The best books about immortality

18 authors have picked their favorite books about immortality and why they recommend each book.

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Permutation City

By Greg Egan,

Book cover of Permutation City

A different version of the AI problem is the one discussed by a multitude of scientific and philosophical authors: what if the world in which we live, including our own consciousness, is a computer simulation? Permutation City, by Greg Egan, is one version of this dilemma. In this novel, those wealthy enough to afford it may upload their consciousness into a virtual world, one which they have a part in creating, and one which aims to be self-sustaining after they die.

The plot revolves around a researcher who has invented a virtual self-generating chemical germ-seed that can evolve and populate such a world. However, eventually, the germ-seed creates its own world and rejects the presence of the uploaded human consciousness in it, who are then faced with having to decide whether to leave and seek another virtual universe that the mathematics predicts exists. This novel challenged my intelligence at…

Who am I?

I'm particularly intrigued by the topic of artificial intelligence and whether an artificial brain can become conscious and how we'll be able to control a superintelligent AI. I follow all the developments in the field of artificial intelligence and have tried to incorporate some of them into my own fiction writing. I have a scientific background as a former professor of psychology and neuroscience researcher and published a book in the Johns Hopkins Series on Neuroscience and Psychiatry, and numerous scientific articles. I'm also a member of the Society of Philosophers in America. I've been a fan of science fiction since childhood. Science fiction has always seemed to me to be a perfect mixture of fiction and philosophy.

I wrote...

Ezekiel's Brain

By Casey Dorman,

Book cover of Ezekiel's Brain

What is my book about?

Ezekiel’s Brain is a story of a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) that goes rogue and exterminates the human race. Two hundred years later, AIs have replaced humans and are exploring the universe, but a malignant AI mutation leads to an intra-galactic war that can only be won by resurrecting Ezekiel, an electronic copy of a human brain.

This is hard science fiction with a philosophical twist. What begins as an earth-bound thriller about a mysterious government agency trying to weaponize a powerful AI, becomes the beginning of a new race of machines who send a crew of AIs off to the far reaches of space. The first book in the Voyages of the Delphi series features the next step in the evolution of intelligence—from human to machine.

Tuck Everlasting

By Natalie Babbitt,

Book cover of Tuck Everlasting

So, this book was made into two movies, the first in 1981 and the other in 2002, but I first experienced this story by reading the book when I was a young girl in sixth grade in 1978. I remember reading the epilogue over and over again—it broke my heart to think how the greed of one man could ruin something so magical. I pondered whether it was a blessing or a curse to live forever, and the town of Treegap felt like it could exist in any wooded place. Whenever I find myself in a thick forest, I still search for springs that bubble up from the ground, taking me right back to those emotions when reading this great classic.

Who am I?

Like most writers, I am extremely interested in the “what if” factor. What if food ingredients could make a person feel specific emotions? What if drinking from a spring in the woods could give you a superpower? What if fairies really do take care of and grow all plants and trees in the world? I love to read and write about ordinary people, living everyday life, who encounter threads of magic. Influenced by reading books in the genre of “magical realism,” I love to explore how a dab of magic can be used in realistic fiction to emotionally affect the characters and story arc.

I wrote...

The Fairies of Turtle Creek

By Jill K. Sayre,

Book cover of The Fairies of Turtle Creek

What is my book about?

Thirteen-year-old Claire is a science-minded girl who has deep concerns about her brother who is away fighting in the Iraq War. When her quirky and estranged grandmother comes to live with her, Claire is even more uneasy—especially since the elderly woman believes in fairies. In fact, they are nearly all she talks about. However, it's through Grandma Faye's stories of being a thirteen-year-old in Dallas, Texas in the 1920s that teaches Claire about love, growing up, and the importance of believing in things only seen with her heart.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By V.E. Schwab,

Book cover of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I doubt this book needs much introduction, but oh my is this an outstanding read, perfect for cold, dark autumn evenings. This is a slow, introspective, gloriously self-indulgent book that explores the evergreen theme of the meaning of life and love through a refreshing story that is equal parts historical, romance, dark fantasy, and contemporary novel. If you're looking for a plot-driven, action orientated story, this might not be for you, but if you like your books like a Friday night curled up on the couch under a knitted blanket with a rich hot chocolate—spiked with something harder—a storm raging outside, and maybe a cat purring on your feet, then you will love this book.

Who am I?

While I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a fan of horror, I have recently found myself drawn to darker books—especially at this time of the year with Halloween just around the corner. As a bisexual non-binary person, I love finding books with diverse LGBT+ rep in them, so these are just a few of the spookier LGBT+ books I think would make for great autumnal reading. Plus, my own book—My Name is Magic—features all kinds of mythological werebeasties and a race to save the day before the traditional Finnish Kekri festival, an equivalent of Halloween, although it involves less candy and more fire.

I wrote...

My Name Is Magic

By Xan van Rooyen,

Book cover of My Name Is Magic

What is my book about?

Despite coming from a long line of powerful Finnish mages, and their name literally meaning magic, Taika can’t perform the simplest of spells. Life at Myrskyjärvi International School for the Magically Gifted goes from bad to worse when Taika sees a liekkiö and recognizes the spirit's voice begging for help as that of their former BFF/major crush whose recent absence from class hadn’t gone unnoticed. When more students go missing, Taika leads a race against time to save friends old and new before a powerful group of chaos mages can destroy everything Taika holds dear.

For fans of witchcraft and wizardry looking for an inclusive story, My Name Is Magic is a story about finding strength from within and potential where you least expect it.

The Casquette Girls

By Alys Arden,

Book cover of The Casquette Girls

Did I mention how much I love vampires? I grew up reading The Vampire Diaries, so I am all about a good (fictional) love triangle. Add vampires to that love triangle? Yes please! Cue Alys Arden’s The Casquette Girls series. Like my first two recs, this is also set in New Orleans, except unlike the others, this book is set in more modern times, specifically right after Hurricane Katrina. Since the author is from the area, the setting feels all the more authentic, and she doesn’t shy away from describing the devastation and rebuilding efforts; these are woven into the narrative. The writing itself is beautiful, but the characters are the star here. This series has quickly climbed to my favorites list. 

Who am I?

Vampires are the coolest monsters. Change my mind. Actually, forget it – you can’t change my mind. Because I’m right. I have always – I mean always – loved vampires. Reading about them, watching them – all the things. The first time I read Interview with a Vampire changed me forever as a human. There’s something so universally appealing about these immortal bloodsuckers. Maybe it’s because they stay forever young. Or maybe it’s because they look like humans, therefore, they can often hide (or lurk) in plain sight. As an author of my own monster stories, I find them inspiring. So, here’s a list of my recent favs that you can sink your own teeth into. 

I wrote...

The Stitchers (Fright Watch #1)

By Lorien Lawrence,

Book cover of The Stitchers (Fright Watch #1)

What is my book about?

Thirteen-year-old Quinn Parker knows that there’s something off about her neighbors. She calls them “the Oldies” because they’ve lived on Goodie Lane for as long as anyone can remember, but they never seem to age. Are they vampires? Or aliens? Or is Quinn’s imagination just running wild again?

If her dad were still around, he’d believe her. When he was alive, they’d come up with all sorts of theories about the Oldies. Now, Quinn’s determined to keep the investigation going with the help of Mike, her neighbor and maybe crush. They’ll have to search for clues and follow the mystery wherever it leads. But the Oldies are on to them. And the closer Quinn and Mike get to uncovering the answers, the more they realize just how terrifying the truth may be.

The Year of Our War

By Steph Swainston,

Book cover of The Year of Our War

This series is very elegantly written, but that’s not what makes it the most unique on this list. For a start, the protagonist is a skinny womanising drug-addict immortal with enormous wings. Yes, you read that right. He can fly, he drinks coffee, and when he overdoses he trips into a parallel universe. Several, actually. What else inhabits these strange worlds? Giant ants. And it’s these horse-sized monsters that the people of the Fourlands are embroiled in bitter conflict with. They pour through dimensional tears in waves, and the fighting is frenetic, bloody, and gruesome. Swainston has an almost forensic approach to the description of violence in these books, and it adds a dash of realism to an otherwise wildly fantastical setting and premise. A criminally underappreciated series.

Who am I?

Without conflict there is no story. It doesn’t always have to be between the forces of good and evil with all of creation hanging in the balance. Nor does it need to entangle complex issues about morality and the human condition. Readers (and writers) can get just as pumped up about Karen from down the street arguing with her neighbour about that damn tree branch hanging over her fence. It just so happens that fantasy conflict, great and small, is my bread and butter. I was born and raised in New Zealand on a diet of anime and video games and I love reading a good honest dust-up. 

I wrote...

Blades Lost

By Stuart Kurth,

Book cover of Blades Lost

What is my book about?

Mercenaries. All custard-hearted, duty-shirking layabouts who drink all the booze and make themselves scarce when the actual fighting starts. Brothers Pelt and Halling, two killers without enough common decency to deserve surnames, however, are different. If it’s a dark task you want doing, these are the men you want to hire. Some say they walk with the Betrayer’s hands on their shoulders, and that they eat wickedness and drink evil. But as the saying goes, if you stab too many backs, sooner or later the only one left is your own. The past is an enemy the brothers can’t defeat, and now the one battle they can’t win lies before them. They will soon have to choose. Loyalty to their blades, or loyalty to each other.

In the Garden of Iden

By Kage Baker,

Book cover of In the Garden of Iden

Kage Baker is an Isaac Asimov compared to Terry Pratchett’s Marx Brothers. In the Garden of Iden is more sci-fi than fantasy, including time travel, cybernetics, and nanotechnologies. And love and loss. This book is part of a series of novels that Baker crafted about time-travelling enhanced humans who carry out critical tasks throughout history. 

What I loved most about this book is how very human her main characters are. Like Pratchett and Bill Shakespeare, Baker is a master at showing us human nature. Her comedy is high comedy. I laugh because I recognize myself in her characters. Baker has a fine eye for the subtle and the absurd. And yet unlike many humorous authors, the tragedies of the heart are always at the core of her stories.

Who am I?

Where many people would see an empty package of Oreos, I see the remains of a lost civilization, an artifact crafted galaxies away by beings who flit in and out of existence in order to build rainbows for lonely children and who have left the empty bag, filled with dog poop, flaming on someone’s front step and are laughing uncontrollably as the person stomps on it to put it out. I want to find authors who see more than the bag of Oreos. I want them to be wildly imaginative and to paint what they see with cleverness and humor. I try to do the same.

I wrote...

Annie Gomez and the Gigantic Foot of Doom

By Jay Cutts,

Book cover of Annie Gomez and the Gigantic Foot of Doom

What is my book about?

It’s the last day of 10th grade. Annie Gomez’s biology teacher informs her that aliens are trying to control her mind. “Why not?” she thinks. “Everyone else is!”

The adventures of a group of brilliant but weird (too short, too tall, too artistic, too ethnic, too mature, too extraterrestrial) teens trying to save humanity. Their trials take them from a fairy dimension hidden within Earth to a far distant planet inhabited by intelligent rhino-like space travelers. As they try to save Earth, their lives are in continual danger, but, hey, it’s better than gym class.

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

By Philip K. Dick,

Book cover of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Gorging on Philip K. Dick novels in the 1970s made me a full-blown science fiction fan. Written in 1964, this is likely his best. It is dazzling in its twists and turns, philosophical, comic, and at times, downright creepy. The earth has become nearly uninhabitable—with temperatures reaching 180 degrees on a typical day—and the UN is forcing people to colonize Mars, Venus, and the moons of Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn. The colonists, miserable outcasts, get their kicks while gathered around a Perky Pat layout, complete with small dolls and accessories. They ingest the alien lichen Can-D which “translates” them into a shared Ken and Barbie-esque fantasy of 1950s-1960s’ life. Billionaire entrepreneur Palmer Eldritch introduces a rival to Can-D called Chew-Z, a diabolical substance that further threatens humanity. Dick was one science fiction writer who had his doubts about the glorious future that space exploration or technological innovation promised.

Who am I?

I’m fascinated with techno-utopian schemes. Decades ago, I had conversations with a friend who believed that humanity needed to evolve and leave the planet, just as early life once left the oceans. It was an intriguing idea that I have tried to follow up, critically, in Star Settlers. My book is a history not so much of the technology and nuts and bolts of space travel (although I do cover some of that), but of the rationale behind it—the idea that humanity’s ultimate destiny is in the stars. The idea is beguiling—but, likely, wrong-headed. To write the book, I spoke with physicists, science fiction writers, and space enthusiasts of all stripes. 

I wrote...

Star Settlers: The Billionaires, Geniuses, and Crazed Visionaries Out to Conquer the Universe

By Fred Nadis,

Book cover of Star Settlers: The Billionaires, Geniuses, and Crazed Visionaries Out to Conquer the Universe

What is my book about?

The idea that humanity’s destiny is in the stars has long been popular with science fiction writers and space visionaries. Billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk now lead that choir, insisting that we must establish Earth 2.0 out in space to prevent human extinction. They follow Russian mystic Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s century-old advice that “The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot remain in the cradle forever.” Star Settlers traces the waxing and waning of interest in space settlement through the decades, offers a journalistic tour through the influential subculture attempting to shape a multi-planetary future, and tackles the somewhat surreal conceptions underlying the enterprise.  

The Fourteenth Goldfish

By Jennifer L. Holm,

Book cover of The Fourteenth Goldfish

Books that use humor to explore serious issues are delightful, and this one tops my list. Eleven-year-old Ellie isn’t the biggest fan of change. Then one day her mom is called to pick up Ellie’s grandfather from the police station and comes home with...a thirteen-year-old boy?! Ellie’s grandfather has managed to reverse the aging process, and now he’s enrolled in her middle school. Ellie and her grandfather form a strong bond over their shared interest in science. She even helps him break into his old lab so he can retrieve the specimen he needs to publish his findings. But Ellie becomes uneasy with the possible applications of her grandfather’s discovery. Maybe change isn’t always the worst thing after all? This light-hearted book will make you laugh—and think. 

Who am I?

I’ve been a writer a long time and a reader for even longer. But, above all, I’m someone who has always been interested in people. The book universe is filled with fast-moving, plot-driven fiction, but I find myself drawn to stories focused on layered characters and complex relationships. Since I think families are so basic to our experiences as people, I’m always interested in those stories too. What the five books here have in common are big family changes—mostly caused by adults—that challenge the books’ main characters—who are all kids.

I wrote...

365 Days to Alaska

By Cathy Carr,

Book cover of 365 Days to Alaska

What is my book about?

Eleven-year-old Rigel loves her life in off-the-grid Alaska. She hunts rabbits, does school through the mail, and plays dominoes with her family in their two-room cabin. But when her parents get divorced, Rigel and her sisters have to move with their mom to the Connecticut suburbs to live with a grandmother Rigel doesn’t even know. Rigel’s holding fast to the secret pact that she made with her father before she left Alaska: if she can stick it out in Connecticut for one year, he’ll bring her back home. But can Rigel make it for that long? And even if she does, will she be the same person at the end of 365 days? 

The Witch's Daughter

By Paula Brackston,

Book cover of The Witch's Daughter

Like the millions that made this a bestseller, the cover of The Witch’s Daughter was the first hint of the intriguing story. The hem of a long dress is raised to reveal a pair of old-fashioned lace-up shoes. You know those feet could dance or run at any moment. Heroine Elizabeth doesn’t disappoint. A strong and immortal witch, her story sweeps back and forth from the 1600s to present day while unspeakable evil pursues her. The story weaves history with involving and multi-dimensional characters. Elizabeth isn’t afraid to reveal her fear even as she uses her great power. She’s the kind of heroine I want to write and read about. Just thinking about her makes me want to read it again. Is there any higher recommendation?

Who am I?

Who wouldn’t want to be a witch? Look at Sabrina. She can fly, cast spells, and she has a talking cat. We’d like that. Seriously, we believe in magic and rock ‘n roll. We always wanted to write together, but it was when we turned to the dark side that we began to publish. Readers were hooked on vampires and feasting on True Blood, but we were more interested in witches and shifters. As big fans of The Dead Files, we visited Cassadaga, Florida, home to mediums and spiritualists. The Witches of New Mourne series allows us to create characters with these same interests—and they’re witches!  

I wrote...

Awakening Magic

By Neely Powell,

Book cover of Awakening Magic

What is my book about?

An enchanted town. A vengeful spirit. A powerful coven under siege. For generations, the Connelly witches made a great sacrifice to protect their town. In exchange, New Mourne remained a refuge for humans and supernatural beings to live in peace. Now Brenna Burns, or another female of this generation, is next in line to die—unless Brenna can find a way to end the curse of the malevolent Woman in White. With coven protections breached, Sheriff Jake Tyler joins the battle. The time for sacrifice draws near. The powers of the Connelly witches may not be enough to defeat the dark magic. As the demonic influence drains the small town of its peace, the coven struggles to break its deadly bargain with the Woman in White.

The Oracle Stone

By Talli Morgan,

Book cover of The Oracle Stone

The Oracle Stone is a wonderfully imaginative story set in an immersive world and centres around a diverse cast of loveable characters. It is a story that brings to mind classic fantasy tales of magic, epic quests, and heroics, while also putting some modern-day spins onto each of these beloved fantasy tropes. 

Who am I?

I'm a lifelong lover of all things fantasy and a passionate member of the LGBT+ community. It means so much to me every time I pick up a book to find characters with different sexualities on the pages and seeing them in fantasy books is even better! It gives me a thrill each time to feel like people like me are being acknowledged in my favourite books. Because of this, I also strive to be as inclusive and diverse in my own books

I wrote...

Amulet of Wishes

By Rita A. Rubin,

Book cover of Amulet of Wishes

What is my book about?

The Guardians are the protectors of Aloseria. They are the keepers of the peace and they have a unique ability-they can turn into dragons. Derek Draco is one of them. Haunted by the memories of his past, Derek comes across a piece of a mythical amulet, said to hold the power to grant wishes once all three pieces are brought together. Seeing an opportunity to right the wrongs of his past, Derek sets out on a journey to find the rest of the amulet, along with his friends, Jared and Arabelle. However, Derek is unaware of the true power of the amulet and using it to fulfill his seemingly innocent wish could have disastrous consequences.

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