OUTNUMBERING THE DEAD by Frederik Pohl

OUTNUMBERING THE DEAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Illustrated novella set in a medium-future world where immortality is the norm, and lukewarm-fusion technology yields virtually unlimited energy. Rafiel is a song-and-dance superstar with a unique problem: His prebirth immortality treatment failed, and he is doomed to die. Now a rejuvenated young/old man of 90, he begins to feel the first twinges of approaching death. Secretly he is a little angry at his plight, but his fellow performers, sympathetic but uncomprehending, regard death as quaint and rather amusing. HIS last role will be Oedipus in a modern, rhyming version of Oedipus Rex. As his body begins to fail him, Rafiel thinks more and more of his lost love, Alegretta, once his doctor, now chief fusion engineer aboard Hakluyt, a space habitat soon to head toward Tau Ceti. Unexpectedly, Alegretta visits Rafiel, admitting that previously she couldn't deal with the idea of Rafiel's death; but now she offers him the traditional form of immortality: a child. Rafiel, realizing that his last performance as doomed Oedipus was entirely apt, decides to join Alegretta aboard Hakluyt, where he discovers acceptance and true serenity. Constructed with the precision and perfect movement of a Swiss watch, but, curiously, emotionally flat and unaffecting.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
Page count: 110pp
Publisher: St. Martin's