The Boy Who Would Live Forever: A Novel of Gateway Mass Market Paperback – Nov 1 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
SFWA Grand Master Pohl's latest is a pure delight, miraculously combining wry adventure and compassionate satire. Since it began with the novel Gateway (1977), Pohl's Heechee series has been among the most consistently daring of SF's continuing enterprises, and this first book in 15 years does its best to wake readers up. Pohl's characters have a lot to think about, too. As humans spread through space—allying themselves with the alien Heechee and realizing that they now have the option of having their personalities preserved forever electronically in the company of dazzlingly accomplished AIs—they must decide what to keep and what to give up. A young man and woman begin, tentatively and convincingly, to explore the possibilities of their relationship in this complicated universe. At the same time, though, selfish and super-rich Wan Enrique Santos-Smith refuses to surrender any of his childish anger and sets out to take revenge on all the adults who've frustrated his desires. Pohl flips nimbly from character to character, star to star, inside and outside the black hole where the Heechee and many humans are learning to live maturely together. Surprises abound, but readers will feel that they could have seen them coming if they'd been a little more ready to trust their imaginations. Pohl believes we can learn to live with extraordinary challenges; his tempered, hard-won faith in humanity makes this book especially satisfying.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Pohl returns to his Gateway Universe and his most famous creation, the Heechee. A couple of youngsters with no future on earth make it to the galactic core where live the Heechee, both the quick and the dead in body, the latter of whose active minds are stored electronically. Many humans of both kinds also live there. But the core is threatened by another alien species, the Kugel, and by an insane organic human who so hates the Heechee that he is plotting their destruction without regard for consequences. Shifting narrative perspective between the youngsters and their mentors, Pohl brings them all to the right place in the nick of time to save the core. It has been 14 years since The Gateway Trip, the last previous novel of the Heechee, so bear in mind that readers may wish to refresh their memories with Gateway (1977), Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980), Heechee Rendezvous (1984), and Annals of the Heechee (1987), too, to ensure full enjoyment of this book. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Pohl uses hi-technology in his series, and he touches from time to time on things like extended medicine, which he calls Full Medical, and cyber storage of minds, or machine storage. It is all very believable, in a sci-fi sort of way. Pohl is a master in this sort of thing. I came across this novel by accident while searching out others in this series.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The supporting characters are not terribly well-fleshed out. I guess that's appropriate given that they are either Heechee (very little flesh) or stored/machine intelligence. Pohl must really be a gourmet, as one (machine) character is a cook who goes into excruciating detail - over and over - about the meals it prepares. Said cook also turns into an intelligence officer along the way as a plot to kill millions of Heechee dominates the last third of the book.
You'll see a lot of old favorites here. The Kugel (aka the Foe) put in an appearance, as do Gelle-Klara Moynlin, Sigfrid Von Shrink, the Gateway Corp, the Old Ones, and a host of familar Heechee. Rob Broadhead, while frequently mentioned, does not put in an appearance - in person or otherwise.
If you've read the series, you'll get warm fuzzies from visiting our old friends again, but "...Forever" does not stand on its own. Pohl assumes you've read several other novels in the series; you'll be lost if you haven't.
This is the latest, and perhaps final, chapter in the Heechee Saga, begun 28 years ago with his classic GATEWAY. "Boy Who" isn't in that class -- none of the Heechee sequels are -- but it's decent, readable, clever and fun.
For a quick reprise of the Heechee series, and a nice reiew of this book, Google the ever-reliable Paul Di Filippo.
Sample: Frederik Pohl is 85 years old. His first story was published more than 60 years ago. The Gateway sequence itself is now nearly 30 years old. Despite-or perhaps because of-all this history, Pohl's new book remains a feast and a pleasure.
"Boy Who" is in part a fixup -- you are most likely to have already seen "Hatching the Phoenix" (1999), in which Gelle-Klara Moynlin pays for a scentific expedition to study the Crab Nebula supernova. The blast also incinerated the planet of the "Crabbers", a decidedly unsympathetic race of aliens. It's a crackerjack story, reprinted in the Dozois Year's Best --though its connection to the rest of the novel is tenuous. Two other previously-published stories are more smoothly integrated.
So the novel reads a bit choppily -- but there's lots of cool Pohl stuff here. My favorite character is Marc Antony, the Stovemind AI. His primary duty is cooking up gourmet meals for humans and Heechees, both organic and machine-stored -- but his collatereal duty is Human-Heechee Security, and who Saves the Day! from the nefarious star-smashing plot that's the McGuffin here, and is a decidedly less-interesting part of the book.
Ol' Fred isn't getting any younger, so I'm very pleased to recommend his latest novel. Recommended for Pohl fans -- and who isn't?
Review copyright ©2005 by Peter D. Tillman
1. The main characters, Stan and Estrella, are totally unbelievable. Their dialogue is only slightly above kindergarten level. They are never given any motivation for their actions.
2. Pohl fills the pages with useless details, including information about plantlife, and cooking, as well as vomitting and bowel movements. I gave up on the book completely when he decided to indulge in an entire page about one man going to the toilet. Maybe he was trying to be funny. It didn't work.
3. Total lack of plot development. The book is basically a loosely connected series of random events, stuffed with filler. Mid-way through the book Pohl begins to introduce entirely new characters in an attempt to generate some kind of plot momemntum. I have never read a more unfocussed science fiction novel. It comes off as really poorly done space-opera.
4. Characters are completely flat. Stan and Estrella are both sickeningly dumb. Every other character is the exact same cardboard cutout. Aliens act just like humans except they talk funny. It is very cheesy and lacks any attempt at originality.
5. Book has an insane number of sex scenes, and they are all badly written. I mean literally, you cannt go more than 15 pages without a sex scene. So juvenile.
I would go on, but I believe my point is made. This book has not a single redeeming feature. If you enjoyed Gateway, DO NOT ruin your memory of it by reading this sequel.
All in all this seems more a sum of sketches and scenes hold together by some strained plot than a decent book as we know and can expect from F. Pohl.
But... Now I've read the book, I wonder just where exactly did Pohl intend to go with the book? It starts somewhere towards the end of the original Heechee sage books, but spends copious amounts of time summarising and rehashing the stuff from the previous novels - in case we have forgotten, I guess. Then finally we move on from refamiliarising ourselves with many of the old cast of characters and go...
Nowhere. I mean, the characters of yesteryear seem to be bland colourless carbon copies of themselves, the new characters seem to have barely been sketched out before being relegated to Bland Land. And despite a promising title, at the end of the day, I'm not even sure who the "boy" is, and if living for ever means having a baby, well... Hardly a revolutinary plot line! I believe that would imply we are all currently living forever right now as long as we procreate?!
Anyway, the book was a fun read, it was light, somewhat witty and not unbearable. But it was shallow, directionless, meaningless and with little plot. I can only hope that like the first Red Dwarf book that came out, this one is going to go somewhere in another book????