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Scanners Live in Vain by Cordwainer Smith

The confraternity of “Scanners” – men who have eliminated all sensory inputs except vision – are the only humans who can withstand the Pain of Space. What will they do when a method for normal humans to travel the stars is found?



Title: Scanners Live in Vain

Author: Cordwainer Smith

Length: short story

First Publication: Beyond the End of Time Anthology, 1952

What the Story is About: In the future starships are operated by “Habermans” – convicts and other undesirables who have had all of their sensory inputs other than vision disconnected from their brains so that they can survive “The Pain of Space” while awake. They are supervised by the “Scanners”, who have undergone the modifications voluntarily, and thus lead lonely, difficult lives. Because of that, the Scanners have formed an elitist confraternity, where they meet to look out for their own interests. That all changes, when a method to prevent the Pain of Space in normal people is developed, that renders Scanners obsolete. (Read the Wikipedia article)

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Categories: 1950-1959NeuroscienceShort FictionSmith - Cordwainer


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