Dear readers, tonight with me is a man recently awoken after a 50 year cryogenic sleep. A lot has changed in those five decades – the human race is dying, with birth rates declined to near zero.
He is here to tell us about the future, and about the attempts to save the human race from extinction.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Hmm, that’s a tricky one. My memories from that part of my life are gone…a casualty of one of the technologies that allowed me to be here in the first place.
That’s okay, just tell us what you do remember.
Well, what I can tell you is that I was born March 19, 1964 in Lincoln, Nebraska. I earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 1986 and my M.D. in 1990. I don’t really remember doing any of those things, but there are records that say I did…so I accept that they happened.
So, you don’t have any childhood memories? No cherished memories from your youth?
Not really. I have dreams sometimes that might be memories, or they could just be my mind’s way of trying to fill in the blanks. We’ve tried every memory reconstruction technique available, but nothing worked. I have gotten a few memories back from my early twenties, like when Christina and I got married…and when we had Lily. But that was only because Aneni was able to use their memories of me to rebuild my memories of them. I’m afraid that my life before I met Christina is lost forever.
Alright, fair enough. At the time of your death you were a world-renowned geneticist and CEO of the largest biotech company on the planet. What are you doing these days?
I guess you could best describe my job as research assistant. My typical day is split between pouring over mountains of data and developing new simulations. We spend virtually all of our time trying to figure out the root cause of the genetic mutations that have devastated the human population. Speaking of which, how many of you are left on Mars anyway? I can’t imagine there are all that many. And do you really think they’ll care what I have to say? Last I heard, I wasn’t very popular with the survivor crowd.
That’s not true, you’re pretty much all we talk about these days. There aren’t a lot of us left, less than 100,000 actually. But everyone is curious about you…and I think even your detractors are secretly rooting for you. Speaking of which: Tell me more about your research, have you made any progress?
Some, but not as much as I’d hoped…especially on the genetic resequencing front. We have made some interesting discoveries, but we’re no closer to isolating the mutation-causing gene sequences now than we were when we fled Earth twelve years ago. One bit of positive news though: Aneni has markedly improved the efficiency of our gravity drive and we’ve cut at least ten years off of our travel time. We’re projected to arrive at Gaia in three years, 127 days and ten hours.
That’s great, maybe we can do another interview after you get there. I’d love to hear all about it, and I bet my followers will as well. New subject: What was it like being restored? I bet that was quite a shock for you.
It was a huge shock! You have to remember that I died in 2023…a hell of a lot changed in 52 years. But I think the hardest part was waking up in somebody else’s body. I don’t know why, but I always assumed that I’d come back in my own body. Of course, I also assumed that they’d just defrost me once they found a cure for cancer and I’d go on living like nothing happened. I never imagined that we would invent all the technologies required to digitize, store and transfer human consciousness.
Yeah, they’ve built a massive organic storage facility here. They say it’s large enough for all of us. But we’ll see, I’m still waiting for my archive date. Tell me, what was the scariest thing that’s happened to you so far?
That’s another hard one, since I was pretty much terrified from the moment I woke up. I tried not to show it, but I felt like a lost puppy that was completely dependent on the kindness of strangers to survive. But if I had to pick one thing, I think it would be learning that this wasn’t the first time I’d been brought back. The idea that I had been restored at least four times before absolutely terrified me. The very idea of being that…disposable…it made me sick to my stomach. I’m used to it now, but it was very unnerving back then.
What would you say is the worst thing about your situation now?
I get lonely sometimes…I miss my family. Aneni and Christian are okay, but I don’t think they understand how important emotion is to us—especially love. But I think they’re starting to get it. They’ve realized that humans are inherently social animals and that we need to be with other people in order to survive. They’ve tried several times to restore my wife and daughter because they know how important they are to me. But…well, let’s just say that Christina and Lily have struggled with accepting synthetic bodies.
I’m sorry to hear that, I’m sure that’s been hard on you. Tell me about something good that’s happened to you since all this started.
You probably won’t believe this…but it’s being able to be a part of all of this. I mean, the fact that I’m even here is a miracle in and of itself! As hard as its been at times, I am grateful every single day for the chance to be here…and to be in a position to maybe make a difference. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. From the day I enrolled in medical school until now, my mission in life has been to use science to improve people’s lives. I didn’t become a doctor to push pills and treat symptoms, I became a doctor to cure disease, improve health and increase lifespan!
An honorable goal. Tell us a little about Aneni and Christian, what is your relationship like with them?
They’re okay. I enjoy working with them but, like I said, they don’t really understand what it means to be human. They’re so accustomed to being able to archive and retrieve information at will that they forget sometimes that I can’t do that. That’s the biggest difference between AIs and us…how we store and process information. Our memories are layered, intertwined and spread across the entire engramic mesh…kind of like individual strands of spaghetti in a big bowl of pasta. Theirs are organized and indexed, ready to be retrieved at a moment’s notice.
Did you know that only something like twenty percent of our memories are available for instant recall? The rest we have to hunt for when we need them. It can be like digging through that big bowl just to find the one piece of pasta I want…very frustrating.
Any romantic involvement?
I wish! But sadly, no. It’s just us robots here until we can figure out how bring everybody back in organic bodies.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
Hate is a strong word. But I guess you could say that I hate the fact that my company might have had something to do with all of this…that we somehow contaminated the food supply in a way that caused a serious mutation of our genetic structure. Aneni doesn’t think so—she thinks that we were programmed to self-destruct…that whoever created us didn’t want us to last forever. I guess I can see how that makes sense to her. Since she was created by humans, it’s natural for her to assume that someone must have created us…why should we be special.
Trust me, a lot us ask ourselves that question every day: If there is a God, why would he let this happen? Anyway, how about something lighter? What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Well, since my synthetic body doesn’t require food or drink, and I never really relax…unless you count the hour or so I spend charging each day…I guess that leaves favourite color, which I guess I would have to say is green. I’m really hoping Gaia will be covered with lush, emerald green grass and giant trees with thick crowns of chlorophyll-rich leaves. I really miss those.
What does the future hold for you?
<long pause> I really don’t know. There are just too many unknowns right now to even guess at what tomorrow might bring. We don’t know what we’re going to find on Gaia. We don’t know when, or even if, we’ll ever figure out a way to reverse the damage that’s been done to our DNA. And we don’t know if anyone other than me will be ever able to accept living inside a synth body. It hasn’t gone well so far, but I remain hopeful that we will find a way to make a synth body look and feel just like an organic one.
In fact, just last week we made huge progress toward simulating the effects of hormones and neurotransmitters on the brain, and I think that will really help a bunch of folks out. You’d be amazed at how much the human brain depends on chemicals to function, and some people more so than others it seems.
First, we tried stripping all the chemical receptor neurons out of the engramic mesh, but that doesn’t work…it causes an unrecoverable cascade failure in the neural core. So, now we’re working on biological equivalents that can bind with individual nodes on the carbon lace framework inside of an organic storage medium.
Of course, that’s just the first step. Even after we achieve consistent binding and correctly timed degradation, we’ll have to create subroutines to simulate the things that cause our bodies to release the chemicals in the first place, like circadian rhythm, emotional stimuli, stress…and even fear.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Hmm, another toughie. I don’t really have any secrets anymore since Aneni plugged me into her real-time internal communications network. I still have my own thoughts, of course. But we can, for lack of better words, “listen in” on each other’s thoughts…if we want to. We don’t even have to talk, which kind of bothers me if I am being honest. But, if there were other people here to talk to, I probably wouldn’t tell them that I’m fine living out the rest of my days in a synth body…I think that would freak a lot of people out.
Personally, I think that synthetics might be the best hope we have. And if you really stop and think about it, our bodies are just fancy machines. I’ll grant that they’re amazingly capable and resilient for what they are, but by any measure they’re just organic machines. You’ve got food intake and metabolism instead of power cells; arteries, veins and nerves instead of carbon nanotubes and microfilaments; muscles instead of electrically activated shape-memory alloys; and a keratinocyte epidermis instead of carbon-laced silicon mesh. It’s all just different ways of doing the same things…one based on biological evolution and the other based on technological evolution.
The bottom line is that the body I have now is stronger, faster, and much easier to maintain than my old one. Hell, on the rare occasion that something does break, it’s usually just a quick part swap to fix it.
Plus, I never have to worry about getting cancer ever again.
Daniel C. McWhorter (“Dan” to everyone who knows him) is an avid reader and life-long science fiction and fantasy fan who has long dreamed about writing for a living. Dan had successful careers in telecom, software engineering and talent development. In 2017, Dan decided to leave corporate America and start writing. His first book, Restoration, was the result.
Dan lives in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia with his wife and three dogs. When he’s not writing, he likes to hike, boat, fish and experience the exceptional beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If the weather is bad, you may find him online playing the current MMO flavor of the month or banging away on his Xbox controller.
You can find Evan on the pages of Restoration.
Join us next week to meet a girl who ran away from home to discover a world of strange creatures and dark magics. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.