The Ophiuchi Hotline Author:John Varley Lilo was dead -- tried, condemned, and a suicide -- but she was also alive...in fact, there were several of her.... — In the years of Humanity's dispersal among the planets of the Solar System after the Invaders took Earth, cloning -- reproduction of a human being complete with personality and memories -- was common insurance against accident... more »s. Like most of the technical advances that made life off Earth possible -- and often bizarre, with genetic engineering and a whole new range of strange pursuits and pleasures -- the technique had been supplied by mysterious transmissions from space, the "Ophiuchi Hotline." No one knew the origin or motives of the transmissions, but the technique was enthusiastically accepted and applied.
But cloning a condemned felon -- or multiple cloning of anyone -- was a capital crime, and the Lilos created by Boss Tweed, ex-President of Luna, were outlaws from "birth." That was what Tweed needed -- agents who had no one to turn to but him -- in his obsessive plotting to rid Earth of the Invaders, amorphous but powerful beings from a gas-giant planet.
One Lilo rebelled, and found a fate stranger than death, but another was caught up in a sudden emergency that threatened all human civilization.
For another a message, badly garbled by its passage through the vastness of space, came through the Ophiuchi Hotline. Not instruction or information this time -- it seemed to be a phone bill...with no indication of what had to be paid, or to whom....« less