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For billions of people, the Rebirth Institute holds the key to eternal life. But only a tiny minority - less than 1 percent - are selected for rebirth. Benny Rice isn’t one of them. True, he’s got all the necessary traits: compassion, health, energy, potential for creativity. But intelligence tests show he’s a moron - automatically disqualifying him.
And then, in the midst of a crisis that threatens more than Benny’s life, his intelligence scores must be reexamined.... And he’s not exactly who he says he is.
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By Katherine on 12-03-13
Exciting and thought-provoking story
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
I picked up Flight from Rebirth by J.T. McIntosh because it was on sale at Audible. I wasn’t familiar with the book or the author (J.T. McIntosh is a penname of James Murdoch MacGregor, a Scottish writer).
The story is about a man named Benny Rice who appears to be a pleasant mentally challenged man who works at a low-level job in a futuristic United States. It soon becomes apparent to the reader that Benny is a lot more functional than he seems. McIntosh teases us with this until the end — who is Benny? Is he really mentally challenged? If not, why is he pretending to be? Who is he hiding from, and why? Add to that his society’s strange process of Rebirth — reincarnation for the few people who’ve proved themselves worthy to carry on the human genome — and you’ve got quite a mystery.
It was this mystery and the fast pace that kept me intrigued by Flight from Rebirth. The novel is short (the audiobook version is only 5 hours long) and I would have preferred further exploration into the psychology of knowing you’re going to be reborn without memories of your past life, but the ambiguity of this will probably appeal to many readers.
Flight from Rebirth was originally published in 1972, so it’s not surprising that it contains old-fashioned ideas about women’s roles and that the lectures about music recording techniques are quite dated, but there are interesting discussions of intelligence and governmental tyranny. The author describes how this future United States subtly and insidiously became a police state where citizens were constantly tracked and monitored:
“… a police state that slowly, gradually, constitutionally and legally came into being was much more durable. The people, through their elected representatives, had given away their own freedom.”
J.T. McIntosh’s writing style isn’t anything brilliant and I suspect that it comes across better on audio than in print, but the story is exciting and somewhat thought-provoking. I recommend the audio version read by John Lee. With the Whispersync deal you can get it for $3 after you purchase the Kindle version for $3.
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