Elitist Classic: This Immortal
Conrad Nomikos is not what he first appears. On the outside he seems to be in his thirties, walks with a limp, one side of his face is disfigured, and he has a government job working with Earth’s antiquities. Dig a little deeper and you learn that he’s been working that job at least twenty years, he knows the most powerful and influential people on a first-name basis, and he talks about historical events in a more intimate way than most.
THIS IMMORTAL by Roger Zelazny (Amazon) is told from Conrad’s PoV, and he’s as interesting and complicated a character as one would expect from a man who’s lived as long as he has. Published in 1965 it tied with Herbert’s DUNE for the Hugo in 1966, and reminds us that we’ve been fascinated with the concept of immortality in our genre for quite some time.
After a devastating nuclear war, Earth must deal with human and animal mutations, and the “invasion” of the blue-skinned Vegan aliens, who see the planet as a tourist attraction. Conrad will protect his home using methods others won’t always understand. Zelazny’s story is fast-paced and fascinating, his characters quick-witted and layered (with lots of nimble dialogue). We’re never really clear about how old Conrad is or all that he has done, but it’s the mystery that makes him interesting, particularly considering his Greek origins–is this a result of Earth’s nuclear tragedies or is it immortality relating to the gods?
THIS IMMORTAL may be harder to find in smaller libraries, but there’s a current version in print, as well as used ones available online.
- Recommended Age: 14+ more for comprehension than content
- Language: Minor
- Violence: Yes, although nothing gruesome or bloody
- Sex: Vaguely referenced