The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Jack Barron is a charismatic journalist trying to retain both his job and his integrity. Benedict Howards, owner of the Human Immortality Foundation, alternately bribes and threatens Barron, seeking his support. Ultimately, Howards makes an offer that Barron cannot refuse.

As the book opens, Barron seizes on a charge of racism as a hook to explore the Freezer Utility controversy. He makes on-air calls to the foundation; to Senator Hennering, who supports a monopoly bill Howards wants; and to Lucas Greene, the black governor of Mississippi and Jack’s longtime friend. Hennering gives a limp defense of the bill, enraging Howards. Soon after, Hennering dies under suspicious circumstances. Howards investigates Barron and learns the television host’s weakness: He still loves his former wife, Sara.

Howards bribes Sara to reunite with Barron. Sara seizes the opportunity, sure that together, she and Barron can outwit Howards. The two rediscover the joy they shared as young lovers.

Barron questions Howards on the air. Privately, Howards admits that the foundation has developed an immortality procedure. He offers Barron the million-dollar operation for free in exchange for public support. They bargain warily, and Barron offers only to do contractual public relations work for the foundation. When he and Sara sign immortality contracts, Howards urges immediate surgery. Barron equivocates. He believes that Howards still hides dangerous...

(The entire section is 482 words.)