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The voice came as if from far away. It was a pleasant, deep female voice, saying over and over, “Flora, wake up. Flora Fielding, wake up, Flora…” on and on.
I’m awake, Flora tried to say, but her mouth, her lungs wouldn’t obey. Her eyelids felt too heavy to lift. And she was cold. Her body was ice. If she moved, surely she’d snap like an icicle—if she could move at all. Her skin hurt everywhere from the bitter, malevolent cold. Her bones ached, all over.
The voice stopped its endless chant and said, “I detect that you are conscious. Don’t struggle. The machine is slowly bringing you back. You’ll be OK.”
So it worked. It must have worked, Flora thought, and a feeling of triumph lent her energy enough to force her eyelids open. The research she’d funded must have found a cure, and now they were resuscitating her.
At first everything was a liquid blur, then she found herself gazing at the sight she’d seen before going into suspended animation, before she’d been frozen. A network of plastic pipes descended from a pastel yellow ceiling. They were filled with fluids of different colors: red blood, creamy yellow food, a blue one, another with clear liquid.
“Move your fingers,” the voice commanded. Flora tried, and after several attempts felt them twitch, then bunch up. The cold now felt less excruciating. She took a breath that made her chest rise. “What year’s it?” she managed to mumble.
The voice answered, “Thirteen hundred and twelve”.
This was meaningless. I couldn’thave gone back in time! Flora thought in panic, but then the voice explained, “You have been in cryogenic storage for 1433 years. We now have a new system of dates, from the establishment of Control.”
A feeling of unreality, of complete disbelief swamped Flora: It can’t be true. It just can’t! “I… I expected to be asleep for maybe ten,” she said, her still-weak voice quivering. One-and-a-half thousand years! She turned her head slightly, looking for the source of the voice. She saw no-one.
As if reading her mind, the voice said, “I’m Artif. I’ve been directed to resuscitate you.”
“In your terms, I’m a computer, sort of.”
This was encouraging. If their technology was this advanced, then surely they had cancer beaten.
A new, masculine voice spoke, a deep, musical baritone. “Welcome, Flora Fielding. Tony Califeri had records of several of your movies, and I’ve seen them all. You were marvelous.”
The female voice cut in, chidingly, “Abel, Flora knows nothing of Tony. She has no more knowledge of our history than a newborn baby.”
“Just the same,” the man’s amusedly unrepentant voice answered, “I’ve seen the movies, and Flora was wonderful.”
“Thank you,” Flora spoke, a little more strongly now, and became intensely conscious of being naked. Her fifty-two-year-old body was not for a man to see. Or fourteen-hundred-and-eighty-somethi ng year-old body, if it was true.
To her surprise, the man said, “Flora, I’m not in the room with you, but on the other side of the earth, in the Arafura Sea. And don’t worry, there are no visuals on. Judging from the records, we guessed that you wouldn’t want to be seen.”
She could only say “thank you” again, but then asked, “Are you a doctor? Have you got a cure?”
The deep voice sounded a melodious laugh. “We leave doctoring to Artif, it’s more efficient. What do you want cured?”
“Cancer,” she said in surprise. Wasn’t that why they’d revived her now?
There was a silence. Then he said, “My translator is looking.”
The female voice spoke, “Abel, that’s a condition where uncontrolled growth of rogue cells occurs. I’ve met four cases this year.”
By now, Flora’s body felt almost normal. She raised herself on an elbow. Black spots swam before her eyes, then cleared. She asked, “Er, Madam, what do I call you?”
There was a smile in the wonderful voice. “Whatever you like. Naturally, I’m not female. I’m the support system for the planet, the executive arm of humanity.”
Copyright © 2004 Dr. Bob Rich
Posted June 16, 2012
The story takes place in the future, to be more precise 1400 years after the Cataclysm had hit the earth and destroyed it as we know it today. That destruction resulted in the building of a different type of society.
For one thing, sexual disposition, though more relaxed, promotes equality and better chances, people live in synch with the environment, respecting it by using challenges against it to prove their worthiness, homes can be relocated with a thought, and there are no geologically threatening acts that could ruin it, again. People have learnt their lesson. Governments are no more, the planet is governed by Control; a group of people who utilize an intelligent computer named Artif. There are problems of course, the author didn't create a utopian world, but there is one more significant difference; population, all over the earth, is limited to one million, plus the sleepers. Sleepers are people who have been placed in suspended animation in the 21st century until a better future is available for them. They are mainly people with incurable diseases, but there are those who have done it out of vanity.
It was natural that when Flora Fielding was awakened that she assumed a cure was found for cancer. Except that wasn't true; cancer didn't stand a chance before Artif's watchful eye that monitors everyone's health, fertility level, and thoughts.
So why was Flora awakened? To solve a problem of course, but until then, she gets her own implant, learns about this new society where men have to prove their worthiness to women since the women choose who would father their children. Flora also adapts to warmer world, which means almost everyone walks around naked, proud of their natural appearances. Darker color is more beautiful as it complements the change in temperature. Still, Flora's paleness is not held against her. After all, she was a sleeper.
Dr. Rich created a thought provoking world, he took problems and warnings we're facing today, allowed them to bloom, and then offered a solution and an remarkable world to exist in. I managed to glimpse the world from the eyes of a 70 years old woman, a 13 years old boy, and from a newcomer to that world. It was pleasant to be able to view and analyze that reality from several angles.
The book is incredibly creative and it shows the author's knowledge. Needless to say, the book remained with me for a long time, it's a book that makes one ponder life and decisions.
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Posted January 8, 2014
Sleeper Awake, first published in the year 2000, is a prophetic book. Set some 1500 years in the future, it tells the tale of a woman, Flora Fielding, a top movie star and multi-millionaire, who had herself cryogenically frozen when diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. The world she discovers is topographically transformed by geological upheaval, with only one million human inhabitants. The climate is violent, tropics replace temperate zones, and all the great cities of yore, along with their cultures, have been destroyed. The total destruction of our present world has been caused by global warming, the unchecked abuse of our natural resources, especially the relentless exploitation of petroleum.
As a dedicated environmentalist as far back as the 1970’s, I found this book refreshing, and congratulate its author, Dr. Bob Rich, for his foresightedness that predated this book by many years. His portrayal of a new society, its inventions and innovations—all of them designed in harmony with the laws of nature—is nothing short of brilliant. The new society strictly manages its rate of reproduction, has allowed the natural world to recover from its grievous wounds, and lives in abundance, since there is an abundance of natural resources to live on. The greed that is rapidly destroying our present world is no longer a factor in Dr. Rich’s utopian future, since there is no poverty and the small population has all advantages at its fingertips. Sexuality in the new society is frank, open, and tastefully presented.
Like most of Rich’s novels, this one, too, is a novel of education: of the characters, of the resuscitated Flora, and of the reader. This reader was captivated by the spiritual growth of the protagonists and by the wonderful devices they use in everyday living. Computers, by the way, play dominant and benevolent roles. My only reservation: could such a glowing future ever be reached by humanity as we know it?
I recommend this book in the highest terms for anyone who has the faintest interest in the fate of our civilization and our planet.
Posted August 13, 2004
SLEEPER, AWAKE, a science fiction novel by Dr. Bob Rich, is a truly amazing experience. To step inside this novel is to step inside an almost alien, but totally believable, world. Dr. Rich designs the futuristic world of SLEEPER, AWAKE with such compelling detail that one comes to the conclusion that this must indeed be the reality of our future earth. Flora Fielding is a beautiful, rich, famous, Oscar-winning movie star. She develops breast cancer and has herself placed in cryogenic storage until a cure is found. She is awakened 1,433 years later. There is no cure for cancer. Her awakening is a political move, with disagreement between Abel, the President of Control, and Mirabelle, the Deputy President. Once awakened, however, Flora is wholeheartedly welcomed into this new world. The future, however, is strange and alien to the movie star. People have 'implants' that allow them to send 'images' of themselves to each other. 'Artif,' a form of artificial intelligence, monitors everyone's health and communicates with everyone. Thoughts move objects. There are only one million people on earth; and no one may have a baby unless there is a death. There has been a great Cataclysm due to global climate changes; and the physical geography of earth is not the same as Flora remembers. On the postive side, people are never violent. When Kiril attempts violence against another human being, this is the first act of its kind in over one thousand years. Despite its alien quality, the world of SLEEPER, AWAKE is in many ways a vast improvement over the world today. I give this fascinating book 5 stars out of 5, and highly recommend it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.