Excerpt from A Past Outside of Time Hibernation: Man Walks for the First Time Through Time
A new technology can transform society, but when the technology is in its infancy, very few people can see its full potential. For example, when the computer was first invented, it was merely a tool for increasing efficiency, and some thought five computers would be enough for the entire world. Artificial hibernation was the same. Before it was a reality, people just thought it would provide an opportunity for patients with terminal illnesses to seek a cure in the future. If they thought further, it would appear to be useful for interstellar voyages. But as soon as it became real, if one examined it through the lens of sociology, one could see that it would completely change the face of human civilization.
All this was based on a single idea: Tomorrow will be better.
This was a relatively new faith, a product of the last few centuries before the Crisis. Previously, such an idea of progress would have been laughable. Medieval Europe was materially impoverished compared to the Classical Rome of a thousand years earlier, and was more intellectually repressed. In China, the lives of the people were worse during the Wei, Jin, and Southern and Northern Dynasties compared to the earlier Han Dynasty, and the Yuan and Ming Dynasties were much worse than the earlier Tang and Song Dynasties. But after the Industrial Revolution, progress became a constant feature of society, and humanity’s faith in the future grew stronger.
This faith reached its apex on the eve of the Trisolar Crisis. The Cold War had been over for some time, and though problems such as environmental degradation persisted, they were merely unpleasant. The material comforts of life improved at a rapid pace, and the trend seemed to accelerate. If one surveyed people about visions of the future, they might give different answers for how things would be in ten years, but few would doubt that in another hundred years, humanity would be living in paradise. It was easy to believe such a thing: They could just compare their own lives with the lives of their ancestors a hundred years earlier!
If hibernation were possible, why would you linger in the present?
When examined from the perspective of sociology, the biotechnology breakthrough of human cloning was far less complicated than hibernation. Cloning raised moral questions, but they mostly troubled those with a moral view influenced by Christianity. The troubles brought about by hibernation, on the other hand, were practical, and affected the entire human race. Once the technology was successfully commercialized, those who could afford it would use it to skip to paradise, while the rest of humanity would have to stay behind in the comparatively depressing present to construct that paradise for them. But even more worrisome was the greatest lure provided by the future: the end of death.
As modern biology advanced apace, people began to believe that death’s end would be achievable in one or two more centuries. If so, those who chose hibernation were taking the first steps on the staircase to life everlasting. For the first time in history, Death itself was no longer fair. The consequences were unimaginable. The situation was akin to the dire conditions of post-Crisis Escapism. Later, historians would call it Early Escapism or Time Escapism. Thus, even pre-Crisis, governments around the world suppressed hibernation
technology more zealously than cloning technology.
But the Trisolar Crisis changed everything. In a single night, the paradise of the future turned into a hell on Earth. Even for terminal patients, the future no longer appealed: By the time they woke up, perhaps the world would be bathed in a sea of fire, and they wouldn’t even be able to find an aspirin.
Thus, after the Crisis, hibernation was allowed to develop without constraints. Soon, the technology became commercially viable, and the human race possessed the first tool that allowed them to traverse large swaths of time.
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