THE IMMORTALITY FACTOR by Ben Bova

Book Quote:

Does Habermeir know you’ve asked me to look into his work? I asked…I didn’t like stepping on the toes of other scientists in the Omnitech family. But I needed Johnston’s support for my own programs and to keep the support I had to keep the CEO happy. Politics. There was no way around it, you had to be good at politics to get to do the science you wanted to do.

Still, I couldn’t help muttering, “How can you expect anything but trouble, dealing with radioactive material?”

Johnston fixed me with a stern gaze. “There’s a lot of money to be made in cleaning up nuclear wastes. And it’s a good thing to do, Arthur. You’re always telling me we should be doing good things, aren’t you?”

Book Review:

Review by Ann Wilkes (Dec 29, 2009)

The Immortality Factor was first published in 1996 as Brothers. It is now presented, according to Bova, not as a science fiction novel, but as a contemporary novel. Due to advancements in the field of cellular regeneration, it is no longer science fiction.

The novel begins a little slow – with a trial that plays out between flashbacks throughout the story. The trial is conducted in a newly devised Science Court, established with the express purpose of determining the validity of the protagonist’s line of research. In spite of his objections and the Court’s original intent, the prosecutor continually brings up peripheral matters: Which brother’s idea was this growing of new organs and limbs? What about the lab’s scientist who died? What about stem cells and the babies who have to die to provide them?

The trial gains momentum as the characters’ individual dramas unfold. Arthur Marshak is a scientist who was drummed out of academia and is set on winning a Nobel Prize from his commercial lab in lower Connecticut. His brother, Jesse, married Arthur’s former fiancé, understandably trashing the brothers’ relationship.

“Julia, it isn’t right for Jess to drag you off to these places. They’re dangerous.”

Very patiently, Julia replied, “As I’ve told you before, Arthur, dear, he’s not dragging me anywhere. I want to go. I want to be able to help him, to help those poor miserable people. I couldn’t remain here while he’s off in the bush somewhere risking his life.”

…”Stay here where it’s safe,” I said, meaning, Stay with me.

“No,” Julia said, as if she knew precisely what I meant. “No, I really can’t, Arthur. My place is beside Jess, wherever he goes, whatever he does.”

Worse still, Jesse initially suggests the possibility of regenerating organs and limbs only to oppose the project in the Science Court. The Immortality Factor may be a glimpse into the inner circle of modern scientists, but the driving force is the novel’s characters. Bova makes the reader care about their fates – and not just the protagonist’s. I was invested in all of the major characters whom Bova gave voice to in short chapters from their own point of view.

Buffeting Arthur about are: the possibility of a hostile corporate takeover, the love he still feels for his brother’s wife, religious and political opposition, office politics and two other women who have set their sights on him. Though Arthur is a bit self-absorbed and single-minded, you’ll want to see him succeed, if not in winning that Nobel Prize or in saving paraplegics, at least to become a happy man.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 7 readers
PUBLISHER: Tor Science Fiction (December 29, 2009)
REVIEWER: Ann Wilkes
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Ben Bova
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

Our interview with Ben Bova on MARS LIFE

Bibliography:

Watchmen

Exile Series:

  • Exiled from Earth (1971)
  • Flight of Exiles (1972)
  • End of Exile (1975)
  • The Exiles Trilogy (2011)

Voyagers

Orion

To Save the Sun

  • To Save the Sun (1992) (with AJ Austin)
  • To Fear the Light (1994) (with AJ Austin)

Grand Tour of the Universe:

Moonrise (part of Grand Tour):

Asteroid Wars (part of Grand Tour):

Sam Gunn (part of Grand Tour):

Nonfiction:

Related:


December 29, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Speculative (Beyond Reality)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.