Looking for Short Sci-Fi story with clones, brain downloading, and loss
March 22, 2018 9:19 PM   Subscribe

It's the future. People don't die; they make clones of themselves and are able to upload their brains to the cloud. One couple (the adventurous versions of themselves) has an accident where the wife dies and there's no available backup. The husband has to figure out how to deal with the loss while no one else seems to understand (including the other copies of himself and their wives).

Read this probably 10 years ago or so, but I can't remember when the story was actually written. The general tone feels 70ish, but the subject matter feels much more modern.

Basically, it's the future and death pretty much doesn't happen anymore due to 'brain downloading tech' that allows people to periodically upload a backup to the cloud.

Also, it seems fairly normal for people to clone themselves so they can experience more in life. One clone travels while the other one focuses on writing. They live their own lives, but they seem to check in with each other.

One couple has a few copies of themselves, who all live relatively 'normal' lives, except for the Adventurous Version who travels space and lives quite a Daring lifestyle. I'm 99% sure that the wife has the nickname 'Red' in front of her name. Something like "Red Katra" or similar. The 'Red' I guess symbolized that she was more brave than the other more timid versions of herself.

SPOILER (is that possible for a story I don't really remember?) The story starts out with Red Katra dying several months after her most recent 'backup' in some sort of freak accident, and due to Plot Reasons there's no way to bring back an old copy (this is one reason I want to know the story since it's bothering me on what the literary explanation for this was).

The story (I think) follows the husband's perspective where he tries to cope with her loss and no one else seems to really understand since so few people actually die anymore, so people have sorta forgotten how to grieve.

He tries to reconnect with the less adventurous versions of the couple, but they don't really understand. There's a cringey part where one of his clones suggests to his wife to somehow clone her as a replacement copy (this is why I feel like this was from the 70s) but the replacement copy knows she can't live up to her "Red" counterpart and leaves to live her own life.

I bothered folks in the Mefightclub IRC/Discord for several days trying to figure this one out, but we came up with nothing.
posted by johnstein to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It is "Lethe" by Walter Jon Williams (brief summary in that link.) It's Katrin!

This was a memorable one - I read it in Dozois's Year's Best and it's clearly stuck with me.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:12 PM on March 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: awesome! thanks!
posted by johnstein at 10:16 PM on March 22, 2018

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