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Saturday, 2013 June 15, 15:07 — prose

To your rearranged bodies go

I’m re-reading To Your Scattered Bodies Go and, of course, pondering the arrangements.

The premise is that all humans who ever died (for some convenient definitions of ‘human’ and ‘ever’) are simultaneously resurrected (for purposes unknown to them) on an artificial planet whose surface is one long and twisty river valley. In each neighborhood along the river there’s initially a majority of people from one region (spatial and temporal), but also a large minority of random others. Why?

How would I arrange them? Perhaps by date of birth. Arranging by date of death would be more likely to bring enemies together.

Alternately, having fallen in love with topological coordinates, I’d use a kinship graph: each person is directly linked to parents and children. I’d be interested to see the overall shape of this graph, as embedded in Rn. If enough generations are involved, the longest axis of this embedding is close to the birthdate axis: your parents might have no common ancestors within a thousand years, but they can’t have been born a thousand years apart. But what are the other axes like?

(I propose to define the natural dimension of a graph as the minimum in which the given graph is a subset of the Delaunay graph of the vertices.)

Turning away from mathematical nerdery now — One minor character says he’s especially pleased to regain the leg he lost in a road accident at age 50. That’s consistent with the apparent policy of restoring adults to age ~25 (and children to their age at death). But what is the Revivers’ policy on birth defects, genetic and otherwise? If you grow up with a damaged brain, can your mind be installed in a normal brain? If you live to adulthood without legs and are then revived in an adult body with legs, how easily can you learn to use them? How many limbs do Brittany and Abigail Hensel get?

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