Guy looks across the water at a city on fireI’d picked this up at the library before I found out I’d be reading it for the Endeavour Award. I picked it up because I’d read Mitchell’s End In Fire for last year’s award and enjoyed her evocative depiction of micro-gravity environments in an interesting plot.

Unfortunately, this book doesn’t share the setting or the accomplishment of End In Fire. Last Mortal Man is set in a world where nanotechnology has been successfully applied to the aging problem (among other things). The technology is controlled by one man, Lucius Sterling, who is essentially the business manager for the ivory tower type who made the actual breakthrough. The book opens with an attempt to assassinate Sterling told from the point of view of one of the assassins. She gets cold feet at the last moment and manages to save his life. In exchange he whisks her away from the crime scene and puts her back together (the weapon was a disassembler). During her convalescence she manages to talk him into hiring her as his personal body guard and giving her the expensive full-body makeover that makes her effectively immortal. In exchange she becomes his indentured servant for quite a long time (250 years? can’t remember).

With those preliminaries out of the way, the book hares off into ever more improbable territory. My gripe with the book is that the rules of the nanotech make no sense. First the stuff is ubiquitous, then there are ways to avoid it. The title character is deathly allergic to the stuff so he has to wear an isolation suit which is somehow self-cleaning without having any technology included. In general, the plot moves in just the way that it seems Mitchell wants it to with increasingly little regard for logic or consequences. I could overlook a lot of this, but when it’s coupled with cardboard characters I just give up. Be afraid, because this is marked “Book One of the Deathless”.