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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Gregory Benford, Allen Steele, and Lois McMaster Bujold on Cryonics

Here's my latest entry from 2011 Reading Recollections:

Lois McMaster Bujold's novel Cryoburn, in an odd way, reminds me of Gregory Benford and Allen Steele. Gregory Benford, as a scientist and science fiction writer, is a real believer in Cryonics. When he dies, he has apparently planned to have his body cryogenically frozen, in the hopes that in the decades (or more likely, the centuries) to come, medical expertise will allow him to be brought back to life. 

In Allen Steele's novel A King of Infinite Space, the protagonist awakes in the future. His aging body has been replaced with a young one, but all his carefully laid financial plans have gone wrong. He is now a slave, the property of the person who bought him as a commodity. 

In Bujold's novel, her popular character Miles Vorkosigan investigates a cryonics corporation. He discovers that bodies have been preserved using cut-rate fluids, materials, and other processes. In the process, many of the bodies have degraded so that the people can never be resurrected. 

Cryogenics offers us hope of another life, or potentially everlasting life in our mortal bodies. Cryoburn reminds us that while the emerging field of Cryogenics holds great potential, the potential of something going wrong during the physical process of preservation, storage, and reincarnation is highly probable, given the long span of time involved, and the all-too-Human natures of those charged with caring for our delicate bodies. 

Still, like the ancient Egyptians with their mummification techniques and their pyramids, we live, and die, in hope.

Dragon Dave

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