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