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In the novel, it's implied that one of the ways for civilizations to escape early extinction is for them to become organized into Lines, where each line consists of a thousand or so shatterlings.

These shatterlings are basically just clones who are dispersed to various far-away parts of the galaxy. By the time the first shatterlings were created, there wasn't any technology that could grant humans physical immortality. So, how can shatterlings survive for millions of years?

(Note that in the novel, shatterlings were supposed to live indefinitely from the very beginning.)

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Actually - physical immortality is explained as being engineered into the shatterlings from the begining:

“Ludmilla Marcellin was not going to go to all this trouble and have her clones die of senescence after only two or three circuits. The human race might be content with its current life expectancy, but nothing less than physical immortality would do for shatterlings. They must be able to live for thousands of years (or at least be able to have their memories and personalities transplanted intact into new receptacle bodies) or the whole enterprise would be for nothing.

But all of this was surmountable. Given time and money, there were very few problems in the universe that could not be solved.”

Before this, it is explained that the cryoslep tech need not be ready before the first ships depart:

“The ships would not have to wait until it was perfected; they could leave with the clones still awake and beam the necessary science out to them once they were under way.”

Presumably the same is true of the immortality tech.

(Both quotes from ‘Part Four’)

  • If physical immortality was engineered into them from the beginning, then Ludmilla Marcellain wouldn't have died in the Golden Hour, and every rich person in Golden Hour would have been physically immortal. But the only beings shown to be immortal were those that cloned themselves. The same applies for beaming them the technology later. – Daud May 31 at 5:09
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    The only explanation there is the line ‘The human race might be content with its current life expectancy,...’ suggesting that no one in the golden hour wanted immortality. Besides this there’s not enough information in the book to suggest no rich person in the golden hour took advantage of immortality tech - it’s simply not addresses in the book. – jaketmp May 31 at 6:18

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