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Eric Is Better Dead
by Alex Mair
On 4th August 2025, billionaire Eric Roth lay dying of cancer. It was a poor time to be cut short. He was the son of John Roth, who had built up his fortune with a worldwide chain of casinos. When John finally died of AIDS Eric had, without ill will, taken on the management of his father’s assets. However his love had always been spaceflight. Five years ago he had invested in the development of the Roth Reusable Launch Vehicle, which had slashed space launch costs by 70%, finally making LEO space tourism viable for the richest 1% of Earths population. Over that five years his business had grown immensely, fuelling and fuelled by the massive demand of wealthy tourists wanting to see the blue curve of the Earth under a black sky and an unbearably bright sun. Three years ago he had been diagnosed with the melanoma. No, they couldn’t cure it; not even with the most advanced medical technology of 2022. He had continued to develop his business, but the threat of imminent personal doom hanging over him had given his life an indefinable sense of urgency. And of larger purpose. He could not simply operate on a ‘business as usual’ basis, not even with the legacy of his launch vehicle. He had to think of other, bigger things.
So now Eric Roth lay on his deathbed, having finally succumbed to cancer. But he did not expect to die. Soon after being diagnosed with cancer, he had signed up with a cryonics company to freeze his body after death. His business would continue to grow in capable hands. Medical technology would continue to advance. By the time the doctors could reanimate a well preserved body, they would be able to cure his cancer. Eric Roth was sure he would wake to immortality and limitless power. In a sense then, the cancer had been the best thing ever to happen to Eric. Instead of simply puttering from the cradle to his natural grave, he would be plucked out of the ordinary timeline and whisked downstream to land in a jackpot greater than preceding civilisations could ever have dreamed of. When would he wake? They might have the technology in a hundred years, but it might take them another hundred to perfect it, to deploy it on a mass scale. What would it be like when he woke? Advanced surely, any society with the technology to reanimate the dead could not be poor low tech subsistence farmers. They might have a world government. But there would surely be a place for innovators like Eric Roth, capitalism was the best engine for innovation discovered by human beings and they were unlikely to find anything worth replacing it with. No society could last long by disavowing it either. Eric’s mind slowed, his thoughts ebbing…
* * *
Vart Shem stood in a yellow desert on the planet which had once been humanity’s sole cradle. Ve flexed ver biosynthetic limbs and contemplatively felt the wind coolly tickle ver small, silver breasts. Behind ver, the flyer, silver and ovoid, stood on its landing legs like a synsect. A thought swam telepathically into Vart’s psyche. Sensors have picked up a functioning power source, mindcast co-archeologist Zethnel. Ve followed this up with a sensory glyph containing the muzzy static feel of a foreign energy pattern, and a non-visual spatial perception that could roughly be translated as over there. Vart’s eyes flicked to the right, localising the low ancient building about 300 nareths away. Zethnel stood a little way beyond Vart, ver stark silver body flashing in the sun. Ve was starting off and Vart followed ver. They were followed by the third co-archeologist, Xan, who walked behind and off to the left.
The three strode towards the building as the sun sank yet further from its zenith. Still functioning? ’cast Vart to the others, when could it date from?
Looks ancient… too primitive for Post Exodus. Pre-exodus, ’cast Xan excitedly.
Know when we get there! Zethnel cut off their speculations and they walked in intense telepathic silence.
They trudged up to the pockmarked rocky – <concrete> their minds registered – wall and stood there, looking in awe. Zethnel put ver hand against the wall. Pre-Exodus, ve mindcast. Zethnel turned to Xan and smiled. You win, flashed into the other’s head, not that there were any bets. Vart and Xan were already checking Zethnel’s reading, running their hands along the wall. Pre-exodus! Pre-exodus! flashed in succession into all three minds. They walked beside the wall until they found a <blast door> their minds registered, which Zethnel cut into and they walked inside. ?Power? Pre-exodus? Functioning???? Vart flashed in mental incredulity. They continued down, their sensors registering closer and closer proximity to the energy pattern. Presently, they came across a room, dimly lit by means of electrified gas tubes, containing row upon row of tall cylindrical tanks. ?? Know what this is, Xan mindcast with a flicker of uncertainty. Ve flashed a glyph of hibernating baseline humans in pods. The others telepathically affirmed ver. Zethnel walked up to one of the tanks and tapped it with an ultrasonic pulse. Human body. Viable. There was engraved script on the tank, written in an Old Earth alphabet. The three knew how to read, though not how to speak it. It read WHOLE BODY ERIC ROTH DECEASED 0804 2023 20:45 HEREBY LEASED TO CRYONICS INC. Zethnel ’cast, probably male. Can’t find womb. Something – penis?
Excitedly Xan flashed, take to ship. Reanimate!?
Then we could…? Zethnel turned sharply to face Xan, not serious! How much change!? ERIC ROTH extinct sex. Baseline intelligence, incompatible physiology. (A glyph of a lone male human stumbling through the glowing habs of a modern city, lost, falling to its knees, crying.) That would be too cruel. But memory engrams probably intact. Functional male physiology. Historians could learn a lot with bioscan.
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