Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Postmortal - Drew Magary

    2011; 365 pages.  New Author? : Yes.  Genre : Alt-History; Dystopia.  Overall Rating : 8*/10.

    Suppose a cure for aging was developed.  We’ll call it “postmortality”, which is not the same as immortality.  You can still get cancer, get shot, etc.  But your body wouldn’t age a day after you got the cure.

    The cost would be a few thousand dollars and would involve some blood being drawn and a couple rather painful shots a few weeks later.  The government, after some foot-dragging, legalizes it, but it is an optional procedure.

   Would you have it done?  How would it affect your life?  Your marriage?  Your career?  What impact would it hve on the world, particularly in terms of population explosion?

What’s To Like...
    Drew Magary explores the complex ramifications stemming from the majority of the world’s population opting for “the cure”.  Unsurprisingly, as time goes on (the book spans about 60 years), things go from bad to worse – both personally and globally. 

    The fictional “science” behind the cure is believable, although one shouldn’t expect it to be a reality anytime soon.  The tone of the book changes, and it corresponds to the effect of the cure.  There is a euphoria immediately after getting the treatment, and the book starts out light-hearted.  But as the "high" wears off, the tone darkens.  I don’t know if this was deliberate on Magary’s part, but I can’t think of any other book that does this.

     The Postmortal has an epistolary format, and I always like that.  It makes for relatively short chapter breaks, and keeps the story from dragging.  Magary does a nice job of world-building; the little details he sprinkles throughout the storyline make it very realistic.

    “I am so excited!  I’m gonna be twenty-seven forever!  And I don’t have to go to Sao Paulo to do it!”
    She sprung up and rushed to the kitchen, then froze halfway there.
    “Oh, Christ,” she said.  “Do you know what I just realized?  I’m always gonna get my period.  That sucks.”
    “Seems like a minor sticking point.”
    “We could be roommates forever too.  Do you want to sign a hundred-year lease?”
    “Your loss, because I’m gonna party my ass off until the year 5000!”
    Then she poured a glass of Shiraz to the brim and danced on the sofa.   (pg. 18 )

     “I’m not afraid to raise our child alone, John.  I’m not.  I’m a strong woman and I know I can do that.  But I’d like you to be there.  I’d like to raise him with you, as your wife.  It wouldn’t be a chore.  It would be wonderful.  Indelible.  It would be fifty times more rewarding than spending the next three decades getting blasted and watching football with your friends or whatever.”
    “I don’t know.  I like football quite a lot.”  (pg. 79)

But no one told me forever would be this long!”  (pg. 37)
    Drew Magary apparently writes some very off-the-wall stuff at several sports-themed websites.  Readers who are familiar with him seemed to find The Postmortal disappointing when it wasn’t hilarious from beginning to end.  The book cover is misleading, making you think this is going to be something akin to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, where DEATH is the main character.

    I had never heard of Magary, so I didn’t have any preconceptions.  I thought it was a captivating book, dark yet not dreary, and similar to George Orwell’s 1984.   There is Romance, Violence, Dystopia, and Apocalyptic Alt-History.  One of those genres will appeal to you.  8 Stars.

No comments: