Jan 2, 2017

Second Life, Again

Scientifiction. The end of the 1920s.
Isaac Asimov was not certain which day was his birthday. I'd also like to imagine that we can never be sure about exactly when he died... or if he died... or if he then got a chance to live a second life. But that's another story...

I have a previous blog post called "Second Life".

This blog post is part of a series in which I've been looking back at some old short stories. Here, I pop into Amazing Stories at a time when Hugo Gernsback was trying to create the new literary genre that we know as science fiction. Supposedly, Asimov started reading pulp fiction magazines in 1929. What might he have thought about stories such as "The Moon Woman"? Ten years later, he published his first science fiction story in Amazing Stories.

The dream of Professor Hicks.
Interior artwork by Wallit.
You can read "The Moon Woman" online. Professor Hicks is the typical "genius inventor" type of character that was often depicted in superscience stories. His invention is a breakthrough in suspended animation (SA).

As the story is told, Hicks plans to stop all of his bodily functions for one year, then the SA serum will wear off and his great discovery will be made known to the world. Through experiments on test animals, he has perfected a suspended animation serum and he is now ready to try it on himself. During the experimental test of the SA serum on himself, Hicks has a dream...

...In the dream, the experiment goes wrong and Hicks awakens not after one year, but rather, after 235 years have past. Hicks meets a "girl of the future", Ms. Rosaria, who demonstrates a few technological marvels of the future such as the use of bionic wings.

Rosaria confesses to being a mongrel, her mother being from the Moon, her father an Earthling. According to Rosaria, after the first rocket was sent from Earth to the Moon, aliens, including Moon people, began to openly visit Earth.

The Man Who Awoke (1933)
Hicks is delighted with his new life in the future. Then, sadly, he wakes up from his dream and learns that the first test of a small amount of his experimental serum is complete: he slept through the night... only one night. His assistant, Dr. Blinkman, reports that Hicks did not seem to have all of his bodily functions suspended... at times during the night he seemed to be dreaming.

In the Ekcolir Reality. Original
cover art by Allen Anderson and see this.
I don't know if Asimov read "The moon Woman" as a boy, but I've read that he was influenced by "The Man Who Awoke", published in 1933 by Laurence Manning.

Special thanks to Miranda Hedman ( for the DeviantArt stock photograph "Black Cat 9 - stock" that I used to create the "sedronite" who is in the composite image shown to the right.

Asimov later wrote his own "forward time travel" story (Pebble in the Sky), so I don't think he was philosophically opposed to stories that rather magically allow characters to have a 2nd life in the future. Asimov also wrote a masterpiece of time travel fiction, The End of Eternity.

2nd Lives
I, Asimov
The issue of second lives has been very much on my mind lately in the context of returning Asimov's replicoid to Earth.
Previous blog posts in this series:
"Reason" by Isaac Asimov (1941)
 "Inheritance" by Arthur C. Clarke (1947)
Also, find a link here to an old (1950) Jack Vance story.
"Shock Treatment" (1952)
"A Million Years Ahead" (1937)

Next: simulating Deep Time
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