Monday, January 17, 2011

James R Hall's "Am I Still There?" (short story, immortality, free): Medical advances raise the philosophical issue of personal identity

Illustration by Leo Summers accompanying the original publication in Analog magazine of short story Am I Still There by James R Hall
I have a PC a little over 15 years old. Over the years, practically every part of it has been replaced - including motherboard, cabinet, & OS, one thing at a time, somethings have undergone multiple replacements. It still works, but is a bit cranky - in words of this story's protagonist: "But it is just not quite right. It's just a little bit off key, like one trumpet player out of twenty being about one-sixteenth of a note flat." And I still think of it as the same original machine, though this story makes me wonder...

This is the story of Vincent Bonard Lee, 409 years old. He's had practically every part of his body replaced over the years, sometimes multiple times. Now the time has finally come to replace his brain, & the man is wondering how it will affect his idea of himself.

Fact sheet.

First published: Analog, September 1963.
Download full text from Project Gutenberg, Manybooks, Feedbooks.
Rating: A.
Among the stories from Astounding/Analog issues edited by John Campbell.
Related: Immortality in fiction.