Carcinoma Angels

Forty-five years ago — yes, 45! — what may still be the most famous anthology of short science fiction was published. It includes “Carcinoma Angels”, a story by Norman Spinrad (synopsis here, and you can read the full text here).

Last Friday, I met my anti-carcinoma angels.

They were gamma rays: high-energy photons aimed at extremely precise 3D coordinates in my brain, where the tumors had been found. Some of them were sent to the occipital lobe, quite near (if not actually in) the visual cortex — and, like the earliest astronauts who reported the phenomenon, I saw them. Fleeting, bright white, amorphous; tracking across my closed-eyed field as the scanner opened and closed its tiny shutters.

Of course, I didn’t really see them… they were cascades of neural stimulation running from deep inside to the retinae. But, where else does the brain know to associate things visual but the eyes? (Hint: reverse the direction of the arrows on that cover illustration.)

Maybe not the most important event in this all-too-self-examined life, but I doubt I will forget it… and in three months, another MRI may reveal that the angels have been successful.

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