Dancing With Eternity
by John Patrick Lowrie
Reviewed by Robert Enstrom
 
In many ways this book is a travelogue in the best tradition of A.E. van Vogt's Voyage of the Space Beagle.  Except here, most of the aliens creatures encountered are humans--altered by an expansion of the human life span to near infinity.
 
The narrator of the story is Mo, an emergency crew replacement on the Lightdancer. The ship and crew are on a most unusual quest--they are trying to save the life of one of their own. The quest is unusual in that no one dies in this far future, because their essence is stored in a living network so vast that the destruction of a person's body is merely a monetary setback that may require you to work as a slave for 60 years to pay for your recreation. But Alice, because of a quirk in her genetic background, is an exception. She can look forward to only a normal physical lifespan of a hundred years or so.
 
In order to correct this condition, the Lightdancer must travel to the most dangerous place in the human universe:  Brainard's Planet. Here a truly alien race resides--so alien that no successful communication with it has ever been made. These aliens have solved the problem of death in a different way than humans have. While human bodies still die and must be recreated from the net, the creatures of Brainard's Planet never physically die. They live surrounded by curative secretions that so quickly repair damage that it is virtually impossible to kill them. The trouble is, these secretions act as a deadly plague to all life that didn't originate on Brainard's Planet. 
 
The mission of the voyage is to find a cure for Alice that will not destroy the rest of humanity. 
 
Along the way, the author explores human relations in a future without death--or nearly so. In some ways, perhaps unintentionally, the book conveys an almost religious message:  Beliefs and sorrows spring from the past, and hope looks to the future, but only love transcends time.

Dancing With Eternity
by John Patrick Lowrie
Published by Camel Press, 2011