Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Immortality is a strange dream. Who wouldn't want more time to explore everything the world has to offer? But on the other hand, 'forever' is a very long time to contemplate.
The Immortality Virus by Christine Amsden considers the question of what might happen if everyone stopped ageing almost as soon as they reached adulthood. This has led to host of new problems for humanity: the world is heavily overpopulated, with the poor dying on the city streets every day, uncounted and uncared-for. Life in the countryside is hardly any better, with desperate people voluntarily entering into slave labour.
Against this backdrop, it's hardly surprising that some would prefer to see humanity return to a natural lifespan - although to speak such words in public is a death sentence since The Establishment, the men and women at the top of society, are enjoying their immortal life too much to want to let go. Their concerns are different. For them, one major risk to a long and happy life is from their children, who see no prospect of getting an inheritance. Ever.
The main character, Grace, is a blacklisted investigator who has somehow managed to remain an idealist throughout her one hundred and thirty years. She's a pleasant and believable woman, who's rather reluctant to get involved with the plot. Unfortunately, several people are threatening to kill her if she doesn't play along with their games.
Amsden gives us a supporting cast of characters who are plausible, if not always likeable, and an action-packed plot. As Grace tries to figure out how humanity became immortal in the first place, wishing to reverse it, there are plenty of others who'd prefer things to stay exactly as they are.
I found this an enjoyable read, with a well-developed concept. I'd definitely like to read more of Amsden's work.
Disclaimer: Twilight Times Books provided me with a free copy of The Immortality Virus for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.