Friday, July 28, 2017

Short Book Reviews: If You Could Live Forever

One Day in the Life of Alexa, by Lisa Mason (Bast Books, 2017) incorporates lively prose,
past/present time jumps, and the consequences of longevity technology. Kosovo refugee Alexa enrolls in a secret pilot program designed to extend her life span. Her best friend, Marya, is not accepted, but Marya’s infant aka “Little Monster” is. As the decades roll by, Alexa adapts to a life of constant measurement and surveillance. And youth, for she ages only very slowly (and Little Monster takes years to achieve what normal babies do in months) and in her mid-fifties still appears as a very young adult. Every so often, disaster strikes, whether the Moon fracturing into “lunettes” or a supervolcano eruption or a terrorist bombing, but Alexa always manages to survive. Although the Testers are carefully separated from one another, she manages to connect with one, the only man who can understand what her life is like; after a period of pastel, childless marital bliss, he falls over dead due to a “lethal gene.”

In reflection, the book is as much about the enduring trauma of war as it is about longevity technology, and in this it feels more like mainstream than science fiction. . Mason’s skill as a writer sustains what might be better executed as a novella into a short novel. Still, it’s a quick, absorbing read with an appealing narrator and subtly powerful emotional rhythms (like the repeated refrain, “No matter how long I live, I will always remember this”). 

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