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Everyday Life and Death December 12, 2010

Posted by bobv451 in death, ideas, movies, science fiction, space, westerns, writing.
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One of those quiet, thoughtful stories that Clifford Simak was so famous was is Cemetery World. SF doesn’t cover the mundane all that often since the goshwow space opera and Significant Ideas predominate, but sometimes fascinating stories can be found in the ordinary. Such as what do you do with the bodies?

Back in the Wild West, cemeteries were usually divided into the potter’s field (the low rent–or no rent) section, the regular plots and then the special areas set aside for Masons, Moose, Elk and other social societies. I suspect the Grange had separate plots, too.

Oddities always abounded and I have written of some of them. Slocum’s Two Coffins was based on an actual incident. And another strange thing about the old West was how photographs were taken of the dead to serve as memorabilia. Famous photos of dead outlaws were popular such as this one of Jesse James.

Shifting back to sf, what kind of future burial might there be? Simak had the entire earth as a plot. In the movie The Loved One The Blessed Reverend (played by the inimitable Jonathon Winters) wanted to build condos on a cemetery and decides to shoot the buried bodies into orbit. This is certainly a bit of prescience for putting ashes into orbit or at least going suborbital with them.

But the future? Maybe death won’t be quite what it is now with all those bodies laying about. My story” Burn the Sky” touches on such a survival scheme.

For us, now? Burial or cremation is likely to be the only choice. Just shoot me into space if I can’t be downloaded into somebody else’s brain.

Pat Rogers at Las Golondrinas cemetery

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