Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer

Dear Harold,

I’m so pleased that you are considering uploading! It would be very nice to have my nephew with me here on the other side. I would be happy to be your sponsor if you decide to cross over. The experience can be confusing at times, but I find that as successive generations are uploaded the process becomes easier. Younger folk are making the transition very smoothly these days. I’m sure that you, being a bit of a technophile, would adjust quite well.

I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about the process. I know you must have read the informational brochure already, so I won’t go into the medical process or how your consciousness is digitized. From your questions, it seems like you are mostly interested in the lifestyle of the uploaded.

To answer your first question, yes, the scenery is very realistic. Visitors say that it seems, at times, to be a bit pixilated. However, visiting is not the same as being fully uploaded. It’s like seeing a photograph versus being immersed in the space. Sometimes new attractions can suffer from a bit of pixilation, but that is usually smoothed over quickly. If anything is unrealistic about most of the public spaces, it is the cleanliness of it all, nothing is rusted, there is no litter, no dirt. Private spaces can be programmed to get filthy, and some do that to keep a degree of realism, but public spaces are always clean.

Space is infinite, so you can choose to have a home with eight other people, to live in a castle by yourself, or not live anywhere at all. Call me old fashioned, but I like having a base of operations, working within an avatar. I live in a single level private home on an island. The island is a community, we screen applications to live here and talk about the settings we like for temperature and scenery. It’s a place for people who like a quiet retreat but like the occasional sense of community. I have to admit, my community is, like me, all early adapters. We aren’t a cult or an artist commune, like you might find in other spaces, but we are a nice little community, and we have all designed some wonderful sunsets. I love to sit on my porch and watch the sun go down over the ocean. It’s a stunning view. Before you upload, you should pick up an avatar and come visit me on the island for a good sunset.

What do we do here? Well, mostly, to be honest, it’s experimentation. People experiment with living together, taking different shapes, entertainments, building experiences of pleasure and pain. Food is a major art form here, with connoisseurs talking about what tasted like what when they were alive. Coffee and wine are major sources of debate, and no one can agree on the taste of them. I find that Italian food is usually great, but it’s impossible to find a good chili, so enjoy your chili while you are alive!

What I miss the most is the dreaming. When I died, I was uploaded, neurally scanned and moved into the electron network, the energy web that surrounds the earth. I can have anything here, I can build a dream home, make friends with dead and the living who choose to interact with the dead. I can read books in seconds, write books in minutes, paint, design my avatar, divide my consciousness between a thousand activities, but I can’t dream.

The uploaded can even enjoy sleep, hours of a semi unconsciousness state where we enjoy a black warmth, but mostly, only newbies indulge in that kind of luxury, most of the uploaded consider it a waste of time. I can have these neuro hypnotic experiences designed by my friend Sam (also dead) who made a program that assimilates your memory with randomized images, feeling and experiences that coalesces into an experience that’s something like a bad trip, but that’s far from a dream.

I used to have the most wonderful dreams. My husband would curl his warm body around mine before we went to sleep, putting his hand on my bare stomach, his face on my shoulder. I would fall asleep with him at my back and have the most extraordinary dreams, epics, fantasies, shorts, little stories starring my family and friends, terrifying horrors where I was killed, or worse, when I was a killer. I would dream of riding monsters, of sex, of flying, and going to sleep, I never knew what I would be dreaming next.

Now I always know what my next experience is going to be. I know because I choose it, every choice is conscious, every step clean and prepared. This is the world of the uploader, predictable, intellectual, sterile.

My husband is dead, truly, dead, not uploaded. He didn’t want to join me. I’ve thought of death too, but I’m a coward, and not willing to step into the unknown. There are still interesting things, my grandson still talks to me over the network. He’s a good boy, my grandson, always willing to tell me his dreams.

If I can make one suggestion for you before you get uploaded, it would be to make tight connections with your family, and always be there for them so that when you are uploaded they’ll stay in touch. Things can get strange without a physical body, so make your ties tight before you go, you will appreciate having people on the outside when you’re in here.

I hope that this has answered most of your questions about uploading. Please do come by for a sunset sometime. I’d be glad to see you.

Your friend,

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