Cryonics on Castle [Spoilers]

by wedrifid 1 min read4th Oct 201123 comments


Check out the latest episode of Castle (Headcase) to see Cryonics covered in mainstream fiction in a not entirely terrible manner. The details are not exactly accurate but probably not more inaccurate than similar fictionalised coverage of most other industries. In fact there is one obvious implementation difference that the company in Castle uses which is how things clearly ought to be:

Amulets of Immortality

It is not uncommon for cryonics enthusiasts to make 'immortality' jokes about their ALCOR necklaces but the equivalent on the show make the obvious practical next step. The patients have heart rate monitors with GPS signalers that signal the cryonics company as soon as the patient flatlines. This is just obviously the way things should be and it is regrettable that the market is not yet broad enough for 'obvious' to have been translated into common practice.

Other things to watch out for:

  • Predictable attempts by the cops to take the already preserved body so they can collect more evidence.
  • A somewhat insightful question of whether the cryonics company should hand over the corpsicle without taking things to court because that way they would not risk legal precedent being set based on a case where there are unusual factors which may make them lose. It may be better to lose one patient so that they can force the fight to happen on a stronger case.
  • Acknowledgement that only the head is required, which allows a compromise of handing over the body minus the head.
  • Smug superiority of cops trying to take the cryonics patient against the will of the patient himself, his family and the custodians. This is different than cops just trying to claim territory and do their job and to the hell with everyone else, it is cops trying to convey that it is morally virtuous to take the corpse and the wife would understand that it was in her and her corpsicle husband's best interest to autopsy his head if she wasn't so stupid. (Which seems like a realistic attitude.)
  • Costar and lead detective Beckett actually attempts to murder a cryonics patient (to whatever extent that murder applies to corpsicle desiccation). For my part this gave me the chance to explore somewhat more tangibly my ethical intuitions over what types of responses would be appropriate. My conclusion was that if someone had shot Beckett in order to protect the corpsicle I would have been indifferent. Not glad that she was killed but not proud of the person killing her either. I suspect (but cannot test) that most of the pain and frustration of losing a character that I cared about would be averted as well. Curious.
  • Brain destroying disease vs cryonicist standoff!
  • Beckett redeems herself on the 'not being an ass to cryonicists' front by being completely non-judgemental of the woman for committing "involuntary euthenasia" of her tumor-infested husband. (Almost to the point of being inconsistent with her earlier behavior but I'm not complaining.)
  • A clever "Romeo and Juliet" conclusion to wrap up the case without Beckett being forced to put the wife in jail for an act that has some fairly reasonable consequentialist upsides. Played out to be about as close to a happy ending as you could get.

Overall a positive portrayal of cryonics or at least one I am happy with. It doesn't convey cryonics as normal but even so it is a step less weird than I would usually expect. I'd call it good publicity.