Communion Of Dreams


Chill, dude.

Suspended animation of one sort or another has been a staple of Science Fiction just about forever.  Of course, as such it has often been dismissed as being little more than fantasy — just a magic trick that a lazy author will resort to in order to get around some technological barrier or another. Because, you know, it’s just completely unrealistic

NEITHER dead or alive, knife-wound or gunshot victims will be cooled down and placed in suspended animation later this month, as a groundbreaking emergency technique is tested out for the first time.

Surgeons are now on call at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to perform the operation, which will buy doctors time to fix injuries that would otherwise be lethal.

“We are suspending life, but we don’t like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction,” says Samuel Tisherman, a surgeon at the hospital, who is leading the trial. “So we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation.”

Yeah, you certainly wouldn’t want it to sound like Science Fiction. ‘Cause that stuff’s just nuts.

*sigh*

I’ve written previously about ‘mundane science fiction‘, the idea being that we have to stick with what we know to be technologically realistic. The thing is, what we consider to be technologically “realistic” keeps changing, often in surprising ways. I remember the energy crisis of the mid-’70’s, and when US energy independence was considered to be little more than a fantasy talking-point of presidents. Well, the US currently produces more oil than we consume. Sure, it has come with real costs/problems, but it is nonetheless true. (And actually, I think that sort of trade-off makes for a more interesting Science Fiction story overall, exploring both the benefits and problems of new technologies.)

Clarke had it right: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.  That doesn’t give a Science Fiction writer complete latitude to just make shit up. But it also cautions against dismissing any technology as “unrealistic” out-of-hand.

Just ask the first person who will be saved due to “emergency preservation and resuscitation.” Chances are, sometime later this year you’ll be able to do so on his/her cell phone.

Jim Downey



Like an invisibility cloak.

So, as I am constantly blathering about, I’m spending a lot of time thinking through various aspects of St. Cybi’s Well. Things like characters, plotting, fitting in the storyline with what is already established in Communion of Dreams (while still making sure that the book can stand on its own, without someone having read Communion).  Well, one of those things concerns an instance where someone wants to not be readily located. Which is a little harder in today’s world than most people realize, given two things: general surveillance, and the homing-device you’re probably carrying in your pocket.

Yeah, I’m talking about your cell phone/mobile device/tablet. Anything which can connect to a cell network or GPS is probably also capable of being used to track you. And chances are, it will do so even if it is ostensibly “turned off.” About the only good way to be certain to stop this use is to pull the battery out of the thing.

And that’s a PITA, if you want to be able to actually use it without a delay and hassle of installing the battery then booting the thing up.

So the other day I sent a note to a good buddy of mine who has a lot more physics/technical knowledge than I do:

Second, a thought I had: since privacy is a concern, and your cell phone is a tracking device even when ‘off’ (but it’s a hassle to have to pull out the battery and then reboot the damned thing if you need it), why not go with a simple solution to isolate it? To wit: turn the phone off (or put it into ‘airplane mode’), drop it into a small Faraday cage. Just a simple bag or wallet with the right construction would do it. I know there are such things for use with passports/credit cards (I use a wallet for such when traveling overseas), so why not just extend the design a bit to accommodate a phone/tablet?

I got back a response which indicated that it should work, though you may need to tweak the construction specifics to be sure to block out the proper wavelengths most effectively.

And today, just for grins, I went to look for something like this. Guess what I found, which is just now available (actually, it won’t ship for a couple weeks):

Off the Grid Bag
Go Completely Off the Grid

This cleverly designed, superslim pouch for your wallet and phone blocks transmissions, as well as cell-tower and GPS tracking, and protects personal information from RFID readers. Ripstop nylon. Imported.

Bingo. Like an invisibility cloak for your phone.

Jim Downey