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Last Days of an Immortal Hardcover – December 4, 2012
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The book posits an immortality that is a product of the ability to clone a body's echoes, to make copies of one's self. Always having a few echoes in existence at the same time virtually assures one's continued existence. When echoes merge back into the primary body, however, their new memories overwrite the primary body's earliest memories. Is that sacrifice too great to justify the benefits of immortality?
Elijah is a philosopher who works for the Philosophical Police. His latest assignment is to resolve an impasse between two races on the planet Ganed that are headed to war. Getting to the bottom of the conflict between the two races will require some out-of-the-box thinking. It is a formidable task, given the other assignments Elijah is trying to address. He is reluctant to make more echoes for fear of losing more memories when they merge. Elijah is particularly worried about losing the memory of an old friend, and he's preoccupied with that friend's decision to end his life without inviting Elijah to the farewell ceremony.
Last Days of an Immortal addresses abstract philosophical issues in a variety of contexts. Alien cultures will necessarily have philosophies that differ starkly from our own. One of Elijah's echoes, for instance, is placed on trial because he witnessed a murder. In the alien culture, the witness to a crime shares responsibility for the crime because his mere presence might be sufficient to provoke the crime.Read more ›
I have never encountered a better treatment of alien civilizations. There are several crimes and mysteries investigated during the course of the story, each of which requires our Philosophical Policeman to understand the motives and reasoning of an alien perpetrator or victim. Each alien character is fully realized and plausibly presented. The process of investigation and deduction is always believable. The result is truly remarkable.
On top of that, the lead character, Elijah, is engaging, thoughtful, meditative, self-aware, and even has a sense of humor. Secondary characters also have fully realized personalities, which is awesome when you think about the limited amount of dialogue and explication you can fit into a graphic novel of normal length.
Part of this is probably the result of the elegant and expressive drawing. The panels are in black and white, and convey information and heighten drama with just a few strokes. Some set pieces are reminiscent of Matisse, and some seem to be almost consciously modeled on Jules Feiffer, who could break your heart with a simple sketch.
So, whether you are a great fan of graphic novels or just dabbling, this volume is a terrific choice for something a little out of the ordinary, understated and elegant.
Please note that I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a frank review.
Set in the distant future where mankind has reached a point where death is no longer an inevitability and that people regularly live hundreds of years. They can also replicate themselves a number of times - called "echoes" - who can then set off into the world and do other things before being assimilated back into the original body and their memories absorbed by the host. There's also a vast array of alien races who, along with humans, are part of an intergalactic Union, like Star Trek's "Federation".
Elijah is the main character, a Professor X lookalike who is a member of the Philosophical Police who have been tasked with arbitrating a case between two alien races whose dispute reaches back millennia where one member of the species was murdered by another. Unless Elijah can defuse the situation, war will erupt.
Very sci-fi, right? The book reminded me of the kind of sci-fi books written by Asimov and Ballard which I read when I was 12/13 years old. The invention is there but at the heart of it is something recognisable that would be a mainstream storyline if presented more mundanely: a murder mystery. Alongside this main story is a more interesting, philosophical one - if people can live forever, why do some voluntarily choose death?
Despite the many outlandish settings, characters, and even concepts, the book is very accessible and interesting once you grasp what's going on.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great science fiction exploration of personhood and identity. The story is perhaps not as good as the intellectual investigation, and the art could be more exciting, but it still... Read morePublished 19 months ago by James DiGiovanna
The art's a little
spare, don't let that detract from
the story told here
If you are a lover of the weird and the fantastique, then this book is a delightful treat. Drawn in the simple style of many adult comix the story explores immortality and its... Read morePublished on May 25, 2014 by Avatar of Azathoth
This comic may be hard to understand on the first reading, but it's so profound, I recommend it to everyone I know. Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by Blazer
One of the loveliest philosophical stories I've read in a long time. The fact that it's in manga form is an added bonus.Published on November 24, 2013 by Fran
Last Days of an Immortal is a very interesting graphic novel. It is set in the far future, in a world where many different alien species interact and humans have become immortal. Read morePublished on January 14, 2013 by PWDecker
Serious, heavy-duty science fiction, with shades of JG Ballard, Gattaca, Solaris and THX 1138. Translated from the award-winning French graphic novel.Published on December 9, 2012 by Paul Pierre