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September 4, 2012 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Name The Book: scifi/fantasy, character who reproduces by budding and then has mirror-image interactions with their offspring.

This is the only thing I remember about this book, and I have wondered about it for years: there is an alien or critter or Fantasy Species character which reproduces by budding like an amoeba. When the process is complete, there are two identical versions of this character. When Character tries to communicate with its new offspring/clone, it's like waving at a mirror: since they are identical, they try to speak, try to gesture, stop talking and wait for the other person to talk, all simultaneously. Eventually I think they gave up and wandered off -- and from there the book followed both Character and Bud as they became rather different people due to the things that happened to them.

I read this at least fifteen years ago and there have been many many books since. All I know is that it was a little mass-market genre paperback, and maybe part of a series. That concept, and the scene where it happened, has stuck with me ever since.

Was it any good? Should I read it again?
posted by cmyk to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
Poking around TV Tropes (the article for Starfish Aliens) I think you might be thinking of Ben Bova's Leviathans of Jupiter.
The Leviathans living on Jupiter in the novel of the same name by Ben Bova are giant (as in kilometers-wide) conglomerations of independent parts, living in an ocean of liquid water suspended several thousand kilometers deep in Jupiter's atmosphere, feeding on organic molecules formed higher up in the atmosphere. They reproduce by going off on their own, away from the pack and 'disassociating' - splitting into their individual cells, which then split themselves and reform into two new conglomerations, each with identical memories to the original. And they're intelligent.
Also, nt to give anything away, but I think you'd really enjoy the third season of Farscape if you've never seen it.
posted by gerryblog at 5:06 PM on September 4, 2012

I just read Midnight at the Well of Souls, and one of the minor characters (Vardia) goes through this.
posted by solotoro at 2:05 AM on September 5, 2012

Sounds closer to solotoro's answer than gerryblog's as I do remember a sort of ensemble cast and the book bouncing from character to character. I'll have to dig that up and see if that's the one.

Thanks, both of you!
posted by cmyk at 10:37 AM on September 5, 2012

I was rushed at work, so I didn't get the chance to add that it is not a great book. Not bad enough that I'm sorry I spent my time reading it, but not good enough to make me recommend a re-read. So to save you doing too much work trying to find it, since the book happens to still be in my room, here is what happens to Vardia, a messenger (human) clone who has been transported to another world and then transformed into a plant-based species that reproduces by planting in the ground then spawning a twin:
....She uprooted and took a hesitant step forward. "This is more like it!" she said aloud, feeling light and in total control again.
And, at exactly the same moment, another voice said exactly the same thing! They both turned around with the same motion.
Two identical Vardia's stood looking, amazed, at each other.
"So you're the twin," they both said simultaneously.
"I'm not, you are!" they both insisted.
Or am I? each thought. Would the twin know?
Everything was duplicated. Everything. Even the memories and personality. That's why they kept saying and doing the same things, they both realized. Will we ever know which is which? they both thought. Or did it matter? They both came out of the same body.
Together they set out for the Center.
They walked wordlessly in perfect unison, even the random gestures absolutely duplicated. Communication was unnecessary, since each knew exactly what the other was thinking and thought the same thing. The procedure was well established. Once at the reception desk, they were taken to different rooms where doctors checked them. Pronounced fit and healthy to go back to work, each was assigned to a part of the project different from that she had previously been working on, although with similar duties.
"Will I ever see my twin again?" asked the Vardia who was in Wing 4.
"Probably," the supervisor replied. "But we're going to get you into divergent fields and activities as quickly as possible so each of you can develop a separate path. Once you've had a variety of experiences to make you sufficiently different, there's no reason not to see each other if you like."
posted by solotoro at 2:43 PM on September 6, 2012

That's it! Thank you! I've been wondering about this for years!
posted by cmyk at 8:48 AM on September 7, 2012

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