Story: In the mid-21st century, the human race stopped aging. Those who know why aren't talking, and the few who are brave enough to ask questions tend to disappear. To an elite few, The Change means long life and health, but to the ever-increasing masses, it means starvation, desperation, and violence.
Four centuries after The Change, Grace Harper, a blacklisted P.I., sets off on a mission to find the man responsible for it all and solicit his help to undo The Change -- if he's still alive. To complicate matters, Grace's employer is suspected of murdering his father, and when the police learn of their connection, they give her a choice -- help them find the evidence they need to convict Matthew Stanton, or die. But if they discover Grace's true mission, they won't hesitate to kill her in order to preserve their shot at immortality.
Winner of the Epic Award for Science Fiction, the Global eBook Award for Science Fiction, and a finalist in The Next Gernation Indie Book Awareds.
Will Raphael tame the willful woman or love the untamed fire that burns within her?
Thoughts and impressions: What would it be like if we, as humans, no longer aged?
Our intelligence as animals is really a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us a completely different view of the world around us, but at the same time it makes us very aware of our mortality. It leads us to fear our death, which is part of why we have such a fascination with the concept of immortality. There have long been stories of those who are able to cheat death, and if not then there are stories of death is not the end and so we get to live eternally in this fabulous place. We are afraid of our deaths. Just how far would some people go to assure their immortality if such a possibility were presented them? After all, we already have cryonics in place and some people actually get themselves frozen rather than live their life to its natural end.
Now imagine our world as a place where no one dies. We already have problems with overpopulation and lack of food. In the world presented in The Immortality Virus, these problems are taken to their next logical step. There’s not enough housing for everyone and what is available is beyond most people’s means. There’s not enough food to feed everyone, so only the fabulously wealthy are able to afford proper food while the hordes are given these shady protein bars that are suspected to contain human flesh. Yummy!
The society that is painted here is scary for one very simple reason: it is the sort of society that I can easily see arising should the key to immortality ever be found. There is a very small group of the elite few who dictate everything to the masses, who in turn are left to live in squalor. Life is not good and you can easily see that there is a reason why we are not immortal creatures – we are meant to die.
This fabulously crafted setting is the perfect backdrop to action full of the corruption of those who cling jealously to the power they have managed to horde. It was scarily realistic and that’s one of the reasons why it went down so well for me.
On top of this, we have a feisty, spunky heroine who quickly turned into a character that I enjoyed rooting for. She’s not perfect; she’s well-rounded and likeable most of the time. She was fun to read about.
From time to time the story became a bit on the slow side and I’d find my interest waning slightly, but it picked up again and the slower part was worth the faster, more action-packed moments.
Final verdict: A tought-provoking piece of sci-fi / dystopian with a great female lead and a plot brimming with twists and turns. 4 stars
“Check him for an ID chip,” McMillan said.
Grace checked both wrists, but didn’t find the tiny metal button that acted both as tag and as a neutral interface for portables. She also did not see any sign that such a chip had been ripped out of his skin by the same people who had stolen his clothing. This man had probably been born on the streets. “Nothing.”
“Good,” McMillan said. He subvocalized an instruction to his portable. It must have opened up a com link because a moment later he said, “Send a cleanup crew to my location beacon…no ID…10-4.”
McMillan turned to Grace. “All right, let’s go.”
“W-wait! Shouldn’t we find out what happened here? Someone murdered this man.”
McMillan actually laughed, a sound that infuriated Grace. He caught a glimpse of her face and the laughter died immediately. “Just like me. I bet I said all the same things my first day. It ain’t fair, is it?”
“So you’re just going to accept it? Accept a man being murdered in the middle of a crowd of witnesses? You’re going to accept not knowing his identity and not letting his family know he’s dead?”
“The cleanup crew will take fingerprints,” McMillan said. “The census gets almost everyone’s fingerprints. If they come up with a contact, they’ll let them know.”
“And if not?” Grace asked.
“Then he’ll join the ranks of the nameless, faceless dead. C’mon, let’s go.”
Grace didn’t move.
“Look, before the day’s out we’ll handle a dozen more like this. We don’t have time to ask questions or take statements. We don’t have time to properly examine the body or the area for clues – most of which have been taken away by other unfortunates.”
It took her a moment to find her voice. When she did, her words dripped out like acid. “Would we have had time if he’d had an ID bracelet?”
“We would not have. We’d have called in the homicide team and they’d decide. Get in the car.”
This time, Grace complied, but she sat in stony silence as McMillan lifted off and began circling the area anew.
“It helps if you don’t think of them as human,” McMillan said after a while. “More than one officer has called this job pest control.”"
Christine Amsden has been writing science fiction and fantasy for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.
At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.
When she's not writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing, usually at Savvy Authors. She also offers professional editing services. She maintains a book review blog on her website with occasional writing tips thrown in for the fun of it.
Christine lives in the Kansas City area with her husband and two children.