Victor Kemmings’s cryonic suspension malfunctions while en route to a distant planet. Because only his brain is awake, the ship’s A.I. system decides to create simulated realities in Kemmings’s mind in order to prevent him from becoming a vegetable during the remaining ten years of the trip.
The initial world constructed by the ship takes Kemmings back to when he was married with his first wife Martine, but Kemmings’s mind rejects it. The second world goes farther back in his subconscious to an incident during his childhood when he helped his cat kill a bird. This world, like the others to come, is also rejected because of Kemmings’s deep-seated neurotic anxieties.
The ship decides to simulate a world on the colony planet as if they’ve already arrived. Kemmings’s mind sees through this phony setup too as the scenario plays out again and again. When they finally do arrive in the real world, where the ship has arranged his first wife Martine to greet them, Kemmings still believes he is trapped in the loop of simulated realities.
This story was originally published under the title “Frozen Journey” in Playboy in 1980.
Cast of characters
- The ship’s A.I.
- Victor Kemmings – an emigrant on his way to the colony planet LR4-6
- Martine – Kemmings’s first wife