We should have known it was a foolish hope. None of us knew each other, but we recognized each other as members of the same faith. We had all signed up with various cryonics companies, preserving our bodies after we died – or more often, to save money, just our post-mortem, surgically-severed heads – all in the expectation that a future society would possess the technology to cure death, clone bodies and bring us back to life.
We did not really think it through, though. We had of course speculated about various potential problems that might crop up. What if a disaster hit the cryo-bank, a fire, an earthquake, or simple corporate insolvency? Or a larger catastrophe, such as climate change or an asteroid strike eliminating human civilization entirely? The oldest among us, those pioneers who were the first preserved in tanks of liquid nitrogen, had carried the specter of global thermonuclear war with them into their icy sleep. But not freezing ourselves would mean succumbing to eternal death. Cryonic preservation gave us a chance, however slim, however fraught with potential calamity, to return to life.
Perhaps the most prevalent worry, left unspoken, was: what if the future didn’t want us? The fear of our own insignificance, the fear that our leap of faith, throwing ourselves into an unknown, unseen future, would simply be ignored by our far-flung descendants, that fear gripped each and every one of us as we held the pen, poised to sign the cryonics contract. But we dismissed it and signed anyway, naïvely confident that our belief in a future resurrection was on firmer ground than the beliefs of our religious forebears. As long as civilization survives, the arc of science and technology ineluctably leads to nigh-unlimited possibility. A future society, reaping the benefits of nanotechnology, zero-point energy, and other advances unfathomable to us cryonauts, could not help but be magnanimous and grant us our last and greatest wish.
If only we had paused longer, thought more about other possible consequences of an inconceivable future. We were blinded by our hopes and fears and by the very times in which we lived, times when few of our desires could be realized, times that shaped our morals in specific and limited ways.
We never considered the possibility that a society of unlimited and incomprehensible capability would resurrect us, not out of charity or nostalgia or even a sense of obligation to the past, but for their own sport. We never imagined – in many ways, we were incapable of imagining – the morals of a world where everything is possible. Now we, the once-dead, are endlessly reborn in bodies of hideous configuration, toys for the play of capricious gods, forever broken and remade. Because we could not imagine them, we did not understand that there are fates worse than death.
(This is a slightly altered version of a story first published on 365Tomorrows.com back in 2009) #writing #sf #scifi @ellowrites