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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent early Vance
“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...
Published 5 months ago by Molerat

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3.0 out of 5 stars More "had it's time" than "immortal"
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...
Published on 23 July 2012 by Behan


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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent early Vance, 7 Dec. 2014
“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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3.0 out of 5 stars More "had it's time" than "immortal", 23 July 2012
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.

Of course, this is all terribly satirical and I'm right in the middle of the early-thirties demographic who can relate to the ennui and fatalism that must have inspired this tale of one man's struggle to succeed in what is a very thinly veiled analogy for the corporate career. Sadly, the hero, in fact all of the characters, are a bit pale. You hardly care about what happens to Gavin Waylock, an anti-hero in the vein of Alfred Bester's Demolished Man Ben Reich; unafraid to commit murder in a society where to mention death is to blaspheme. Unlike Bester's crazed, Freudian villain, however, we don't care much about Waylock's fate; there's something rather creepy about a guy who'll regretfully kill a woman to shut her up, but then gets annoyed when her reincarnated clone won't go to bed with him.

An interesting book, full of good ideas and gentle satire, quite unlike anything about at the time and worth a look for fans of longevity sci-fi. Not however, the page-turner it tries to be.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty dystopia, 8 Aug. 2011
By 
Manly Reading (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Immortality - and malthusian economics - are at the core of this little tale by Jack Vance. It begins in a carnival, moves onto a perfectly structured society which is beginning to creak under the strain, and ends in a mixture of hope and despair.

The protagonist - not hero - is Gavin Waylock, an immortal sentenced to death for the killing of another immortal. Only as the tale goes on does the harshness of this punishment become apparent. Waylock has spent seven years in hiding, essentially waiting for the time limit on his death sentence to expire, only to provoke another immortal into trying to ruin him, since his role as a "Monster" cannot be proved. Ultimately, Waylock may have to bring down the perfectly ordered society in order to save himself, and is willing to do this without remorse.

This is think-piece sci-fi, but thrillingly told as an adventure. In a society where eveyone can be immortal, everyone cannot be: there are insufficient resources in Clarges for everyone if so. Expanding over the rest of the barbarous world will merely defer the problem, and so is dismissed as a solution. Instead, only the most worthy achieve immortality - and worthiness is determined by a combination of market forces and bureaucracy, although wealth alone will never buy eternal life. When your span is up, "assassins" arrive in a black limousine, and that's that. Society and humanity are ceaselessly mocked here in ths early Vance work, and for all that's it's a very pretty dystopia in a post-apocalyptic world, there is no great movement for justice here, just a man - and not necessarily a good one - being pushed into a corner and pushing back ruthlesssly.

Ultimately though, Waylock's rebellion may lead to good, even if that is not his intent: perhaps mankind's future lies in the stars after all. The story ends on a little note of hope, that perhaps civilisation is not lost.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Distressing social distopia, 15 Nov. 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (Santander, SPAIN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: To Live Forever (Paperback)
This is a book which can even be considered "hard" SF, and in some ways a precursor of things to come. In a world where only a small island is the remainder of civilization, of high tech, human kind has also found the key to immortality. But to avoid population pressure, people must thrive hard and earnestly to reach the amaranth status which grants treatment and be cloned and inmortal... People strive, or go crazy (more and more) or are culled by executors when their period ends. Those who stay sane look for oblivion at Carnival, some kind of lust quarter of the town.
When the main character in this novel, an amaranth aristocrat is found guilty of murder, he hides as well as he can. But then he is discovered by the newly renewed amaranth and he has to get her erased... And she is reborn from her clones and searches for him, never tiring to make his life miserable. The end is not very happy, but neither very sad.
This is a very un-Vance novel, if you have read his later works of fantasy SF: claustrophobic, gore, sombre. The hero is neither calm nor fair nor glamourous. One could say it predicts some aspects of what cyberpunk would become or PK Dick would write about: dirt, stress, clones, social darwinism, outcasts, despair, webs, centralised nets. When you watch "In time" you get more or less the main idea of this book, only this was written 40 years earlier.
So if you thought SF was only Star Wars... read this.
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4.0 out of 5 stars My First Jack Vance, 10 Jun. 2008
By 
Mr. P. Rigby "sharkgun" (wigan, england) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Jack Vance was a name that just kept cropping up so I finally took the plunge and started here.

A good synopsis has already been supplied so I'll just add that I really enjoyed this story. Great protagonist who often reminded me of 'Gully' out of Alfred Bester's 'Stars my Destination' for sheer strength of will and resourcefulness.

The writing is always brief and focused on keeping the tempo up, although it occasionally hits clunky patches. This never distracts from the building excitement and feeling of momentum that Vance achieves though and that is really only a small complaint.

There are some really novel ideas at play here and I occasionally thought I was reading a Phil K Dick book at times. It all makes for a pretty exhilarating romp in a dystopian future.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings, 28 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Could have been better, but it's OK Why are so many words required, since the words I choose say it all
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To Live Forever
To Live Forever by Jack Vance (Paperback - 17 May 2004)
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