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 free.
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.
breaks get 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
person who actually thinks 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.
used 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.
this idea for a story, and
I liked it.
An idea that shows
up in some 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 assumptions].
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
Alternative Reproductive Patterns