IMMORTALITY by Ben Bova

IMMORTALITY

How Science Is Extending Your Life Span and Changing the World
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KIRKUS REVIEW

While ostensibly about the coming conquest by science of aging and death, this is actually a lively overview of the exciting work being done in biomedical research today. Prolific science-fiction writer Bova, who has some 90 futuristic books to his credit, bases his claim that some people alive today will achieve immortality on his belief that genetic research is progressing so rapidly that within the next 50 years the key to aging, which lies within the body’s cells, will inevitably be unlocked. Taking the reader inside the cell to explain current theories about aging and death, Bova, who is singularly adept at interpreting scientific concepts for nonscientists, gives a short and snappy biology lesson on genes, DNA, and cells. For those wanting more information, back-of-the-book essays on bacteria, DNA, and the genetic code expand on the coverage in the main text. Bova then discusses the use of gene therapy for treating diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, cytic fibrosis, Down’s syndrome, and cancer and predicts its techniques will become the tool for extending human life once the human genome has been mapped and all the genes involved in aging identified. While acknowledging that the conquest of death may take a while, he predicts that within a scant five years gene therapy will enable organ regeneration to begin to replace organ transplantation. Bova’s knack for clarifying the complex works well when the subject is science. Less engaging is his offhand analysis of the enormous political, social, economic, and moral changes that greatly enhanced life spans or even human immortality could create. Even though the immortality thesis may not be persuasive, the review of microbiology, especially genetic research, is engrossing.
Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1998
ISBN: 0-380-97518-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998




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