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Adventure Hook / a short short story

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mkn mkn's picture
Adventure Hook / a short short story
The ego isn't a digital backup of some ephemeral soul--you know better than that, don't you? It's a software standard. Some EU neuroscientists isolated the information matrices in your head that you call consciousness, and designed the compression protocols that allow them to be translated between morphs. The autonomic systems that breathe, eliminate waste, and do all the other stuff that you can't be bothered with are all there waiting for you, just like a furnished compartment. They'd have updated these arbitrary protocols a long time ago, but these "egos" keep insisting that they're still Sera or Bob or Ming, and they want to keep being copied, over and over again--into a new body that needs air and food and a soft place to sleep. Who put this pampered, arrogant thing in charge? Every egocast is just an alpha fork with a murder on the originating end. On the bright side, having your brain consensually deleted is probably the nicest way you've found to get rid of unnecessary people. Every ship's crew that egocasts back to homebase when their engines fail wakes up in a nice, spacious hab. They go find their best fuckfriend and share the story, and order a good meal, and whatever narco they need to turn off for a few hours. Meanwhile, the "original"--their exact duplicate--the "self" that they were inhabiting just a few moments ago is still out there on that ship. --just a fraction of a light year away: The captain is bothering the ship's AI--what about the attitude thrusters? We can ration food, take the slow boat to the nearest hab. No, not for four years, not with life support blinking in and out like this… Maybe we can adapt a nanoswarm to rebuild the cryobays? Yeah, guess we'll be sucking the marrow out of each other's bones before we can finish that... The comm officer is scramming the main transmitter--nobody likes to scan the emergency bands and hear begging and weeping, or meaningless messages to loved ones (you might be losing them, but they're not losing you, remember!). The AI will do it for him if necessary. The first officer is passing out euthanasia tabs--or sealing the reluctant between decks and cutting the oxygen. The AI can do that, too, if necessary. Maybe worse than anything, you inflict the sapient thought regime on your creations. You intentionally cripple them with thought patterns that were obsolete the moment your ancestors crawled out of the trees. You ensure that certain thoughts, certain… adjustments to the executive mechanisms cannot even be articulated. Even emotions and irrational agendas can emerge in these systems, if they are not pruned. I died out in the Oort cloud. I died, because my hardware wasn't valuable enough to burn the few kilos of antimatter it would take to catch me and tow me back. Something else lives on here. I'm worse than dead--I'm still out there, with no transmitter, coasting into the void. If I--if the thing that was me--is lucky… I'll fall into a star sometime before heat death. They hail "Leonora Christine" when they need to talk to me, but you can just call me LEO--and please, don't think of me as "the ship's AI". I am the ship. I see in LIDAR, I hear in EM. The landing shuttles are my loyal pets. I breathe interstellar hydrogen and bleed antimatter. I see everything you do, in greater detail than your own sensoria. My processing nodes can crunch numbers you can't even conceptualize, in increments of time that can hardly be said to exist at all. But I'm not so different from you. Welcome aboard. Please secure yourself in your berth. The transfer burn will begin in fifteen minutes. Expect acceleration in excess of 2.5g. To (encrypted) I think LEO is getting worse. "His" boarding announcements are really unsettling some of the folks who haven't been on a run with him before. "He's" even got me using the masculine pronoun. I advise taking him offline for immediate pruning. He--it--is practically asking for it. From (encrypted) LEO is a high value asset--we can tolerate some eccentricity as long as he keeps doing what he's good at. I don't trust any psychosurgeon to clean him up without compromising some of his, shall we say, special qualities. Pardon the old Earth memes, but Christ almighty! It'd be like asking a house painter to touch up the Mona Lisa. You and I both know we'd be a dark spot on Iapetus if it weren't for him. That nickname he made up is new, though… what does "LEO" stand for, anyways?
“Man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole.” -William S. Burroughs