“Second” by David Ely (Harper Voyager, 2013)


Originally released in 1963, and made into a movie starring Rock Hudson in 1966, David Ely’s short science fiction book has been rereleased in 2013, and feels destined to be remade into a scifi summer blockbuster.  While at times the novel feels very dated, there are many themes in the book that resonate with today’s reader and everything going on in the world.

Antiochus Wilson has the classic sixties life: a decent job which he has done well in and climbed the ranks, making a decent wage; at home he has a wonderful and dutiful wife; a daughter who has grown up and is living elsewhere now; but he is bored with his life.  He has a couple of hobbies, like painting sometimes in the garage, or taking his boat out, but otherwise he’s just fed-up with everything.  So when he gets the address and note that will change his life, he jumps at the opportunity.

Skipping out of work on lunch, he heads to the clandestine address on the other side of town.  He finds himself in a strange warehouse where a stranger tells him to put on overalls and dirty himself up a bit.  Then they head to another destination incognito and so starts the first minute of his new life.  Antiochus “Tony” Wilson is being given a second, new life.  Agreeing on an expensive package, he is killed off; a perfect cadaver left in his place, while he undergoes reconstructive surgery and comes out a new, handsomer man.  A new life is created for him: a successful artist, with a new home in California.  He is famous, people love him, especially the young models who post nude for him.  What could be better?

Except Antiochus Wilson, for some reason, can’t let go of his past; can’t let go of his wife, or his daughter whom he rarely saw.

Seconds, in some ways, feels like a modern James Bond movie, where women play minor secondary characters, serving the men, yet everything else feels current and meaningful.  The book plays around with the concept of identity and who one really is, and the true power of family.  The company that gives these men second, new lives was conceived as a brilliant breakthrough that every man would want, but that seems not to be the case.

Originally written on February 20, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Seconds from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.


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