HHere at Burning Chair Towers the publication of a new novel is like the birth of a new child: plenty of excitement and trepidation, but with (usually) less panicked rushing to the hospital. There’s a long build up while we get everything produced and prepped, and then it’s the agonising wait until publication day.
During that period, we like to take our minds off things by doing a bit of list-building, because… well… if it was good enough for Nick Hornby in High Fidelity, then it’s good enough for us!
So in the last few days before the launch of A Life Eternal, our minds wandered to what were our favourite stories set around the theme of immortality.
For those of you who haven’t heard yet (and if you haven’t, where have you been??), A Life Eternal is the latest novel by Richard Ayre, published on 15 June. The book tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary man gifted with immortality, forced to live through the rollercoaster ride that was the 20th Century, all the while struggling not only with the question of how and why he is so different, but also trying to retain what is left of his own humanity. You can get hold of a copy here, or you can read a special preview by joining Richard’s readers’ group here.
Anyway, after lots of our customary debates and lighthearted rows, as well as some thoughts from Richard Ayre himself, here are our top 5. Do you agree? Think we’ve missed any out? Comment below, and lets have a conversation!
The story of Louis, an American nobleman who, when offered the chance of immortality by the vampire Lestat, grabs at it, only to realise how tortured and complicated the existence he’s been cursed with really is. Gothic horror is interweaved with some punchy morality questions, all wrapped up in a compelling and beautifully-written story.
And the film is pretty darn good too – with special mention to Tom Cruise for showing us that his acting range had a decidedly darker side than many of us thought.
Adam truly is an immortal – he’s sixty thousand years old, and counting. Not that he can be truly certain: after all, his earliest memories were as a caveman and amounted to mainly: “fire good, ice bad”. But it’s when he gets to the 21st Century that things start to get truly testing, with demons, vampires, and a mysterious individual who knows exactly what he is.
This is one of those books you’ll whip through in one sitting: an insanely readable mix of sci-fi, fantasy, humour, and adventure.
This 2014 film starring Tom Cruise (again!) and Emily Blunt is not only a real guilty pleasure, but a proper rip-roaring sci-fi action. Riffing off the video game concept of respawning back at the last point you saved each time you die, Major William Cage finds himself reliving his last day in battle over and over again, learning new skills each time before he dies. But can he and Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski find the key to winning the war, and saving mankind?
Talk of resetting the day inevitably led us to this classic Bill Murray film, and not only because our lockdown lives have led us to sympathise massively with weatherman Phil Connors as he finds that ever day is – literally – the same…
And just in case you’re worried that we’ve diverted from written word to screen, here’s an added bonus for you – How to Write Groundhog Day, by Danny Rubin, is not only a fascinating insight into how the film was dreamt up and eventually made into the classic we know and love, but is also a witty insight into the Hollywood writing process.
Because… well… you’ve just got to, haven’t you? A cult classic, which led to a generation of schoolkids holding sticks above their heads and shouting “I am the One!!”, Highlander is the true definition of guilty pleasure. Yes, it has some very dodgy accents (fun fact: Christopher Lambert was chosen for the role when Russell Mulcahy came across a picture of him playing Tarzan in Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. The fact that he couldn’t actually speak English was seen as a minor detail, and led to the rather bizarre accent he sports throughout the film, with the production team arguing that, because of his immortality, he’d have a messed-up accent anyway…!).
This is an enjoyable romp, which also gave this (at the time) young teenage writer his first insights into the idea that living forever might not be as amazing as it sounds.
There you go. There were plenty that didn’t make our list, simply because of space. But did we miss your favourite? Or are there any that you would recommend we go and read / watch? We’d love to hear from you – just comment below!
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash