— Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey, on his fourth pint
The author is a character when he's not being a Lemony Narrator, as he studies the science with both romantic fascination and extreme skepticism. While the book is theoretically about the science involved, there are constant digressions into poetic, poignant, or comical aspects of the quest for immortality. The narrative is packed with historical and literary allusions ranging from Aristotle to xkcd.
This book provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: A close friend insists on referring to Aubrey as Audrey.
- Ad of Win: Discussed in-universe. A phenomenon discussed in the book; apparently ads for life extension treatments tend to show up next to articles about accepting death.
- Blasphemous Boast: "My wife borrowed my notebook and wrote to me in big block letters: He is more sure of himself than God."
- Brain Uploading: Aubrey is squicked by the concept. "It seems to me to be in no way desirable. But that may be a danger of being over thirty."
- Double-Meaning Title: With two different Title Drops showing each.
- Drunken Master/The Alcoholic: There is one scene where Aubrey's not drinking beer. He's asleep. Possible explanations proffered include addiction, mental lubrication, or that he needs constant alcohol to avoid becoming knurd.
- Funetik Aksent: Used to indicate levels of inebriation more than Englishness.
- Immortality Immorality: "It's a mad regime that tries to make itself immortal at the cost of the world around it; as mad as a regime that surrenders life and throws it away."
- Immortality Seeker
- Lemony Narrator: "[Descartes] went down as ignominiously as Bacon. [He] caught a cold in midwinter on a visit to Sweden and died at fifty-four. (Those immortalists didn't button up their coats.)"
- Logical Fallacies: Some of the classic arguments that aging is evolutionarily desirable turn out to be circular.
- MayflyDecember Romance: Not only is Aubrey's wife twenty years older, but Aubrey plans to live as long as possible while Adelaide has accepted her mortality. Aubrey finds this intensely frustrating. In their last scene together, he's trying to persuade her to at least freeze her head.
- Meaningful Name/Meaningful Beard: de Grey.
- Overly-Long Name: Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey. A Running Gag.
- Retirony/Tempting Fate: Even in Real Life, it seems like it's not a good idea to mention how long you expect to live.
- Technological Singularity: Discussed. Aubrey believes that it's inevitable, but that every day we hasten it by saving tens of thousands of lives.
- They Called Me Mad!
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future
- Who Wants to Live Forever?
- Wizard Beard/Wizards Live Longer