Merchants of Immortality
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Author:  PeterScott [ Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Merchants of Immortality

This 2005 book by Stephen Hall is an exhaustive tour of the biology but mostly events and politics surrounding prolongevity genetic research starting with the Hayflick Limit and examining the G.W. Bush d̶̶a̶̶r̶̶k̶ ̶a̶̶g̶̶e̶̶s̶ era of stem cell research policy.

In the field of genetic research that makes it a bit long in the tooth, of course, but what strikes me upside the head about this book is how much the events read like Heinlein's post-SIASL social commentary. Both the broader tropes and the throwaway interstitial background he gave in the way of little news items. You've got scientists blithely creating new lifeforms a stone's throw from The Island of Dr. Moreau and flamboyant entrepreneurs egging them on. You've got wacked-out UFO cults doing genetic research and frothing fundamentalists à la Fosterites. You've got an administration that panders to both groups and a Congress that can barely tie its own shoelaces that writes legislation whilst openly admitting that they have no idea what they're talking about. The media go ballistic every time they can use the terms 'fetus' or 'clone'. All the time, a future of more reproductive freedom and radical medicine inches closer.

It reads like Heinlein waxing on his future-society-as-circus theme... but it is pure fact.

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