All Dead And Just Resting (3232)
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In his 3232 treatise All Dead and Just Resting, Tyrrel Lang reflects on the mass social decline witnessed over the third millennium, and attributes it primarily to the invention of cryptogenics. Specifically, the abuse of these technologies by corporations, the lack of immediate legislation surrounding said abuse, and the unfortunate eagerness of people to place their lives in the hands of emergent technologies.

The principle behind cryptogenic preservation was quite a simple one, and its simplicity was a major part of its allure. One would enter a convenient scanner, and relax in comfort while their body, inside and out, was converted into a single lengthy data structure. The instant the process was completed, the customer would be liquidated and their remains sold off to the highest bidder. In this manner, the entirety of a human being could fit, indefinitely, in a solid state lattice the approximate size of a large shoebox or incredibly small coffin. Then, when their allotted time had passed, the company would generate a new instance of the customer through a standard printing pod and send them on their way, in a new time, with a new lifetime of prospects ahead of them. For many, it was a fresh start, a chance to explore another world. For most, it was a means of escape.

By the year 2240, nearly 10% of the human population was silicate. With dwindling quantities of new customers, the corporations responsible for the upkeep of the reanimation processes lost solvency, collapsing under the weight of their obligations. The industry bubble burst. Preservation centres — monolithic slabs of concrete and steel, mausoleums for the potential dead — fell into disuse and disrepair, and as crash after economic crash brought the global economy to its knees, fewer and fewer of the preserved were reanimated; those that were found themselves homeless and starving, with no hope of recourse. Population growth began to falter, as the desire to escape drive people ever further into the future; with the original equipment either sold or stolen, waves of black-market preservations swept nations like plagues. The wealthy, ever unwilling to wait out the bad times, took to the future as well, in specialised complexes defended from outside incursion. Their diamond substrates glistened in hidden vaults and climate-controlled subterranean chambers, their assets buried alongside them. The industry of cryptogenics bled humanity dry one generation at a time, and the job of fixing it — of creating a bubble of economic stability capable of restoring populations en masse — fell to a future people who never arrived. As popular destination years rolled around, the choked and damaged systems still staggered waves of temporal refugees, spitting them out into the dust of a world which could not support them.

The population cratered. Political upheaval was widespread. Governments collapsed. Without the technological means to produce more scanners, the new generation became the first in centuries without the opportunity of escape. They lived among their silent ancestors, shelves of families in tapes and drives and disks. Foraging, farming, building, looting, breeding, and dying. The world moved on, a mausoleum of a museum of a monument to the hunger for progress. Maybe, muses Lang, we'll one day pull ourselves to our feet again, and — armed with the knowledge of the millennia past — we'll be more careful. Maybe this time, we won't leap head-first into innovation, and we'll take the time to do things properly. Maybe this time, people will actually think.

By an amazing coincidence, Lang charts the decline as a whole as taking almost exactly 1,000 years. When questioned by astute historical scholars about his 2232 publication On the Utility and Practicality of Emergent Cryptogenics, he declined to comment.


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