From time to time, I
think of an
idea for a short
story. I don't actually want to write them--they interest me as
ideas, not as stories. But someone else might. If so, feel
Several people have now
done so, as you can see by following the links. In two of the cases,
the story went in a direction that had not occurred to me—and worked.
You have a stasis box. About a week after the baby comes home from the hospital--a week of extreme sleep deprivation for both parents--you decide you need a little break. Put the baby in stasis for two days while you recover. Take it out and continue.
Gradually, the breaks
longer--babies are a lot
of work. You end up with the parents age seventy or so, the child two
or three, and ... .
Tiffany M. Lee used this idea for a story.
Over the past century or two, age of menarch has fallen quite a lot. Many parents do not regard this as a good thing. An eleven or twelve year old daugher is emotionally a child, biologically a woman. Problems.
With the progress of medicine, we should be able to cure this problem fairly soon--come up with a medicine that delays the onset of puberty. You don't have to worry about your daughter getting pregnant at fourteen, because at fourteen she's still a child.
Fifteen? Sixteen? ...
One lets you slow physical aging. Perhaps it is how we greatly extend life expectancy--slow down the aging processes, starting at age one. So a twenty year old looks like a ten or twelve year old. Physically is a ten or twelve year old. Intellectually--twelve year olds are as bright as adults, they just don't know as much. But this one does. Emotionally? But it gets you to age 180.
The other is much less radical. Kittens are more fun than cats. If only they remained kittens longer. Much longer. Wonders of modern medicine.
Block of houses, all appearing identical. By each doorknob a light, red or green. Someone comes around the corner, goes to the first door with a green light, inserts his key, opens the door. He is home.
What is happening, of course, is that his key contains the complete description of the inside of his house when he left it that morning (or last week or last month or ...). The houses are all identical until a key goes in (red lights are occupied houses).
Now we add one crazy
coming home to the same house matters--who believes the identity of
objects (and pets--possibly also children if we push it?) depends on
continuity. So he does various things to try to get around the system
everyone else takes for granted.
this idea for a story,
and I like it; the final twist is not one that had occurred to me.
Patient in a doctor's office, getting a test which involves wiring patient to a machine. As the description and conversation continue, it becomes clear that the doctor's office is in a prison and this is part of the release procedure. The patient has just been acquitted, and the prison wants to make sure he is healthy before they turn him lose.
Finally, the doctor tells the patient to hold still, and pushes a button. There is an instant of surprise in the patient's face as he slumps over dead.
At which point we discover that the patient was actually convicted, not acquitted--but doesn't know it. This is a very merciful society and they decided that although it was necessary to execute criminals, they could at least be spared the horror of knowing that they were about to be executed.
used this idea for a story, and I
An idea that shows up
Christian doctrine is
that one's fate in the afterlife depends on the state of one's soul at
the moment of death--so the sinful man who truly repents on his
deathbed ends up, eventually, in heaven.
Has anyone done a science fiction version of this? Imagine, for instance, that we can emulate a person in a computer and can upload people. But the emulation isn't perfect--it emulates the person as he is when uploaded but has much less ability to change thereafter than the person had before uploading.
When you die, you are uploaded. If you happen to die angry, your silicon continuation is an angry person--forever. If you die in a mood of repentance for your sins, on the other hand, your continuation is the good person that you (perhaps, absent death, very temporarily) were at that moment.
We solve the problem by
pushing as far as we can on
each margin. Women have wider hips than men and run less well. Human
babies are, by the standards of most other species, born premature,
requiring extended care—compare a six month old human to a one month
old kitten. The infant skull has design features that make it a little
less rigid than it will be in the adult. And, with all of that, human
childbirth, absent modern medicine, is still a difficult, dangerous,
and not uncommonly lethal process.
There is a solution to
this problem that we missed
in our evolution but some of our distant relatives found in
theirs. Get the infant out of the mother's womb early by transferring
it to an environment external to the pelvis but still internal to
the mother, designed to shelter and support the infant until it
is ready to face the outside world.
Somewhere out there is
an intelligent species that
followed the marsupial path. Their scientists, struck by the contrast
between intelligent marsupials and unintelligent placentals, have
reasoned their way to the explanation: On the path to intelligence, the
placental design is a dead end. All intelligent species, everywhere,
must be marsupials. [This assumes that all intelligent species must be
at least vaguely similar to terrestrial species and that other problems
block the evolution of non-mammalian intelligence; a little plausible
hand-waving will be required to suggest a justification for the
marsupials, a century or two
ahead of us in their technology, manage interstellar flight, start
exploring. They discover other planets, other species intelligent and
not, all of which fit their theory. Then they arrive at Earth.
The evidence is
clear—radio and television
broadcasts, cars, airplanes, skyscrapers, even satellites. The most
visible species on the planet is placental, hence cannot be
intelligent—presumably pets or domesticated animals, perhaps
sub-intelligent slaves, of the dominant intelligent species.
But where is it?
[For an alternative
version, the marsupials don't
actually get to earth, but they do succeed in receiving and
decoding terrestrial television broadcasts.]
Alternative Reproductive Patterns