17

I am asking this question for an older relative. This story sticks out to them over four decades after reading it, but they can't remember the title.

The story is about an extremely intelligent man who is put into suspended animation and is woken up when a really complex problem needs to be solved. He is then put back into suspended animation until a new problem arises. The story was likely published before 1980 (my relative believes they read it in 1978 or 1979). They also thought it was written by Ray Bradbury, but that may or may not be the case.

I don't know if it was a short story or a novel.

The only other piece of information I can give is that they think there was a character named Nagha (I don't know if that's the correct spelling).

Searching the internet with just these parameters has not worked.

  • My first impulse would be Seldon in the Foundation books, who has saved messages determined by Psychohistory, but there's no Nagha. – FuzzyBoots Nov 26 at 17:51
  • Seldon had just recorded his messages, knowing from his psychohistory calculations they would be useful. When the Mule came, the message was totally useless. In this case the guy is woken up, told the situation and ponders about it before answering. Then sent back to sleep till the next tile he is needed. – Alfred Nov 26 at 23:01
  • @Alfred Bruce Sterling used a similar idea in one of his Schismatrix stories, where a hive bred a specialised brain specimen whenever one was needed. – SQB Nov 27 at 11:56
  • @SQB I know what you are referring to. It is "Swarm" indeed by Bruce Sterling. But this is not what I was thinking when I put the bonus here. This is about a human, probably transferred into a computer, helping "normal" humans. – Alfred Nov 27 at 12:04
  • @SQB Now that you mention it, the general atmosphere or the scene where the brain, whatever it is, is asked for help might well fit the Shapers/Mechanists universe. But not "Swarm", it is a human (at least originally) brain. – Alfred Nov 27 at 18:42
10
+50

This sounds like The Sleeping God, a story by Jesco von Puttkamer. It was published in Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath's Star Trek: The New Voyages 2, in 1978. (Yes, it's a Star Trek short story.)

The story starts with Nagha, an artificial intelligence:

The Nagha was a child.

She was all but omniscient and omnipotent, of immense size and gigantic capabilities. But she was only a child - a big humorless child. ...race of intelligent beings that constructed the original miniature cell of the Nagha...the computer complex that would one day, many millions of years later, think of conquering another Universe.

The Enterprise is on its way to investigate the mysterious attacks, when it receives orders to divert to Raga's Planet to pick up 'the Sleeper'.

"There is not much available on him, Captain. He is definitely human, apparently of Indian descent and is maintained in suspended animation....It seems that about one hundred years ago a small boy was discovered as a stowaway on a ship bound for Raga's Planet. He gave his name simply as Singa..."

"One day, now fully matured, he demanded to see the Council of Elders and the local representatives of the Federation. That was some eighty-five years ago. His story seemed somewhat incredible. He claimed to be a mutant, having been born to his parents from mutated genes which had been traumatized by radiation leaks in a malfunctioning space-ship drive they were working on. The mutation had endowed him with superior capabilities, and he was offering himself to the Elders for service to mankind."

"...A special investigatory team of scientists was dispatched to Raga's Planet. They found Singa's mental powers to be far greater than they had first assumed from his original statements. They were truly immense. Captain, there is at present no being in the known Universe that could match the mental capabilities of the Sleeper."

"...Singa may have been a mental mutant, but he aged normally, just like any other human being. Far-sighted people warned that a truly unique, never-again-repeatable opportunity would go to waste if nothing was done. And so..." Kirk nodded. "So they put him in suspended animation."

  • Hmmmm... This seems to look like the OP's story... but definitely not mine. I cannot accept it for the OP. But I am not ready to move the bounty now. Does anyone see an answer that would go for what I remember ? The "intelligent" person was of the same original group as the "askers", or at least the "askers" ancestors. I think his mind is not biological anymore, he has been transferred to a computer before he died, and they are "running" him only in case of need. If anyone answers here I'll move the bounty to them. If not i'll give it to Diane but only at the very end. – Alfred Nov 27 at 16:56
  • Sorry, not to Diane, to Dinae. And after that I'll ask my own question, because it won't be a duplicate. – Alfred Nov 27 at 16:57
  • 1
    Certainly seems to tick all the boxes. – Organic Marble Nov 27 at 17:13
  • For the OP, undoubtedly. But I was wrong in thinking that it was the same story. I did not remember the name Nagha, but it proves nothing per se. But most of the details given by Dinae that fit the OP's question don't fit mine. – Alfred Nov 27 at 17:23
  • OK, so I'm going to sleep now and tomorrow I might be too busy to grant the bounty. Clearly, Dinae found the answer to the OP's question. This is not, however, the answer I was hoping for. My story is certainly a different one. I could not tell from the question itself. That I did not remember the name Nagha meant nothing, there could have been, in my story, someone by that name that I did not remember. But the Nagha of The Sleeping God is definitely not in my story. I'm going to post my own question soon. It will look like this one but not be a duplicate. – Alfred Dec 2 at 22:15
4

This is a long shot as a few of the details differ, but could it be C.M. Kornbluth's The Marching Morons? The main character wakes from suspended animation to find

a world mainly full of morons ruled by an intelligent elite. They're facing an insurmountable problem of population explosion. As a shrewd amoral con man, he offers a solution to their problem in return for being made World Dictator.

The ending and other details differs from your description, but it does feature a character called Ryan-Ngana which might be misremembered as Nagha. It was published in 1951, and ISFDB lists it as appearing in numerous collections in the late 70s/early 80s so that could tie in timewise.

[Found via the Wikipedia page for Idiocracy, as I wondered whether that might have been in any way based on a short story which was closer to the OP's premise]

  • Well, I don't know if this is the OP's book, but it does not fit my memory. The man is suspendned animation had high ethics, and could not be returned to "normal life" anyway, just be woken up occasionally. I do't remember any Nagha nor Ryan-Ngana. But maybe my story is not the same as the OP... – Alfred Nov 26 at 22:57
  • No, in Marching Morons he is not a particularly intelligent man and he was not intentionally put into SA to be used as a resource in the future. Note also that in MM, there were some extremely intelligent people -- they were just a tiny minority. – releseabe Nov 27 at 4:51
  • Yeah, I'd figured there were too many differences, it was only the mention of a vaguely similar name on the Wikipedia page that prompted me to post it. – Mohirl Nov 27 at 10:13
2

This is a bit of a long shot, but the idea of an intelligent man who is consulted when a problem arises, sounds a bit like the character Hari Seldon in Asimov's Foundation series.

However, he is not in suspended animation, but rather appears as a hologram, having predicted the course the Foundation, a society he originated, would take, through the science of psychohistory.

It was published as a trilogy in the '50s, collecting stories that had been published in Astounding Magazine in the '40s. Hari Seldon's hologram recordings themselves appear in the three last stories of Foundation (the first book of the trilogy, collected in 1951) and in both chapters of Foundation and Empire (the second book, collected in 1952).

Asimov added two prequels to the series in the '80s, with the last one published posthumously in 1993. These show Hari Seldon during his life Asimov wrote two prequels that show Hari Seldon during his life more closely: Prelude to Foundation (1988) and Forward the Foundation (1993). Besides psychohistory, telepathy plays an important part in the series, with Asimov calling it "mentalism".

  • The idea of consulting an intelligent man matches, although not the precise manner in which it was done.
  • The author is not Ray Bradbury, but Isaac Asimov, another big name in science fiction and of the same era.
  • There is no character named Nagha or anything reasonably close. There is a planet named Gaia, though. There is a list of characters that you can point your relative to, to see if anything clicks.
  • No, sorry, as far as I am concerned (I cannot be sure that the OP is really asking the same question I hope to get an answer to). I have already commented up there below the question itself. Haris Seldon's holograms are pre-recorded. They cannot "know" what the new situation is. Because he computed the most probable future through psychohistory he was right hte first few times. But the Mule was a single, mutant, individual, not an effect of a large number, and was unpredictable. The hologram was totally oof the mark. In my case the person is either in suspended animation or maybe – Alfred Nov 27 at 9:13
  • his mind has been copied into computer and the computer is turned on when needed. But current data was provided to the person/computer program, and was processed by intelligence (protein based or silicon-based) to find a solution to the present problem, not precomputed long before. – Alfred Nov 27 at 9:15
  • 1
    Since the OP has not been active on the site for some time, there is a serious possibility that I'll be the only one to react to any answer ! – Alfred Nov 27 at 9:32
  • 1
    @Alfred perhaps you're better off asking a new question, then. Duplicate story IDs are only closed as such if both have an accepted answer. – SQB Nov 27 at 11:52
  • Well, once the bounty expires, I might indeed ask a question as I remember, in slightly other words (but very close) – Alfred Nov 27 at 12:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.