Author : Ian Rennie

Patrick held up the device and tried not to talk too fast.

“This,” he said, “Is a visua. It’s a way of making images.”

Mr Nolan stuck his hand up. Mr Nolan always stuck his hand up.

“Like a camera?” he said. Patrick shrugged.

“Sort of,” he said, “It’s like a camera that can take three dimensional images that can move, and that you can talk to. When you see an image you want to capture, you just point the visua and interface it with your wetware.”

Ten blank faces. Patrick realized his mistake as soon as he had made it. These people didn’t have wetware. They had the barest understanding of what wetware even was, as foggy as the concept of red in the mind of a blind man, not that there were blind people any more. The fact that he was having to give these classes verbally rather than by infodump was just the largest proof of how different these people were.

“I’m sure they make hand operated versions,” Patrick said, sure of no such thing, “I’ll explain how we use it in our practical next week. Now, this is a portable Maker…”

The portable maker was a mystery to the class, just like everything else. Each week the class listened politely, in general bewilderment, as Patrick showed them the trappings of a modern life that for most of them had only come about two centuries after they had died.

The problem with cryogenics wasn’t how you thawed the people out afterwards. Eventually, that was just a problem of mapping the structure of their brains and then vat-growing a new body. The problem was that by the time the technology existed to thaw them out, the world they had died in didn’t exist any more. Instead, they were waking into a world as far beyond their technological grasp as the steam engine had been beyond the peasants of the dark ages.

Patrick had got into his line of work because he wanted to make a difference, and was just hitting the part of his career where he realized that this was nearly impossible. Class after class sat through his demonstrations, smiled politely, and then went back into a bewildering world to live lives of near catatonia, their comfortable assumptions 250 years out of date. Some made it through, of course, the rare few learned enough skills to become functioning members of society, but they were definitely the exception rather than the rule.

After class, as everyone filed out, Mr Nolan stayed behind, and grabbed Patrick by the hand in what Patrick recognized as an old fashioned sign of companionship.

“I just wanted to say thanks for all you’re doing for us,” he said, “We really appreciate it.”

Patrick smiled, and hoped it didn’t look too fake.

“It’s nothing,” he said. It really was.

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