The Man Who Can’t Die, by Jon Frankel, will be distributed as a podcast beginning the first week of January 2010.

About the Book

In the squalid New York of the very near future, Manhattan is cut with sewage-filled canals, and walled in by levees.  The suburbs have become subterranean hives of office workers living in climate controlled pods.  Upstate New York has been abandoned, left in the hands of the Iroquois Nation and Amish farmers, coupled as a hidden sanctum for a small spate of refugees.

It is in this setting that Dr. Ruth Bryson, a renowned 67-year-old scientist, reluctantly under the aegis of a monopolist, government-sponsored pharmaceutical giant, has invented Paragane, a panacea marketed as a cure for ennui, despair, and hopelessness.  Among its many early adopters is Veronica, the deeply suicidal wife of Felix Clay, who, with virtually every other person prescribed the medication, reports not only the miraculous success of the drug, but the recurring dream of exploring an enchanted garden on the arm of an angel.  This dream’s reality is evidently more desirous than a waking consciousness for Veronica and others, as Paragane’s side effect becomes evident:

Ten percent of all people who take Paragane will die, inexplicably, and with no immediate causal connection to the drug.

Governed by his illogical, desperate attempt to find his wife in her Edenic afterworld, Felix, an everyman and The Man Who Can’t Die, voluntarily develops his own addiction to Paragane and experiences first-hand the fraught world of drug addicts and homelessness.  Dr. Bryson, desperate herself to right the ethical wrongs committed by her complicity with Paragane, is determined to capture and study Felix, who has become legendary among locals.  When they meet, when their motivations and purposes are mutually validated, and when they together experience a bloody outcome in the middle of the woods of upstate New York, the reader comes away with a fraught glance into a not-so-unlikely future.

Employing some genre conventions including science fiction, erotic pulp, and comedy, and written in an accessibly modernist voice to appeal to its natural audience of searching souls, The Man Who Can’t Die offers the potential to eradicate the sand-drawn line of “literary” and “genre” fiction and appeal to anyone ready to do more than question or polemicize the dour state of current affairs.  This and other works by Jon Frankel can be found on his web site.

About the Podcast

The book will be read and distributed as an audio podcast in its entirety by Miette. Chapters will be made available on this site simultaneously, in case you wish to read along.  If you love what you hear/read and want to give us money, we won’t turn you down.  If you want to publish or redistribute the book in any format, we should talk.

A disclaimer:  this is a book for people who are capable of thinking like grown-ups, at least some of the time.  If your parents or your gods are likely to be offended by adult situations, then you might not want to listen to this.  There are a few inoffensive stories at Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast that might suit you instead. You can also can read some of The Man Who Can’t Die online and decide for yourself.  For parents or gods who are offended at what’s being fed to the erstwhile uncorrupted brains of your spawn or followers, take it up with them.  They have been duly disclaimed upon.