Friday, May 19, 2006

Beauty and youth

Water flowerLife 33, year 1. New year, new life! I feel radiant. I feel happy. I feel young! Everything is beautiful, everything is colourful, every single thing in this part of the Galaxy shows me its most joyous side. At this moment the only topic I want to write about is the beauty of these earths and their inhabitants.

But, before I start, let me say that everything worked fine (in case someone was worried after reading my last post). I transmigrated without any mishap at all and now I have, once more, one whole life ahead of me. My new body fits me, and it seems in perfect conditions. I remember one life when I was given a body which had a scar over one eyebrow. A small scar indeed, but it made me uneasy for one whole life to have that scar and not having any memory at all about how I got it. When I complained, the people at the CCM (center for clone maturing) told me the usual thing, they always say they can't control at all times what the kids are doing. Whatever...

Nevertheless, this time my body looks great. The only problem is that it is not too matured yet and I feel somewhat shorty :-D and when I arrived back home I had to try to find something that fits me, it was crazy, all my clothes were too large! Besides that, I think you already know how one feels when one changes an old, 67-year-matured body with a brand new, 15-years-only one: "By good superclusters, my backache is gone!" "Finally, I am not fat any more!" "Finally...!" ;-) Maybe I don't need to give more details, do I?

But the best of all this is not just to feel young, the greatest fact is to feel young in a place like this. No doubt this region of the Galaxy is like a paradise for any human coming from sector 3: forests with exuberant vegetation, warm-water crystal-like oceans, fabulous gold-shining edifications, exquisite fruits with every possible colour, texture and flavor... Even the Grung cluster is a spectacular place, puting aside the horrible traffic. The Xáng grouping has it all: prodigious nature, traditional refinement, and avant-garde modernity. All together. And, along with all these marvels, the beauty of the Xángian race.

In some aspects, they are so similar to us, humans!, it is unbelievable... their anatomy, physiology, cell system, everything has an awesome parallelism with that of human beings. Even the way to code the individual's characteristics through a double-helix-shaped molecule is practically the same (and, thanks to that, all our cloning techniques can be applied to them too). But of course, their features are both different and unmistakable. I still remember that, lives and lives ago, well before the settlers carried back to planet Mother the news of all the races found in this part of the Galaxy, I was fond of some fiction stories in which there was a depiction of the hypothetical inhabitants of other stellar groupings. The curious thing is that the features of the people who live here agree quite well with those of the above-mentioned fictional beings: their height is slightly lower than ours, their bodies generally thinner. They show high cheekbones, almond-shaped eyes, lips usually somewhat thicker and more outlined than ours, with a natural-color sensual tone. And their skin is very smooth, in golden tonalities, generally lacking any body hair. Something in which they are different to the fictional people that I remember is that they do have hair on their heads, usually dark and thick. They have eyebrows as well. :-)

An overall picture of these Xángian people is, added to this all, one of youth. There is something in their metabolism (or maybe in their diet?) that makes them look always less bodily-matured than they really are. But undoubtedly the characteristic that makes them most different from us is that they are hermaphrodites. This, together with their apparent youth, makes them seem, to our eyes, quite homogeneous regarding physical features. But regarding behaviour, they are really varied. In fact, in spite of being hermaphrodites, many of them adopt roles that seem almost copied from the ancient roles of gender in humans. I may fancy that they actually copied those roles from the first settlers, but I am not certain about it. Some of them even choose to receive treatment with human hormones in order to develop human secondary sex characteristics, such as breasts, or facial hair. I am sure that the reason why they do things like that is to somehow break the homogeneity of their race; the same reason why some color their hair of bright red, or some wear jewels.

Of course, to them I look funny. In some planets nobody is used to see humans frequently. Especially now that I look so shorty, I can feel everyone's gazes shift towards me. As I mentioned in a previous memory, in Xáng it is frowned upon to take a couple of free years right after a transmigration, so I am already in my usual work routine again. Fortunately I could arrange things to travel to the Department of Transmigration during one of my free months, so, when I got back to work, at least my hair had grown, otherwise I was only lacking a uniform in order to make everybody suspect that I had escaped from the CCM. :-D

I guess I will write more, later on, about the work I do at the Mhidl Institute for Cosmic Science. I can say I am happy working here, despite the somewhat precarious conditions and the absurd restriction for accesing the SIN (they say it's for the sake of safety, can you believe it?). Anyway, at least it seems they have finally appreciated the real value of my work, and right this month they have offered me to continue in my current position for two more lives, with some increase in the compensations. I haven't given them an answer yet, but I think I will say yes. Although I am sure that it will feel like a true eternity to be so many lives far from Jyna. :-(

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On the end of existence

SupernovaLife 32, year 52. I always have this same feeling near the end of my lives. Whenever the time of a new transmigration trip approaches, I become more thoughtful, even pessimistic, and all those questions with no answer come to my mind again and again... What if something turns out badly? How would it be like... to cease to exist?

I have recently read about a group of people who renounce clonation and accept to cease existing at the end of one single life. They call themselves children of Nature. It seems that the craze is already extending itself to many systems. The children of Nature employ natural reproduction means (like other mammals do), often ignoring the regulations on that issue. In spite of living just one life, some of them acquire almost as much experience as us, because their lives are generally longer and because the most matured instruct the younger. Furthermore, they have much more time available for learning, as they do not need to worry about getting merits for a next clonation like we do, so they do not need to work. In some sense, I cannot help but feeling admiration towards those people. They are free individuals, not having the typical worries that one inherits from life to life. I think that they get some kind of superstitious belief, the conviction that their identity may continue even after their body disintegrates and their neuronal bonds switch off; they believe that their existence will go on in some other mysterious place, or maybe in the body of a new child of Nature... but without keeping their memory. And that is something I cannot understand!, because, what are we if not our memory?

Some children of Nature possibly do not even know what clonation is, or what transmigration is. I would like them to be here and listen to my words... I could explain them how easy it is all. I would tell them that we, people, have only two essential components: our organic body, and the set of neuronal bonds that configures our brain. That is all. Our technology allows us to make exact copies of both components, so why not do it? To make a copy of your body you only need a sample of your organic tissue, that is enough for a clonation (although the process is lengthy and costly). The technique to be used in order to copy the neuronal bonds from one organic body to another, or technique of transmigration, is much more complex though also faster. Transmigration itself is not excessively costly either, however it necessarily implies the use of a device which is usually extremely expensive, named Module of Individual Neuronal-bond Deciphering (M.I.N.D.). Actually everyone calls it "the box", because it has the simple appearance of a rectangular prism, some inches long, but that cannot be opened. During transmigration, every single neuronal bond is copied to the box, and there it remains stored in the form of a resonant wave, which can be copied afterwards into a new brain.

Usually every person has one box of their own at their disposal. It assists transmigration life after life, and it can even be used to store backup copies of one's neuronal bonds regularly: the resonant waves can remain unaltered inside the box for many years.

Each person's neuronal bonds need the correct brain to become memories again. Each brain needs the appropriate neuronal bonds to recover the individual identity. Neuronal bonds from one person cannot be copied into someone else's body. That is why both components are completely essential, they are like the key and the lock. This makes me ponder how fragile we are after all. If we only lose by accident one of those components, we lose our whole existence... I try to keep an updated backup copy of my neuronal bonds in my box at all times, and a sample of my organic tissue is always safe in a bank; I even have an insurance to deal with the expenses of clonation and transmigration in the unfortunate event that a serious disease or fatal accident forces me to end one life before time, before I have enough merits... However, despite all this, I cannot help getting worried.

You wonder why I get worried? Well, the process may fail. This technique is not 100% reliable. In certain cases, even taking all cautions possible is pointless. Sometimes it turns out that the only sample left of your organic tissue had decayed. Or maybe your box had a leak and they realize when it is too late... Sometimes the new brain shows rejection to the neuronal bonds, and a basic insurance does not usually cover the expenses of a second try... And many other things. But maybe it is better to assume that we cannot exist forever; then, in the worst case scenario, we will not be completely astonished, saying "I don't exist anymore, what can I do now?".

By now, it is not in my plans to cease to exist in the near future. As long as you can keep on reading what I write, you will know that I still exist. If, after several years, I have not written anything new, that may mean that I didn't feel like, or it may mean something worse...

Older and more exhausted than ever, I say goodbye until my next life. If everything works fine.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Time flies!

ClockLife 32, year 51. Finally, I can find some time and access the SIN to continue writing some of my memories. I can hardly believe, more than one year has passed since the last time! Time really flies. The truth is, nothing special has happened during this last year. In addition, I have had lots of work.

Fortunately for me, the official year adopted in the whole Xáng grouping of stellar systems (where I live at present) has a length similar to that of the year in Jyna, my earth of origin (at least when measuring it in local proper time; if one uses pulses of the synchronous galactic system there may appear distortions coming from irregularities in the æther). And I say that such a coincidence is fortunate for me, simply because, thanks to it, I can keep on measuring my lives in years (as I have always done) without the need of further mental calculations.

When I arrived here, almost two lives ago, I found it quite shocking that the same official year is used on every planet in the Xáng grouping. I thought the duration of one year would be fixed according to each planet's orbital period. For example, the year in Jyna has a different duration from the year in any other planet in the Taurus grouping. But it seems there is something special about the Xáng grouping, related to its past of very orderly formation, and its being located on the exact galactic plane, that causes that almost all the planets (or, at least, the most important habitable ones) rotate without any inclination relative to their orbits. At least that is what I heard. When a planet's axis of rotation has no inclination, there is no seasonal weather or any other important indication of the point of the orbit where the planet is, thus making the duration of the orbital period, or of the year, unimportant. Anyway, the Xángian official year is actually based on the orbital period of certain planet, the revered Tsal Hlªg.

As I said, this last year has been quite exhausting for me, due to lots of hard work and horrible interstellar traffic jams. Jams are one of the characteristic things of the Grung stellar cluster, where a large fraction of the Xáng grouping's population concentrates. Even a short-distance capsule ride can seem eternal in Grung. Unfortunately, I live quite far from the center. From the center of the cluster, I mean. Every month I need to cover about 20 parsec to reach my workplace, in the Raxtewee system. It may sound like a reasonable distance, but the traffic is so congested that the æther streams literally collapse. Some months it takes more than two days to arrive there. And the same on the way back. And this commute (usually) implies connecting a ride on collective capsule with a stretch on convoy, since I don't have an individual capsule.

To top it all, this year I had to work even during the month of Saor and part of Atidty. My body is not up to this sort of things any more. But this is the way things are in sector 6: even when I am less than two years apart from the end of my life, I must continue working. And, of course, I must start working again right at the start of my new life. In the Taurus grouping, as well as (probably) in all sector 3, it is customary to have, say, one or two free years before the transmigration (to finalize preparations) and as much again after it (to properly settle the memory in the new body). But here... no way.

Anyway, although I am feeling old and exhausted, I can also feel comforted to think that, in a couple of years, I will be young again. Then, I hope that hard work and endless traffic jams will be more bearable in a body matured just about fifteen years.