A breakthrough in longevity: what if a massive medical advance enabled people to live forever? What would happen next? Welcome to “Eternal Life”.
Depths and layers
A wise man was reading my speculative comedy thriller Eternal Life
. He said “this is a book about the impact on society of a breakthrough in longevity. How can you get to the depths and layers of Eternal Life
to draw readers in?”
Depths and layers. It’s true.
“Eternal Life” kicks off in Santa Monica, CA
A standard thriller?
On the surface, Eternal Life is a standard satirical speculative thriller about a detective who is framed for the murders of 10,290 mothers, babies, medical staff and visiting family members in a Santa Monica neonatal unit and has to prove his innocence.
The background is Biotime – a life-exchange fluid of which one gram equals one year. Great news, right? No-one ever need be poor again – in theory.
If you’re short of cash you can sell some of your life expectancy to someone else. Ditto, the rich need never die – provided they can keep producing enough wealth to buy Biotime to become immortal.
A breakthrough in longevity
The world of Eternal LIfe
is hyper-capitalist. But unlike pale imitations such as the movie In Time
(good premise, poorly executed) people don’t go on behaving as if the rest of the world were unchanged.
In Eternal Life, although things look familiar, everything is different. That change is encapsulated in the opening quote by Steve Jobs: “Death is very likely the single best invention of life”.
When I first read that quote, I wondered if Steve Jobs had read Eternal Life himself.
“Eternal Life” explains the meaning of existence
Here are 7 ways Eternal Life explains the meaning of existence.
You’re immortal. What next?
1. Supposing you learned that, although apparently in perfect physical health, you only had another six months to live. You’d be motivated to live those six months to the full, right? Travel. Write your novel. Make love.
You’d want to live even more intensively if you only had six weeks. Or six days. Or six hours.
But suppose you discovered that, through a genetic accident or a medical advance, you were able to live forever.
What would be the hurry to do anything? How would you motivate yourself to stay creative? How long would you want to remain in a relationship with the same person?
Hence the quotation at the start of Chapter 21: Over 400? Can’t remember your childhood or your first wife? Call Memory ServicesTM for an update!
What if a political group thought a breakthrough in longevity was a bad idea?
2. That’s why in Eternal Life, the One Life movement has sprung up. One Lifers argue that living forever destroys creativity; and insist on dying at the end of their natural lifespan.
In Eternal Life, all rock musicians and the best bankers are One Lifers.
That is why the One Life Trust in Grassy Butte, North Dakota is not only the financial institution which made most money from the abolition of the cash dollar; but has a policy of playing rock in the banking hall at ear-bleeding volume.
That is why the One Life Army, with its pledge to destroy the existence of eternal life, is the most feared and mysterious terrorist organisation in the world – more frightening even than the Orissan Barefoot Army or the British Government in Exile.
Are creativity and longevity related?
3. Just how are creativity and mortality related?
Would the immortal rich have children if they knew they had to age nine months to do it? How would teenagers feel about having to spend the years 15-18 unconscious, in order to have the right to consume a life extension product which meant they never had to age a day after their 18th birthday?
Might their parents welcome their absence?
Would immortality destroy society?
4. Most important: if some people are immortal, what is the impact on society? Eternal Life explores that question. Society has been pretty much destroyed.
But why should a breakthrough in longevity destroy society? Read on.
Inspired by masters of speculative fiction
5. Eternal Life
is a satirical speculative thriller: not in the spaceships and time machines mode of the wonderful Isaac Asimov
but in the dark, why-we-should-worry-where-we’re-heading tradition of George Orwell
– with a hint of the late lamented Sir Terry Pratchett
and an occasional nod towards the equally late lamented Douglas Adams
(check out his argument about a sentient puddle at the link).
Longevity and a world out of control
6. You may think our present world is out of control. Wait until you encounter Eternal Life.
Longevity and the meaning of life
7. Eventually, 80% through the book, the meaning of life will begin to emerge. Two clues: “Come celebrate with us”. And “The Kiss”. You can see them brought together in Vienna – the wonderful, beguiling city of Freud, Klimt and Mozart where Eternal Life reaches its spectacular conclusion.
A breakthrough in longevity: Eternal Life
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