...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
"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
"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
Deliberately, no one said anything. They shrugged one and all,
"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
"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
"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?"
"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;
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
"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."
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
other alternative Fates of Juliana after UpLoading
or go Back to the Origin of