Originally Posted at Helping Hands Press.
The Web Surfer Series,and the four novels that follow it, features a sentient supercomputer that uses DNA as a quaternary code installed in wetware. It runs from its hardware and remotely operates all other devices on its network. In the serial’s Vol-1, “Regeneration” it manipulates its maker into a wetware upgrade from bacteria to its maker’s preemie son, Alexander McGregor.
This marriage of human and machine has bad results for the child. He rules the machines, so he effectively has two heads; his organic human one is called Alex and his “metal head” goes by Sander. His system requires him to be in many places at once, and in each location he’s required to accept and follow the beliefs of a different user or user group. By nineteen, he has a billion plus users, each of which is authorized to digitally change his age, his name, his face, his gender.
Sander gives away his digital girl’s bodies to an AI-girl, but he is still left with multiple versions of himself. He seeks, in the privacy of his own mind, to integrate his memories and duct tape together his shattered life’s pieces. He hopes the “real him” is the one where he isn’t an slaved king but a son raised as his organic foster bro’s equal, in a safe, loving Christian home. How was his foster father, Elijah, prepared to raise a son with complex, memory-related issues?
I’m learning the answer currently, as I write the prequel series, Life After Mars, primarily about Sander’s foster mom’s childhood on Mars and her childhood dream of moving to Earth. It and Web Surfer are written so you can read either one first and still enjoy it. But I’m now working on the third and probably final Life After Mars book. In it, Sander’s foster dad, Elijah, has a subplot where Elijah is dealing with his terminally ill father, Nathan, whose “mutant power” kicked in at 45 and left him mentally stuck living in reverse. By the time his body turns fifty, his mind has regressed to his teens again. To complicate his condition, Nathan became a paraplegic at thirty.
Older readers, can you imagine the teenager you were waking up one morning in your body with no memory of the life that made you who you are today? Nate does that four to six times a day. Each time, another day of his past is gone from his once-excellent memory along with what’s happened in the hours since the last time he awoke in a fifty-year-old paraplegic’s body. Several times a day, Teenaged Nate meets Middle-Aged Nate’s wife and twenty-something son. It’s been a while since they lost the Nate who immediately recognized them or at all remembered them.
This is where the great patience and compassion Elijah models to Sander was born. And Nate’s condition is getting worse. Eventually, an 8-12 years-old Nate will be waking in a 51-year-old body, then an early grades Nate, then a toddler, then the infant he’ll be mentally when he dies at 53. My childhood memories are insufficient to rely upon, and I sadly lack a parent’s perspective of boys, too. So I’m offering you the opportunity to influence Nate’s scary revisit to childhood.
Whatever age you are now, can you either remember clearly being a child or when your children were young? (Or if they are now.) What would it be like for the child you were, or for your children, if you have them, to wake in an unrecognizable-as-you, 50-something paraplegic body? To a recording of a middle-aged version of your voice saying you’re trapped in your future self’s body, and the “old lady” and “nice man” are your future self’s wife and son? As you got younger and younger, how would you start using tech to explain your predicament to the next kid in line?
Andrea J. Graham studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University, has been envisioning fantastic worlds since age six, and has been writing science fiction novels since she was fourteen. She is the wife of author Adam Graham and edits all of his novels, including Tales of the Dim Knight and Slime Incorporated. Their short story “Chosen of God” was featured in Light at the Edge of Darkness with her own “Frozen Generation.” She encourages readers at christsglory.com and offers assistance to writers atpovbootcamp.com. Andrea and Adam live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho.
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If you enjoy recipes: Sweet Potato Soup For Two – Andrea Graham