I was surprised by this compelling article on npr.org about Soft Immortality. It moves back and forth between how our longevity is improving, to the consequences of living for a long, long time. It’s worth checking out if you muse about your lifespan (who doesn’t), or wonder if, at age 737, you’d still find something good on TV.
1001, The Reincarnation Chronicles takes immortality for a given. When I was first working on it, I read The Eight by Katherine Neville, one of the great pre-Da Vinci Code Historical Information thrillers. At the end there’s a huge reveal that what was driving the action was the secret to eternal life. There’s tons of books with this shape, Harry Potter and The Sorceror’s Stone to name a second. I thought: what if immortality was assumed from the first pages of a book and not kept a precious mystery?
Then the interesting question for me became: if my characters learn their souls are immortal, and that they keep experiencing life after life, how do they deal with the knowledge in their everyday existence? How do they cope with making the same choices repeatedly throughout Time, while going to work and taking out the trash on a regular basis?
The npr article implies questions like: would you get bored? Would you get uber-frustrated with making the same mistakes over and over? Would the image of never dying drive you insane? My characters wonder the same things, while marveling at the novelty of discovering new past lives as Malagasy priestesses, Higgs boson particles, and opabinia from the Cambrian Explosion (they have five eyes — I’m writing about them now, with the draft of Book Four). At least the variety of their lifetimes distracts them from the angst of Hard Immortality.