THE FIRST IMMORTAL by James L. Halperin


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In 1988, a 63-year-old innovative doctor, Ben Smith, dies of a heart attack--but he's arranged to have his body placed in cryonic suspension, gambling that someday medical science will be able to revive him. He also leaves a trust fund so that any of his family who wish to join him can do so. At first, Ben's family consider him crazy and wrangle over the will, but as the years pass cryonics becomes respectable, and eventually several friends and family members will join Ben. While Ben lies frozen, progress continues rapidly: The invention of a reliable, portable lie detector takes a huge bite out of crime, as does the death penalty for two-time losers; by 2034, you can specify what characteristics you want your children to have, and a World Government forms. Then, in 2066, "Trip" Crane, Ben's great-grandson, completes the first successful revival and rejuvenation of a human using nanomachines controlled by an artificial intelligence (already more intelligent than humans, AIs soon learn how to fix freeze damage). Trip revives Ben in 2072, when a perfect memory as well as practical immortality is available. His medical skills now useless, Ben takes up the counseling of other revivals and decides to clone his beloved wife, Margaret, irrevocably dead of cancer for nearly a century. More gosh-wow futurology than family saga: hardworking but uncompelling hype from the author of The Truth Machine (not reviewed).

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-345-42092-6
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1997


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