I would have read this story between 1995 and today, almost certainly in anthology format. I'm not sure when it was written; some of the story elements in my memory feel modern to me, but some have kind of a golden age feel as well (the narrator has a number of politically incorrect attitudes).

A science fiction writer is frozen in the current day (possibly due to being terminally ill). He is defrosted in the far future.

Society has entered a near-utopian state as a result of scientific advancement and automation. An internet-type system controls the society's infrastructure, and the society's skilled workers know how to run that internet-type system but no longer have the skills to run the infrastructure directly.

The science fiction writer is chagrined to learn that he has no skills that would be useful in this society and there is no function he can fulfill. But he remembers that "there is one occupation with no real job requirements" or something to that effect, and somehow tricks others into rigging the internet-style system to self-destruct while giving himself a dead man switch to control that destruction. This allows him to force the citizens of the future society to make him King - the only job a person with absolutely no skills can do.

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    Pretty sure I've read that one. Was there hypnosis involved? Niven, possibly. The writer character was maybe based on Heinlein, hence the non-PC mindset. His fans had paid for his suspension, not himself. Mar 7 '19 at 19:40
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    I don't remember hypnosis being involved, but my memory doesn't exclude that, either. I also don't remember the detail of his fans paying for the cryofreeze - but I think I remember that waking up at all was a surprise for the narrator, so that may have been why he was surprised.
    – tbrookside
    Mar 8 '19 at 11:57
  • Another possible author for this story might be Spider Robinson. He was a big admirer of Heinlein. Mar 8 '19 at 22:46
  • Somehow fits Anders Bodelsen's Freezing Down, but not quite. The dystopic part was that while people were guaranteed time in cryostasis waiting for a cure to any illness they may have come down with, people were also becoming less and less willing to go that way (mostly because of the cost). May be it is something else? I don't think enough of the details fit. Anyway, the story begins in 1973 with the protagonist diagnosed with cancer. He is first revived in 1995. Learns that a ballet dancer he had a fling with is currently frozen, waiting for a new spine, and wants to be frozen again... Mar 21 '19 at 17:08

The story might be "Obsolete Skill" by Charles Sheffield. It was published in 1987 and therefore meets your timeframe. The writer, who is not named, is suspended for almost 200 years. It is mentioned that he has been the subject of ten biographies. The "internet structure" involves some kind of direct neural interface that the writer, at his age, would not have the ability to master.

But his clothing, preserved for him, does have his old pocket watch. He then begins relating a rambling tale to his....minder, while swinging the watch back and forth. "First, we're going to need the entry points into the data banks that control world communications, transportation, and food supply."

"Ten lousy biographies/ I'd change that, one way or another."

I ran across this story in "Georgia on my Mind and Other Places". Here's a link to the covers where it's appeared.


As I say, the story does meet your criteria but I have a possibly erroneous memory of having read a similar story years, if not decades, earlier. SF writers using SF writers as characters is a common enough practice that someone may have used the idea of this story before Sheffield.

  • That actually sounds really, REALLY close, although I know I didn't read it in the magazine, and it doesn't seem to have to included in any anthology I can remember reading. Do you happen to know if the story includes the narrator deciding, at the end, to order that a female science fiction author of his acquaintance also be defrosted?
    – tbrookside
    Jul 15 '19 at 15:55
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    Actually, she had already been defrosted. The folks running the show had a sort of colony set up for the "defrostees", who wouldn't be able to assimilate into the new society and that's where she was. Jul 15 '19 at 16:48
  • In that case, I think this is it. I'll try to check if I actually own a copy of Georgia on My Mind and Other Places to make sure, and then accept the answer.
    – tbrookside
    Jul 15 '19 at 19:30
  • If you remember this story, it's in the same collection. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/185623/… Jul 15 '19 at 19:41
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    @tbrookside You could read the story at archive.org/stream/…
    – user14111
    Jul 15 '19 at 21:14

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