Lazarus Long (alias Woodrow Wilson Smith, Ernest Gibbons, Corporal Ted Bronson, and many others), born in 1912, is kidnapped and rejuvenated on the planet Secundus by the Howard Families Trustees in the year 4272. The trustees want to add his recollections, as the oldest person in the known galaxy, to the historical archives. Lazarus at first is unhappy with this turn of events because he does not want to be rejuvenated again. He makes a deal with Ira Weatheral, chief executive of the Howard Foundation on Secundus, that if Weatheral and his administrative computer, Minerva, try to find something truly new for Lazarus to do, Lazarus will continue to tell Ira the stories of his life until such time as Ira tires of listening. At that time, if nothing new has been found for Lazarus, he will be free to terminate his life.
The first two-thirds of the book are presented as the transcripts of these memoirs, including footnotes and historical corrections made by Justin Foote the 45th, chief archivist of the Howard Families Foundation. These memoirs include several stories of Lazarus’ lives. They dwell on attempts to define both “eros” and “agape,” sexual love and spiritual love, and impart bits of Lazarus’ wisdom and philosophy on how to live one’s life.
The first full-length story is “The Tale of the Man Who Was Too Lazy to Fail.” It recounts the military career of a friend of Lazarus with exceptional intellectual ability who managed to succeed in life by looking for easier ways to do things. Another story is “The Tale of the Twins Who Weren’t.” This tale allows Lazarus to begin the discussion of...
(The entire section is 669 words.)