Help me identify this science fiction short story
December 5, 2018 6:29 AM   Subscribe

There's a SF story I read some time around 2001-2002, in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, that I am trying to track down. I had been reading both new and older issues of the magazine at the time, so the story could have been published between the late 80s and 2002. Details below!

The story -- as far as I can remember it -- is about a man who is marooned in space, inside a technologically advanced "lifesuit" equipped with an A.I. and the means to keep him alive indefinitely. He drifts for decades, eventually dying of old age, and the lifesuit continues to maintain a habitable environment, so bacteria continue to grow, and over millions of years evolve into more advanced life forms.

Over the years I had the impression that the story was titled "Lifesuit" and that the author was Robert Reed. But going back to try to find this story, I find that Reed never wrote a story with that title. It seems like Reed because he's written very similar stories, but I've gone back over all of the stories I can find that Reed published in F&SF, and none of them are it. So, the only things I'm absolutely positive about at this point are the basic premise of the story, and the fact that it was published in F&SF, probably between 1980-2002. Thanks for any help finding this thing!
posted by Enemy of Joy to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here it is.

No title though. Here’s the issue table of contents.

Maybe the Dead Man by John Bruner?
posted by durandal at 6:47 AM on December 5


I think that's it! I recognize the text snippets...now I just need to track down the story itself. Thank you!!!
posted by Enemy of Joy at 6:51 AM on December 5


You can order a copy of the issue through the website F&SF website link I believe! There doesn’t appear to be another way to get a copy. Good luck!
posted by durandal at 6:53 AM on December 5


Just to note for posterity -- I believe the story is "Coffins" by Robert Reed, from the December 1992 issue. Thanks again, durandal! This was driving me crazy.
posted by Enemy of Joy at 6:58 AM on December 5


Searching on some of the text in the google books result found the (poorly-OCR'd) text at archive.org, it is indeed Coffins, about halfway down that document.
posted by russm at 7:04 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Reed's story "The Sarcophagus" from his Marrow universe that is similar except the suit impacts the world ship and the occupant dies. Unlike in "Coffins", the occupant is the original lifeform, a sort of immortal human. This story is in the anthology Upgraded edited by Neil Clarke.
posted by jclarkin at 8:20 AM on December 5


Following up on russm's lead, here's the full text from the scanned version from the Internet Archive. Definitely violating the author's copyright, but far easier to read than the bad OCR.
posted by denriguez at 11:20 AM on December 5


There's a Kindle version of "Coffins" available for $0.99.
posted by hanov3r at 11:58 AM on December 5


Hmm, I wonder if Reed ever read Asimov's "Founding Father"?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:45 PM on December 5


Or Adam with no Eve by Bester?

Or the Futurama episode where Bender is lost in space and meets god?
posted by jclarkin at 1:51 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


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