Help me remember name of teleportation story
August 27, 2006 9:11 AM   Subscribe

What's the name of the old sci-fi story I read years ago about a boy who teleports to a distant planet to visit his relatives?

It seems like it was a Fifties story, maybe by one of the big names. In the future, you can visit a faraway world by having your consciousness transmitted to an exact clone of wouldn't know the difference, because it looks and feels like you, all except for one giveaway -- a telltale plug or some other cyborg feature on your body.

Here's what I remember: So this boy goes to visit some people in another solar system, perhaps his grandparents. He thinks he's really himself, but then he discovers he's a copy, not the original. I don't know what happened next but it made an impression on me at age 7 when found in the school library. Could it have been by Heinlein or one of those guys? Any help finding this story much appreciated.
posted by johngoren to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Argh. I think I read the same story, but don't remember what it was. I hope someone here knows or the not-knowing is going to bother me.

I remember it being a book, not a short story in a collection, and my (very old and unreliable) recollection is that the style was more modern than SF from the 50s. I would have read it in the mid 80s.
posted by aneel at 10:10 AM on August 27, 2006

Gotta be Philip K. Dick; half his stories are pretty much variations on that outline. Unfortunately, I don't have his collected stories (which run to quite a few volumes), but I'm sure someone will be along with the exact title.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2006

I remember this short story, too. Wish I knew, but I'll be watching this thread!
posted by WCityMike at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2006

I remember reading this too: definitely a juvenile; highly unlikely to have been PKD, who I don't think ever wrote a juvenile (did he?); not a Heinlein juvenile either. But I'm otherwise drawing an utter blank here as well.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:50 AM on August 27, 2006

I should also contribute that I agree with those who say it wasn't PKD, and that it was most likely a '80s story, not a '50s one. I don't think it was William Sleator, either.
posted by WCityMike at 12:13 PM on August 27, 2006

Story IDs come up often on askme, as do comments like this one - I've suggested it before but this comment came up in my search first! Given noone has answered it yet here, I'd really suggest going there. The rec.arts.sf.written newsgroup is quite amazing at answering these questions. Post with a subject of something like 'YASID: Kid teleporting to family' and post what detail you can.

(YASID means Yet Another Story ID)
posted by edd at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2006

Yeah, I read this one, too. Late 70s or early 80s. First thing that popped to mind was "Earth Two," but searching Abebooks and Amazon brings up only a Leo Kelley Space Police book that doesn't sound right from the very brief description, so it may be something else I read at the time. Definitely YA, and not by a famous author. But the grandparents/clone/plug thing is exactly what I remember.
posted by rikschell at 1:12 PM on August 27, 2006

i will ask my sf hivemind and see what they say!
posted by sdn at 1:16 PM on August 27, 2006

Thanks for looking! Yeah, I should have said it was almost definitely a book for juveniles, and I don't think it was a Philip K. Dick book -- it had more of a "gee whiz" tone. If anyone finds anything, drop me a line at this email...this must be the last thing from my childhood that I haven't rediscovered on the Internet.
posted by johngoren at 3:57 PM on August 27, 2006

Try the Fiction-L list, too; it's a bunch of library types who answer questions like this all the time for free. A hivemind of book people, and probably the best resource on the web for this sort of thing.

Honestly, I think we should link to them on the AskMe posting page.
posted by mediareport at 4:13 PM on August 27, 2006

I remember reading this book -- he goes to visit his aunt on a distant planet, his mind/soul are put into a clone (or replica of his body), and he's got some sort of fastening, like a zipper or something, on the back of his neck?

It sounds like something by John Christopher (of "When the Tripods Came"), but I can't find the book in his Amazon listing.

Maybe a book by HM Hoover?
posted by mdiskin at 7:00 PM on August 27, 2006

My immediate thought was some Ray Bradbury short story, but I can't find a good listing of plot summaries for all of his short stories.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:10 PM on August 27, 2006

I believe the title may be "The Scar" but I can't narrow it down any further at the moment - there are two potential authors I've not been able to rule out, from what I've found at the ISFDB.
posted by edd at 11:29 AM on August 28, 2006

by Paul Beardsley? I'm not sure, I'm just going on a couple of lines on what it was about and the title seems appropriate. Date of publication seems wrong though, so I might be totally wrong.
posted by edd at 11:33 AM on August 28, 2006

Fiction-L had nothing — gave it a try.
posted by WCityMike at 8:07 AM on September 5, 2006

John's e-mail, by the way, if anyone does identify this, is this, not what he gives above — it's .net, not .com. Must've been a typo.
posted by WCityMike at 2:38 PM on September 5, 2006

my sfnal hivemind IDs this as my trip to alpha I, by alfred slote.

"From the jacket flyleaf:

"A trip to a planet six million light years away from earth.. a trip that takes only a few seconds, traveling by VOYA-CODE! The idea seems a little scary, but Jack finds it painless. And he doesn't even feel strange to be in his 'dummy'--a body just like the one he left behind on earth.

But his Aunt Katherine, whom he has come to help with her move to earth, is very strange. She doesn't act like herself at all. And Frank and Ruth Arbo, who help her manage her fabulously wealthy mining company, seem downright sinister to Jack..."

With a 1978 publication date, this would seem to be what he's looking for.

is this the book?
posted by sdn at 3:57 PM on September 14, 2006

That was the book I was thinking of, sdn. Thanks!
posted by aneel at 11:52 PM on September 25, 2006

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