Saturday, November 27, 2010
What happens after you die?
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that after a person dies, that’s it. Their mind and personality cease to exist in any form and what remains is a corpse - ruling out regeneration, reincarnation and so on. I’m also going to assume that said corpse isn’t going to be reanimated, so no zombies.
But there are a lot of other things that can happen to corpses. In Margaret Weis’s and Tracy Hickman’s DragonLance novels, I always enjoyed reading about the draconians, because they gave rise to such interesting effects when they died. Bronze draconians explode, brass ones turn to stone (trapping any weapons that might be impaling them) and copper ones turn to pools of acid.
Such things could happen to humans or humanoid creatures as well. It’s an advantage for your corpse to cause damage to whoever kills you. Bodies could turn to clouds of poisonous gases, become white-hot or metamorphose into swarms of stinging insects.
Corpses might also turn into something neutral – ashes, salt, ice, metal, etc (reminds me of the story of Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt). I like the idea of a cadaver turning to beautiful crystal. And it would be interesting to see their society’s attitude to the use of materials obtained from such post-mortem events.
Or they might give rise to new organisms, depending on how they died. Drowning turns them into fish or merfolk, while being burned alive makes them into salamanders.
What if bodies didn’t decompose? They don’t have to, in a fantasy world. They might still be vulnerable to fire and acid and so on; they just wouldn’t decompose of their own accord. And they might then be stored away safely as-is if the person’s family can afford it.
If they can’t, on the other hand, the corpses are going to be used for other purposes. For instance, they might make good habitats for other organisms, like the humanoid versions of seashells.
I’d be fine with any of the above except for something else living in my body, especially if it tried to pass itself off as me. Or worse, if it succeeded.