Paul Cornell was born on July 18, 1967.
Cornell’s short story “The Copenhagen Interpretation” was nominated for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and won the British SF Association Award. His novella Witches of Lychford was also nominated for the British SF Association Award as well as the British Fantasy Award. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award nine times for Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form, Graphic Stories, Novelettes, and Fancasts, winning for both of his Fancast nominations as part of the SF Squeecast, with Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente. He won the 2007 Writers Guild of Great Britain Award for his work on the series Doctor Who.
“Michael Laurits Is: Drowning” was originally published in Eclipse Two: New Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Jonathan Strahan. In 2015, Cornell included the story in his collection A Better Way to Die: The Collected Short Stories.
When Michael Laurits’s friends are notified that the Nobel laureate is drowning via Lief, they mostly exhibit concern and shock, but other friends decide to try to do something about it. Laurits drowned when his research vessel in Japan’s Inland Sea came under attack as a casualty between Ground State Sanity and Obvious Caution Sanity, two rival atheist groups operating in Japan. Their dispute hinged on whether or not atheists should believe in a God who offered incontrovertible proof of existence.
Lief is a next generation of social media, however, and one of Laurits’s friends, David Savident, came up with the solution of having the drowning Laurits transfer his sensory processes into Lief’s computer array. The result is a virtual immortality for Laurits, living in the social media engine through which he previously had been connected to so much of the world. In his new form, Laurits is easily able to pass a Turing test and his wife vouches for his authenticity as a person.