Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kind of a long set-up, which is ironic, considering...


Since my time-management skills seem to be a bit sketchy lately, I've been a bit pre-occupied with this old Marvel horror chestnut, "The Time-Saver!" (From Mystery Tales #33 and reprinted in Weird Wonder Tales #9, with art by Tony DiPreta.)

Phineas Purdy was an office manager, and an efficiency expert--think the Clock King from that episode of Batman: the Animated Series. Phineas is trying to live up to the example of his uncle Jasper, who taught him the value of time. But it's still a little surprising later that afternoon, when Phineas runs into Jasper, who seemingly hasn't aged a day in twenty years. Jasper explains he hasn't, since he banked his time, and wants to show his nephew "time thrift," with an introductory visit to the time bank. There, a teller gives Phineas a deposit book, and explains that every second, minute, and hour he deposits will net him 3% interest! Phineas banked twelve hours a day, and thus hadn't aged at all; he points out a young woman who was actually 101 years old.

Phineas plans to continue taking his uncle's advice, and starts sleeping only three hours instead of nine, banking the difference. Over the years, he only eats at his desk, hounds his employees to deliver their work on time, and cuts out all social interaction. Over twenty years, Phineas doesn't age at all, but is surprised by an invite to the time bank's one-every-twenty years ball. Phineas scoffs at the idea of wasting that precious time, but doesn't want to offend and goes anyway. Although it's the only time most of them ever waste, Phineas still thinks it's pointless. He may have a point, since suddenly Jasper ages decades; then all the other time bankers age as if they had never saved a day. Meanwhile, "as old age settles over Phineas Purdy..."

...two would-be bank robbers are arrested, even as they wonder what kind of lunatics saved all these slips of paper in a bank vault...Apparently, time deposits are not FDIC insured, and that's one to grow on.

This story reminded me of the Red Dwarf novel (which I read long before seeing the show) Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers: on the years-long voyage, Rimmer spends as much free time as he can in cryotube stasis, in an attempt to age less. (If the voyage took a decade, and Rimmer spent two years in stasis, he'd only be eight years older at the end...) The omniscient narrator points out, though, that maybe if Rimmer didn't spend all his free time in a tube or rushing to get to said tube, he might meet some people, make some friends, generally be a happier and less miserable person; although it doesn't matter since he won't get to the stasis tube in time to survive the accident that kills the crew...

That one shouldn't be too surprising: if you ever read 2000 AD short strips, especially the Future Shock ones, they flogged the notion that using suspended animation, cryogenics, stasis, whatever you call it, it'll end badly and probably ironically even if you don't have a chance to avoid your fate. Like the cancer patient who was frozen because he only had six months to live, and hoped to be awoken when they found a cure. Six months later the doctor wakes him up, not because they found a cure already, but because a comet strike caused a nuclear winter, and they all probably only had six months to live...that sort of thing. Huh, I could dig up some of those stories; thus insuring I'll never be asked to bank any time...

2 comments:

Dale Bagwell said...

Damn! That's a hell of a consequence for trying to live like that. I could see the appeal in that, but since you only have a limited amount of time to do anything anyways, what's the point in trying to be frugal.

About the cryo-stasis thing though, is Walt Disney really still in one of those things, or was that some made up bullshit?

SallyP said...

That sounds like a pretty fabulous story, actually. And a moral to boot!