“The Years Draw Nigh” by Lester del ReyOctober 16, 2011
The Book: “The Years Draw Nigh” by Lester del Rey. Originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1951, the edition read was in the anthology Mortals and Monsters published by Ballantine in 1965.
The Setting: A far future, Mars.
The Story: The last of a fleet of intergalactic exploration ships returns to home base.
The Science: This story starts with the idea that the human race has developed a way to rejuvenate itself – no one need grow old. People can live forever returning to youth when old age begins to creep back. The interesting thing about the idea as played here is that people are no longer choosing rejuvenation. The world, apparently, is dying and there’s no hope for anything better. So people are choosing to let their lives end naturally when they could have it otherwise. An interesting take on the eternity machine idea.
The Reaction: This is a nice story. It worked well, with good characters and ideas. It’s melancholy, even morose, but it’s the right tone. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the tone should be morose, ultimately. I didn’t follow the leap the story made of 1+1=failure when it seemed to me that 1+1 could= a new hope.
The Cover: ISFDB says the cover is Richard Powers, and it is even signed on the side, but it doesn’t have that cool feel Powers usually has. It’s got a collage feel and a sort of clockwork robot. This cover means nothing to me.
Next Up: “And It Comes Out Here,” by Lester del Rey