"All the flavor and none of the calories," Daniel says, snacking in the floating world. All the sensation and none of the weight. Those orphan boys were so starved for meat that they ate the dirt, and now they live on Caprica where they've never known famine. All the enjoyment and none of the guilt. They're so starved for connection they fill NCC in droves, fucking and killing and searching for meaning in graffiti and strange mysteries. He floats above the world, neither in it nor of it, eating food that tastes and then is gone.
"What are you working on?" his wife asks, and he blushes. "Well, not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm working on you. I'm refining the algorithms that extrapolate personality traits and memories from online data. Still, it seems like I've got a long ways to go." Amanda smiles and jokes: He needs to work on her brain some more, because she's not getting it. All the taste and none of the calories. She certainly feels real; she can't even understand him when he says she isn't. Not really.
"I may not be perfect, but I am good at some things," says his wife. "I bet I could please you." He laughs, a bit uneasily; healthy sex drive and a desire to please are baseline for every avatar, in the floating world. Every person is an object for sale and their responsibility is to our pleasure. In twenty years Sharon Valerii will be born on Troy, a doomed mining settlement off ugly Aerilon; Sharon Valerii was never born and only floats atop that world. Made to love, and be loved in return.
"You make it sound so mechanical," she says; perhaps she knows she's joking. She bites her lip and smiles at him again, aching to fulfill her programming. He steps further and further away from the world, as she chips at his judgment. But that's just his programming, too; he loves her. She updates with more memories as they begin to talk about Zoë's ninth birthday, his last vacation. It was cold, they went someplace warm. A campground, on one of the Ionian islands.
Zoë got a camera for her birthday that year; he finds the pictures she took and his wife remembers them. She updates again when he asks her about the smell, the canvas after the rain. When she speaks he nearly doesn't recognize it. It rains here every afternoon like clockwork. I guess dad forgot to ask about the rainy season. Every time she does it, spits out quotes and facts and other people's thoughts, it's another disappointment: He's not doing the job yet, he's not making her real. He's not making a soul from code, it's just false grace and his own grief talking.