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"Conspiracy theories are big because they're comforting. Any conspiracy is infinitely less multiplex than the real deal, which is multiplex to the point of being unknowable."
- William Gibson

Suspended Animation (Frigorific Process)  
  Very early reference to cryogenic storage.  

Clara Newton is forbidden by her father to marry her true love. She resolves to enter into a state of voluntary suspended animation until he dies, when his will can no longer be enforced.

This is the first use of this idea in science fiction, as far as I know. The phrase "suspended animation" seems to have been in use since the late eighteenth century to describe animals that hibernate.

she inquired, "Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?" "The Twenty-seventh Amendment to the Constitution," replied the lawyer, "recognizes the right of any individual, not satisfied with the condition of his life, to suspend that life for a time, long or short, according to his pleasure. But it is rarely, as you know, that any one avails himself of the right- practically never, except as the only means to procure divorce from uncongenial marriage relations." "Still," she persisted, "the right exists and the way is open?" He bowed. She went to Wanlee and said: "My darling, it must be so. I must leave you for a time, but as your wife. We will arrange a wedding"- and she smiled sadly- "within this hour. Mr. Brown will go with us to the clergyman. Then we will proceed at once to the Refuge, and you yourself shall lead me to the cloister that is to keep me safe till times are better for us. No, do not be startled, my love! The resolution is taken; you cannot alter it. And it will not be so very long, dear. Once, by accident, in arranging my father's papers, I came across his Life Probabilities, drawn up by the Vital Bureau at Washington. He has less than ten years to live. I never thought to calculate in cold blood on the chances of my father's life, but it must be. In ten years, Daniel, you may come to the Refuge again and claim your bride. You will find me as you left me..."

"Have you ever seen," he asked, "a woman who has undergone what you propose to undergo? She went into the Refuge, perhaps, as you will go, fresh, rosy, beautiful, full of life and energy. She comes out a prematurely aged, withered, sallow, flaccid body, a living corpse- a skeleton, a ghost of her former self. In spite of all they say, there can be no absolute suspension of animation. Absolute suspension would be death. Even in the case of the most perfect freezing there is still some activity of the vital functions, and they gnaw and prey upon the existence of the unconscious subject. Will you risk," he suddenly demanded, using the last and most perfect argument that can be addressed to a woman "-will you risk the effect your loss of beauty may have upon Wanlee's love after ten years' separation?"

From The Senator's Daughter, by Edward Page Mitchell.
Published by Not known in 1879
Additional resources -

A true Victorian tragedy, the story ends with Clara entering into the Frigorific Refuge as a bride:

In the gray dawn of the early morning the officials at the Frigorific Refuge in Cambridgeport were astonished by the arrival of a bridal party. The bridegroom's haggard countenance contrasted strangely with the elegance of his full evening toilet, and the bright scarlet bows at his knees seemed a mockery of grief. The bride, in white satin, wore a placid smile on her lovely face. The friend accompanying the two was grave and silent.

Without delay the necessary papers of admission were drawn up and signed and the proper registration was made upon the books of the establishment. For an instant husband and wife rested in each other's arms. Then she, still cheerful, followed the attendants toward the inner door, while he, pressing both hands upon his tearless eyes, turned away sobbing.

A moment later the intense cold of the congealing chamber caught the bride and wrapped her close in its icy embrace.

The story also describes suspended animation as the "frigorific process known as the Werkomer process".

This is the earliest direct reference to the idea of suspended animation or cryogenic freezing, as far as I know.

Compare to cold-sleep from Robert Heinlein's Methuselah's Children (1941), stasis from Heinlein's Door Into Summer (1951), corpsicle from Pohl's The Age of the Pussyfoot (1965) and the EverRest Cryotorium from Roger Zelazny's Flare (1992).

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Senator's Daughter
  More Ideas and Technology by Edward Page Mitchell
  Tech news articles related to The Senator's Daughter
  Tech news articles related to works by Edward Page Mitchell

Suspended Animation (Frigorific Process)-related news articles:
  - Suspended Animation For Surgery Patients

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