Readers' novels no 5: Transfer complete

Scene from Casualty
Image caption "His mouth moved, but it was only a simulation of real speech to make his body seem more human."

The Magazine's feature on why people take part in the month-long novel-writing event NaNoWriMo prompted dozens of readers to send in 350-word long excerpts. Here is Raymond Kontusz's Transfer Complete.

Dr Alfons Hershel was the first to complete the transfer successfully. His body, riddled with a cancer that had gorged on his lungs, liver and kidneys, was governed by a mind as sharp as any had ever been. He was esteemed among the likes of Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Long the dream had been to save these great minds so they could live on, could guide mankind and bestow on everyone not only the knowledge they had gained in their fruitful lives, but continue to develop and explore new methods and new means.

When he awoke, he looked first at himself as the medical staff around him held up a mirror for him to see. And then he looked over at himself, his body, frail, drained and weak, a ghostly pale hue, grayish and dry, covered his features. He smiled. Everyone smiled, for the fact that he smiled was a success all it's own. A key missing piece of earlier attempts had been that emotion had not been amalgamated, leaving a void in the new being, one that invariably resulted in the shut down of the system, akin to suicide. Next he opened his mouth and spoke: Is it me, he asked?

And everyone cheered. "Dr Hershel, can you hear us. How do you feel?" The question was asked much louder than necessary, almost as if a nearly deaf person was being asked the question. Someone could have whispered in the furthest corner of the room and still he would have heard.

Alfons smiled again, broadly, showing his perfectly arrayed teeth, so much better than the diseased stubs in the mouth of his dead body. They were made of hardened porcelain coated with an enamel layer that would protect them from damage. And if not, they could be replaced.

"I feel fine, and I can hear you just fine."

His mouth moved, but it was only a simulation of real speech to make his body seem more human. The voice was actually generated by a device in his throat and projected from his mouth. Still, the motion of his lips was carefully synchronized to make the appearance of speech, the visual interaction for other humans, as realistic as possible. The interaction with humans would be key to the success of this venture and to the completeness of the transfer.