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November 2017

who's real
November 13, 2017



Woke at two and began thinking of a book I read years ago, who knows when. It was KILN PEOPLE, by David Brin, a science fiction novel in which an amazing and unimaginable technology allows people to make temporary, animate copies of themselves that go out into the world and do all the work and boring stuff they don't want to do, or can't. The copies are made of some weird clay-like substance that breaks down at the end of the day. Before the copy turns to sludge, it hurries home to download the day's experiences into the mind of its creator, preserving continuity of memory.

And that reminded me of a childhood fantasy, in which I have a twin sister no one knows about but me. She can go to school instead of me! Best of all, she likes school, and doesn't feel that this arrangement is unfair. At first I imagine a remote-viewing device, so that I can keep up with the classwork, but then realize this makes no sense. If I'm sitting at a desk all day, watching my sister-clone sitting at a desk all day, I may as well just go to school myself. I can't seem to solve this problem! And what about summer vacation? We can't both go to the lake cabin, because she's a secret. Of course, I could imagine that she hates the lake, and is happy to lie around in the empty house reading. But that's ridiculous! No one hates the lake!

Too bad Brin wasn't around at the time. How elegant his solution is! In that version, if I had a useful 'sister' to do things for me, a smarter, more efficient, less neurotic version of myself, there would be no awkward sitcom moments in which I'd have to shove her into the closet or quickly put a Groucho mask on her face. Everyone would know she's a 'ditto'! And since she dissolves at the end of the day, there'd be no confusion about who is real and who is not.
shadow and light
by kai
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