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I'm looking for the title of a book about a series of clones who share memories via identity transfer. The clones are known to each other as Number 1 through to Number 16 (I think).

As far as I can remember the protagonist in the story is living secretly with his identity transfer machine within an extraterrestrial society but is discovered, he finds out and has to fight his way out. Admittedly vague on details.

Authors that might have written it:

  • Roger Zelazny
  • Robert Silverberg
  • Frank Herbert
  • Jack Vance

It's really driving me nuts, because I thought the book was The Eyes of Heisenberg so I turned my house upside down looking for it, but it wasn't, even though it was a good book and I read it anyway.

  • About how old is it? – user14111 Aug 13 '16 at 1:35
  • I would say 1960s or 1970s. Maybe slightly earlier. – physicalmaths Aug 13 '16 at 1:37
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You may well be thinking of the novel Today We Choose Faces (1973) by Roger Zelazny. The first-person narrator of the second portion of the novel is a member of a mysterious brotherhood of clones who all share access to a top-secret headquarters facility in which they keep "pins" which, if pulled, can download tons of old memories to any one of the clones who has grabbed the pin. The memories were apparently arranged chronologically -- pulling the first pin would give you, say, a bunch of old memories from the first fifty years (or whatever) of the brotherhood; pulling the most recent pin would give you the most recent fifty years' worth. (I don't swear it was calibrated in fifty-year increments; I just mention that to give you a rough idea of how it was organized. Like you, it's been a long time since I read the book, and my memories of it are getting fuzzy.)

I believe certain memories were automatically copied into the mind of each new clone when he was ready to go, and when one clone suddenly died, a psychic connection allowed an emergency download of his personal memories into the head of another (no matter how far apart they were, physically, at the time), but this still meant a lot of "ancient history" was simply stored at headquarters, available for access if unexpectedly needed again after being irrelevant for a great many years.

If you want to know more about the plot (including the "first half" that occurs centuries before the bit with the secret society of clones), you can follow the link I provided. It turns out that the Wikipedia entry for this book gives a detailed summary of the plot. On the other hand, if you'd rather not have it all "spoiled" for you, you might just try to find a copy of the book and reread it to see if the plot managed to give you some pleasant surprises the second time around.

  • That's it! I've been driving myself nuts looking for it.... – physicalmaths Aug 13 '16 at 2:14
  • I read it again- and it was still everything I remembered to be. Such a weirdly interesting book. Thanks again – physicalmaths Nov 3 '16 at 2:20

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