"I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled 'Science Fiction' and I would like out, particularly since so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
||A state of hibernation, created by lowered temperature and metabolism.
This same state is called "cold-rest" in the same novel. The term "cold-rest" is used more often (6 times as opposed to 5).
|Thus, big as she was, the hundred thousand and more of the Families found themselves overcrowded fivefold.
They put up with it only long enough to rig for cold-sleep. By converting some recreation space on the lower levels to storage, room was squeezed out for the purpose. Somnolents require about one per cent the living room needed by active, functioning humans; in time the ship was roomy enough for those still awake. Volunteers for cold-sleep were not numerous at first-these people were more than commonly
aware of death because of their unique heritage; cold-sleep seemed too much like the Last Sleep. But the great discomfort of extreme overcrowding combined with the equally extreme monotony of the endless voyage changed their minds rapidly enough to provide a steady supply for the little death as fast as they could be accommodated.
Those who remained awake were kept humping simply to get the work done-the ship's
houskeeping, tending the hydroponic farms and the ship's auxiliary machinery and, most especially, caring for the somnolents themselves. Biomechanicians have worked out complex empirical formulas describing body deterioration and the measures which must be taken to offset it under various conditions of impressed acceleration, ambient temperature, the drugs used, and other factors such as metabolic age,
body mass, sex, and so forth. By using the upper, low-weight compartments, deterioration caused by acceleration (that is to say, the simple weight of body tissues on themselves, the wear that leads to flat feet or bed sores) could be held to a minimum. But all the care of the somnolents had to be done by handturning them, massaging them, checking on blood sugar, testing the slow-motion heart actions, all the
tests and services necessary to make sure that extremely reduced metabolism does not slide over into death. Aside from a dozen stalls in the ship's infirmary she had not been designed for cold-sleep passengers; no automatic machinery had been provided. All this tedious care of tens of thousands of somnolents had to be done by hand.
|From Methuselah's Children,
by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -
See also the discussion of the same term as it is used in Between Planets.
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