Emergence by dhtreichler

Immortals are starting to multiply despite the best efforts of the ACLU and concerned citizenry in this exceptional finish to dhtreichler’s Ghost in the Machine trilogy. In this book, Sage Washington continues to have her own questions about the limitations of immortals — and wonders whether there shouldn’t in fact be a few.

Specifically, she contemplates, among other things, if age limits shouldn’t be built into the transition software, capping immortals’ lifespans at, say, one hundred years. And she also wonders — obsesses, actually — about whether this trade-off for escaping her failing former body was worth it. After all, she has lost something very precious in the process — her ability to feel human. And that thought bothers her. A lot.

This kind of intense introspection, dealing with the morality of scientific breakthroughs, has become a hallmark of good science fiction throughout the decades ever since sci-fi great Robert Heinlein made such stuff standard in his fictional fare way back when. His books frequently weighed in on the consequences of too much technology too soon.

Couple that kind of vivid warning with intricate executive suite intrigue — expertly written by someone who is obviously right at home on Mahogany Row — and you have a fascinating mashup of genres not found anywhere else in fiction today.

Sage has been tasked with finding a way to merge the two leading software giants of her day — AppleCore and rival Symbol Ventures — into one technologically dominant leader in the consumer communications and entertainment market.

In addition, she must cope with current public backlash against her and other immortals. Specifically, people are convinced that they are intent on taking jobs away, since one immortal can do the work of ten mortals. The resistance is being spearheaded by the ACLU, and a group that calls itself “Americans Against Immortality. ”

As the book continues, Sage becomes increasingly contemplative about the long-term consequences of immortality, seeing ever more clearly that the trade-off to near godlike status comes with a heavy toll.

She yearns more and more often for a return to what she refers to as “a more humane” condition. For in her current form, she finds that she can experience the sensuous wonder of unlimited orgasms, yet cannot even remember what the taste of a good wine is like. It’s a bittersweet fact that she cannot now escape.

“What does sex have to do with love when you can’t reproduce?” she ponders, regretting a future with no hope of progeny.

One last comment on this masterfully created work of futuristic fiction. The novel features a bit of a surprise twist about three-quarters of the way through. There’s a poignant development regarding Sage’s family that reveals at least one good thing about scientific breakthroughs. And this unexpected new character succeeds in giving Sage one of the answers she wants most about what it’s like to be human: “It means caring for someone else more than yourself,” says this new player.

Does Sage ultimately return from a condition approaching deity to embrace mortality once again? And, if so, who — or what — reverses this inexorable march toward life without limits? Finally, does A’zam — her sexually predatory boss — ever get what should be coming to him?

Find out when you read this excellent, five-plus star homage to past sci-fi greats who also sounded the clarion call to examine carefully the Pandora’s Box that often accompanies technological strides.

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