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on October 15, 2013
Ever since Andre Norton walked a stargate Pohl has been on my reading list. This ok, but he's written better. We all get old.
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on November 21, 2011
The premise of this book is exciting! Then you read it and realize it's barely worth remembering. A volcano in Yellowstone blows up, the scene switches to Pompeii for the two thousand year celebration of Mt. Vesuvius's 79 A.D. eruption. What a start! What's going to happen next? The answer is pretty much nothing. I know Frederik Pohl is a science fiction grand master, but he drops the ball with this novel because he fails to run with the idea and create a classic novel.

The empathy I felt for the characters was nil. There wasn't any character development for any of the book's participants. Basically, the book is another terrorist motif inspired novel set in the year 2079. The story's main characters: Brad Sheridan, Brian Bossert, a.k.a. Gerda Fleming go through some interesting times working for the Pompeii theme park, but fail to excite the reader. The security people of the park and elsewhere seem to be omniscient-like without any validation of their powers. The theme park itself becomes less desirous when you learn that most of the park is actually virtual reality.

What happened in America after the Yellowstone eruption is left to the imagination. Mr. Pohl lets the reader know that America is no longer a super-power and the dollar is almost worthless, but that's it! We know people like Brad Sheridan indentured themselves to countries in Europe, but not why. It seems to me that more time should have been spent on the events after the U.S.A. eruption to set the seed for the exodus of Americans to Europe. Why would they sell themselves with a bond to pay off?

Then we have the issue of the Pompeii Flu. The pernicious virus seems to have originated from the "Stans" of Russia. These are the new countries that separated from Russia and became criminal safe havens. I'm surprised that James Bond didn't make an appearance! Nothing involving the terrorist and their activities is original, or unpredictable. Paraphrasing Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront "This book coulda been a contender"!
2 people found this helpful
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on December 13, 2014
This is a hard read.Tough trying to keep characters and places in line. I find myself re-reading every 20 pages or so. Interestingly weird. This is only for Pohl fans or die hard sci-fi freaks
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on February 10, 2015
came in good shape.
Love Pohl, he always is good.
A main stay in the genre.
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on May 13, 2013
Not quite fair to review a book before you've finished, but I don't think I'll ever see the end of this one.

Pohl never uses 4 words when 11 will do. A gaseous, golly gee gosh a rootie flavor coils about every sentence. I'm 1/3 of the way through the book, and only the central character is even sketched, a kind of English boy's school boy with an American tough kid back story, and there's no sense the author even cares that it's not plausible, or involving.

We should, by now, given how badly things are going in the writing department, be starting to get whiffs of flop sweat. Yet there's nothing but pure, uninflected blandness. Was Pohl on Xanax when he wrote this? Is there some kind of sadistic, passive aggressive subtext? Doesn't this man have an editor?
3 people found this helpful
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on June 5, 2011
The explosion of the Yellowstone volcano instantly turned the United States into a poor country filled with refugees. Those who survived became refugees, often indentured to pay their debts. Brad Sheridan, one of those refugees, is working in Italy in a Disneyland version of Pompei, serving bad wine to rich tourists from Asia, Europe, and parts of America not destroyed by the eruption when he meets and falls in love with Gerda. Gerda is special, full of life, but she has a secret--one that soon has Brad in trouble with security.

In author Frederik Pohl's near-future story, it isn't just the Yellowstone volcano that causes suffering. Terrorists seem intent on destroying nearly everything, each group pursuing some cause that seems noble to them, seems even to justify the deaths of innocents. And security has reason to believe that the recent outbreak of what is called Pompeian Flu is not a natural disease but a deadly bio-terrorist attack--one with which Brad seems to be involved--whether intentionally or not.

Pohl's world of terrorism is intriguingly complex. Brad is both a willing informant to security but also a man deeply in love with someone who clearly is not just a terrorist but who is involved with something that may kill millions. Security has extraordinary powers they use without much discrimination--but also has officers who try to do the right thing and who even care about the people they hurt. And Pohl's vision of an America virtually destroyed by a natural disaster is the perfect vehicle to remind us that extreme poverty changes everything.

Although, ultimately, I found ALL THE LIVES HE LED to be intriguing and insightful, this story took a long time getting started. As a con-man and seller of recycled wine, Brad isn't very interesting. For much of the book, Brad's major story goal was getting into Gerda's bed and staying there--even if that meant cutting what he was able to send back home to help his refugee family in New York. Only in the final third of the book does the story really take off. For a lesser author than Pohl, I probably would have quit before then. There was a payoff for my patience, but it seemed that Pohl could have found a way to introduce a story goal earlier
3 people found this helpful
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on December 19, 2015
I read about 125 pages and only reached that because I really like the early Pohl.
We have a constantly repeated description of an indentured person. A result of a blast in Yellowstone. I'm not sure if the idea that the blast wasn't detected early was meant to be a slight on scientists. Descriptions of real & virtual characters that never went anywhere. Totally ho hum.
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on November 22, 2012
Is this the same author who wrote "Heechee"? Well, technically it is. And Frederik Pohl is still a storyteller. Some anecdotes he provides are indeed amusing. But that is where the resemblance ends.

"All the lives he led" is a book which aspires to teach you something, and fails. This book gives the impression it attempts to be some fable, an allegory to nowadays lives. By itself, this is OK. However it leaves too many open threads, unanswered issues, and (it must be said) many holes in the plot, to give the reader the one thing a book must deliver - it is not a good read.

I did force myself to read it through, mostly due to the great respect I have for Pohl's previous work. I'm afraid this was not time well spent.
2 people found this helpful
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on October 7, 2011
"All The Lives He Led" is a pot-boiler, not worthy of much, except kindling - not that i ever condone destroying books - it could serve as an example of not learning what not to do - or of relying of formulae, or ... any number of things that one could learn in order to tell a better story -

This one is a simple romance novel, with a sexual/gender quirk not very original, and pretty shallow too, really - it has glaring points where memory serves the reader to see the disjunctions, and the sloppy cover-ups
Oh wait - was i expecting literature? well, at least it's litter
A disappointing read, neither exciting, nor convincing, nor original, nor thought-provoking, nor useful - unless you are a dabbler and think ripples on the pond reveal all the depth there needs to be
One waits for the future, and if it is so mundane as this book, one would not be surprised, but still be disappointed in the banality of it

Re-read something you really liked rather than this
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on February 12, 2012
Fred: we expected so much more from you. If you really needed my 8 bucks you should have just asked, there was no need to present this sham parading as a novel to get it. Now you've gone and embarrassed us both. And since I bought a physical book rather than an ebook the shame was public, who knows how many others saw me reading this!

All: the first 30 or so pages promise a lot in this book, main character is believable and likeable too. Back story is interesting too but that's as far as the story ever goes. Not much plot. No science worth calling this science fiction. No real point to the last hundred or so pages. Over all a wasted read.
One person found this helpful
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