Why Call Them Back from Heaven? (Pan science fiction) Paperback – 3 Jul 1970
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Pan 1st paperback vg+ In stock shipped from our UK warehouse
Top Customer Reviews
This is a book about human nature, and examines the idea of the pursuit of immortality in a very unusual way.
The world here is a grim place with all the joy sucked out of it by hope in immortality, in many ways it is an attack on religion but the religion in the story is scientific.
As well as the main plot we see snapshots of the world through little intermission chapters showing the activities of ordinary people.
This is a very cynical book, which paints a grim picture made all the more disturbing by how believable it is, a little darker than Simak's norm.
The plot is straight-forward enough with a few twists and turns thrown in and the ending is well done.
The book is let down a little by the characters, none of them are very interesting, this is really a book about ideas and speculation not characters.
A great read but with a more interesting main character this would have been 5 stars.
The world is ruled in practice by a giant corporation which keeps peolple preserved in cryogenic tanks. Their hope is that some day the cure for all disease will be found, and moroverm that immortality - and eternal youth will be found. The time is nearly come, but in the mean time society has nearly disappeared, changed into a mess of penny saving, hard fisted people, whose only horizon is to save for their "second life". No cinemas, no shows, no spending...
When a top executive gets by chance an internal report without knowing, a company mathematician vanishes, some other accidents happen that change his life.
This, as other Simak's novels is a provocative book, more focused on the theme than in the characters or the plot. As usual, the shadow of the Cold War, and the budding crisis of the prevailing American values are there.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Clifford Simak was a giant in sci-fi, with a grand output of classics and duds (but there's always another Simak book you haven't read...), and most of his books are fascinating, fleshed-out premises, but well done.
This one is another in a series of understated "what if" books, and deals with the readjustments society makes after everyone starts getting cryogenically preserved to be reawakened in the future. The upshot is, they all become pennypinchers and start looking at everything as an investment, not for old age, but for 200 years in the future. Classic Simakian themes of economic craziness in a society where everyone starts living for tomorrow and tricksters, swindlers and so on run amok selling postage stamps, future antiques, worthless swampland and so on.
Plenty of spooky futuristic images that are even more relevant today than when he wrote this. And fun to read!
Fortunately there are still some nutters prepared to take on "the man". Religious groups still exist, much to the chagrin of the "Forever Center" cryogenic organization. The religious believers doubt that unfreezing can be achieved, and doubt the wisdom of calling the dead "back from heaven" anyway. Which is a risky view to hold, since those who interfere with the important work of freezing get the ultimate punishment: they are indelibly marked on the head, and when they die, they stay dead, they are denied freezing and therefore have no chance of resuscitation.
When a Forever Center employee discovers cover-ups at the heart of the organization, the game is on, and a ragtag band of resisters risks ostracism or worse in a search for the truth.
"Why Call Them Back from Heaven" (1967) concerns a near future where individuals are placed in suspended animation with the promise that they will be reborn when medical science can assure them of a prolonged life - that is, life everlasting. Simak's future is very bleak. Individuals are fitted with death notification devices that alert monitors to quickly bring the deceased to the Forever Centers for internment. The punishment for crimes against the state is removal of the transmitters. Citizens live frugally in order to accumulate wealth, usually in the form of Forever Center investments, in order to assure themselves financial resources when they are revived since, after all, they will be living forever. The plot is propelled by the search for a missing document that may reveal unfortunate truths about the whole concept of the Forever Centers.
Admittedly suspended animation is not a very origional plot concept and the desperate search for a document is not a very exciting idea. What make this an intriguing book is the investigation and ponderings by the characters of the spiritual ramifications of the concept of eternal life in our present corporal state. Our religions assure us that after our short existence here on Earth in this "vale of tears" we will have eternal life with the Creator in a heavenly realm. What would happen to our religious beliefs and concepts of God if mankind could assure himself of earthly, eternal life? Simak does not provide any pat answers. His characters ruminate and speculate and we readers are invited to do the same. This concept of a supreme being and man's place in the universe is a reoccurring theme in many of Simak's novels and is one of the guilty pleasures I use to justify reading his fiction. I would recommend to interested readers Simak novels titled: "A Choice of Gods"-"Project Pope" and "Way Station".
It is regrettable that the last printing of this book was in 1988. A generation of fantasy and science fiction fans haven't had the opportunity to read this extraordinary story unless, like myself, they ferret a copy off the Internet.
Who should read this book? Well, for starters anyone who admires the writing of Clifford Simak and individuals with a curiosity about the effects of technology on religious faith. This is an aspect of speculative fiction that greatly interests this reader.
The story takes place in the mid-22nd century. The main character, Dan Frost, works at the Forever Center. The Forever Center has billions preserved dead people under ice waiting for the second immortal life. Dan finds a top secret Forever Center memo and then loses it. Dan winds up on trial for treason and is sentenced to ostracism from the human race. Any person who helps Dan will face stern punishment from the authorities. Dan will however, get a chance at the second life.
Throughout history there have been stories about human immortality - both physical and spiritual. Clifford Simak spins his own interesting story about such a quest. In *Why Call Them Back from Heaven?* the problems of humanity striving for a second chance at a physical life are many. For example, one problem with the second life is that people need a nest egg for the second life. So people lead very frugal lives in order to save up for the next life. Their lives are so frugal that they don't have any fun - no concerts, no sports, no entertainment, no vacations. "The space in front of the drug counter was packed. People stopping on the way to pick up their dream pills - hallucinatory drugs - that would give them a few pleasant hours come evening....there were those who felt they needed them - something to make up for what they might be missing, the excitement and adventure of those former days when man walked hand in hand with a death that was an utter ending. They thought, perhaps, that the present life was a drab affair, that it had no color in it, and that the purpose they must hold to was a grinding and remorseless purpose." (pages 13-14).
*Why Call Them Back From Heaven?* is nice, interesting read. Dan's quest for survival and the other people he meets are this heart of the plot of this thin book. I really enjoyed it. There are also many interesting ideas about life and death brought up in the book.