Friday, 9 July 2010

EXTRO

Eyre-Methuen hardback, 1975. Cover artwork by Peter Tybus.

"Alfred Bester's first science fiction novel in nineteen years is a major event. Like both his earlier novels, Extro is a breathtakingly fast-moving adventure peopled with brilliant, talented, witty eccentrics. Scattered about the overcrowded, frenzied solar system there is a small group of immortals. They range in age from Hic-Haec-Hoc, a neanderthal who hasn't become any smarter in many thousands of years of life, to Daniel Curzon, the baby of the group at two hundred and fifty. Curzon's nickname, Guig, short for Grand Guignol, was given him for his charming habit of killing horribly people he admires. For that's how people become immortal - by dying particularly horribly. Now Guig has a new target: Dr. Sequoya Guess, a brilliant young Cherokee physicist. Dr. Guess is killed when his space programme ends in catastrophe before Guig can get to him - and is transformed into a new immortal anyway, to Guig's delight. Dr. Guess begins to take over Extro, the supercomputer complex that controls all mechanical activity on earth. The immortals join him, adding their own considerable resources to the effort. Their  aim is to free earth of political repression, to rebuild guess's  space-probe programme, and also to have a good time. But Extro takes over Guess instead, and turns evil for no discernible reason. The task of one merry band suddenly becomes a fight in deadly earnest for their own lives and Earth's existence. Sequoya Guess, whom they love, must be killed - but how do you kill an immortal?"
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