The protagonist is the youngest person on Earth -- the only one to be born in many centuries. Terrestrial society is small but every individual is unique and multitalented, as they are all immortal and have lived for centuries. They live in flying habitats.

No one knows how to raise children anymore; the protagonist wears diapers into adulthood because he was never potty-trained, and his education was haphazard. Consequently, he is quite lost in this advanced society, and only tolerated by the sophisticates around him.

When the Earth is invaded, the immortals put up only a show of a fight, arriving at the scene of battle in a colorful flotilla of unarmed flying habitats. To the horror of the protagonist, they are wiped out by the invaders. He realizes that the immortals were weary of life and welcomed this end.

This is probably a novel, though it might be a novella. It was written in English and I read it probably in the 1970s or 1980s.

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    There are some similarities with the Dancers at the End of Time series by Michael Moorcock, but not everything matches. – Spencer Jul 23 at 21:14
  • Love Dancers at the End of Time and have reread it several times. You're right, there are similarities, but it's not the same one. – Invisible Trihedron Jul 24 at 0:30

Could be Gryphon by Crawford Kilian, published in 1989. The backstory is that Earth received the gift of extremely high technology from interstellar transmissions. This resulted in a 'singularity' type situation where everyone could own their own spaceship, become immortal, etc. The protagonist is one of very few children that were born in recent times. I believe the book starts out with him coming of age, or celebrating a birthday, something like that, and taking a cruise in a 'steam-powered' spaceship. At that point, the solar system is invaded. I think the unarmed flying habitats you're thinking of were on Venus, and they're wiped out because the owners are too bored to fight.

The title 'Gryphon' refers to the name of the invading species, as well as the protagonist's artificial lifeform bodyguard or companion, also of that same species. It's pictured in the cover art.

I just boxed up my copy along with all my other books, so I can't post the back-cover blurb...

paperback cover

  • Could be, but I don't recognize the cover art... I'll see if I can scare up a copy, thanks! – Invisible Trihedron Jul 24 at 0:34
  • @InvisibleTrihedron I recall that the woman on the cover is another of the very few young humans. She's into dueling, and is holding a rapier in the cover art. – LAK Jul 24 at 2:52
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    @InvisibleTrihedron I don't see any good plot descriptions on the web. So annoying that I literally packed up my book collection over the last couple of weeks. Before that, I knew exactly where this book was located... This Reddit thread mentions that the girl's name might have been 'California': reddit.com/r/scifi/comments/4ejaqd/… – LAK Jul 24 at 2:55
  • I haven't had any better results. Maybe I'll just buy a copy of the book, as it sounds interesting whether or not it's the one I remember. – Invisible Trihedron Jul 24 at 13:46
  • @InvisibleTrihedron Good luck! I'll be unpacking my books over the next couple of weeks; I'll keep an eye out for it. – LAK Jul 24 at 13:51

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