Themes of Nightfall: Immortality
Over the next few blogs, I will be discussing some of the themes I enjoy reading and writing about, many of which appear in Nightfall.
In this blog, I’ll be discussing the notion of living forever – Immortality.
To clarify, I’m not talking about being an immortal god that cannot be killed. I’m talking about what may one day be possible – medical advancements that basically cure all diseases and fend off all viruses. In essence, the ability to thrive forever, but not necessarily be immune to death.
Why does it fascinate me?
Have you ever watched a movie or read a book and thought, “Yeah… that’s great. But what now?”
I first thought hard on the notion of immortality when I was watching and kids movie.
Yeah – I know right?
But, as the movie moved towards its climax, I began thinking that it was all well and good that they would get saved, but what happened after that. Not only were they saved, but they found a way to essentially live forever.
Of course, the kids movie I’m talking about is Robots – that quickly forgotten animated feature voiced by Ewan MacGregor and Robin Williams. Now, I won’t bore you here with the plot, but essentially the old robots are dying, and the spare parts they need are being withheld. Our hero gets the parts and makes it so everyone can live forever.
And, they all dance happily at the end because that’s what we all do when we’re happy right?
Anyway, I thought about it a bit. What was so good about being alive forever? If every ailment could just be fixed, then immortals we would all be.
Pondering the question, I came up with what I think are some good and bad sides to it all.
Think of how much you could get done. That project you’ve been putting off? That degree you’ve pushed aside? Even that skill you never bothered to learn?
All these things would now be in your grasp, because you didn’t have the time before. There was always something more important to do. When you’re immortal, you literally have limitless time to get something done or to achieve something you never thought you could.
Nothing is too far away either. If you’ve ever wanted to travel and see the world, now you can. You don’t have a finite amount of time to deal with things, to tick of items on the bucket list.
Literally, you have all the time in the world.
Nay - Let's die as we should
So that’s all well and good. You have the time to do all the things you want to do. But, and this is a biggy, what if you no longer have anything left to accomplish? There would be no longing, and therefore no drive to achieve any more goals. Life may become pointless… a meandering existence that only seems to have one way out.
But I think the most important aspect of immortality is what it would do to those around us, and how would they be affected. Torchwood touched on this quite well in their series Miracle Day. While there were many issues with the plot (and acting), they touched on immortality in quite a pragmatic way.
Essentially, the world woke up one day to find that people could no longer die. While this presented some of the wonderful areas above, it also highlighted what impact it would have on the world. Pretty soon, the food supplies would start running out (due to the extra hundreds of thousands of mouths that would need to be fed EACH DAY).
According to the world population clock, there have already been an extra 80 million people born this year. This is, to an extent, countered by the 30-odd million deaths, thus creating an increase of around 50 million people on Earth. While many see this as unsustainable as it is, the problem would be much worse should the death rate decline to what could possibly be zero.
This would also create pressure on both the urban and natural environments, including the need for more areas to be cleared for people to live (and we all know what that is doing already).
How does this relate to Nightfall?
Out main antagonists in Nightfall, led by James, have found something that may provide the key to everlasting life.
James and his people are all too aware of the problems with the world, and the additional strains their discovery would cause. But, they have a solution.
It is not one that the world would enjoy.
Nightfall delves into the very heart of humanity, and asks the question of immortality – What is the price of living forever? Is it a price we are willing to pay?