SF elements: immortal
John Oldman is a respected university professor, who resigns just as his career seems to be in the ascendant. He tries to sneak away, but his friends drop round to his cabin to throw him a farewell party. They can’t understand why he is leaving, and pester him for a reason. Eventually he agrees to tell them: he’s an immortal Cro Magnon who has to keep moving on since he doesn’t age. Initially his friends assume he is joking, but as the story lengthens, they start to think him mad, or maybe even start to believe him…
This is almost entirely dialog taking place in a single room, and is utterly gripping. Is he joking? As he and his friends point out, there is no way to prove what he is saying. But the story keeps building. One thing that makes John sound so believable is the serene way he both tells his story, and reacts to the jibes and questions of his friends. Could only someone who has lived as long as he claims, and been taught by the teachers he mentions, be so mellow?
Although filmed in 2007, this was conceived and written by Jerome Bixby somewhat earlier. I think that, with today’s technology, some of Oldman’s claims could indeed be substantiated: a DNA test might help demonstrate his stated age; some antibody tests might help demonstrate he had suffered the various ancient diseases he mentions. So he is even more right to keep hidden!
reviewed 29 September 2019