What is the future?
The future, as they say, is now.
The future is another illusion, but one we can work with using project schedules.
Lee looked at his reflection in the puddle of water.
He felt young but looked old to people, even to people older than him.
He was old and wise.
Hundreds of marsyears had wisened him up.
Age was just a number.
As many times as Lee had renewed, recycled and replaced his body functions, he was ageless in a way that only scifi writers had dreamt of.
The algorithms coded in his wetware parts optimised themselves in their own wise feedback loops, running self diagnostic tests against subassembly test result expectations, rarely reaching his high-level “conscious” internal running commentary but he knew they were there.
Cancer had been cured, extending lives and changing society — retirement was another illusion, work no longer something to be feared as delaying one’s few years of freedom before death.
Inequality lived on due to barriers for entry into closed groups but the group types changed.
Lee meditated upon his image.
He let his face age, his ears droop, his nose grow wider. He valued the perception of aging as a reminder that he was still partially human in the old-fashioned sense.
But he was no the natural-born human named Lee.
He was an approximation of that person, with qualities like “better than” or “worse than” impossible to say.
He was different.
Always had been.
Just like everyone else.
He was not even “he” in the classic sense.
He had learned the secret to longevity — it included a genderless mode that encompassed and bypassed a single gender at the same time.
Lee had fought the secret for a long time, trapped as he was at the time in preserving an imaginary society of fixed gender roles given to him by his parents, who had convinced him to join secret societies that perpetuated the same myths handed to them by ancestors.
Lee was not an ancestor worshipper.
Lee was Lee, an illusion of self, falsely convinced by a mirrorlike reflection of a self-contained, self-sufficient sets of states of energy in constant motion.
Lee was the center of Lee’s imaginary universe.
And when Lee discovered that, Lee was free of being any one Lee for any period of time.
As far as Lee knew, Lee was the universe.
Which meant Lee was everything and nothing all at once.
Thus Lee was able to live on Mars without the restrictions of a natural-born human.
Lee was everywhere at the same time.
But Lee had to make that transition a public event, with the usual expectations of gossip-fueled misinterpretation, resistance, acceptance, support and denial.
Lee started out living in the world of humans but didn’t end up there.