The Boy Who Would Live Forever

By Frederik Pohl 
A Tor Hardcover 
$25.95/​400 pages

Time and plotlines get complicated when dealing with black holes—and different species and modes of existence—but it's close enough to say that The Boy Who Would Live Forever takes up where Frederik Pohl left the Heechee Saga with Annals of the Heechee (1987), bringing back Gelle-Klara Moynlin, Juan ("Wan") Santos-Smith, the Assassins ("the Foe," "the Kugelblitz"), and the program Sigfrid von Shrink, as a stand-alone subroutine of the AI program Albert Einstein. 

At the narrative core of The Boy Who … is a pair of love stories against a background of disasters and potential disasters that threaten entire sun-systems. The final threat, however, is not the usually faceless, immensely powerful, and thoroughly alien Foe, but human possessiveness and hatred. 

On a galaxy-wide scale, Pohl tells his intricately-linked stories of humans and Heechee (both living and organically dead), the australopithecine "Old Ones," machine intelligences (both once organic and pure AI), the once—and future?—Foe, now the "Kugels," and others. And within these stories Pohl runs futuristic science-fictional thought experiments on the enduring themes of love and war; economic justice and the proper uses of wealth; the flesh and, and versus, the "spirit." 

In a novel narrated to a significant extent by Marc Antony as a "Stovemind," an AI who is both a galaxy-class chef and occasional general; in a novel featuring an AI named Hypatia of Alexandria, who for excellent reasons favors machine-intelligence over flesh—these thought experiments will be nuanced and fascinating. 



18 Dec 2014