[Recommendation] Steven Universe & cryonics

I’ve been watch­ing Steven Uni­verse with my fi­ancee (a chil­dren’s car­toon on Car­toon Net­work by Re­becca Su­gar), and it wasn’t un­til I got to Sea­son 3 that I re­al­ized there’s been a cry­on­ics metaphor run­ning in the back­ground since the very first epi­sode. If you want to in­tro­duce your kids to the idea of cry­on­ics, this se­ries seems like a spec­tac­u­larly good way to do it.

If you don’t want any spoilers, just go watch it, then come back.

Other­wise, here’s the metaphor I’m see­ing, and why it’s great:

  • In the very first epi­sode, we find out that the main char­ac­ters are a group called the Crys­tal Gems, who fight ‘gem mon­sters’. When they defeat a mon­ster, a gem is left be­hind, which they lock in a bub­ble-forcefield and store in their head­quar­ters.

  • One of the Crys­tal Gems is in­jured in a train­ing ac­ci­dent, and we find out that their bod­ies are just pro­jec­tions; each Crys­tal Gem has a gem lo­cated some­where on their body, which con­tains their minds. So long as their gem isn’t dam­aged, they can pro­ject a new body af­ter some time to re­cover. So we already have the in­sight that minds and bod­ies are sep­a­rate.

  • This is driven home by a sec­ond epi­sode where one of the Crys­tal Gems has their crys­tal cracked; this is ac­tu­ally dan­ger­ous to their mind, not just body, and is treated as a dire emer­gency in­stead of merely an in­con­ve­nience.

  • Then we even­tu­ally find out that the gem mon­sters are ac­tu­ally cor­rupted mem­bers of the same species as the Crys­tal Gems. They are ‘bub­bled’ and stored in the tem­ple in hopes of even­tu­ally restor­ing them to san­ity and their pre­vi­ous forms.

  • An at­tempt is made to cure one of the mon­sters, which doesn’t fully suc­ceed, but at least re­stores them to san­ity. This al­lows them to re­main un­bub­bled and to be re­united with their old com­rades (who are also cor­rupted). This was the epi­sode where I fi­nally made the con­nec­tion to cry­on­ics.

  • The Crys­tal Gems are also re­vealed to be over 5000 years old, and effec­tively im­mor­tal. They don’t make a big deal out of this; for them, this is to­tally nor­mal.

  • This also im­plies that they’ve made no progress in cur­ing the gem mon­sters in 5000 years, but that doesn’t stop them from pre­serv­ing them any­way.

  • Fi­nally, a se­cret weapon is re­vealed which is ca­pa­ble of di­rectly shat­ter­ing gems (thus kil­ling the tar­get per­ma­nently), but the use of it is re­jected as un­eth­i­cal.

So, all in all, you have a se­ries where when some­one is hurt or sick in a way that you can’t help, you pre­serve their mind in a safe way un­til you can figure out a way to help them. Even your worst en­emy de­serves no less.

Also, Steven Uni­verse has an en­tire epi­sode de­voted to mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion.