cover image Outnumbering the Dead

Outnumbering the Dead

Frederik Pohl. St. Martin's Press, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-07755-6

The question this novella poses seems like one Robert Silverberg, not Pohl, would come up with: What do you do when you're a mortal in a world of immortals? The genetic treatments that allow most everyone to live forever have failed on Rafiel, an actor, so he faces a maximum life span of only a century or so. Far from making him an outcast, Rafiel's freakish mortality has turned him into a superstar. The immortal legions are fascinated with death, and Rafiel's signs of encroaching age have only increased his entertainment appeal. For 90 years he has enjoyed fame, wealth and the pleasures of affluence--but after his latest rejuvenation treatment, he begins to feel tired. His acting suffers; his fatigue does not go unnoticed by dramaturge Mosay and fellow actor/dancer Docilia; and his long-lost immortal love, Alegrettalike allegretto? ck ,no, it's with one l. Better get used to the crazy spellings in SF reviews. They are a pain!/sss has sent him an unexpected gift. Rafiel comes to resent his immortal acquaintances as he realizes how short a time he has left to live, but with Alegretta's help he may find solace. Hugo and Nebula winner Pohl wrote such classics as Man Plus and Gateway , and the new book shows that he can still work at the top of his form. His writing is spare, the characters' emotions understated, which somehow makes Rafiel all the more sympathetic. This elegant novella stands among Pohl's best work and should not be missed. Illustrations, by Steve Crisp, not seen by PW. (May)