Do you really want to live forever?

Cellular entertainment

Oh, cells just want to have fun. Oh, cells just want to have fun.

Module BI-03V: The Lust For Immortality

Now I will prepare you for one of the greatest trials you will face in your lifetime. A trial so unlikely but ever so likely; so damnable and, yet, to many, exquisite; a test of will power few will ever face on Earth, but only in the deepest regions of space. The bait of circumstances, events and gods attractive enough to tempt even the strongest of Terrans. The promise of immortality.

Why immortality? Only a Terran can answer that to any degree of accuracy but it is surmised that for some inexplicable reason people of Earth seem especially vulnerable to this desire. Perhaps, because they believe their species has been cursed by the gods, evolution and Vulcans with unusually short lifespans. If true, this belief is unfortunate and not supported by the evidence. There are many species on Earth with bizarrely and damnably short life spans.

Be that as it may, humans don’t seem to be able to shake this illogical unsubstantiated belief, so when the opportunity to live forever presents itself, they habitually fall for it. But not just the lust for immortality is prevalent among humans, but some have settled for the compromise of ridiculously long life. Oh, it’s unbelievable, given the rarity of even long life, how often starlogs detailing its occurrence have been reported.

For example, learn from the unfortunate happenings on the planet Omega IV. Captain James T. Kirk and a few other cursed crew members beamed down to this wretched planet just to discover another of their cursed species. Expecting to rescue the only remaining survivor of the starship USS Exeter fallen victim to a mysterious plague, they find instead the healthy and thriving Captain Ronald Tracy.

Tracey_and_Wu

Lost his proverbial mind.

Now listen up, Captain Ron Tracy was a decorated experienced Starfleet officer, well respected by his peers, even Captain Kirk. Kirk! A man who believed there was no greater officer commanding a starship other than himself. And do you know what this Kirk-esteemed individual was going on about when they finally encountered him? The proverbial Fountain of Youth.

That’s right, this learned, wildly experienced starship captain had discovered Omega IV’s inhabitants, the Kohms and the Yangs, lived for a thousand years and wanted this “super-immunity” so bad that he lost his mind and all sense of personal hygiene. When explained to him that it was evolutionally natural for them to live this long he sunk further into madness. Then, in a bid to punish Kirk for telling him the truth, he engaged him in a wrestling match to the death. Fortunately, Spock, of the long-lived and never-tempted-at-all Vulcans, saved the day with a mind-meld that kept Tracy from dashing Kirk expectations of living until the members of the security team arrived.

It’s remarkable that a near sentient being would go to such lengths just for long life. Immortality, yes, but long life? If someone goes through this much trouble would they really want to die even after a thousand years? Of course not. But what was truly remarkable about these events was that though the Kohms and Yangs lived for a thousand years, they never developed the wherewithal to live peacefully together. It appears that mass die-off was the only status quo they could achieve.

Now if there are Terrans who will go to these lengths for a longer life span, what about near immortality, even through mechanical means? There were quite a few who lost their heads over android bodies. Dr. Roger Corby had his consciousness transferred into an android body when tempted by Ruk (quite possibly the ugliest android ever created), who killed his masters that had done the same, and even the eternally rational Uhura was tempted when offered 500,000 more years of life by the android Norm and his harem.

Wow, 500,000 more years of life. Really?

Wow, 500,000 more years of life. Really?

Android bodies were popular at that time but fell into disfavor when an evolved incorporeal being preferred oblivion rather than be encased in “that thing.”

Now even if nothing goes wrong with the technology and you wanted to be encased in a finely toned and attractive android body, what would you really do for all eternity? There was once a human by the name of Dr. Elias Giger who surmised that the reason humans died was because their cells got bored with splitting and replicating so he invented the “cellular regeneration and entertainment chamber.” According to Dr. Giger true immortality could be achieved if the enemy of long life, “boredom” was thwarted. He devised a plan to send “uplifting entertainment” to cellular nuclei to keep them stimulated and regenerating forever. In other words, even cells could die from boredom. Though Giger’s theory, perhaps, was scientifically unsound, there may have been a germ of truth in his thinking.

And then there was Q. A seemingly omniscient, omnipotent being from what unfortunately came to be known as the Q Continuum who cursed species everywhere because, what do you know, he was bored. Q played with mortals like toys.

And then there was Q.

And then there was Q.

In fact, Q entities barely talked to each other because they believed everything had already been said. Been there, done that, ad infinitum. Because of this kind of thinking, immortals are generally sons-of-…but that’s another module.

Commander William T. Riker of the Enterprise-D nearly destroyed his good reputation when this being from the Q Continuum briefly bestowed upon him the gift of true immortality. Fortunately, Riker didn’t have time to indulge ‘his’ sense of entertainment to stave off boredom, which probably would have included a god-sized romp on Risa.

Riker’s detour into omnipotence ended after his captain and friends refused his generous offers born out of omniscience. When his mind started to shake as what often happens when human sentience experiences immortal life, he gave the gift back to the Q entity. Finally, a Terran had achieved authentic immortality and he gave it back because his friends didn’t like him.

However, because there is the feeling that few other Terrans would be this self-sacrificing, all efforts have been made to keep Q’s attention permanently fixated upon just a few individuals. Riker’s captain, Jean-Luc Picard, of the starship Enterprise-D and Captain Kathryn Janeway of the starship Voyager. To date, they have remained Q’s favorite toys, and quite possibly have saved many from the temptations of these near gods and most certainty have saved all humanity from Q obliteration. But, unbeknownst to you, there are other omnipotent, omniscient beings out there who are willing to play with the weakness of the Terrans. So please, no matter how far you roam, for all on Earth’s sake, beware of this damnable and, yes, exquisite, temptation of the gods.

References:
Roddenberry, Gene. “The Omega Glory.” Star Trek. National Broadcasting Company. 1 March 1968. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/The_Omega_Glory_(episode)
Clark, Truly Barr. Moore, Ronald. Neal, Scott. “In the Cards.” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Paramount Domestic Television. 9 June 1997. Television. Retrieved: http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/In_the_Cards_(episode)
Holland, C. J. Roddenberry, Gene. “Hide and Q.” Star Trek. The Next Generation. Paramount Domestic Television. 23 November 1987. Television. Retrieved: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hide_and_Q