Back in the early 80's I read a novel and remember two scenes. The scenes were related, as I recall.
The first scene had the protagonist looking at his friend, who proved to be an antagonist, standing in the doorway of his rocket (which had fins, landing fins). One fin had been shot off and the rocket continued to stand due to the gyroscope, which whined as it spun up, trying to keep the rocket upright. Eventually the gyroscope blew apart, killing the antagonist.
The second scene had the protagonist speaking with a woman, who proved to be the now-dead antagonist's mother. She dropped her pretense, allowing the protagonist to see her for who she really was. Being wealthy, she had paid for whatever Clarkean magic allowed for incredibly long life-spans. Though looking like she aged no more than 35-45, she had a look on her face due to all the accumulated knowledge and experience that gave away her condition. The protagonist's response to this moment was, "you're old." Said in surprise or awe.