The last human alive in an infinite universe. In Relic, by Alan Dean Foster, we follow the life of a man named Ruslan who survived the “Aura Malignance” where billions of others didn’t. The smart virus burned through the human race in record time. On every once-populated world scattered throughout the spiral arm of the galaxy, only he remained… and then, first contact finally happened.
The Myssari took pity, rescued him, and extended his life. Yet he remained alone. He is not exactly a zoo animal, but neither is he really free to make his own choices. The Myssari want to use his genetic material to restart the human race, with or without his consent.
Ruslan thinks that the human race is better off extinct since they were the cause of their own demise.
The Myssari have their own reasons. For one, Ruslan helps explain the weird human tech to the three-legged, three-armed aliens. The other, according to the perfectly amicable race of aliens, is that they believe that knowledge shouldn’t die and that reviving the human race can only help.
It’s an interesting take on the “last man alive” type of story. Getting to watch on helplessly as alien species pick over the bones of our various societies.
One thing lacking was any real danger for the main character. I mean, I know he has plot armour being the central character, but even when other species take an interest, both sides agree that he’ll be safe because neither wants the “specimen” (Ruslan) dead, as that defeats the purpose.
The narration by Marc Thompson was, at times, a little over the top. Whenever the action kicked off, so did he. Enthusiasm is one thing, but I found it cringy at times. Production otherwise was okay, with no background noises or distractions of note. The pacing was too slow for me. I bumped this up to about 1.6x for the bulk of the book just to be comfortable. Basically, it’s a twelve-and-a-half-hour book that probably could have been knocked over in nine.
Overall, it was a compelling story that kept me interested all the way through. Some of the characters (actually most of the aliens) were a bit shallow with no depth to their character… but that suits them, kind of. They’re rather homogenous.
One final note: This is a good example of not judging a book by its cover. I’m sorry to the artist, but that’s just dreadful.