Review: The Postmortal


The Postmortal: A Novel

“But don’t you miss home?”

“Home? Nah, mate. Why would I miss home? It’s always there. Frankly, home is a bit of a crutch. It’s just so easy to stick around and keep doing all the same shit, isn’t it? What’s the point of that, especially now? I can go back home a hundred years from today, and it’ll all be the same. My friends will be the same. My wife will be the same.”

“Your wife? You’re doing this entire trip without your wife?”

“Sure, why not? She’ll be around. If I’m going to live 1,000 years, I’m not gonna spend 999 of them in Wahroonga. Anchor yourself to one spot, my friend, and you’ll eventually grow contemptuous of it. I’m doing North America and Central America first. Then South America. Then Africa. Then Europe. Then Asia.”

The Postmortal plays with the premise that humanity solves aging. You get a cure, and you can still die (cancer, a bullet), but you stop aging, forever looking your current age. The ideapack includes resource scarcity, city-states, nuclear warfare, and human augmentation.

The author does a good job with pacing (actually, the more I think about it, excellent), and it’s nice that he mixes up the narrative with press releases, presidential speeches, and other kind of ‘first hand evidence.’

But the book suffers from unevenness. It has a little bit of everything- like doodads an agent thought could be added to land a movie deal. Some sentences are poignant, some sentences are hilarious in a lighthearted way, others are dark humor funny. The writing is best when it’s about the protagonist and his thinking, or even just the author’s thoughts on a post-aging future (like the quote above), but things come off the rails when the writing expands to a societal level. It’s an incoherent worldview -Joker-esque bad guys and preppers and religion- that could have been fixed with some disciplined editing.

That said, it is an interesting read, but not one I’m really recommending to anyone. Like much of the first half, the book doesn’t stand out. I don’t really feel strongly about it either way – read it if you have time and it sounds interesting. Don’t if it doesn’t. I will, however, keep an eye on the author, and hope future efforts are more in tune with his strengths (the second half) and less muddled.

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