I’ve always been a huge fan of science fiction so naturally, when it came to writing, my mind was already inspired by the books I’d read and the movies I’d seen. One thing that fascinated me was cryonics; that is, the process of freezing someone and reviving them down the line. With current technology, though almost 300 people have actually been cryonically frozen, there’s no means to revive people. Even if they was, the damage done to their bodies is probably irreparable until some considerable leaps forward in bioengineering or nanomedicine are made.
One of the fantastic things about writing science fiction is that you can take a current technology and jump forward in time with it, letting your mind go wild about where a new technological breakthrough might lead. The use of cryonics has found popularity in mainstream entertainment, but I always found the process of actually ‘waking up’ a little too, well, ordinary. After all, this is a process where people are literally frozen into stasis. Why is it then, that when it’s often shown in movies, people just wake from ‘hyper-sleep’ a little too easily?
There are many cases where cryonics is used; Alien, Avatar and Star Wars immediately spring to mind. At least Han Solo woke with a bit of temporary blindness. It’s been used in television too, with Star Trek, Dr Who, Lost in Space, even the Golden Girls, all featuring the process. It’s something that continues to fascinate people. It’s also a process that allows time to pass without individuals have to age at all. Though, of course, that brings all sorts of time issues into play too; stay asleep long enough – whilst you go off on a mining expedition, for example – and you wind up being younger than your grandchild.
When it came to writing CRYO; Rise of the Immortals, I was very aware that I didn’t want waking from cryonic sleep to be easy. Far from it. I wanted it to be incredibly painful and disorientating. I wanted to put people in a position where they thought twice about travelling to the future by having their bodily fluid drained and their cells frozen. Matters are made even worse when there’s a complete lack of personnel to help my characters acclimatise themselves. But that gives the story drive, provides yet another hurdle for my protagonist, John, to overcome.
Everyone’s take on cryonics is a little different, and all too often, the process is simply used as a means to get characters from A to B. And, yes, I’m guilty of that too; my 50 CRYO candidates go into the cryonics program to do exactly that, move from one period of time to another. But sometimes it’s these tiny details that can be embellished to create entirely new stories. My inspirational moment of ‘what if waking up from hyper-sleep wasn’t easy?’ has spawned an entire series. And I’ll make it no secret that I drew inspiration from my favourite shows, movies and books.
Cryonics is so often overlooked as a vital time-travelling method. It’s not instant, apart for those who are frozen, but it is time travel depending on how you view it. And, I’m sure, as the years go on and further technological advances are made, cryonics, like everything else, will evolve in the way it’s portrayed.