I have been having fun writing and posting themed reading lists on my book review blog, Books Worth Reading, and they have proved to be popular. Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations has reprinted a couple of the lists, which I am now sharing with you: These Books Will Help You Survive After an Apocalypse and I Want to Live Forever: An Immortality Reading List
Also see: The endless quest to live forever
Remember a while back, when I wrote a neat little piece about our obsession with obtaining immortality. You don’t? Well, let me refresh your memory. And there has been news since then! Some scientist has come out and said we will achieve immortality within the next 20 years, using nanotechnology and robotic body parts. Sound like science fiction? Well, it is, because he’s just making a wild prediction based on technologies that don’t yet exist. But still, take care of yourself and let’s all try to mitigate the effects of global warming. Because you never know.
Anyway, all of this thinking about immortality turned my brain on to some good speculative fiction books that address the theme. So as is my hobby, I put together a little reading list, which Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations, a blog of book lists, has published. Please go by and check it out. While you’re there, why not browse all the intriguing book lists and maybe buy a book or two? (They are an Amazon.com affiliate.) You know you want to.
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There was a story in the New York Times Science section this week about testing beginning on drugs that may slow aging. (Please read the article for all the science stuff — I’ll wait.)
Obviously, this is the Holy Grail of medical science — literally. Since humans first comprehended their own mortality, they have been searching for the Fountain of Youth, the Philosopher’s Stone, the secret to eternal life. I don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime, but I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to imagine a time when the effects of aging can be slowed or reversed so as to extend human lifetimes to hundreds of years.
But is that what we really want? Science fiction writers have tackled the issue many times. Virtual immortality would certainly help the human race advance technologically, as we would have plenty of time to amass knowledge and innovate based on that knowledge. But what about human relationships — wouldn’t we feel a profound disconnect from one another over time? How would we address the pesky overpopulation problems that are bound to arise? And perhaps more funadmentally, maybe we need the ultimate stakes of mortality to make life really worth living.
Of course, I fantasize about having a prolonged life — with excellent mental and physical health, it goes without saying. But might there come a point when you just get tired of the repetition, the sameness of it all? I don’t know, but if we are seriously hoping to extend life, then shouldn’t we also allow people who want it to choose death?