Thursday, 3 April 2008

Grow Old Along With Me...


This sort of follows on from yesterday's subject of aging.

At the weekend I was reading a science fiction short story by Arthur Selling, which is in an anthology I have called "Stories of Time and Death". I know, it's not one of the books on my sidebar, but it will be once I've finished the last chapter of "The Yellow Dog."

Anyway, I know that you're all experts in Special Relativity, since we covered that topic a while back. You will of course remember that one of the strange facts discovered by Einstein is that you age less when you're moving relative to someone who isn't, and that if you move very fast you may start to notice this.

In the story our hero is a scientist/astronaut called Grant who travels in a very fast spaceship, looking for evidence of life on other planets. For every year he's away, about 15 years pass on Earth, and his missions can last as much as 3 years (40-odd Earth years).

He's contracted to do this work for 20 years, which turns out to be 8 missions. Every time he comes back to Earth for a few months he meets a whole new generation of people.

As you can imagine, his personal life is almost nonexistant. Almost. The story is set between his 7th and final missions. After about his 5th, he'd had a relationship. The woman had fallen madly in love with him and they'd got married. The woman (who's name I can't remember so lets call her Cher) had a son. Our hero came back after 30-odd years expecting to find his now 60 something wife, only to discover that in a desperate effort to cope with the age difference, Cher had had all sorts of cosmetic surgery so that nothing original or real was left. She'd also pressured their son to become an astronaut like his dad, but he couldn't take it and became a total nervous wreck. Grant couldn't cope with all this, and he vowed never to have another relationship.

You can guess what happens after the 7th mission. He meets and falls in love with a woman. They have a great time, then he tells her about his life and how hopeless their love is. In order to ensure that astronauts fulfil their contract, they only make a reasonable amount of money after they finish their last mission, but Etta has enough money, so she suggests that he just stay with her.

He won't. He is determined to complete his mission. This is the point in the story which was a real let-down. Come on! If they're so madly in love, he wouldn't go back into space. Someone else could go instead. But no, he shows how much he cares and gets ready for another trip (33 years this time).

So she goes off and gets herself a baby. Not with Grant, or any other man, but a baby that will be a clone of her, which she will give birth to, bring up and then when Grant returns he'll have her back again just as she is now. Except it will actually be her daughter.

Is it just me, or is this sick? Etta reckons that because the child will be a clone and Grant is the only man for Etta, he'll be the love of her daughter's life too. Shouldn't she just have told him what a jerk he was when he refused to stay on Earth?

What do you think?

21 comments:

BEE said...

FIRST!!!

Bee said...

That. Is. Gross!

If she would clone herself in a lab where the baby wouldn't be in her body is one thing but to give brith and then have them hook up is disgusting!

Bee said...

This is how the story will end in my head.

He comes back but the girl is ticked off at him for leaving her mom, she shoots him.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee:

I like your ending. Her mother by this time would have to have died alone and despondent.

Perhaps the girl should also shoot herself, since she realises that with Grant dead the purpose for which she was brought into the world has gone away.

Though I tend to prefer happy endings, it's difficult to see one here.

Bee said...

I learned early on in my life is not full because of a man, it's full inspite of him! ;op

I say she got together with a Brad Pitt clone and lived happily ever after.

She wasn't carted off to jail because there was no record of this guy in the future/present.

Bee said...

The end.

Bee said...

::sigh::
Retyping so it makes sense

I learned early on, my life is not full because of a man, it's full inspite of him!

I had a beer last night that made me hungover today.

Jean Knee said...

sick sick sick

I don't like the whole cloning business at all and this is just one more reason why.

If he loved her he'd have stayed. If he left she should get on with her life or go with him

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

Yes, the ending of the story was a real disappointment. Having said that, it was written in the 60s when cloning was a more novel idea.

Jean Knee said...

say no to clones

Tracy said...

Why didn't he just take her with him? Then they could have returned to Earth together the same. Problem solved.
Of course, it doesn't matter how much you love someone, being stuck in a small space together for a long period of time makes you want to kill them. That wouldn't be very productive.

Dan said...

she should have also cloned him and raised them like brother and sister and then when they were like 30 years old told them, oh by the way you guys are supposed to fuck now.

Bee said...

DAN THAT IS JUST SICK!!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Tracy:

Acutally they discuss that option. She is a scientist, but she's a psychologist, which isn't much use in space, and also because of the costs involved the weight has to be kept right down, so they won't let her go. His company is the only one that does these flights, so it's not even as if she can get herself on another one.

Dan:

That wouldn't work, because remember that Grant will only have aged 2 years when he comes back, so will be eager to get his hands on the clone...

Dan said...

Which one of them ? his own or the girl.

I'm a great lay so if I had a chance to do me I would. Would that make me a homo ?
No way, that would make my clone a homo.

not that there's anything wrong with that.

Dan said...

Which one of them ? his own or the girl.

I'm a great lay so if I had a chance to do me I would. Would that make me a homo ?
No way, that would make my clone a homo.

not that there's anything wrong with that.

Jean Knee said...

you can say that again, Dan

Dan said...

Which one of them ? his own or the girl.

I'm a great lay so if I had a chance to do me I would. Would that make me a homo ?
No way, that would make my clone a homo.

not that there's anything wrong with that.

Bee said...

I think Dan’s stuck! Quick! Someone kick him in the nuts!

Jean Knee said...

you can say that again, Bee

Tracy said...

I would like the honor of kicking Dan in the nuts. I've never gotten to do that before so it would be my first time.