Friday, May 04, 2007

Book Review: The Boy Who Would Live Forever

Frederik Pohl is one of the grandpappys of science fiction. He was one of the guys that Heinlein and Asimov looked up to. Pohl is now in his mid to late 90's and still writing. He was in DC a summer or two back for the Library of Congress (and Laura Bush) Book Fair. It was while there that I heard him pitch this book.

"The Boy Who Would Live Forever" is the 6th book in the Heechee Saga Series. I heard there were other books other than this and the first one, but I just now found out what they were called.

The first book in the series is called "Gateway". It's a pretty good book about a boy who gets a windfall and uses it to get to the Gateway station in search of fortune and adventure. Gateway station is an alien artifact that seems to be a major transport hub. People pick one of the ships, set controls they barely comprehend, and go to one of the many preset destinations the ships are programmed with. Some come back and some don't. Some come back but the trip was so long the passengers all starved. If you find something useful and come back then you're compensated for your find some people got to be insanely wealthy.
It's not in my top 10 most recommended books, but I could probably find a place for it in my top 100.

In "The Boy Who Would Live Forever" the creators of the Gateway ships are found living inside the event horizon of the black hole in the galactic core. They explain the ships, there's cultural exchange programs, and they share the technology to have your mind transferred into a computer to extend your life for an indefinate period of time. The book skips around among various groups of seemingly unrelated people until they all come together at the end of the book.
Reading the summaries of other Gateway books I see that some of the central characters in this book were also central in other books. However, you don't need to read books 2-5 to follow what's going on in book 6.

It's a well written book and I'd probably like it more if I'd read 2-5 first. But it's not going in my top 100. I wanted a Stargate/Star Trek seek out new life and new civilizations type book. I wanted to take a Gateway ship to discover a new and dangerous world. That seemed to be the strength of the original book. It was a setup to a long series of explorer books and maybe a TV series. But that's not where it went.

Book One: Gateway
Book Two: Beyond the Blue Event Horizon
Book Three: Heechee Rendezvous
Book Four: The Annals of the Heechee
Book Six: The Boy Who Would Live Forever

1 comment:

Jo said...

Is the series worth it?

And do you have any other sci-fi or fantasy series recommendations? My authors keep dying or get boring after the 8th book...