Kage Baker became gradually fascinated with cyborgs. They were not a longstanding or pre-existing interest of hers. However, after about the third book she wrote about them, she admitted she’d gotten rather intrigued by the possibilities.
Originally, her Operatives were nothing so cutting-edge as they became by the time they were committed to paper in The Garden of Iden. Kage had had a recurring nightmare since early childhood – staring at herself in a mirror, lifting a hand to her cheek, and peeling back her skin to discover that tiny, shining wheels and gears lay beneath it. So she envisioned her first cyborgs as clockwork under their surface humanity.
No one had named or envisioned steam punk yet. Which was probably a good thing, since Kage would never have relinquished this mesmerizing vision if it had been. Joseph’s tantrums would have been accompanied by literal steam under his collar, and Mendoza’s worst problem would have turned out to be rust. (True story, this, which has fortunately never seen the light of day …)
Here at my house, we are having an internal electronics problem: Ray is technically a deathless cyborg. He has had an implanted defibrillator for some years, installed as part of a program to study congestive heart failure. When he came home for final care, Kimberly asked specifically for the defibrillator to be turned off, if it hadn’t been already – and she was assured it would be done. Because, for obvious reasons, when you are under a Do Not Resuscitate directive, you don’t want to be wearing an automatic heart-restarting machine.
Imagine our horror and surprise when, 2 nights ago, it became obvious that the damn thing had never been turned off.
Should my dear, patient brother-in-law have quietly died in his sleep July 4th night? Probably. The shock of the defibrillator isn’t large or painful, and so much kept waking him up 2 nights ago – fire crackers, cherry bombs, M-80s and mortars; with military surplus artillery, for all I know – that it took us all a while to realize, one of the times he woke up violently was due to an electric shock.
Kimberly has spent yestreday and today on the phone with layers of medical personnel connected both to Kaiser and the original study out of St. Jude’s. Most of the layers have disavowed any knowledge or responsibility of the entire matter, but we finally got hold of the on-call emergency technician. And he has just left, having finally turned off the defibrillator with his magic electromagnetic wand. The onerous task took all of 10 minutes, and most of that was packing and unpacking the machine.
Aaargh. Dear Readers, never assume that your technology is your perfect friend. Not when you yourself cannot control it directly, anyway. Kage’s Operatives came to grief over that many and many the time, throughout the books. She deduced, from her own personal experience, that it could be a potential problem; for anyone in any version of the human condition: Kage had common sense. The medical profession seems to largely lack this.
Ray has always had terrific stories. His career as a deathless cyborg has amused him this afternoon, too. But it shouldn’t have to be this hard.
I don’t think there will be any story from me tonight, Dear Readers. I have spent a lot of the day with Kimberly and Michael, near Ray’s bed. I expect to spend a lot of the night there, too. Ray is not only reconciled, he is willing to go now – I think another night’s tide might see him on his way. He is an old Navy man, anyway – Admiral Rickover, head of the U.S. Naval Reactors Office, chose Ray when he still in Officer’s Training School for the Navy’s nuclear power program.
Time for you to go investigate fusion in the heart of a star, Ray …