It is a story that spans thousands of years, told from the point of view of an immortal man onboard Earth's first generation starship as it makes its way across interstellar space on a colonisation mission.
As the centuries and millennia roll by he uncovers revelations from his long-forgotten past, and makes an astonishing discovery a thousand light-years away. But to his dismay darkness soon falls on Earth’s civilisation. Will his ship’s colonisation efforts be enough to secure humanity’s survival?
Read an extract from the first chapter below:
|'The Immortal Kings' - cover image|
I find it hard to remember the first century of my life. The memories of those times seem mostly vague and disconnected, and devoid of order. But I was someone of some importance, I believe.
I do have two quite vivid memories from that time. The first is my attendance at the coronation of His Majesty King William VII, the last British monarch to be crowned. I remember the pride I felt that day as I watched the crown lowered onto the head of the young king, although I’m not exactly sure why I was proud. I have fleeting recollections of talking with the prince, and of his residences which I seemed to have visited from time to time, so perhaps I was proud because of some deep involvement with him or his family, or with the coronation proceedings. Or perhaps it was simply patriotic pride. Whatever the reason, it was a glorious occasion of great pomp and ceremony, something which England had always excelled at.
It was shortly after the coronation that I was selected for the Treatment. That is my second clear memory of that time. The selection process had been extraordinarily strict, though I cannot recall in what way, but I passed and very soon afterwards I was taken away to begin the procedure. It was painless but long, and I remember spending a significant period of time in a rather remote but stately hospital surrounded by fields and forests. There were many others undergoing the Treatment, over a hundred in total. King William was one of them. For what must have been a year or more we watched ourselves grow younger until our physical ages settled in our twenties, and then, having been returned to our physical primes, all of us, apart from the King, left the Earth.
We became known as the Immortals; those that were to oversee sixty or more generations of travellers, and those that were to provide a direct link to our point of origin and to maintain its values and civilisation during the voyage. We were to be the continuity of thought and leadership and culture that would bind the multi-generational community together and ensure its survival in the sterile void between stars, and to ensure the ultimate success of the mission.
We were not truly immortal, of course. Our ageing was initially reversed and then slowed dramatically, but it was not halted. And we could still die due to accident or infection, which is why we were largely kept separate from the thousands of normal humans on-board our great ship. Except to the initial generation of mortals, with whom we had relatively close contact during the years of preparation and boarding, we must have seemed mysterious and distant to those fleeting souls; detached and almost god-like. Always there, never changing, never ageing, and with direct knowledge of things buried deep in the vaults of the past.
As new generations were born and raised and older ones vanished our relationship with the normal humans grew more and more detached. By the third century of our voyage direct communication with them ceased almost completely. We had nothing of substance in common. We were now invisible overseers, cocooned in our separate and secure section of the ship, watching the mortals as they carried out their brief phases of existence.