Sunday, January 23, 2011

Big Ideas

The other thing I love about Bujold is that great characterization never comes at the expense of great ideas. Cryogenic storage which can keep people in suspended animation until science finds a cure for a disease is a staple of science fiction. But nobody has thought out the secondary consequences as well as she has. Even people who are just old may help science will extend their lifespans - but what happens if almost everyone wants to be kept alive?

Some of her questions deal mostly with her own universe, at least superficially. But many will come back to bite us in a slightly different form if cryogenic suspension becomes real. Unlike some of her imaginary worlds, political votes can't be delegated. But people won't give most of their property to their heirs if they expect to need it after revival. How will the trust funds assigned to represent their interests make their investments? And in some industries, takeovers and mergers about, due to economies of scale.

If the technology does become real, nobody has done more than Bujold to prepare us for the bumpy road ahead. And unlike characterization, this is mostly unique to science fiction.

I too hope to address the human condition in a unique way, not because the technology I describe is likely to come in the exact way I describe it, but by looking at an ancient fear and desire in an entirely new light.


  1. It's amazing how many technologies that were purely science fiction when I was a child are now taken completely for granted.

    Some still haven't arrived yet though. I'd love to be able to beam to another place without all that tiresome air travel!

  2. I don't see much hope for that in the near future, unless you count virtual travel or telepresence.

    Besides, everyone would miss the TSA :-)