"This is why I read science fiction."—Daryl Gregory
In Longer, Michael Blumlein explores dauntingly epic topics—love, the expanse of the human lifespan, mortality—with a beautifully sharp story that glows with grace and good humor even as it forces us to confront deep, universal fears.
Gunjita and Cav are in orbit.
R&D scientists for pharmaceutical giant Gleem Galactic, they are wealthy enough to participate in rejuvenation: rebooting themselves from old age to jump their bodies back to their twenties. You get two chances. There can never be a third.
After Gunjita has juved for the second and final time and Cav has not, questions of life, death, morality, and test their relationship. Up among the stars, the research possibilities are infinite and first contact is possible, but their marriage may not survive the challenge.
Praise for Longer
"Michael Blumlein has written a novella that is full of hard science and strange, beautiful images, and also asks the biggest of questions—about mortality, aging, the persistence and changeability of love, and the search for meaning in our lives. I read it in two sittings, and it brought me to tears. . . . Don't miss this."—Daryl Gregory
"No one can evoke both life's beauties and its sorrows with the brilliance of Michael Blumlein. In meticulous and resonant prose, Blumlein examines a marriage with a long, loving history and a questionable future. Wise and beautiful, provocative and deeply, deeply satisfying."—Karen Joy Fowler
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
This tragic, unsatisfying novel recalls Robert Sawyer's Rollback (2007): a long-married couple has the opportunity to regain youth and pursue first-contact science together. Gunjita and Cav live and work alone in a space lab, where they are corporate flunkeys purportedly doing zero-g research on a drug that failed on Earth but might facilitate rejuvenation in space. At age 82, Gunjita rejuvenates, recovering her youthful body and appetites, but 84-year-old Cav is procrastinating. Their real preoccupation is an asteroid fragment apparently splattered in vomit. Cav is convinced the splatter is organic, even sentient; Gunjita is adamant that it isn't. Their obdurate disagreement in the absence of evidence mocks their characterization as highly creative scientists. The marriage is a similarly shallow, polarized thing, especially for Gunjita. Youth is caricatured as untrammeled, impatient libido and age as painful incapacity; the narrative assumes that a marriage without penetrative sex is doomed to fail. Blumlein (X, Y) peppers the story with levity dad jokes, flights of alliteration, and pastiched footnotes but also gratuitous body horror involving embryos and babies. At heart, this discomfiting novel is a bitter depiction of the disintegration of an unhappy relationship, and readers hoping for more science in their science fiction will be disappointed.