Don’t you just hate that? A month or so ago I had an of idea for a sci-fi storyline but today, as I was continuing my massive 100-hour catchup of all the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast episodes, I discover that people have already been thinking about it for some time. This kind of thing happens to me a lot and I’m beginning to wonder if I’m inadvertently reading or hearing of ideas that I promptly forget and later “come up with”.
Anyway, I still think it’s a great concept for a story:
I was thinking about how impossible it is to travel to other potentially habitable solar systems (as you do) and considering how absolutely vulnerable we would be if we were to detect a super-large asteroid approaching us. We don’t have the technology yet to safely freeze ourselves for a long-haul flight through space. We don’t know how to produce food in space to sustain a group of people for any length of time. If a sizeable asteroid were to hit we’d have next to no chance of surviving the weeks or months following the impact regardless of where we were located on the planet.
I got to thinking about how we are able to freeze embryos indefinitely and figured that if we had a year or two’s notice of impending doom it might be possible to scramble together as much technology as possible to create thousands of identical small pods containing frozen embryos and fire them in all different directions out into space. I wasn’t sure whether it would be feasible to have the pods contain artificial ‘wombs’ and the materials for a biosphere that are activated upon contact with an alien planet.
Perhaps nurturing humans from frozen embryos is the most feasible option we have at our disposal for human survival across journeys that would take millions of years.
This basic premise gives you a lot of room to play with the psychology of children bought up without human parents, the sheer enormity of discovering that their biological parents have been dead for millions of years, the challenges of seeding life in a new environment, the mechanics of a life support system capable of ‘growing’ and supporting infants, the possibility of regaining contact with other pods.
It would be quite fun to be drawn along with the story only knowing as much as the children know about how they got there and what happened to earth.
Unfortunately I don’t have the skills or inclination to go ahead and turn this into a story but I implore anyone reading this who is a writer of sci-fi to take this concept and turn it into a novel. And please tell me about it! I’d love to read it.