The Queendom of Sol trilogy (2003-2005)

While all good books should have good characters, plot, pacing, setting and story, every genre has something in which books can excel that is hard to do in other genres. Science fiction books for example can take a simple (or not so simple) idea and look at the long-term ramifications for humanity, and that is the primary quality of Wil McCarthy’s ‘Queendom of Sol’ trilogy.

It’s a follow-up to ‘The Collapsium’, in which a future human society can fax humans all over the solar system, the fax system can make countless duplicates and filters in the fax system even heal any disease, including aging. While the former read like a far future fairy tale with queens, kings, villains and betrayal; the tone of the later trilogy is much more tied to realism (at least as much as this is possible in SF).

McCarthy looks at the long-term ramifications of immortality: the generation gap (The Wellstone), relationship problems, overpopulation (To Crush the Moon) and others, and tries to do that in the most exhausting way. At times this is exhausting to read, but it’s always worthwhile to plunge forward. McCarthy doesn’t just present the problems that may arise through immortality, he tries to find some ingenious solutions as well.

At times this trilogy seems to have a slightly everything-will-fail-in-the-end attitude, but I think McCarthy’s point is, if you live for a very long time, you’ll see the end of everything. But the end of something is always the beginning of something new. If you’re immortal ups and downs will happen ad infinitum, but being alive is a promise that something good is always waiting around the corner.