• To Live Forever

  • By: Jack Vance
  • Narrated by: Kevin Kenerly
  • Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (109 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Waylock had been granted eternal life - but now he was killing on borrowed time.

Gavin Waylock had waited seven years for the scandal surrounding his former immortal self to be forgotten and had kept his identity concealed so that he could once again join the ranks of those who lived forever. He had been exceedingly careful about hiding his past. Then he met the Jacynth. She was a beautiful 19-year-old, and Gavin wanted her. But he recognized that a wisdom far beyond her years marked her as one who knew too much about him to live. As far as she was concerned, death was a mere inconvenience. But once the Jacynth came back, Gavin Waylock's life would be an everlasting hell.

©2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc. (P)2015 Blackstone Audiobooks

What listeners say about To Live Forever

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting character study in futuristic society

Waylock is a man living in a society where levels of achievement determine the number of years a person lives. Men strive to increase their “sloop” through innovation, great study, artistic talent or remarkable work achievement. When a person reaches the top elite level, they are inducted into the Amaranth where they are granted eternal life. To accomplish this eternal life, they have ‘clones’ or replicas who are matured over seven years. The clones have the DNA coding and memories of their primary so it is as if they continue on for eternity.

The governing authorities do their best to maintain smooth operations with strict and swift enforcement, including humiliation and execution. But problems are beginning to be exposed in the calm society. It is difficult for the lower working levels to gain sloop and rise to Amaranth. Not only that but, to keep balance for the resources, for each Amaranth that is inducted, 1700 lowest levels must be removed from the city rolls. This causes depression or mental illness in some who can’t accept that they can’t get beyond the middle level.

Waylock was an immortal sentenced to death for killing another immortal. He is believed to have been eliminated as his replicates should not have had time to mature. However, he lives quietly in hiding for seven years hoping that his past deed will be forgotten and he will be able to work his way back to Amaranth. Then he meets a beautiful young woman, Jacynth. He is drawn to her until he suspects that somehow she knows his secrets. Waylock will take extreme measures to protect himself.

The second time Waylock meets the Jacynth he is again attracted but wary. He soon learns that she is now an investigator for the enforcers and she is determined to bring “the monster” to justice. They begin a cat and mouse dance trying to best each other. Waylock's ambitions drive him to use methods that may destroy the very foundations of the society in which he seeks to advance.

This story portrays an interesting, if sometimes depressing, future world. The story is built around a somewhat evil protagonist and the author develops the character with cleverness and perseverance. I didn’t like Waylock but he makes for an interesting character study. The story includes a dissertation on mental illness and political commentary woven in between the scheming mystery. I was once again struck by the irony in the ending which is a feature I have found in the vintage sci fi stories I have been reading. It seems to be a theme tied to the imaginative futuristic view of life. I recommend this to readers who like crime novels as well as those who like futuristic society sci fi.

Audio Notes: Kevin Kenerly delivers a solid narration that fits the tone of the story. Kenerly provided good character voices and an appropriately dry presence that added to the mystery. It is not flashy or exuberant but the accent added to the engagement for me.

11 people found this helpful

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Classic Vance at his best

Would you listen to To Live Forever again? Why?

Absolutely! Jack Vance is one of the greatest of the science fiction authors, and this is Vance at his best. The story is tight, relevant, intricately crafted, full of intrigue and action, and demonstrates Vance's characteristic linguistic style, which is known for vivid description and an ability to use the English Language in ways that few can match. The story's social commentary is even more relevant today than it was when it was written. Highly recommended! The narrator's voice is excellent for the story and seems to relish the rich Vancian prose. I do so wish that someone will create audiobook versions of The Demon Princes, which is also Vance at his best.

What other book might you compare To Live Forever to and why?

This book is similar to many other Vance books stylistically, so, if you like Vance, you very likely will like To Live Forever. It is from his best period and reflects some of his best work.

What about Kevin Kenerly’s performance did you like?

Clear diction, great recording, fine character voices, good timing, seemed to really get Vance's subtle and sometimes dry and scarcastic humor and delight in the intricacy of the prose.

7 people found this helpful

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My first Vance

I know one probably shouldn’t start their journey in Jack Vance land using this book. But it had the best narration as far as I could tell from the samples, from all the available ones on audible. Great book! Hilarious in lots of places. Wonderful use of language. I already had a few hardcopy books, dying earth, dragon masters. A few more. But while listening to this decided I had to have all Vance! Went to Amazon and bought most of the VIE. As others have said maybe it’s not the best one to start with if you’re new to Vance. But the story and especially the narration are excellent!

2 people found this helpful

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Odd but good story…

I did not have any expectations going into this book and truly went in blind. It was occasionally confusing but the author tied it all together fairly well. I would definitely recommend this one for anyone interested in human behavior and complex systems, both social and otherwise.

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More a modern Netflix series than a 1950s novel

I stumbled upon this one as I was looking for some of Jack Vance's Dying Earth books, and I'm glad I did. I was a little slow getting into it (as Vance set up the world and the situation for the reader), but I was immediately drawn in once the main characters were introduced. And while the idea of an unyielding antihero was likely a harder sell when this was first published in 1956, it struck a cord with this reader (close to 60) in 2021. (It really would work well today as a Netflix series.) However, the ultimate solution arrived at the end seems to me like one of the first thing humans should have tried instead of what they did instead in this book. That didn't keep me from exploring their choices and enjoying the journey. Plus, it's rather nice to see a—more or less—ruthless antihero going up against an equally ruthless hero (and world system), people who seemed more destined to be lovers than enemies, each fully believing they're in the right and have been wronged by the other side.

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Not really sure what to think

Overall, the book was okay. The premise is familiar and the questions it asks are relevant to now. The performance could’ve been better - it was hard to distinguish characters since they all sounded the same. The story … weird. It questions what to do with overcrowding, how the rich kill without a thought, and how easy it can all be. I’m not sad it’s over and I feel like I didn’t really ‘get it’.

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Unfortunately

I usually need to listen to the whole book (and sometimes series) just to know I didn't miss anything. Sometimes "it" (whatever my problem are) gets better, but this is rare.
This book was very close to "my trashcan" but I did finish it even if the way people reacted (main characters) become more and more dumb, the book did improve as it finished. So my review in a sentence may be something like ;
A bad attempt to write a story regarding an interesting problem that we "might" face in the future , if we get to that point alive (which I doubt myself).

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Monotonous

it was very hard to follow. nothing exciting happened. it just seemed to go round and round in circles and get nowhere.