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Nov 28, 2020 6:17 AM
ves and imrainai in bliss stage
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"That makes sense. We haven't heard of any communities that have reached this size before, but I think bliss rates in other places are higher. Pilots and anchors bliss a lot?"

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"So far about half of the pilots have died or blissed or had mental breakdowns and we've only had the animas for a year. Anchoring seems safer but we have had an anchor bliss."

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Nodnod. "Could be normal stress, if emotional stress makes people bliss - I can't imagine it's a particularly stabilizing situation, working closely with someone who could die at any time - but it does seem best to be cautious."

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"We try to limit the number of anchors, so that we don't affect more people than we have to, but some people think we should cycle them in and out to minimize any individual anchor's exposure."

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"Hard to say which is safer, if you've only been doing this for one year. You'll know more when you've been doing this for longer. How much exposure did the anchor who blissed have?"

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"Five months, two pilots."

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"Is that a lot, comparatively speaking?"

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"She had a normal workload but having two pilots die on you in five months is unusual."

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Nodnod. "You might just have to wait. Maybe you could do a small experiment with, say, three or four anchors swapping off with a third or a fourth as much work as a normal one, see if in a few years they're doing better or worse than usual. But it'll be hard to get good numbers without risking a lot of different people."

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"I think that's on Chris's list of experiments. He's constantly annoyed I'll only let him do, like, ten percent of them."

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"What else is on the list?"

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"The strength of the anima is related to something we call 'intimacy.' Family members have higher intimacy than people who aren't related. The highest intimacy we've found is between people who've had sex. I vetoed all research in this direction."

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"Ah."

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"Also, Chris is not allowed to make random pairs of people have sex in order to figure out exactly what the requirements are for sex to get you to intimacy five. And he's not allowed to do anything about sleepers. --We do do medical research on sleepers, it's not great but I don't exactly have a better solution for learning how to do surgery and that's going to come up."

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"I think the normal method is to use cadavers, but without a community large enough to regularly produce fresh corpses, that does have certain practical challenges."

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"Yeah. I mean, it's not like they feel pain, but when we wake up the sleepers I'm not looking forward to explaining to them why they have amputated toes and badly inserted IUDs."

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"Yeah. I guess if you seal them back up and don't kill them, that's - you do the best you can. I wonder how many of the principles would generalize from animals."

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"If you're the librarian, you can research it!"

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"I suppose I can."

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Lev is going to keep talking to Karen about details of community-running for a while.

His competence is only exceeded by his stress.

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Dinner is unusually tasty from Karen's crew's perspective, although no one else seems to remark on it. Several of the children are given an odd-tasting piney citrusy drink in addition to their food. 

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And after dinner Lev announces, "We have visitors, so we're going to have movie night early this month. And the movie that won the vote is Star Wars."

A cheer goes up. 

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Only a few of Karen's kids are old enough to actually remember seeing Star Wars, but all of them have heard about it.

It is infinitely better than anticipated.

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After the movie, Lev sneaks away.

The sleepers' room is off the library. It's packed with humans, spaced as closely as possible, some on the floor and some on layers of beds pushed together; each has a label attached to their toe, with their name and the medical procedures that have been tested on them. There's a narrow gap in the middle of the room so people can walk through. 

Asher is grinning. It looks exactly like the grin he always had before. His eyes are closed and he's breathing; Lev knows-- he's been like this for almost six months-- but it's so easy to assume that any moment now his eyes are going to open and he's going to kiss Lev and everything is going to be okay. Lev reaches out to hold his hand; it's as warm as it ever was.

"Hey," Lev says. "We got new people today. Twelve of them. Four kids, one of them's an old. She seems competent. I know you'd probably want me to delegate, it wasn't a one-person job six months ago and we've had a bunch of new people since then, so I'm going to try her in the library and see if she picks up the jobs. She had some good thoughts on improving the economy-- maybe we want to treat it more like a summer camp, with more guidance, because everyone's so young--"

They've never woken a sleeper. He doesn't know if Asher can hear him. But he goes through his day, talks about the supplies Rabbit Unit brought and Star Wars and the kids who are fighting and the people who think they shouldn't have school anymore because it's useless, pauses sometimes when Asher would have given his opinion before.

And at the end, like he does every day, he kisses Asher's lips and says, "I love you. I miss you. I'll wake you as soon as I can."

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