Short Story #396: Alter-Ego by Hugo Correa

Title: Alter-Ego

Author:  Hugo Correa

Summary:

Book cover of Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction by Brian Aldiss
Antonio receives his alter-ego; a robot that can move about through the world in his place, but is operated through a virtual reality helmet that he must wear.  Once he puts on the gear, he uses the robot to address the real body of Antonio.  He uses Antonio's acting experience to raise the question about the reality and ability of Antonio and his failure, like all men, to fully become something else.  It becomes clear that this speech is one of condemnation and disdain.  Eventually, the robot--through Antonio's actions--takes out a gun and shoots his human body in the head.  

Reflection

A short and stark tale, that is for sure, but a fascinating quick read none the less.  One gets the sense that this is about to happen and it is a deceptive turn from the beginning as we're introduced to the technology.  There's much wonder and thought about what it would mean to move through the world without fear of bodily harm (This is the premise of the film and graphic novel, The Surrogates).  But I find it interesting that Antonio's goal in splitting from his physical body is to use it as a means to distance himself enough to gain the strength to kill himself.  That's a powerful juxtaposition that lingers in the head and leads one to ask what would we do if we could separate mind from body.  

Rating: 4  (out of 5 stars)

Source:  The Penguin World Omnibus of Science Fiction.  Edited by Brian Aldiss and Sam J. Lundall.  The Spanish version of this story is available here.


For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.


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