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Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Another Life" by Charles Oberndorf

Originally appeared in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Oct./Nov. 2009
Reprinted in David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer's Year's Best SF, and in Rich Horton and Sean Wallace's War and Space.

The narrator lives in a future world where people can be reborn into a new cloned life (perhaps "clone" is inaccurate as fingerprints can change).  He falls in love with one soldier woman, Noriko, and hopes to meet her again.  However, after death and rebirth--someone has paid for his revival but it's not the military--while waiting he runs into another man/woman, Amanda Sam, whom he lives with until he falls in love with him/her.

The most fascinating aspects of the story stem from its structure.  The narrator isn't quite as sure of the events as they occurred, partially due to memory but largely due to the fact that when you uploaded yourself before death can mask what happened in your life.  People can make claims about your history and you can't be certain what exactly occurred.

Worth reading (somewhat explicit--if this is not a problem, this should be one of your favorites).  One problem, though, is that it has to mask the identity of the person the narrator is with.  This is a cheat since the narrator would know and so should we.  Perhaps if the narrator were not clear on who "she" is (i.e. another transformation)...

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