Clair: "Stay away from me."
Wallace: "Such mistrust! There's no need to be frightened, Clair. I'm just trying to make the world a better place."
Wallace: "Imagine being able to use Improvement to repair ourselves-get rid of cancer, heal wounds, fix anything that's gone wrong in our bodies. You don't think that's a bad thing, do you?"
Clair: "You'll never convince me that what Mallory is doing is a good thing."
Wallace: "Mallory is a special case, true. I couldn't let her go, no matter how unsubtle she can be."
Clair: "Murder is unsubtle?"
Wallace: "Improvement isn't murder, Clair. It started as a way of saving lives-the lives of our greatest minds when they grow sick and old. We didn't have Turner's genes then, so how else were we to prolong their work? We couldn't create new bodies out of nothing and set them loose in the world, since that would violate parity, the one rule we cannot break; the same with copying them. So why not use the bodies of young people living vacant, empty lives? Teenage minds are flexible; that's why they're so changeable, so perfect for our plan. You see, Improvement is like duping, only stronger, more subtle, permanent. In the right body-not just any will do-a transplanted personality has time to settle into place, rather than being dumped wholesale and left to break down, like the dupes do. Society is infinitely better off for it, I'm sure you'll agree, as are the beneficiaries of the program. Ask Tilly Kozlova if she would rather be dead. Ask all of them. I know what they'll tell you."
Clair: "Just don't ask them their real names, right?"
Wallace: "What's in a name? They're happy. I'm happy. We're all better off."
Clair: "Except for the dead kids you cheated out of their lives."
Wallace: "No one uses Improvement against their will. Or d-mat, for that matter. We do it to ourselves, Clair, and no one complains. No one is harmed."
Clair: "You're lying. Someone forced Dylan Linwood into a booth so he could be duped. And your dupes, they've killed innocent people."
Wallace: "Minor exceptions, all in the service of the greater good. Would you really have us give up d-mat like those fools in WHOLE say we should?"
Clair: "D-mat isn't the problem. It's people like you, people who abuse the system. The sooner you're all in prison, the safer it'll be for everyone else."
Wallace: "Is that really what you think?"
Clair: "Of course it is. I'm not so far gone that I don't know who I am anymore."
Wallace: "'Far gone' . . . ? Ah! I didn't realize. You used Improvement too. Perhaps I should just wait, then. The answers will come to me in due course."
Clair: "If I don't kill myself first."
Wallace: "Yes, you might, just to spite me, if you are one of Mallory's. She's nothing if not persistent, once she fully comes into herself. Her death wish is a stain I could never remove, no matter how I tried. . . ."
Clair: "Why is Mallory such a special case?"
Wallace: "Because she's my wife. I can't let her go."
YOU ARE READING
113 (Twinmaker)Science Fiction
A post-scarcity world transformed by free, instantaneous travel should be paradise, but nothing is ever as it seems. When an ordinary girl uses Improvement, a meme promising a complete physical makeover by little more than wishing for it, she brings...