All the Humans are in ICU

By John C. A. Manley

Yesterday, I met with my medical beta reader, registered nurse Andrew Brannan. Andrew has spent a lot of time working in ICUs — which was great, as the entire human race, in my forthcoming novella, All the Humans are Sleeping, is basically in ICU (while their minds and nervous system are wired into a global virtual reality simulation).

I could have easily called the novel All the Humans are in ICU.

Andrew read the beta copy of All the Humans are Sleeping and said he agreed with my editor that the story is rather “psychedelic.” Speculative fiction, psychedelic fiction, close enough.

The novella passed for medical accuracy, though Andrew was invaluable in helping fine-tune many details. He mercilessly increased the heart rate of one character, altered the EEG patterns of another and changed the catheter in a third.

I also consulted with him about my research into defibrillation. It seems Hollywood has been fibbing about defibrillation. Just think of how many times we’ve seen a character in a movie or TV show who has died (or whose heart has otherwise stopped). The paddles are brought out and laid on his or her chest. “Clear!” And the supine patient is launched into the air.

Well, Andrew confirmed that such productions could also use a medical consultant.

First off, defibrillation is never used when the heart has stopped. It’s only used when the heart of an unconscious patient is experiencing an irregular heartbeat (a precursor to heart failure). If the heart has stopped completely then old-fashioned chest compressions are your best chance at saving the person.

Likewise, the violent shock that sends the patient flailing upward is Hollywood fiction. While the muscles may contract, it’s nothing so dramatic.

Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story

All the Humans are Sleeping contains an army of medical robots, known as the Nightingalebots, dressed as nuns but as creepy as vampires. However, it’s the butler-like robot, Domestic, whose purple hands double as defibrillators — which come in rather handy when he starts resuscitating humans from their long metaverse sleep.

Also, did you know that using a defibrillator to shock beef before you roast it dramatically improves the flavour? My source for such a dubious fact comes from the Canadian radio comedy, The Vinyl Cafe.

The Vinyl Cafe was written and performed by the legendary Canadian storyteller Stuart McLean. The stories centred around Dave, the owner of a used record shop in Toronto, and his wife and two kids.

In one episode Dave and his neighbours all pitch in to buy a defibrillator and decide to practice on raw beef from the local Wong’s Scottish Meat Pies. To their surprise, it makes the meat taste so good the restaurant is quickly overrun with customers from all over the city. The story culminates with Dave accidentally shocking more than just the beef.

Sadly, Stuart McLean died from skin cancer (treatment) in 2017 after producing 22 seasons of the show. The Vinyl Cafe stories were always amusing and often hilarious, with their clever plots and touching character interactions. The show certainly encouraged traditional family values and community.

If you’ve never heard the show, I recommend you give it a try. And why not start with the episode?

And for a sneak peek of All the Humans are in ICU (I mean Sleeping) check out The robot at the top of the mountain.”

John C. A. Manley is the author of Much Ado About Corona: A Dystopian Love Story, the forthcoming All The Humans Are Sleeping and other works of speculative fiction. You get free chapters from his novels by subscribing to his Blazing Pine Cone email newsletter at

Image: Pixabay

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