The Shoulders of Giants
by Robert J. Sawyer
First published as the lead story in Star Colonies
edited by Martin H. Greenberg and John Helfers, DAW Books, June 2000.
like only yesterday when I'd died, but, of course, it was almost certainly centuries ago. I wish the
computer would just tell me, dammitall, but it was doubtless waiting until its sensors said I was
sufficiently stable and alert. The irony was that my pulse was surely racing out of concern,
forestalling it speaking to me. If this was an emergency, it should inform me, and if it wasn't, it
should let me relax.
machine did speak in its crisp, feminine voice. "Hello, Toby. Welcome back to the world of the
I'd thought I'd spoken the word, but no sound had come out. I tried again. "Where are we?"
where we should be: decelerating toward Soror."
I felt myself
calming down. "How is Ling?"
reviving, as well."
"All forty-eight cryogenics chambers are functioning properly," said the computer. "Everybody is
good to hear, but it wasn't surprising. We had four extra cryochambers; if one of the occupied
ones had failed, Ling and I would have been awoken earlier to transfer the person within it into a
spare. "What's the date?"
an answer like that, but it still took me back a bit. Twelve hundred years had elapsed since the
blood had been siphoned out of my body and oxygenated antifreeze had been pumped in to
replace it. We'd spent the first of those years accelerating, and presumably the last one
decelerating, and the rest--
was spent coasting at our maximum velocity, 3,000 km/s, one percent of the speed of light. My
father had been from Glasgow; my mother, from Los Angeles. They had both enjoyed the quip
that the difference between an American and a European was that to an American, a hundred
years was a long time, and to a European, a hundred miles is a big journey.
would agree that twelve hundred years and 11.9 light-years were equally staggering values. And
now, here we were, decelerating in toward Tau Ceti, the closest sunlike star to Earth that wasn't
part of a multiple-star system. Of course, because of that, this star had been frequently examined
by Earth's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. But nothing had ever been detected; nary a
I was feeling
better minute by minute. My own blood, stored in bottles, had been returned to my body and was
now coursing through my arteries, my veins, reanimating me.