March Books 14) The End Specialist, by Drew Magary

Another of this year’s much-discussed shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, this time set in a near-future America where a relatively affordable immortality treatment abolishes death by aging (though disease, accident and homicide remain). Our narrator spends very little time pondering the immense psychological and philosophical consequences, and much more watching those around him die of disease, accident or homicide; he becomes a paid killer, first of voluntary suicides and then of those the state deems worthy of death; he is obsessed with a woman who he eventually finds in melodramatic circumstances. I was disappointed that having taken up the medical development which is key to the situation, the plot then did not go much beyond the techno-thriller format.

By odd coincidence, in both The End Specialist and Umberto Eco’s The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, which I was reading at the same time, the narrator is obsessed by Solara, though in this case Solara is a tall blonde woman rather than a country estate.

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