When is a Moratorium a Mortuary?

Duplicate by Phoenix Ward is a short story that is described as Part One of a series called Installed Intelligence Shorts. There is a further subtitle on the book: The Man With Two Bodies.

Chris Santson was approximately 30 years old when he slipped while on a mountain climbing adventure, hit his head, and was evacuated to a hospital where he remained in a coma until the point where a decision had to be made. Would he be taken off life support and die or be left to exist in a vegetative state? If the decision was for death, a procedure was available where his brain could be cloned and stored so that his mother would be able to talk with him as if he were still alive. This is the idea of installed intelligence. It is the intelligence of a once living being installed in an entity (computer) that kept the person’s intelligence and even emotions alive forever. The new creation was the original person sans body. This was the situation for Chris. He was “copied,” his physical body died, and he continued to exist except for a body.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital, his physical body woke up. Read the story for the explanation of how this happened. But now there was a problem. What would happen when the Chris with a body met the Chris without a body? What were the legal implications? Would the two persons designated Chris ever disagree with each other?

In an experiment conducted the first time original Chris met I. I. Chris, the two disagreed. If they disagreed, they could not be the same person. This very short story raises very complex legal, moral, and ethical issues. The story is worth reading just to prompt the reader to think further. The story itself is a good launch pad for further thought.

And the story has one major flaw that almost stopped me from reading it. “Gloria examined the different display types that the moratorium offered with a look of disdain.” (p. 3). “Moratorium?” Really? This was in the first sentence of the story. For that point alone, I gave this an Amazon rating of two stars. Other than that, I would have given it a four-plus star rating because of the interesting concept and the depth given to implications of the concept.

Language really does matter.

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