Spacecraft wreck, lifepod, body is recycled over and over by AI. Read in an old collection of short stories in 1990's.


New Member
Dec 28, 2021
Spaceship wreck, the survivor is in a lifeboat of some sort that has AI system, grabs hydrogen molecules for power as it travels. The survivor lives on life support, learning from the AI library, knows that death will come. The AI then rebuilds or grows the body into another being using the instructions from the original, continuing until it crash lands on a planet, in which the final body emerges from the ocean... I read the book in the early 90's in a collection of older sci-fi shorts my grandfather had, I estimate they were 20+ years older. Now my kids are into the old sci-fi...


Well-Honed Member
Apr 30, 2006
Well, dang, no replies to this yet, and I didn't reply because I knew the story that grabbed my memory with jaws that won't let go is only a partial match.

The only match is the unforgettable one: a man is in a small one-man ship, which sounds barely lifeboat-sized, on an endless autopilot flight whose AI communicates with him, and teleports him down to various worlds for reasons he can no longer remember.

It teleports him back to the ship and keeps rebuilding his body, both when aliens harm him, and when he starts harming himself in an attempt to die if necessary, to stop the automated ship from hurling his body or near-corpse onto planet after planet.

It's "Painwise" by James Tiptree, Jr, the pen name for Alice B. Sheldon.

"SCI FICTION" stopped maintaining its site of classic and original stories years ago (how could they!?), so links could become dead-ends over time, but so far one can read it here.

The story doesn't have rebuilding another complete being or emerging from the ocean, but I haven't seen or remembered a closer match story. But it is from that time period, written in 1972.
And it is unforgettable.
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