The Wellstone – Wil McCarthy (2003)
‘In his Nebula Award-nominated novel ‘The Collapsium’, acclaimed author Wil McCarthy introduced a richly imagined future of boundless possibility, where poverty, war, and even death are banished forever. Only now that world’s exquisite perfection propels one restless young man toward the ultimate challenge…
For the children of immortal parents, growing up can be hard to do. A prince will forever be a prince – leaving no chance for Bascal Edward de Towaji Lutui to inherit his parents’ throne. So what is an angry young blue blood to do? Punch a hole in the shadow he’s been living in by rallying his equally disgruntled companions to make an improbable spaceship, busting out of the so-called summer camp in which their parents have stowed them and making a daring escape across the vastness of space. ne’er do well Conrad Mursk is just along for the joyride – until he realises this is no typical display of teenage angst.
The children are rising up in an honest-to-gods revolution. And, boyo, things are going to get raw…’
Blurb from the March 2003 Bantam paperback edition
McCarthy’s sequel to ‘The Collapsium’ is somewhat disappointing since it lacks some of the wit and panache of its gloriously original predecessor.
Set some years after the events of ‘The Collapsium’, ‘The Wellstone’ explores some of the more unexpected ramifications of a society where immortality has become the norm.
The Queen of Sol and her consort Bruno, now have a son; Bascal Edward de Towaji Lutui, a rebellious youth (and talented poet) who has, with some dismay, foreseen his destiny of being forever a Prince and never ascending to the throne.
Tired of his parents’ dismissal of his concerns as childish whining, he incites rebellion amongst the disaffected youth. Having subsequently been confined to an artificial planette (an asteroid-sized world endowed with standard Earth gravity and an atmosphere through a process best explained by the Author within the original text) with his entourage of supporters and sycophants, he manages to cobble together a spaceship and escape.
The science is just as stunningly inventive as in the previous novel, but the novel suffers in that one can never really feel any empathy for the Prince. One feels he should be, if not a loveable rogue, then a likeable maniac, but his charms remained somewhere off the page.
Also, by concentrating solely on the Prince’s escape and eventual capture it severely reduces the plot to a linear exercise, as compared to ‘The Collapsium’ which contained multiple diversions, revelations and surprises.
However, McCarthy is such a good writer that this is still an eminently readable and polished piece of work. One wonders if there is a veiled comparison to the current British Monarch and her King-in-waiting. It would be nice to think so, but I can’t really see Prince Charles inciting a youth rebellion and heading off across Middle England on a hijacked bus, although I would be vastly impressed if he did.