Ben's next book!

 

    THE IMMORTALITY FACTOR is not a science fiction novel, let that be understood from the outset. It is an updated and expanded version of my earlier novel BROTHERS, which was published in 1996.
At that time a major section of the story was excised at the rather insistent suggestion of the book’s editor.
    THE IMMORTALITY FACTOR has restored that deletion, so that now the entire story is available for you to read. It is my entire novel, as I originally wrote it nearly fifteen years ago, with considerable new material added, as well.

     Although I am known primarily as a science fiction author, THE IMMORTALITY FACTOR is a contemporary novel.
It is set in the here-and-now.
Its major characters are scientists, the kind of men and women who are working today in laboratories around the world.

     In the mid-1990s, the scientific research being done by the novel’s leading characters was futuristic. The idea of regenerating the cells of your body so that you could repair organs damaged by disease or injury, regrow a heart or kidney or limb, seemed little short of fantastic. But in the intervening dozen years such research has progressed to the point where it is the stuff of news headlines.

     Much of this research involves stem cells, those human cells that can develop into any and all of the other hundred trillion cells of the human body. Many objections have been raised against using fetal stem cells on the religious or moral grounds that a human fetus is destroyed in order to harvest its stem cells. Even the President of the United States has expressed qualms about “destroying life to create life.”

     But as one of the characters in this novel expresses, scientists are smart enough to find ways to produce stem cells without using fetuses. Yet the objections – religious, moral, political – still continue. It will take time, and a great deal of patience, before the fears generated by this striking new capability in the minds of the ignorant and intolerant are eased or forgotten altogether.

     Even in this age of striking scientific advances and ever-accelerating technological breakthroughs, there are remarkably few novels about scientists. Most of the literary community – writers, editors, academics, critics – are sadly ignorant of modern science. And almost always, ignorance breeds fear and even contempt.

     Yet science and its offspring technologies are the driving forces in our modern world. There is hardly an issue before us – be it stem cell research, energy, the environment, the economy, education, war – that does not involve science and technology at its very heart. To be ignorant of science is dangerous in today’s world. It means that others are making the crucial decisions in your life, and the lives of your children.

     Thus this novel. I am trying to depict scientists as I have known them, after spending most of my adult life working with them in one capacity or another. But this novel is about far more than scientific research. It is, at heart, a novel that deals with the human reactions to new knowledge, new understandings, new capabilities.

     To me, scientific research is the most human thing that humans do. The drive to understand the world in which we live, and to change it to better suit our needs, is uniquely human. Yet there are dark forces of fear and ignorance that oppose this search for understanding.

     Such conflict offers the novelist a truly fascinating setting for examining the human experience. Whether this novel does so successfully is for you to determine.