5

I can't remember much, but hopefully this is specific enough to jar someone's memory. In this novel, the method of travelling to other planets involved something like cloning. The original person would stay on earth while a copy was essentially faxed to another planet and created to start a new life. Obviously there were laws against ever coming back, so that you wouldn't have clones of yourself on the same planet. The protagonist of the book somehow did end up coming back to earth and meeting himself, which was not the main plot point but was a major problem in the second half of the book. I think I read it in the 1980s, but it could have been an older book. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

The only other thing I seem to remember is the main character (who was male) met someone he knew (a woman) at a dinner party which led to the duplication being discovered. Pretty sure the book was 80s/90s at the latest and I'd say it had more of a 60s feel.

  • 2
    Think like a Dinosaur? – Valorum Apr 12 '15 at 9:50
  • 1
    Richard K Morgan's Altered Carbon series uses the idea, but I know there's another book that explicitly mentions "faxing" people. IIRC, the main character was a woman, some kind of government agent or corporate troubleshooter? – Joe L. Apr 12 '15 at 15:16
  • I remember a story where a group of people is abducted from I think present earth by I think bird like creatures. Later they realize that they are only copies of their originals, because the birds means of space travel is copying people and faxing them with tachyons. Does that ring a bell? – Hothie Apr 13 '15 at 13:23
  • The other plot points don't match, but there was a memorable novella in an old IASF (or possibly SF&F) about "radio pioneers" who were copied from an original human and broadcast into space in order to achieve light-speed travel. In the novella, the protagonist arrived intact, but his wife's signal was corrupted and ended up being used as the basis of a semi-sentient weather system. I'll check tonight and see if I still have the original magazine. – Chris Sunami Apr 13 '15 at 18:54
  • I'm trying to track down the same novel! I do remember that the "original" copy was like the head of the Earth senate or what passed for a governing body. Also, the copies were uploaded and downloaded via special space ships. The main character is a sort of galactic enforcer. And people also use their duplication technology to change human beings, so that there are factions. One believes people should ever be changed, another that people should be changed to be perfect, another that people should be changed to be adapted to alien planet atmospheres and gravity, etc. – Steven T. Jun 15 '18 at 20:27
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Though the publication time doesn't match, this sounds similar to the novel Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan from 2002. The Wikipedia description is below. You might remember the opening line which, if I remember correctly, was along the lines of, "It's never easy coming back from the dead."

Points which seem to match:

In this novel, the method of travelling to other planets involved something like cloning.

Set some five hundred years in the future in a universe in which the United Nations Protectorate oversees a number of extrasolar planets settled by human beings,

The original person would stay on earth while a copy was essentially faxed to another planet and created to start a new life.

In the novel's somewhat dystopian world, human personalities can be stored digitally and downloaded into new bodies, called sleeves. Kovacs is an ex Envoy, a military unit formed to cope with the challenge of interstellar warfare. Faster-than-light travel is only possible by subspace transmission, called needlecasting, of a digitally stored consciousness to "download centers"[2] where resleeving into physical bodies can be carried out.

Obviously there were laws against ever coming back, so that you wouldn't have clones of yourself on the same planet. The protagonist of the book somehow did end up coming back to earth and meeting himself, which was not the main plot point but was a major problem in the second half of the book.

In the story, a second copy of Kovacs is made. The plot unfolds through Kovacs' narrative. Kovacs eventually solves the mystery, but only after a great deal of violence, including torture in virtual reality, which he is able to bear only because of his Envoy training.

Wikipedia Altered Carbon

  • Thanks everyone. I don't think any of these are what I'm looking for. The only other thing I seem to remember is the main character (who was male) met someone he knew (a woman) at a dinner party which led to the duplication being discovered. Pretty sure the book was 80s/90s at the latest and I'd say it had more of a 60s feel. – Carla D Apr 16 '15 at 6:36
3

I think I have been looking for the same book... It's from a science fiction novels by American writers, Frederik Pohl and Jack Williamson, called Saga of Cuckoo.

Here are some additional details that I remember, to help identity:

  • There were small ships sent out all over the galaxy
    • When they found something "livable" they used a special crystal to send a tachyon message (instantaneous?) back indicating that people could be sent
  • The ship would cannibalize itself to become a tiny station, allowing the first people to be sent through.
  • A big part of this book (series of three I believe) was that you go into the copying chamber on earth, and when you go to open the door to come out you don't know if you are the earth copy or the far away copy.
  • The protagonist had an augmented orangutan as an assistant
  • Part of the translation process was that in a different environment you might be "reconstructed" differently
    • In high gravity you might be denser and smaller,
    • In low gravity, taller and thinner
  • I can't confirm as I haven't finished the books, but I believe the third book they encountered a Dyson Sphere and aliens
2

Possibly Dan Simmons' Illium?

From this TVTropes page:

Dan Simmons's novel Illium has some of its cast living in the aftermath of The Singularity. Most transportation on Earth now involves "neutrino faxing" through faxnodes, which achieve instantaneous travel from any node to another by transmitting only the data of the traveler's composition from node to node, breaking down the original into raw matter, stored for the reconstruction of other travelers. Faxing is technically death and instant cloning at the other side, complete with memories. When they find out, this bothers the main characters for all of 5 seconds. Hinted at to the reader who recalls that "fax" is a shortening of "facsimile," or exact copy....

  • No, I checked amazon and that doesn't ring a bell, but thanks. The part you've mentioned fits but there was nothing about a war, gods, etc. And I think the one I'm looking for is older. – Carla D Jun 14 '15 at 4:30
1

Possibly The Wellstone by Wil McCarthy - a good while since I read it from my local library but talk of faxing people makes me think of it

From Wikipedia:

In it McCarthy explores the lives of immorbid humans in the near future. Nanotechnology has created wellstone, programmable matter that can emulate nearly any other form of matter and nanotech fax machines that can not only fabricate objects on demand, but store and retrieve human bodies (with minds intact), cure disease or reverse aging, or be used as teleporters.

Ultradense exotic matter known as collapsium makes gravity engineering and faster-than-light communication possible. Humanity has formed a solar system-wide society based on monarchy.

  • It looks like 3 years since the O.P. was last here anyways – DannyMcG Jun 16 '18 at 13:29
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    Yes, 3 years, but I got an email notification for this reply. I forgot this page existed! Anyway, lots of great new reading material, but not the one I am looking for. I will definitely come back and post it if I ever find it. Thanks again. – Carla D Jun 17 '18 at 5:04

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