By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
"No way to tell from my surroundings," Duane says. "This looks like a typical hospital room from 1997. It's probably a reconstruction to protect me from future shock." Ken does not contradict Duane's sage observations.
"What kind of world exists outside that door?" queries Ken.
"Civilization still exists; humanity possesses advanced molecular-scale technology; cryonic resuscitation is legal, or at least, if it isn't, the prohibition isn't strictly enforced . . . And I haven't been revived to serve as transplant fodder or a slave."
Ken laughs at this, asking, "How do you know that?"
"Come on. Ken, we've talked about all this before . . . it would be easier and simpler to make replacement organs from scratch. Similarly, if you want slaves, it's a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to breed them from scratch than to go reviving cryonauts."
Well, yeah. That makes sense. I don't know about you, but I'm impressed by Duane so far; I have trouble remembering what day it is when I wake up from a deep nap state. He proceeds to figure out other facts: There are anti-aging therapies; there is no population problem; and we have "expanded into space," which means there is "no poverty." When Ken tosses a pen that mysteriously curves toward him, Duane easily figures out that they are in a "space habitat, rotating to provide simulated gravity."
Finally, Duane gets around to asking about his family. I really like this part. Wife Jeannie is now 100 years old and remarried, but she still loves him. Their sons are grown. "Ted" "supervises robot construction" and is "building a network of undersea train tunnels joining Europe to Africa."
But what of "Jim"?
Ah, Jim is developing "new ways to mine hydrogen and helium from Jupiter and Saturn." Unfortunately, "Amanda" couldn't make it. She's been "outside the solar system for the last couple of years doing physics research."
Which, in 2067, I'm sure will be a very good place for physics research. Naturally, I intend to report on that, as I will be a sprightly 104. And, with certain anti-aging therapies, a damn good-looking 104 at that.
Back to the present.
Back to Bridge's office, where I find his views on advances-to-be are quite similar to Duane's.
"We're not talking about reviving people as heads on a plate," he scoffs. "Right now, we can all regrow skin over a cut. I think in the next 20 years we will be learning to regrow severed spinal chords, and not long after that we will be learning to regrow missing limbs because that information is in our DNA."
"In the next 50 years, we will learn to build tiny machines that will go inside our bodies, inside our cells and do repairs."
"Overpopulation? That's brainwashing. We're going to have to deal with that anyway, whether cryonics works or not. We don't have an overpopulation problem in the world right now. Well, we have a population problem in Tokyo and Mexico City and Bangladesh, but we don't have a problem in the United States in general. Someday, there will be too many people on the Earth, but right now the problem is bad management. By the time it does become a problem, we will be leaving the planet and living other places."
Certainly, the Bangladesh space program is gearing up for that.
"Somewhere in the next few decades, whether that's 30 years or 120 years, medicine will be good enough where very few people will be dying. And the ones that are will be placed in cryonic suspension right away because the solution to their problem will be just on the horizon."
Bridge characterizes the type of person who would want to join the Alcor club.
"People who in general are pretty optimistic about the future, people that like being alive and want more life. Not people who are afraid of death, but people who see death as an imposition on a good thing rather than concentrating on death as a negative thing itself. I don't see anything positive about not existing."
Alcor has one chap in suspension right now who may beg to differ with that, or may someday be glad to find that the solution to his problem is "just on the horizon."
Actually, it's just his brain that's frozen, partly damaged from the gunshot that he fired into his face when he decided suicide was the only solution to his "problem."
Abiding by the man's wishes, an Alcor representative immediately flew down to Texas, retrieved the brain from the coroner, packed it on ice in a cooler and jetted the thing back to Scottsdale.
I ask Bridge if a brain with a gunshot wound wouldn't make future reawakening, well, something of a sticky wicket.
"Maybe, but he shot himself fairly low in the head." Then, with the never-say-die attitude that is at the core of Alcor, Bridge continues brightly, "It's going to be damaged worse if he's buried or cremated."
Welcome to the back room, the place where questionably late Alcor members go after their blood has been washed out, chemicals have been introduced, after holes have been bored in their skulls so liquid levels can be monitored and temperature probes can be inserted.