Will McIntosh wrote a book about love and I’m wondering whether I’ll ever read another that does it better. Love Minus Eighty isn’t a romance. In fact, it’s often antithetical to that idea. Instead it’s a charming, frightening, and all together confusing (as only love can be) treatise on the nature of relationships, their unpredictability and capability for crippling despair.
Based on McIntosh’s Hugo Award winning short story, Bridesicles, Love Minus Eighty is set years in the future where cryogenics and life extension technology have reached the point that the only thing standing in the way of death is money. For the particularly beautiful and female, dying young means ending up in cryogenic dating farms where the creepiest rich men briefly resurrect them to determine how depraved they’ll be in exchange for another chance at life. It’s a horrific idea driven home by the character of Mira, who throughout the novel is killed and awakened untold times by curious ‘Johns’ (for lack of a better words). McIntosh calls these trapped souls bridesicles.
“. . . you’re at minus eighty degrees, thanks to your insurance, but full revival, especially when it involves extensive injury, is terribly costly. That’s where the dating services comes in–”
“I have a sister,” she interrupted. “Lynn.” Her jawed move so stiffly.
“Yes, a twin sister. Now, that would be interesting.” The man grinned, his eyebrows raised.
Into this horrifying milieu McIntosh gives us Rob, a materialistic boy-toy to a cyber-celebrity. After getting dumped during a broadcast, he accidentally kills a jogger who ends up a bridesicle (although only barely. . . Winter is a mere 8.6). Ridden with guilt he sells everything to visit her, seeking her forgiveness. There’s also Veronika, a dating coach who never seems to find time to date, and the aforementioned Mira, a gay woman accidentally placed in the heterosexual dating center near its inception. Rob, Veronika, Mira, and a host of other characters soon become caught up in finding a way to end the bridesicle program, while trying desperately to carve out some happiness for themselves. Continue reading