Advance Review of upcoming sci-fi release: "Amortals" by Matt Forbeck from Angry Robot press.
Rating: 3.5 smileys
The USA, tomorrow.
For some, death is a thing of the past. But then they brought Secret Service agent Ronan "Methusaleh" Doonan back with a new clone body, to hunt his own killer.
That was their first mistake.
"Amortals", for the most part, comes across as a typical detective story told in the first person- it just happens to be set a couple hundred years in the future.
First of all I have to say that Matt Forbeck does a great job with his (or our) future world. Things seem pretty much as you might think they would be: hovercars, better surveillance tools, advanced computer systems and implants, etc. The only real technological leap forward is the 'Amortals Project'. This technology allows one to be reborn in a fashion into a clone body, their latest 'memory backup' transferred into a clone after they die. This creates an interesting twist in society between the haves and have-nots (as most things do) but here we are talking about life and death. The rich and famous having access to what is essentially immortal (and somewhat youthful) life. Health insurance has been pushed aside and the average life span for normal mortals has dropped. Not to mention many in society find the process unnatural and sinful.
The story starts off with the rebirth of what is the oldest man on earth in a sense: agent Ronan Doonan. He is a highly decorated Secret Service agent that is nearing 200 years of age (through several rebirths). Most Amortals are wealthy, but Ronan being an early guinea pig and presidential savior was granted amortallity as a reward. His most recent death was a gruesome and highly publicized murder which the plot is based around his attempt to solve.
I rather enjoyed Forbeck's take on the near future. I thought the tech he used, the society (not just rich/poor, but also things like the Indian Mafia and other little touches), as well as the lingo he used all came together well and just made sense to me. The plot was pretty good as well, taking a few twists and turns including a final one that took the plot in a great direction for what the story had been saying all along. The character of Doonan, although somewhat generic, was a good voice for the story and became a bit deeper along the way.
If you are fan of sci-fi, cyberpunk or just good 1st person detective stories I think you would enjoy this book. "Amortals" is available from Angry Robot press on December 28th in paperback.
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