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    Review of THE BOY WHO WOULD LIVE FOREVER by Frederik Pohl


    TOR, October 2004

    When he receives a small life insurance payment, Stan Avery heads for the Gateway--to become a space explorer, risk danger and possibly strike it rich with the incredible discoveries of Heechee technology left behind by that vanished race. Things don't work out exactly as Stan planned, though. He nearly runs out of money before being sent on an assignment with his best friend and a grumpy woman whose face had been smashed by an angry bison.

    Stan, Tan and Estrella don't make much on that trip but when they return, everything has changed. The heechee spaceship technology has been unraveled and the days of random exploration are over. Unless they can figure something out, they're out of their jobs and back in the drab life that is waiting for them on Earth. In an incredible piece of luck that just might be more than luck, Estrella an Stan get a chance for one last exploration--into the black hole in the center of the galaxy where the Heechee have gone to live. Once there, they learn about the assassins that drove the Heechee from normal space--and their near-elimination of intelligent life in the galaxy.

    The assassins are only one problem, though. More current, Wan Enrique Santos-Smith, one of the universe's most wealthy humans, hates the Heechee and will do anything to hurt them--even if it means hurting humans like Stan and Estrella along the way.

    Frederik Pohl is one of Science Fiction's classic masters and his writing and imagination remain strong in this story. The idea of a civilization living in the black hole in the galaxy core, another 'civilization' consisting of beings of energy rather than matter, and the artificial intelligences (including natural intelligences who have gone computer, leaving their human form behind) are fascinating and play together well in Pohl's strong vision.

    THE BOY WHO WOULD LIVE FOREVER falls a bit short in pure story. Through most of the book, Stan's story goal is staying alive and getting lucky with Estrella--pretty understandable goals for a 17 year old boy but not quite enough to drive a novel forward. Pohl's writing is compelling enough to survive the lack of a strong goal and conflict and I certainly enjoyed this story. Still, it seemed just a bit short of what I had hoped it would be. (See more reviews of science fiction by Frederik Pohl.)

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/25/05

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