In Drew Magary’s book, The Postmortal, protagonist John Farrell lives in a near future where the cure for aging is discovered and—after much political and moral debate—is made available to people worldwide. The Postmortal, this year’s First Year Reading Experience (FYRE) selection, raises several philosophical questions for the reader about the ethics and the consequences of the use of a cure for aging. In order to help facilitate discussion, the UTC FYRE committee has created an online portal for students and the campus community on UTC Learn. The FYRE program at UTC introduces students to the academic and intellectual culture of university life. The program provides a positive reading experience for students, faculty, and staff, one that holds at its core the belief that reading is an integral part of the university experience. Likewise, the program fosters a sense of community among students, faculty, and staff. This is the first year the program has included an online component on UTC Learn (formerly Blackboard).
“We decided to use UTC Learn this year because incoming freshmen need to learn to use the site for their classes. Using and getting familiar with the site before classes begin would only be beneficial for freshmen,” Dr. Gretchen Potts, head of this year’s FYRE committee, said. Potts hopes the site will spur discussions among incoming freshmen and the campus community. “Our goal for the site is to start conversations and build excitement for the coming on-campus discussions and events about the book,” Potts said. Called “The Postmortal Portal,” students, faculty, and staff can login to UTC Learn and participate in a discussion board about the book and ask and answer questions about college life.
According to Potts, The Postmortal raises a variety of hard questions. “We selected this book because it brings up issues across disciplines. Whether a student is majoring in biology, business, criminal justice, pre-medicine, or something else, they can get something out of this book,” Potts said. “At first, a cure for aging sounds great. The idea of not growing old is appealing to a lot of people, but after reading The Postmortal, you realize how quickly your view on immortality can change,” Potts continued.
Dr. Michelle Deardorff, Head of the UTC Department of Political Science, Public Administration, and Nonprofit Management, was also left with many questions after finishing the book. “Popular culture has this fascination with zombies and the zombie apocalypse right now. The Postmortal describes a world like a zombie apocalypse, but what happened could actually be feasible,” she said. “Readers can put themselves in the situation and wrestle with hard personal and ethical questions and think about what a cure for aging would really mean for society. Readers need to ask themselves, ‘What if the zombies weren’t dead?’”
The Postmortal is available for purchase at the UTC Bookstore and on reserve for check-out at the main circulation desk at the UTC Library. Follow the UTC FYRE program on Twitter for more updates and discussion about the book. For more information about the FYRE program, visit their website here.