A post by James Davis Nicoll at tor.com: Five Stories Featuring Cryonics and Suspended Animation
Purveyors of cryonic preservation have a problem: As long as customers are content with storing bodies at temperatures cold enough to liquify nitrogen (or colder), all is well. However, as soon as someone starts muttering about the end goal of waking frozen clients, the issue arises that nobody knows how to do that. In fact, freezing itself can damage human cells beyond repair. Humans being less robust than tardigrades, the humans have a deplorable tendency to remain quite dead despite the intense desires of the company that froze them. People are so inconsiderate.
However, even if cryonics were not just an expensive way of storing corpses, it still might be problematic for any number of reasons. …
And then the stories, with comments.
I assumed Cryoburn would be here, and so it is. It’s far from my favorite Vorkosigan book … hmm, maybe I should put those in personal order someday … but it’s surely the best-known cryonics story at this point.
The other one I recognize here is “Time Heals,” by Paul Anderson, but the cover is actually showing an image for a story I quite liked, “Call Me Joe,” which also must be included in the collection. “Time Heals” sounds like a real downer, but I wouldn’t mind re-reading “Call Me Joe.” I like the idea of the powerful, sensual cat-centaur body, I guess.
Anyway! At the moment, not remotely tempted to have myself frozen. I wonder how big a thing that is these days? The NYT, which is the first article that pops up, says about 500 people have had themselves frozen so far. Not exactly a fast-growing industry. How much does it cost? About $200,000 for the full body, evidently, and there’s all this about trusts and organizations that keep track of your preserved body so it doesn’t get abandoned or whatever. I can readily imagine the sort of system LMB drew in Cryoburn. Get cryonics to catch on and you’re talking big money both for the process and for the storage.
Having yourself frozen does seem to me to be psychologically similar to the Egyptian mummification, which was also about avoiding death and getting yourself set to live forever, in a way.
I can see different ways stories might go using this element, but personally, if I ever used cryonics in a story, it would undoubtedly just be a plot device to get my characters into an interesting place; eg, coldsleep on a slow colony ship or something like that, so it wouldn’t be a story about cryonics as such.