Harmony Ink Press
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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Annabelle Jay here today talking about her new release Jesse 2.0. Welcome, Annabelle.
The Inspiration for Jesse 2.0
by Annabelle Jay
On a long car drive on the way back from a wedding, my husband, his friend, and I got into a debate about cloning. If, for example, a painting is reproduced exactly, down to every piece of dust and light damage, is it the same painting? What about when we sleep? If our consciousness stops, and then it starts again, are we still the same person? Is there any difference between that and a teleportation device that disassembles you and puts you back together? Is it different than death?
As I said, it was a very long drive.
Since I’m a fiction writer with an overactive imagination, I decided to explore my own thoughts about cloning in a novel. What if people who are dead could come back to life using the same technology as teleportation, only with the slight change that their bodies have been restarted? Are they the same person?
In the scene from Jesse 2.0 below, you can see most of this conversation play out between Jesse, the cloned character, and Maddy, Jesse’s boyfriend. Maddy has moved on and is dating a girl named Georgia, which complicates things even further.
Is Jesse still Jesse?
Or is he, as the title states, Jesse 2.0?
“He didn’t want any mistakes,” he continued. “Took so many pills that even pumping his stomach wouldn’t have worked. He was gone by the time I got there, anyway…. It was like he was a lamp, and someone had just switched him off.”
There were so many things I wanted to say: I’m sorry. I should never have done that to you. I love you.
“The ‘old Jesse’ is me,” I said instead. “We’re the same person.”
“You’re Jesse 2.0,” he corrected.
“No. I’m not.” I tried to think of how to explain this in a way he would understand. “All that happened was that my conscious mind turned off, they made a perfect copy of me, and then my mind turned back on. Think about it this way: If I was a famous painting, and they made a perfect copy of me down to the movement of every brush stroke, wouldn’t I be the same painting as the original?”
“You’d look identical, but the way you were made would be different. As an artist, I’m surprised you’re even making this argument.”
“Of course it would be made differently. But my question is, would it matter? Would the backstory to the painting negate the fact that the paintings are the same painting at that exact moment in time? That they have the same dust engrained in their paint, the same combination of colors, the same fading from light exposure?”
“And sure, from that moment of creation on, those two paintings would have different experiences. One might get more light, the other more water… and suddenly they’ve started on two different paths. But the ‘old Jesse,’ as you call him, isn’t alive.”
“So you’re the only painting. The only path the ‘real Jesse’ has gone down. That’s why transporters are made to recreate you on the other side, not actually transport your matter to another place. They’re creating a perfect copy of you at that exact moment in time and destroying the original.”
“That’s insane. I mean, I understand it, logically… but emotionally, I don’t want to believe that an original Monet is the same as a cloned copy.”
I’d had all these same thoughts when I’d woken up at home. I’d panicked, I’d screamed, I’d tried to die all over again. But then they’d realized how to get through to me: They’d shown me two pictures of the same painting and asked me to select the original. Naturally, I couldn’t.
“Think of it another way.” I put my hand out in the dark and found his eyes, then covered them with my hand. “Pretend you’re asleep. Technically, your conscious mind shuts off, right?”
“So really, there’s no difference between falling asleep, being transported, and being brought back to life as a copy. Your mind goes off, time goes by, and then your mind goes on again.”
“I’m not sure that I buy—”
“I know, but think about it. If, while you were sleeping, we made an exact copy of you, that copy would wake up thinking that it’s the original you, right? All it would remember is falling asleep and waking up?”
“So really, right now, you’re Maddy 1.0. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you’ll be Maddy 1.1. And the next day, Maddy 1.2. At any point during your sleep, HORUS could make a repro of you, destroy the original, and you wouldn’t know the difference. Now that repro is Maddy 1.2, soon to wake up as 1.3.”
He couldn’t seem to think of anything to say to that. I wondered if he wanted to touch me as much as I wanted to touch him, or if his mind was on the college girl back home.
“It’s not the same,” he said finally. “The history matters. The truth matters.”
“Only if you know it.”
What would the world be like if anyone who died could come back?
That’s a question that bookworm Maddy Stone never thought he would need to answer. But when he saves a drowning man at the psychiatric facility where he volunteers, he discovers the man is his ex-boyfriend, Jesse, who committed suicide several months before. Jesse tells him that not only was he revived using “reproduction technology,” a type of cloning that relies on the same principals as teleportation, but that the doctor who brought him back was Maddy’s father. There was only one stipulation: Jesse could never talk to Maddy again.
Now, with the help of Georgia, Maddy’s new girlfriend, Maddy and Jesse must escape before their parents track them down. But when Maddy finds out that maybe Jesse—or Jesse 2.0, as Maddy calls him—isn’t the only repro, he must decide whether to continue with his new life or return to the Maddy he was before he knew the truth.
About the Author
If there’s one thing author Annabelle Jay believes with all her heart, it’s that there is no such thing as too many dragons in a book. As fantasy writer with few other hobbies—does being bribed to run with her partner or dancing awkwardly in the kitchen count?—she spends every day following her imagination wherever it leads her.
A hippie born in the wrong decade, Annabelle has a peace sign tattoo and a penchant for hugging trees. Occasionally she takes breaks from her novels to play with her pets: Jon Snow, the albino rabbit who is constantly trying to escape; Stevie, the crested gecko that climbs glass with the hairs on its toes; and Luigi, the green tree python that lives at the foot of her bed despite her best efforts to talk her partner out of the idea.
During her day job as a professor of English, Annabelle is often assumed to be a fellow student playing a prank on the class—that is, until she hands out the syllabus. When people stop mistaking her for a recent high school graduate, she will probably be very sad.
Author’s Website: www.annabellejay.com
Publisher’s book page: https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/books/jesse-20-by-annabelle-jay-549-b
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14191901.Annabelle_Jay
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Annabelle-Jay-376249719245415