The Cortical Stack and You – A Guide to Life in 2600

Death in 2600 is not nearly as perminant as it once was thanks to the cordical stack. At birth, everyone has one implanted into the spinal column at the base of their skull and it allows the human mind to be digitized. Your body, or sleeve as they are referred to, may be destroyed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end because there are a range of possiblities out there, depending on how much cash you have.

The Store or the Stack: This is essentially storage. You have no conscious thought and time will pass by without you. If you or your family doesn’t have the means for any other options, this is where you will most likely stay. Some people choose this over time. Others like to be revived on specified occasions.

This is also a cheap alternative to jail time. If you are convicted of a crime it is most likely that you will be sent to the store. Lucky folks will have someone pay to keep their sleeve leased and in safekeeping, so when they get off the stack they will be resleeved in their old body. Other people aren’t so lucky. Your sleeve may be given to someone else and who knows what sleeve you will end up with when you get out of storage.

VR or Virtuality: Can’t afford a new sleeve? Well VR is your next best bet. Virtual condos and the like offer some connection to the outside world and allow your mind to be conscious as time passes. VR is also commonly used for meetings, simulations and by datarats to dip, or hack, into computer systems.

Synthetics: Many different companies offer a line of synthetic sleeves that can be an affordable alternative to a flesh and blood version. The low ends of the spectrum are essentially glorified mannequins with the limited sensory and emotive capabilities that you would expect. The high-end versions are nearly identical to a human sleeve and can come loaded with a plethora of enhancements.

Flesh and Blood Sleeves: Just like synthetics, you get what you pay for. The low end will get you a recycled sleeve with all the potential problems that entails. Maybe you end up with the sleeve of a 19 year-old tetrameth junky complete with physical addiction and malnutrition or an overweight middle-aged couch potato with type 2 diabetes. Don’t like it? Take it up with your insurance company and be sure to read the fine print of your re-sleeving policy. The other end of the spectrum is vat-grown sleeves that can be off the rack or custom grown complete with a wide range of bonus features genetically coded in.

Clones: The final option, reserved for the ultra-rich, are clones, many of whom have several clones in storage and will switch between them every few weeks to avoid wear and tear on the sleeves. These can be modeled after the person's original sleeve and have enhancements genetically wired in or they can be custom grown to individual specifications.

Real Death: Destruction of the cordical stack will result in Real Death. As in game over. Nice knowing you. Say goodbye to the wife and kids. Fortunately, thanks to the density of the bone at the base of the skull and the fact that cordical stacks are made of extremely tough material, this only happens through rare accidents or with deliberate intent.

For the ultra rich, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end. Those who can afford it can be digitally backed up every 48 hours by tight needlecast. Should their stack be destroyed, they can be downloaded from their backup into a clone. They will have no memories since their backup, but hey, at least they aren’t dead.