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I read this novel about 15-20 years ago, most probably somewhere online (though can't remember where). It was fairly new at the time (not older than 5-10 years). So I guess mid-90s to early 00s.

It starts around our own present and goes on far into the future. People are trying to use nanobots to increase human lifespan, and even achieve immortality. In this, they are secretly and (if I remember correctly) subtly guided by some aliens.

The aliens are not benevolent, they have their own plans and are only using humans as pawns to set their plans into motion.

There are several stories of different people from different times, but they are all somehow connected. I remember that the big event that connects most of them is some sort of pandemic that kills a large part of the population - it was connected to the nanobot project, but I can't remember if it was intentional or a side effect.

I also distinctly remember a chapter set far into the future where a little girl is killed by those aliens while being in a cave (not sure for what reason, though - but I think she may have overheard them conspiring about something with their human collaborators).

I tried Googling, but can't find it. It's not Crichton's "Prey", though after reading the plot, it does have some similarities. I have a pretty bad memory, but this one I clearly remember, I probably read it more than once.

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    Hmmm. Some similarities to The Last Mortal Man by Syne Mitchell (2006)?
    – Cassfrank
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 2:16
  • @Cassfrank Hmmm, it definitely has some similarities, but after reading the review, it seems like it's just one man's story, set in not-so-far future. Thanks, though! :)
    – byteflush
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 2:19
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    A global pandemic that wipes out most of the population that is connected with a rejuvenation treatment is the background of Oryx and Crake.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 2:19
  • @DavidW Thanks, but that's not it. I remember that this book spanned several millennia and had a variety of characters not connected to each other. Though, I'll have to read the books you and Cassfrank suggested. :)
    – byteflush
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 2:23

1 Answer 1

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"Prophet Without Honour" by Ragnar Tørnquist. (2001)

I feel so ashamed now. The book is an addition to an MMORPG "Anarchy Online" by Funcom. I played the game for ten years, but didn't realize the connection after all these years.

@Cassfrank helped with the mention of "The Last Mortal Man" as the review said "... In Elysium, a nanotech-built island fortress ...". It seemed familiar. Elysium was also one of the zones in Anarchy Online from where the "aliens" come from.

San Jose, California, 2012 AD

"I think Simon said it best when he called this our Holy Grail. Granted, he was stoned, but he’s correct: The, uh, ‘nanobot’; a machine so small it can go anywhere, so versatile that it can build and repair anything. This baby will revolutionise every industry on the face of the Earth, and as for diseases... that’s going to be a thing of the past; we’ll be able to live forever. We’ll all walk around with a million tiny little surgeons inside us, fighting all bacterial and viral intrusions as well as halt cellular degradation, repair organs, and respond instantly to trauma. You can take a bullet to the gut and the buggers will just stitch you up in a second. This isn’t science fiction; it’s science fact. And when the curtains rise on the first nanobots, who’s going to get the credit? Eric Miller and Simon Rosen, that’s who! Five miserable years in the Farmatek dungeons without a single day’s vacation will finally pay off."

New York, March 30th 2017 AD

“As I was saying,” he began, “we are just now getting reports of what is being labelled a type-X causative virus manifesting itself in central Hong Kong, a mere five kilometres from ground zero. There may have been earlier outbreaks—” He gave Cruz a pointed look. “—but we have decided to be cautious, and use only officially confirmed reports as a basis for our strategies.”

“But it has begun?” Roland felt a strange quivering in his chest, something akin to excitement, but tempered with a fair dose of trepidation.

What had they done?

“Yes,” said Welte with no small amount of satisfaction. “It has begun.”

Earth, 3332 AD

Juanita often explored the caves by herself.

She was only twelve years old, but she didn’t feel like playing with the other children in town. Their games were always so competitive, and they were all brutal and careless, even the girls.

(...)

She felt so stupid for being so reckless. And now what would happen to her?

Get rid of her,” the old man said.

Juanita gasped. She wasn’t sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound like a good thing.

Emphasis mine.

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    Glad you found it. Please don't forget to mark your answer as accepted, although -- as this is a self-answer -- you'll need to wait until 48 hours after the question was first posted before the site will let you do that. Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 4:54

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