Temporary bodies, rental bodies, remotes, surrogates and related concepts
Image from Steve Bowers
Snapshot: "Meatspace Tourism""Hello I'm Wil Bhakta. Pronouns he/his"
"You can call me Yuval. I'm a dolphinoid."
My pronouns? I hadn't lived in any place that expressed genders through language (rather than using something sensible like clade modifiers or operating system pronouns) in so long i'd forgotten people did that. ...But this seemed practical, really.
"This body I chose is nominally female, so I will say she/hers or they/ them. " That's what my assistant suggests my voice to say. I'm not entirely accustomed with this culture's local expressions of gender yet. Hadn't fully cared to learn them from the guidebooks I downloaded. Picked the type of dolphinoid body at random. My voice assistant speaks the translations anyway. I look the guides up now.
The two of us are eating our separate meals at the edge of the public park's lake, on separate seats. I'd come to visit the lake because a few other newly embodied virtuals had mentioned they were nearby. Rare, in this habitat. Not that many like me here.
But this Wil Bhakta is wearing a shirt with moving wave patterns on it, so it...he must be worth talking to. I -do- like waves. Liquid water has such fascinating properties, especially in large quantities. I'd touched some with my embodied fingers for the first time, a few minutes before. Made large ripples.
This 'Wil'-who-is-male had moved to stand next to me. Spoke with sounds.
"Good to know, Yuval. What brings you here to the orbitals this far out in the swarm?"
My assistant suggests.
"I'm a tourist. First day in the habitat. I've seen a cluster of waterworld habitats here, passing your orbital two months from now." my voice says. My body adds a "happy" sound and the flesh in my vocal chords vibrates.
"I see. So you're going to the waterworld habitats?" So many queries!
"The Atlantis orbitals? I decided to make a tourist detour first."
My assistant says he nods as if this is a good idea.
"Do you like waves? I could see you watching the ones in the pool over there. That and your shirt, with the wave patterns." I ask.
I wanted to add 'That's why I'm talking to you.' in the spirit of honesty, but my assistant advised against it. Some people here had trouble empathizing with the ways I think, apparently.
This question seemed to surprise him for some reason. The fluid dynamics of water waves -are- interesting.
"Oh yes, of course. Waves are pretty. But The Atlantis orbitals, They're oceanic habitats, right? With dolphinoids? Your ID data says you're from Tethys. Is that one of the habitats? The orbitals pass closest to us every five years, right?"
"I'm from Tethys, yes. I'm going so I can see the storm clouds. There's some storm planners there I like as well." The moving images of air-water interference appeared to be generated procedurally in the pleasant patterns on his garment. Possibly.
"Storm planners? Like, automated systems, or actual people, that plan out the weather in a habitat?" he asks. Wil doesn't seem to know much about storm planners.
"Yes" I can tell that Wil's searching through the net for Tethys while he's talking to me.
He looks at me, curiously. "That's not unheard of around here, but most folks leave that to the automated systems and the Transap Coordinators. Looks like I've never heard of Tethys habitat. Is that a habitat somewhere else in the matrioshka swarm here?"
My assistant tells me
Oh, Small talk. "You haven't heard of it? No. it's a trinary ocean planet orbiting around Tethys Prime. Three terraformed waterworlds orbit one another. I'm technically from the main one, Tethys-III, with dark oceans, which makes the waves and clouds look nice, when you see them with light through the drones."
Wil frowns for a moment. Probably searching through astronomy charts. I see them flashing in his eyes "But that's nearly two hundred light years away! We're not connected to the wormhole nexus network in this system. Does that mean you engenerated your mind and body all the way here directly? That's so far!"
"Through several proxies, yes. I backed myself up each time for safety. And many times here locally when I arrived. Is that unusual here? "
Wil pauses, frowning "a little. Certainly not unheard of in this habitat, or any other in our orbital's network, but I personally haven't met anyone from another star system for a long, long time. Maybe we're a little slow and provincial here, or something."
"Perhaps" My assistant tells me that specifying further would be considered rude.
Wil gives me a long inquisitive look.
He shows his teeth and laughs like his ape ancestors "so you're an alien. Nice."
"I'm from another star system, yes." my voice says
"Interesting. Until last year our public records of Tethys said the system had fallen silent for a few decades, and before that had stayed mostly uninhabited. Did something happen?"
"There was a collapse, of a sort. You can read about it on your news, later. I'm told that the light signals from home reached you last year." My assistant told me to pause, then change the subject, in case he pressed further. "Do you like air-water wave dynamics?"
Wil frowns. Seems to accept the change in topic. "I... can't say that I've thought about the topic very much, to be honest. My Partner Winter chose this shirt for me."
My assistant finally connected and made a query for his shirt's availability on the local network. I checked the fabrication specs.
The air-water interference waves were not even procedurally generated. Just a long-looping video.
Just a recorded copy. Unoriginal. Less interesting.
"That is unfortunate." I turned to leave.
My assistant told me that he appeared confused again. I added "But thank you for talking to me. I enjoyed this conversation." My voice lied. "I'm going to examine the pond again"
The other embodied virtuals had also gathered by the pond and were methodically experimenting in making various ripples on the other side of water. I moved my legs to join them.