Wyatt Earp and His Immortals

Anyone remember a few years back, just before the climate change punchline dropped, this spate of starry-eyed headlines, optimism to beat the ’50s?

Will we be the last generation to die?
Immortality: are we the last generation not to live forever?
Generation Z: the first immortal generation

I saw a different one today, something about declining life expectancy south of the border, Americans dropping like flies. (Well, not really. I think the number dropped from, oh, 77.7 years to 77.6, but, hey. Let’s be dramatic about it.)

Biological immortality, though—in theory, at least, we’re not so far off. But human beings weren’t designed to live forever. We consume too much and reproduce too often. Seven billion of us, undying, then eight billion. Nine billion. Twenty billion. A world crawling with us, well, that couldn’t be allowed.

Access to life-extending technology on that scale would have to be controlled, and the easiest way to control a resource is by gating it behind vast sums of money. What we’d end up with would be indefinite Donald Trump, everlasting Elon Musk, hell, unlimited Pete Gotti, because why not? Why the hell not? Eternal Jeff Bezos. Who wouldn’t want that?

The rest of us, I suppose we’d die even faster, which is maybe the point. Think of the empire one could build in two hundred years, the walled cities, the floating resorts. Space stations, even. A literal iCloud. Concentrate all Earth’s resources in a few tiny enclaves. Let the proletariat starve. Open the gates in a century or three, and enjoy the rejuvenated Earth.

In my more selfish moments, I wish the world would blink out when I die. Y’know, so I wouldn’t miss the rest of humanity. Dying’s like…you have your favourite TV show, and your TV breaks, and everyone else gets to watch it and you don’t. That’s not fair. I hope the universe succumbs to vacuum decay, and that’s how I die, and that’s how we all die—just fwoosh, and we’re particles of hydrogen all drifting in the void. No more climate change. No more climate. No undying Facebook guy…what’s his name, Facebook dude? Franz Terwilliger. Dolphy Franckelbaum. Mark Zuckerberg. No him.

I had a dream like that once, where a voice came over the intercom, all Vacuum metastability event in forty…thirty-nine…thirty-eight, and I woke up like “shit!” But it was only a dream.

This feels like the right moment to show you the ladder again.

It’s a lovely morning in Vancouver, and here is a monument to hopelessness. Look at that sky. Look at how depthless it is. Somewhere up there, there’s the International Space Station. It has this room called the cupola, which is all made of windows. That’s seven big windows, and you can look out at Earth, or at the depths beyond. Get a telescope and look back at it. That’s the closest you’ll come. You’ll never lie in the cupola and watch the stars from their back porch.

After the space station, there’s the rest of everything. Other planets like Earth. Maybe ones we could live on, if we could last that long.

You know what would be funny? If someone was reading this FROM the cupola, and laughing at me, like neener-neener.

Yeah. That’d be hilarious.

(Just don’t tell me, if you are. It’d break my envious little heart.)