The Boy Who Would Live Forever

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Pohl, Frederik. The Boy Who Would Live Forever. New York: TOR, 2004. ("A Tom Doherty Associates Book.")

Fifth book in The Heechee Saga (first four: Gateway, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, Heechee Rendezvous, The Annals of the Heechee). As with other works in the series, AI characters are emphatically characters, with the "Stovemind" Marc Antony — a chef and military agent — given first-person protagonist narration not given to the human protagonists (Marc Antony introduces himself in ch. 9, "The Story of a Stovemind"). Again, humans have the possibility to be vastened, "That is," as described by Gelle-Klara Moynlin, to "take me out of my meat body, with all its aches and annoyances, and make me a pure, machine-stored intelligence" (ch. 7, "Hatching the Phoenix," §3). Given the violence that we see by "meat" creatures, this may seem like a good idea, but BWWLF carefully computes the social and cultural costs of commodified machine-storage on a large scale: "Machine-stored people don't do much inventing. They don't do research either. […] They're the lotus-eaters […]. The people who need nothing, and thus do nothing useful at all!" BWWLF does not take this position by Sigfird von Shrink as definitive, but it does come down finally and pretty solidly on the side of organic humans living politically (ch. 24, "On the Way to Forever," §7). (RDE, 26/06/04)