Human Fax

Terry Farrell as Jadzia DaxI read this quote in Time magazine and was inspired:

Konstantin Feoktistov, a former Soviet cosmonaut, … pointed out that it might be possible someday soon to “download” the entire contents of a human brain into a computer, the way a file on a PC can be transferred onto a floppy disk, and broadcast it to a robot in a remote star system. After a few days or years of exposure to this strange world, the surrogate brain would “fax” its new information back to earth and its original owner.

– Dennis Overbye, Time, Fall 1992

The concept intrigued me and ever since I’ve been working on this science fiction horror story. Arianna Voltar, by the way, is inspired by Terry Farrell’s portrayal of Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”


The first human fax was created in the year of our Lord 2159. It was a grand experiment, brought forth to the populace with much pomp and circumstance.

And then this grand experiment died out in popularity and was never heard of again.

Some said it was much too expensive to be economical. Others said it was a hoax, that it never occurred. The hoax was close to being discovered, so the government was hushing it up.

But there were a small handful of people who knew the real story. And they had their own very good reasons for not speaking up. For in that direction madness surely laid in waiting to claim them.

This is their story.

If there ever was a person who embodied the word “ebullient,” it was Arianna Voltar. Her laughter was commonly heard floating up and down the halls at SMTL (Sentient Mind Transfer Laboratory), more commonly called Human Fax Lab or Smittle.

“She is easily seven feet tall!” Andrew Carneggie used to say, although she wasn’t an inch over six feet. But she had that kind of personality: tall, confident, proud. It was sometimes scary to think her mind could be in two places at once, and comforting to know that she was on “our” side.

Arianna was the resident psychic. The crux of the human fax project. Without her, the project may never have been successful. For good or for ill, she was very good at what she did and Smittle was enamored of her capabilities.

At this moment, she was bubbling along the hall towards the main meeting room, laughing jovially with Suzanne Decarte, the psychologist.

“Good morning Ms. Voltar, Dr. Decarte,” said Carneggie as they walked in.

“Good morning Andrew! And please, pretty please, call me Arianna! We’ve worked with each other long enough to be on a first name basis.”

“Sorry Arianna, its just old programming — and, no, Suzanne, I don’t need any help with it.” They laughed at the obvious jibe.

Suzanne was friendly, and sometimes a bit too helpful and giving of her psychological services. “Always willing to lend a hand to those in need,” she would say. “Always willing to lend a hand.”

Suzanne, although willing to bubble with the best, was more serious than Arianna. She was more introverted and liked to spend time alone reading or listening to audio disks. She was modest, yet confident; unpretentious, yet proud. She did not fill one word so well as Arianna fit ebullient. Sometimes she was quite the enigma.

“You seem a bit down in the mouth today,” she said to Andrew. “What’s up?”

“Oh, nothing much. I had a talk with my mother this afternoon.”

“Really?”

“Yes. It seems that she is now accepting the fact that I did not become rich and is settling with the fact that I’ve only attained world wide recognition and prestige,” he said gloomily.

“All this because she named you Andrew?” said Arianna incredulously. “I never did understand what your mother was all about when it came to your name. Could you give another go at explaining it?”

“Well, my mother is a firm believer in the idea that the name makes the person. Since it was my parents’ wish that I become very rich, my mother convinced my father that if they named me after a very rich historical figure, then by sheer power of my name I would become rich.” Andrew explained.

“How unusual. With a name like Arianna Voltar, you’d think I’d become some femme fatal in a spy story, wouldn’t you?” Arianna chuckled.

“I supposed so.” he returned.

“But your name isn’t quite right, is it?” put in Suzanne.

“No. The historical Andrew pronounced his last name CAR-negie. Whereas, my last name is pronounced car-NEG-gie.”

“I guess they didn’t think of that.” said Arianna.

“I guess not. Anyway, my mother told me today that maybe the reason had to do with resonance.”

“Resonance?”

“Yes. She now believes that possibly it is not only the name, but how the name resonates with the times. She supposes that although my name once resonated in such a way to create wealth and prestige, it now only resonates to create prestige.”

“Oh! What a goofy notion!” Arianna burst into one of her typical giggles — the ones she uses when she thinks something is ridiculous but is aware that not all others will see it that way.