Tomorrow and Tomorrow (novel)

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Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Author Charles Sheffield
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Bantam Spectra
Publication date
Media type Paperback
Pages 422 pp
ISBN 0553378082
OCLC 34471197
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3569.H39253 T66 1997

Tomorrow and Tomorrow is a 1997 science fiction novel by Charles Sheffield. The book starts in approximately the year 2020 and follows the extremely protracted adventures of Drake Merlin, in his obsessive quest to save his wife from a terminal brain disease, over the course of eons. Similar premises are presented in the 2006 film The Fountain, as well as the Isaac Asimov story "The Last Question".

Plot summary[edit]

Originally, Drake is a professional musician, with minor celebrity. When his wife Ana is diagnosed with an unspecified incurable brain disorder, Drake exhausts every option attempting to cure her. Only then does he decide to have her body cryogenically stored, in the hopes future generations will discover effective treatment. However, Drake is extremely cautious, and in case the future culture doesn't care about her plight, he has himself frozen as well. Furthermore, he devotes all his energies for a decade prior to his freezing, in becoming an expert primary source on the musically notable people of his era. Assuming that if you become the world's foremost expert in any subject, and given infinite time, someone will want to write a book on that exact subject. At that time the hypothetical future writer will want to awaken Drake, and he can in turn awaken his wife, if treatment is available. Drake's thinking is correct and he is awakened in the year 2500. Although society is vastly different, there still exists no cure for Ana. He spends six years apprenticed to a musical historian to pay for his reviving costs and to gain a foothold in this new world.

Drake is continuously laid dormant and revived, exponentially further into the future. Human civilization alters radically over the eons, but Ana's mangled brain proves an extremely difficult problem. Despite the incomprehensible changes surrounding in each successive awakening, Drake never loses sight of his mission.

Eventually, in the extremely remote post-human future a few billions years later, Drake's original biological body has disintegrated, despite the cryogenic treatment, and he has become an uploaded consciousness, though still in stasis. At this point the descendants of humanity have colonized the entire milky way galaxy, yet an inexplicable threat is wiping out their colonies in a widening arc. The leaders of this civilization have exhausted every answer they can conceive of, and have zero information as to the even the cause of the threat. Their last hope is Drake, an ancient holdover, who may have ideas new to them - namely war.

The main problem is that the beings have no idea what is happening as the planets that are wiped out seem exactly the same, but do not respond to signals and outside communication is impossible. All probes sent do not return, nor reply once they reach the surface of the planet.

Drake becomes the commander of the residents of the galaxy, in designing weapons and defenses, ideas that have long vanished from the minds of these beings. At this time, their technology allows for extremely powerful and deep manipulation of matter at a fundamental scale. An experimental technology called caesura is used as the plot-device to carry the novel. It is a means of instantaneous teleportation using exotic physics, which has by now developed to a stage where it will have no meaning to the causal being. This caesura is not guaranteed teleportation but has a low chance of succeeding.

Billions upon billions of copies of Drake are thus sent out to the planets on the border of the invasion, and by means of caesura are teleported back to the base to collect information about the threat. Eventually it is discovered that the threat is an exotic inter-planetary plant-type life with spores that migrate between systems. These plants do not intentionally destroy the living beings on the planet, but as a result of their growth they do so.

After the cause of the problem is found, the post-humans decide that the militant Drake is no longer needed or deemed a positive influence - he is seen as too warlike. They tell him to merge with all the returning Drake copies, of which there are billions. This he agrees to, and over billions of years, he collates these copies together - forming a collective-mind of copies of himself. There is a subplot of a version of him that was randomly teleported by the caesura to a distant galaxy, and how he manages to return over a few billion years.

Finally, the collective version of Drake resolves to use the Omega Point to gain complete knowledge of everything and to restore Ana. The story ends on an ambiguous note as Ana is potentially revived, and they seek to create a new universe by means of caesura to live in.[1]

  1. ^ SF Site Reviews, Catherine Asaro. Tomorrow & Tomorrow.