IMMORTAL: Short Novels of the Transhuman Future by Jack--Ed. Dann

IMMORTAL: Short Novels of the Transhuman Future

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This odd grouping of four novellas, introduced by R. C. W. Ettinger's silly pep-talk about how science fiction can help us all get geared up for the post-cryogenic, transhuman condition, actually turns out to be one of the strongest sci-fi collections in recent months. The most interesting contribution is ""Chanson PerpÉtuelle,"" a chunk from a work in progress by Thomas M. Disch, really too fragmentary to stand on its own merits but promising remarkable things. It is a love story set in a future England mostly populated by immortals, where the few remaining mortals (among them the 21-year-old heroine) are a race of disregarded drudges. Gene Wolfe's ""The Doctor of Death Island"" (no relation to the same author's ""The Death of Doctor Island"") is a dazzlingly ingenious account of a prisoner reawakened from cryogenic suspension, finagling his release with some unorthodox help from Charles Dickens. Pamela Sargent's moving, understated ""Renewal,"" in which a handful of immortals produce an experimental group of genetically altered children, says a great deal about human expectations of self and others. In George Zebrowski's rather grandiose ""Transfigured Night,"" the remaining inhabitants of Earth have lost all desire to look beyond the haze of solipsistic, machine-sustained fantasies in which they live out their immortality. This is perhaps the most routinely executed story, but works very well with the other contributions. Altogether, a zinger.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row