Imagine being on the cusp of a scientific breakthrough about to change the entire nature of everything we know about life. We’ve all been taught that living organisms are born, they develop, they age, and they die. But what if aging—thought to be an axiomatic part of living—is really a pathological process that should be attacked with the same vigor reserved for influenza, Ebola, and other infectious diseases. After all, it was once a “normal” fact of life that people succumbed to infectious diseases. That is before antibiotics, vaccines, and antivirals were developed. Now imagine such a discovery was not welcomed (as it should be), but forbidden because it would bankrupt the social welfare programs that are premised on specific limited life spans as well as disrupt the “natural order” of things. What do the scientists and physicians relentlessly pursuing the quest for knowledge and understanding in this realm do? Theirs is not an endeavor detached from life because they seek, not just to understand how to halt aging, but to use it to improve human life. Such is the premise behind Kira Peikoff’s second novel No Time to Die which I highly recommend.
Ms. Peikoff masterfully integrates cutting-edge science with her plot in a manner that made me eager to learn just how close we are to the discoveries that drive of the plot of the novel. Like she demonstrated in her first novel, Living Proof, Ms. Peikoff has developed a rare ability to credibly (and ominously) project a society of the near future in which those that oppose the advance of scientific and medical discovery—for religious or other reasons—have been granted the ability to arbitrate over what is allowed and what is forbidden. Such a world is not far-fetched; just peruse the debates regarding embryonic stem cell research, speculation about rapamycin's anti-aging properties, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), gain-of-function virologic experiments, and the desire by some to die at age 75 to understand that this trend already exists in the non-fictional world of today. The modern backlash against life-enhancing vaccines, which literally catapulted human lifespans, is also a case in point.
If I were to attempt to identify the theme of this remarkable book, I would identify its abstract meaning to be the promise of science, a product of human reason, to illuminate the world, transforming what once was a terrifying mystery into a benevolent place in which humans can flourish.
A novel with such a theme is well worth immersing oneself in.