Friday, September 11, 2015


TO LIVE FOREVER by Jack Vance is a fascinating classic science fiction novel on audio for the first time this month, superbly narrated by Kevin Kenerly. The plot has city-set elements reminiscent of the movie A.I., but predates it. This is not about robots, but a society in which the length of your life depends on your merit and contributions to society. There are four levels of longevity, leading to Amaranth, which is achieved by a rare few who reach immortality. You can live out your short life normally, or you can register to work on your “slope,” in order to move up in class. There are assassins to keep things in line, and there is an unlawful underground where people prey on or pay to kill animals and people. One of the means Gavin Waylock intends to use to move “up slope” is to help seizure prone patients used for cloning who are kept in cocoons of mesh so they can’t hurt themselves. But then he is targeted for exclusion by the Amaranth Society for criminal knowledge of how to evade a mind scan. The brain science of surrogates and others is but one element in this unique novel involving psychology, sociology, culture, the effects of technology, and the limitations of progress due to human nature. In this world there are drugs that can erase selective memory, and balance of a population is achieved without regard to race or sex or war, but uniquely and simply by control of natural death. Narrator Kenerly is a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and has read other books, including “The Running Man” by Stephen King. His narration is always engaging, and possessed of a gift for timing and appropriate tone in both male and female characters. Jack Vance, who died in 2013, has won multiple Hugo awards and a World Fantasy award. He is a favorite of George RR Martin, author of A Game of Thrones. “To Live Forever” was one of the inspirations for my novel “The Methuselah Gene,” and am proud to say it was my suggestion to the publisher late last year that has resulted in this Vance production now (plus four other Vance titles.) The audiobook is available as download to iPhone or other device, or on CDs, or on a single Mp3-CD. AUDIOBOOK OF THE MONTH. Also see HARD LANDING by Algis Budrys.

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