TR Review: The Postmortal


?When I did those three little book reviews a couple of weeks ago, I joked about starting a TR Book Club. If I did, the first book I’d demand everyone read is The Postmortal by Drew Magary.

Only the nerds who are into sports might know Magary already; he writes for Deadspin and the NFL humor blog Kissing Suzy Kolber, and is one of the funniest motherfuckers on Earth. He’s the first person I know who wrote “FUCK AND YES,” and god knows what else I’ve subconsciously or shamelessly stolen from him. Anyways, I’ve mostly known him as a hilarious sportswriter, so when I heard he was writing a sci-fi book, I had no idea what to expect.

I certainly didn’t expect a tense, terrifying, incredibly well-thought-out novel about the down side of immortality, but that’s what I got. Like a lot of great, classic sci-fi stories, The Postmortal examines what would happen if one basic change was made to our modern society and follows it to its terrifying conclusion. In this case, it’s the discovery of the gene that causes aging, and a cheap, simple “cure” that stops it. Suddenly, no one dies. Of course, while this seems like a good thing — especially for the people who can take it while in the prime of their life — it has its downsides. If this sounds a bit like the plot of Torchwood: Miracle Day, it is; but while the new season of Torchwood is about the mystery of no one dying, along with some action scenes, The Postmortal depicts the ramifications of that “simple” change throughout society for decades — how the cure can be abused by crazy people, evil people, and rich people. How civilization as we know it can be fundamentally unraveled by one simple change, whose consequences span eternity — because when you’re effectively immortal, you have time to watch everything fall apart.

I’ve used the word “terrifying” a couple of times already, and that’s what The Postmortal is — terrifying. It’s a horror novel, not like Stephen King or anything, but a book where the horror comes from other people and society at large, and is so much more effective for that reason. Oh, it’s funny — but darkly funny, like Kurt Vonnegut, if Vonnegut wasn’t sad about humanity’s foibles but furious and wanted to scare the shit out of everybody. Most of all, The Postmortal is good — so damn good. It’s the first novel since the Song of Ice and Fire books that I just couldn’t put down, even while it was making me wonder if I should ever have children (you’ll see when you read it).

I could fawn over the book some more, but really, I just really, really recommend it. If you’re in the mood for something science fiction-y, scary, funny, all-too-plausible and thought-provoking, I’m pretty goddamn sure you’ll like it. You can order The Postmortal here. And, in case I haven’t been 100% clear, you should.