Trope-a-Day: Human Mail

Human Mail: This is what “steerage-class” transportation is.  In the old days they’d freeze you down (Human Popsiclestyle), and in the new days they put you into nanostasis, but either way, at the sophont shipping center they pack you into a body pod, stack them three by three by two into a powered (“reefer”) shipping container, and send the result off as freight to the sophont receiving center on your planet of destination, where they revive you. (Unless something goes wrong and you end up at the lost sophont office, but that hardly ever happens.)

In addition to being the favored transportation method of the poor and near-poor (because it’s obviously much cheaper to ship a corpsicle than something that needs life support), it’s also widely used for bulk personnel movements, like prisoner transfers, colonization ships, and troop transports.

2 thoughts on “Trope-a-Day: Human Mail

  1. The modern traveller can’t beat light. So why not join it? Why not be it? I can see the less sentimental travelers, sentient computers, and other post-singularity beings moving from A to B as quantum-encrypted data packets, a la the Amalgam of Greg Egan’s Incandescence. Obviously, you wouldn’t be thinking in transit, but as long as the receiver is safe it’s the fastest, safest, and cheapest possible way of ‘transport’. It obviously raises some questions about whether or not Bob on Alpha Centauri is the same one that left Earth four years earlier, but I don’t believe your chaps give much thought to that luddism, and a computer doesn’t care. Apologies if this has been mentioned before – I am fairly new to the Eldraeverse.

    • No worries, and you’re perfectly right!

      Mindcasting (as they call it – talked about here: and seen on screen way back here: ) is an available method of travel, and quite a common one among the sort of transsophontist/neophilic civilizations that like that sort of thing – of which the Empire is one – and are comfortable with notions of pattern-identity.

      But there are some limitations: trusted receivers, as you point out – and for that matter trusted receivers’ less trustworthy governances, as there are at least some civs where you might trust the receivers but the local NSA-equivalent is notorious for its man-in-the-middle attacks – being one. Availability of compatible and/or fit-for-purpose bodies for purchase or rental, if you need not to be just an infomorph at the far end, for reasonable costs (sure, you can transmit a complete set of body-construction data with you and have them grow one to suit, if you trust their IP confidentiality rules, but that runs the cost in cash and time way up) being another. And with development not being spread equally through the Associated Worlds, there are still plenty of places that lack the tech, or the memes, or both to support this sort of thing.

      So while it’s possible and even common in the right regions, there’re enough situations where you can’t use it to keep the passenger lines in business.

      (Oh, and then there’s things like tourism, where sometimes the journey is part of the point of the exercise, belike. Gives you time to wind down and switch into holiday-mode, if nothing else. 🙂 At least if you’re not travelling frozen.)

Comments are closed.