Elijah is a "philosopher," or policeman, in a society where humans enjoy immortal life by transferring their memories into clones called "echoes." As a cop, Elijah investigates conflicts between humans and alien species that arise from cultural differences. In this strange society, Elijah's friends must wait for permission to have children and others decide when they want to die and throw their own funerals. Elijah is not happy when a higher-up asks him to create an echo, an expensive choice, so that he can mediate a conflict between life on another planet.

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