X-Message-Number: 23185
Subject: PhilCon -- A Belated Report
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 03:24:19 US/Eastern

           In earlier CryoMessages I mentioned that I would be at the 
Science Fiction Convention (PhilCon) to give a cryonics presentation two
weeks ago:


I had no inclination to say more, but a couple of people have asked about
the outcome, so I will give a "report". 

    It was not a surprise to me, but my cryonics presentation was sparsely
attended -- 8 people out of just under the thousand or so attending 
PhilCon. Many of those were already very familiar with cryonics. Perhaps
because my expectations were low I was not too disappointed. I do think
most people learned a few things. 

     The Nanotechnology panel was dominated by a fellow who has been
a Foresight Institute (http://www.foresight.org/sitemap/index.html) employee
for ten years. In my introduction I mentioned being President of the Cryonics
Institute and described relevant sections of ENGINES OF CREATION
(http://www.foresight.org/EOC/index.html), while waving a copy. I was able to
make a few comments about the Drexler/Smalley debate, but was otherwise
not unhappy to be eclipsed by a person who clearly had much more knowledge.

His interests were extremely technical and unrelated to cryonics or 

But being a Foresight employee he was clearly aware that the powers-that-be take
an interest in these subjects and he made a single comment which was the 
verbal equivalent of a polite bow. 

     I was able to have myself added to the "Suspended Animation, Then What?"

panel. Just before the session Lee Gilliland (wife of Alexis Gilliland) 
"drafted" Keith

Lynch to join the panel. One of the other panelists was an Alcor member -- which

left the six panelists apparently evenly divided between pro- and anti-cryonics

sentiment -- although the Alcor member had his share of fears about the future.

    The audience (about 20 people) was also divided. It was actually quite a 
confrontational & lively session -- pleasantly challenging. One of the other 
panelists was a professional politician from Washington, DC who seemed to 
think that cryonics would only populate the future with rich people (ie, social
undesirables). He was not moved by my arguments about life insurance, but he
was favorably impressed when I mentioned that James Swayze is a paraplegic

living on welfare who has been funded through donations. At least one cryonicist
in the future will be up to his standards. 

    Benjamin Franklin is a cultural icon in Philadelphia so I didn't miss the 

to describe Franklin's desire to see the future. Frankly, I think that within a 
after being reanimated Old Ben would be on the internet writing critical essays
about MicroSoft products. 

     The moderator of the panel, Ian Randal Stock, is the Publisher/Editor of 
ARTEMIS MAGAZINE (http://www.lrcpubs.com/artemismagazine.html). He
presented a steady stream of dystopian visions of the future which I countered 

with a steady stream of positive visions. At the end of the panel he expressed 

displeasure at the lack of imagination about the future. At that point I 

what he was up to -- positive visions of the future amount to a "happily ever 
story which would be fictionally uninteresting. He assured me that he is not
anti-cryonics and in support of this claim he showed me a favorable article
("Solid State Biology") in the Winter 2003 issue of ARTEMIS. 

    Keith Lynch mentioned that Larry Niven had been in the audience (I hadn't 
noticed). Over 25 years ago Niven wrote a novel (A WORLD OUT OF TIME)
about cryonicists reanimated in a dystopian future who ultimately triumphed. 
This is actually the theme of the only novel I have ever been motivated to 
write, although my novel would be more of a cryonics propaganda piece. The
cryonicists would be treated with contempt by their mortalist masters and there

would be lots dialogue involving deathist & anti-deathist ideology. Natureally, 
cryonicists would ultimately triumph through their love of life, passion for 
survival, longevity and technical ingenuity -- while winning a few notable 
hearts, minds & genitials in some torrid romantic & sexual passion. I have
abandoned hope of ever writing such a novel -- I have too many projects with

much greater priority -- but others are welcome to take the idea and run with 

                                   -- Ben Best 

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