I’m looking for the name of a science-fiction novel I read perhaps a decade ago. I’ve extensively searched several common search engines and come up with nothing, so I’m turning to this community to help. Here are the key details I remember about the story:
- Space travel.
- The main characters (and pretty much all humans) are functionally immortal. They can be killed by trauma but they don’t age or die. I think they’re also highly resistant to poison and disease. This immortality is due to a drug administered once (or very infrequently).
- The drug, I thought, was called “the phalactic” but this search term yields nothing.
- Stuff happens, and the crew of the spaceship is stranded on a distant, inhospitable planet. They survive solely thanks to their functional immortality though, I think, they are heavily damaged from the atmosphere and/or food. Eventually they manage to construct a new spaceship and escape.
- One of the characters is Nordic, described as tall, strong jawline, blonde hair, blue eyes. He is one of the oldest living humans, alive when the drug was invented. (Possibly before space travel, or near the beginning of space travel.) The narrator was not alive at that time. The Nordic character is described as being of very rare stock, as (apparently) most of human space is now populated by mixed races.
- Voluntary selective memory wipes are common. Thanks to extreme longevity, the human mind can no longer remember everything, so people choose what they want to remember and what they want to forget. The procedure is described as a hygienic practice akin to going to the barber shop or something of that nature.
- (Spoilers) The Nordic man feels tremendous loss which haunts him visibly throughout the story. He won’t talk about his past and it isn’t revealed until the end of the story. At the end of the story, once everyone has returned to Earth, the narrator spies him visiting a grave and when he (the narrator) sees him (the Nordic man), the latter doesn’t remember the former. He has wiped his later memories as opposed to (as is common) his earlier memories, because he wants to remember the life of his beloved.
- (Spoilers) The Nordic man and his beloved were alive at the time that the drug was invented, several hundreds or thousands of years ago. The time surrounding the invention of the drug is described. There was a period of 2 weeks (2 months?) between announcement and general availability. It’s said that everyone stopped everything and just... waited. No one drove, flew, etc. except the Nordic man and his beloved, who went hiking in the mountains, where she died.
That’s all I remember. If you know the book I’m talking about, please don’t hesitate to say so. Thanks in advance.