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Dancing with Eternity

Dancing With Eternity - John Patrick Lowrie Dancing with Eternity is a first novel by John Patrick Lowrie. It's the far distant future and people mostly no longer die. Their memories and personality are constantly uploaded to a central storage area, and if one's body should fail, the personality is simply re-downloaded into a new one. As a side effect, there are no children, no permanent marriages or monogamy, and people are effectively immortal. As a result, most people have done many things, held many roles, lived on many planets. Our hero Mohandas ("Mo") is one of the oldest of the immortals, although he does not disclose that to those he knows. The novel starts with a bit of a cliche'd sci-fi noir opening - our down and out hero Mo is in a bar when a stunning woman comes in - albeit one with cat's eyes and head-to-toe fur, who makes straight for our hero, and proceeds to involve him in mysterious goings-on. Steel is the Captain of the starship LightDancer. Mo become powerfully attracted to Steel and quickly joins her crew and is outbound for another planet. Dancing with Eternity strong echoes Richard Morgan's amazing Altered Carbon, which explores the concept of downloading people into new bodies. Altered Carbon explores it in greater variety (e.g. gender reversal) and has a much more sharply defined central mystery. It's much darker than Dancing with Eternity, and the sex in Dancing with Eternity is mostly implied, in contrast to Morgan's explicitness. Dancing also echoes a lot of Heinlein, so lovers of "adventure science fiction" will enjoy it. The internal world building is good, and the future history as presented in the novel is entirely plausible. In particular the effect of being immortal on one's personality is explored at length. I found Lowrie's evocation of that not nearly as compelling as, for example, the depth of character of Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love. I also found the back half of the book to be too much "they went there they did this" recitation - the plot tension and pacing was lost somewhat and the central mystery of the novel elongated unnecessarily. All in all it's a very good first novel - not as strong as Altered Carbon, or, say, Neuromancer, which set the bar for first-time science fiction authors, but still a fine outing and an enjoyable read. [I received a copy of Dancing with Eternity as part of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.]