Friday, 26 May 2017

Longevity And Mortality

Poul Anderson wrote three contemporary detective novels featuring Trygve Yamamura.
Isaac Asimov wrote four futuristic sf detective novels featuring Elijah Baley.
Anderson wrote the Dominic Flandry series.
James Blish wrote two Jack Loftus novels.

All three authors address longevity and mortality.

Baley deduces that the extrasolar colonists' longevity is a competitive disadvantage because it makes them overcautious.

Flandry's antagonist, Aycharaych, asks whether Bach, Rembrandt or Tu Fu could have created what they did if they had been immortal.

Jack Loftus' mentor learns that longevity can mean wisdom but can also mean stagnation and even senility whereas a short lifetime gives:

"'...a creativity, such that mankind has been pouring out in torrents for most of its recorded history.'"
-Mission To The Heart Stars, Chapter Eleven.

This blog records a small part of that creativity.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    And we are left wondering how OLD Aycharaych was in A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS.

    I can see human life spans being prolonged, but not that they can be indefinitely extended.


  2. Paul and Sean:
    One episode of the original *Star Trek* featured a man who WAS next thing to immortal ... and had been at least two of history's famous musicians and artists (Brahms and da Vinci). It was a flawed concept, to my mind, because it implied that he, a self-described "fool" at first, had DEVELOPED artistic genius by millennia of experience. That runs contrary to my understanding of the notion of genius. One could develop WISDOM, certainly, but the true spark of the artist?

    1. David,
      I discuss this ST episode in "An Unexpected Future History" on the Science Fiction blog, 27 April 2012.

    2. Kaor, DAVID!

      Yes, even if such a long lived quasi immortal had often behaved like a fool, I can still see him eventually gaining some hard won wisdom, but not becoming a GENIUS. Whatever it is that makes a great artist or musician a "genius," I don't think the mere passing of time will enable such a man to acquire that "spark."