zeus would take 57 years to travel that far. Once the ReGen Copies actually were EnActivated and began to colonize Procyon 5, her copy might even send a reply, but that would take those 11 light years to get back to Earth--a minimum wait of 68 years before Juliana could ever know anything about her copy, she would be 89 years old herself by then. Of course the average life span of people was over 130 years now, she might well still be alive at 89, but it was a long wait anyway. They had called themselves "immortal" back when they had been UpLoaded, and in a way they were, but not in a way that did themselves any special favors. She sometimes wished that she could have been one of them. Or better yet, all of them. But then Juliana got a call from Vance, who still lived back on Earth. "Well, hello, old ex," she said in a friendly tone. They still got along and they did share two daughters. "Yeah, hi, Juliana, long time no E. How's life at Mars Base?" "Oh, Mars is a geologist's pig heaven, I'm enjoying life here. Have you seen the girls?" "Yeah, they stopped in to visit Cheryl and me on their way to start doing research at the University of Hawaii, they were really on a roll. But listen, I called for a specific reason: to ask if are you going in with the rest of us on the Class Action Suit against Phoenix Processes International?" "Huh? What for?" "Haven't you heard? The ReGen Copy scandal?" "Uhhh...no." "God damn, you ARE in the Boonies out there! It's on all the Overnet News carriers." "I don't spend much time on Earth news these days--anyway, what ReGen scandal?" "Well, brace yourself: the 60--we've all been murdered." "Yeah? Well. Hmm." "Yeah well hmm indeed--it has come to light that the UpLoad scanning process was secretly a variation of the DeEnactivation process! It worked by recording the complete disassembling of the molecular structure of the subject, destroying it and computing that sequence into data, which is then programmed as an exactly reversed matrix for the EnActivation of ReGen Copies." "Wait a minute, wait a minute. You're saying...?" "Yes, in effect, we 60 volunteers were killed. Disintegrated, ripped apart until nothing was left except the data recorded in that process and a spread of loose elements in the vats. We were gone." "But we ARE alive." "Come on Juliana, figure it out." "Then...you're saying that...we're actually...COPIES?" "Right, EnActivated immediately after UpLoading. We were just so buzzed out that we never noticed." "But they never told us about that." "No, they didn't. Now Phoenix is saying that they didn't even know themselves, but someone had to know. At LEAST the technician who was operating the system...who seems to be mysteriously and conveniently DEAD now, by the way..." Juliana abruptly remembered how she had felt dislike and distrust for that tall gaunt technician who ran the UpLoading sessions at the project those many years ago. "...there were sequences that had to be run for it all to work; UpLoading--dematerialization/rematerialization--immediate re-EnActivation of the ReGen Copies. And it was all done fast, and apparently sneakily enough to fool us all." "But why would Phoenix do that?" "Money, what else? The ReGen Copy concept was the cornerstone of the entire Procyon Project colonial concept, with an enormous government funded budget. But they needed Colonists-- and no one would ever volunteer to be UpLoaded if they knew it was suicide! They had to keep it secret." "But Vance, I KNOW I'm still the same Juliana I've always been." "Don't you get it? ALL we copies feel that same way and so will the next batch and the next. And WE'RE all doing fine, adventuring towards the future. But our original selves are NOT sharing the adventure with us--their experience was ended, they're dead. They've been murdered." "That could be hard to prove when we all look so healthy." "Well, yes, that has been a major legal problem: how to produce habeas corpus when there are no bodies, when all the victims seem to be just fine, when no families have complained about loved ones lost; looks like a long legal battle." Vance went on, "And there's more involved: since there will certainly be no more UpLoad volunteers from now on, Phoenix is submitting a countersuit to breach our contracts and allow themselves unrestricted re-use of all the UpLoad data files they already do have. Being of about a hundred people, including the 60 of us." "Unrestricted?" "Yeah, for whatever projects come along: other star colonies, cheap labor, wars, sex slaves, whatever. The bastards want to OWN us!" Vance always got so worked up over things, he liked to rant. One of the things Juliana didn't miss. But he stopped there and asked Juliana, "So, are you in?" "Ohhhh, god, I don't know, Vance. Let me ponder this one for a while..."
After the call Juliana sat numbly looking out over the dusty waste of Mars. She tried to sort through all the probable ramifications involved in that Class Action Suit against Phoenix, and it seemed too Earthlike a problem to one who was mainly involved with the pristine simplicity of Martian geology. Later that night she discussed it with Bud. They agreed that it was difficult to overcome a certain ambiguousness about it all. It had happened so long ago, 32 years now, on faraway planet Earth. Their lives had continued along merrily since then and they were rather happy about that. They also agreed to share a bottle of Martian Moonshine due to the heaviness of the discussion. "Okay," Bud reasoned, "IF Phoenix knew about this, then the 60 of us--or them--were unwittingly sacrificed, that's definitely a crime." "But if they didn't know, then...what? Accidental OOPS of industrial science?" "However, if they had never done the UpLoads, then WE would not be alive--we'd never have existed--our originals would have been here instead of us." "Which really wasn't fair to them. But at this point, undoing it wouldn't be fair to us either." "Anyway," Bud was eventually forced to philosophize, "how do we really KNOW that we're NOT the originals? We've always thought/assumed/felt that we were. Even if there was an instant of nonexistence before we were rematerialized again--can the human soul perhaps survive that and be passed on to the ReGen Copy?" "Oh, not the human/copy soul question again:" Juliana groaned, "do copies have souls too? same soul? how the hell? Now WE'RE copies: do WE have souls?" Bud clapped his hand against his forehead in mock despair, "Oh God, no! We've just become soulless abominations!" Juliana half-laughed. Had another sip of Moonshine. "I don't even know if I believe in souls. I mean, if they can copy us..." She shook her head uncomprehendingly. "I do believe in souls," Bud insisted, "and that we have them. Why not? No one really knows HOW they make a ReGen copy anyway." He continued, "It just happens when all of that UpLoad data is converted into matter. It's not cloning, nor replication, nor procreation--just digital duplication without variation. And LIFE is re-created, intelligent sentient educated life. Us. We then just appear, materialize out of ionized gas, as if God had pointed his finger and formed us from dust, like in the Bible. Now: isn't that a miracle?" Juliana shrugged, "It'll pass for one, I suppose." "So, if a soul is electrostatic in nature, it's probably been UpLoaded along with the rest of us. If it's ectoplasm or some stuff our technology can't register, maybe it gets copied too, who knows? Are copied souls more weird than copied people? "Okay, so what happens when we all die and show up in Heaven?" "Yeah, well, we'll probably all be gathered up and mixed back together, into ONE Mega-Soul," Bud theorized playfully, "sort of like being sent back to the vats." "Where does the flame go when the candle is snuffed?" Juliana asked, trance-like. But then they looked at each other and broke out giggling. The Martian Moonshine was putting things into perspective. "You know, I always wished I could be one of them," she said dreamily, "A brand new Juliana, off on an adventure. Suddenly I am."


other alternative Fates of Juliana after UpLoading
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