Freeze or burn

This news item is a little sad perhaps but also, if you are a twisted bugger like me, kind of funny in a delightfully sick way: two of the founders of the cryonics movement have been cremated after their freezers broke down. Apparently dead humans, like food in your domestic freezer, come with a “if thawed do not re-freeze” label.

This is up there with the Simpsons episode where Roger Meyers Jr loses the Itchy and Scratchy studios and can no longer keep his dad’s head in the cryo storage so chucks it in a picnic cooler. And going back to the 80s and early 90s there was an Alex cartoon (the self-centred yuppie businessman who thinks money is everything and would almost certainly be a donator for honours to the Labour Party today) where he persuades his friend Clive to sign up with him to be frozen after death for future resurrection. As Alex points out for selfish bastards like them it is perfect – if there is a God and an afterlife they get the chance to come back and make up for their life of selfish greed and avoid eternal damnation and if there isn’t then they can go on with their current lifestyle…

Warren Ellis did an interesting take on cryonic resurrection in one of my favourite series, Transemetropolitan. He has a woman who had been a cutting edge photo journalist in the 60s and 70s having her frozen head defrosted in the far future. Of course the freezing process itself mae a mess of her chilled brain, but with future technology they manage to recover most of her memories, clone her a new body and decant her into it. Success! Except her husband isn’t there as they planned because he died on a foreign holiday too far away from the cryo company’s lab. The second problem is that once the future society has honoured the cryo company’s contract by bringing her back they just toss her out on the street where the poor woman suffers instant future shock from the bizarre future society and ends up cracked and living in doorways…

Mind you, for sheer nastiness one of the worst eras of the old Doctor Who (Colin Baker’s time, yeuch) pulled off a nice line in sickness when the Doctor goes to a ‘funeral’ at a gigantic building which is actually where rich and powerful people are stored for future resurrection when their death cause can be cured. Except the rich and powerful alive today have no interest in bringing back competitors and the galaxy can barely sustain the people alive now without bringing more back from the dead. So secretly Davros, the nasty creator of the Daleks, uses many of the frozen bodies as the basis for a food stuff (a la Soylent Green…. Mmmmm, Soylent Green….) and the remaining ones he mutates to use in his new cyborg nasties! Basically, the theme of cryonics tends to end in tears in SF and, from this story, looks like it doesn’t do much better in reality.