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To Live Forever Paperback – 17 May 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Paperback, 17 May 2004
£102.11 £8.75

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Product details

  • Paperback: 267 pages
  • Publisher: ibooks Inc; New edition edition (17 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743479211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743479219
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,572,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Science fiction for people who don't like science fiction."

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the things I utterly love with science fiction and fantasy as genre is the way that not only is there much greater scope for story, adventure and imagination there is an increased opportunity to develop and explore ideas. Jack Vance always gets me thinking, always makes me want to stop and ask "What are the issues here?".... "Where are convergences with my world?" Vance is at his best when he is savoured. In "To Live Forever", the big ideas of population, morality, work, and striving are explored. But there are other deeper, subtle nuances here. Such as, what makes a soul? What makes a human? Are our memories, attitudes and experiences the sum total of who we are and what we do? There is also an exploration of inequality and meaningless leading to despair depression and suicide.

In this near utopia that is The Reach and the City of "Clarges" a nation surrounded by barbarians and nomads, a few people, restricted by ratio in order to prevent over crowding, have the ability to live forever. Disease has been in irradiate and old age all but removed, except for those who opt out and chose to live a normal life with a normal life span. For the others ( those who opt in ) there becomes an obsessive striving, not for cash but for a longer life. Money is not important, it's time that counts, time given over to public service in order to move up though five ranks of life extending treatment- this striving is as measured as 'slope'.

Into this world comes Gavin Waylock, a man who once tasted the glories of the highest rank who through an accident is brought low. This is his story. I've got to say that surprisingly I liked him.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
“Here is a face I recognize, but how and where I cannot be sure. A voice in my mind speaks a name – The Grayven Warlock! But this dread Monster was tried, adjudged, and delivered to the assassins. Who, then, can this man be?”

The city of Clarges is the last outpost of civilisation in a degenerate world. In order to limit its population, it runs a meritocratic caste systems; only those who perform prodigious public service may attain the highest rank (Amaranth), and thus immortality. Those who fall by the wayside end up catatonic in the psychiatric hospitals. Gavin Waylock, as he now styles him, intends to become the former – again – and he’s not about to let anyone get in his way, not even someone as desirable and single-minded as The Jacynth Martin.

This is a very early standalone novel from an author whose output spanned six decades, but a number of Vance trademark elements are already well established here, such as an exotic, multi-hued future society and a completely amoral protagonist, all described in deliciously rococo language. As other reviewers have observed, the set-up satirises the rat race of the 1950s. But in a strange way the story has even greater resonance now, in our age of ever-widening income inequality, where the poor are forced to pay with ever more grinding “austerity” for the excesses of the super-rich. Or else you can just treat it as a slightly dated ripping yarn, an American film noir scripted by P G Wodehouse. Either way it more than repays the minimal effort required.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rooted in A A Van Vogt's implausibly-popular World of Null-A, this is actually a pretty good little future-fantasy, of the kind that Robert Silverberg built a career on. So much so, that I can only believe that To Live Again is an act of homage: there are some incredible similarities.

The central principle of the story is that human longevity and immortality have become possible in the far future, within the one peaceful enclave that still exists on an Earth descended into Barbarism. Of course, population pressure being what it is, not everyone can be allowed to become immortal; there simply wouldn't be room. Clarges therefore, is the world's first true meritocracy; a city-state where everyone is given an allocation of lifespan dependent upon their progression up life's "slope"; the more worthy achievement in the service of the populace, the longer you live. The result, of course, is a rat-race, where the "amaranth" haves live forever through a bank of cloned bodies, and the "glark" have-nots strive to better themselves in occupations where it seems the potential for promotion gets more difficult for each new generation: many just go "catto" and end up in an asylum. Think Logan's Run with more broad cynicism and less naked Jenny Agutter.
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