Number of pages: 416
Author(s): Matt Forbeck
Publisher: Angry Robot
Year of publication: 2010 (this edition 2011)
In a not so distant future, very rich people and irreplaceable employees regularly save their memories in a computer. When they die, they wake up in a new and young cloned body. Ronan Dooley, the most famous Secret Service agent, wakes up and investigates his own murder in a snuff movie. Problem: he missed a memory back-up or two. Thriller ensues.
The author of Amortals, super-creative Matt Forbeck, readily admits it bears similarities with a Takeshi Kovacs novel. You would not be the first reader to be strongly reminisced of the excellent series by Richard K. Morgan. Forbeck got the idea before learning about Altered Carbon, but neither setting is the stuff of prophecies and mind-blowing originality. It's like The Matrix. The Wachowski brothers did not pioneer any grand concept, but we can appreciate the way they told the story. In that respect, Amortals is a very enjoyable summer read. It is packed with action and reads like a Hollywood blockbuster script.
Matt Forbeck is a family man and it shows. Unlike rogue soldier Takeshi Kovacs, Ronan Dooley is not entirely separated from his still mortal family. His interactions with his descendants give us an opportunity to ponder about what could happen to the whole family concept in a future with extended life. Already, some people can meet their great-great-grandparents. What happens when you interact with a distant descendant who looks twice your age? I would be curious to read more stories exploring this theme. When childhood becomes but the faintest of memories, is something lost in the process that needs to be compensated? At which point does incest (sex with your descendants) become OK ? What about depriving our descendants of the chance to elevate themselves by staying in charge?
Amortals touches upon this last aspect. Amortals, like the rich people in Altered Carbon, confiscate power and wealth. But Amortals takes place in a much nearer future, where change is still somewhat possible, which makes it less of a film noir and more of a thriller. The present time is always in danger of becoming hostage to people from the past who have no interest in a different future.