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435 pages, Hardcover
First published November 22, 2016
"Be good or the Grande Dame will get you"
"Death makes the whole world kin."
Humanity has reached the great plateau - there's truly nothing left to do. They've conquered world hunger, disease, war....even death itself.
"I think all young women are cursed with a streak of unrelenting foolishness, and all young men are cursed with a streak of absolute stupidity."
"Welcome to life as a god," Scythe Volta said to him. While behind them the building burned to the ground.
The concept of a B seat, where one had to sit between two other airplane passengers, had been eliminated along with other unpleasant things, like disease and government.The only way to die permanently is to be murdered ("gleaned" is the euphemism used) by a Scythe, a socially condoned killer whose job is to keep the population in check. All of earth is ruled an AI called the Thunderhead, both an omniscient database and a conscious benevolent entity; the only thing not controlled by the Thunderhead is the Scythedom, which has a self-governing body reminiscent of the current US Congress. The action kicks in when two teenagers, Rowan and Citra, are chosen to become Scythe apprentices.
A world where natural death is obsolete thereby requiring a dedicated use of "Sycthes" (who are the only ones authorised to kill) and while most Scythes honour the process, there are a few bad apples who use their powers for evil.
And so the killing ensues. Mass killings, done in the name of upholding the law and on I read until, subconsciously, gradually, I found myself falling into a state of despair. It took a good 2 hours before realizing I didn't really need to read this book (why would anyone want to read about the art of death and gleanings?).
I can't describe the overwhelming melancholy this evoked, and for my sanity, I have to set this aside. DNF @ 45%
“It is the most difficult thing a person can be asked to do. And knowing that it is for the greater good doesn’t make it any easier.”
⇒ Is it possible to be compassionate and fair when it comes to the deprivation of human life?
“Will the scythe who replaces me be as compassionate and fair?”
The greatest achievement of the human race was not conquering death. It was ending government. Back in the days when the world’s digital network was called “the cloud,” people thought giving too much power to an artificial intelligence would be a very bad idea. Cautionary tales abounded in every form of media. The machines were always the enemy. But then the cloud evolved into the Thunderhead, sparking with consciousness, or at least a remarkable facsimile. In stark contrast to people’s fears, the Thunderhead did not seize power. Instead, it was people who came to realize that it was far better suited to run things than politicians.
To date, the oldest living human being is somewhere around three hundred, but only because we are still so close to the Age of Mortality. I wonder what life will be like a millennium from now, when the average age will be nearer to one thousand. Will we all be renaissance children, skilled at every art and science, because we’ve had the time to master them? Or will boredom and slavish routine plague us even more than it does today, giving us less of a reason to live limitless lives? I dream of the former, but suspect the latter.