Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Would you Do If You Could Live 800 years?

Welcome Maggie Jaimeson!

Thanks for letting me post today, Paty. I’d love to talk about how my upcoming release this month, ETERNITY, came to be written. My reading has always been split between Science Fiction and Romance. I love the ideas that SF explores—ideas that I believe help to inform today’s world. But I’m sometimes depressed by the dystopian worlds that are portrayed or the hopelessness that is sometimes the end of the novel. I love romance because I truly believe love is contagious, love wins in the end, and that in finding love it brings out the best in us and makes us more than we can be alone. So, the combination of the two genres works for me.

ETERNITY began as pure SF with an age old search and question. What would happen if we found something akin to the Fountain of Youth? Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings as early as Herodotus and then truly played out in the 16th century when Ponce de Leon searched for the Fountain of Youth and ended up in what is now Florida. Of course, Ponce de Leon did not find the Fountain of Youth, though many people around the world still think of youthful exuberance and energy when they think of Florida.

In my novel, a type of Fountain of Youth is discovered, but not in the warm southern climes or tropical regions that explorers searched. It was discovered in Antarctica during a science exploration. Rather than a fountain, it is a virus encapsulated deep in the antarctic tundra found while sampling cores drilled 200 feet below the icy surface. As with all scientific exploration that may have worldwide implications, Science Fiction asks the question how does that find get communicated, manufactured, and distributed? And when that happens who gains and who loses? Based in our current world realities, my assumption is that a find that important would be taken over by a corporation and that corporation’s power would extend worldwide. Depending on whether you believe scientific finds of that magnitude would be used for good or evil (or both) is what shapes a story.

Now the romance angle. Let’s face it, science, exploration, world-wide corporations are based on relationships at their foundation. And some of those relationships are bound to be romantic. What if you were on the exploration team and fell in love with one of the team members? I could imagine all types of betrayal scenarios that could enter that relationship—particularly when corporate and worldwide politics are involved. If this person was the love of your life, would you carry that love 50 years? 100 years? 200 years? In our world today, where marriages barely last five to ten years, it’s hard to imagine loving someone for hundreds of years. Would we forget that love? If we learned that person was in trouble, would we intervene to help? Would our memories resurface or would the betrayal still be raw, even 200 years later?

ETERNITY pits our lovers against each other in a major way. One person believes that the use of the ETERNITY virus has ruined the world and is working to develop a retrovirus to return people back to a “natural life span” –living 80-100 years. The other person believes the problem is not long life, but the way it has been handled by the corporation and politics. The only thing that gives them a common cause is a mutual hate of Eternity, Inc. But is hate and distrust of a common enemy a way to rebuild a relationship? Even if they bring down the corporation they still have to face the fundamental question. Is it good for humanity to live such long lives?

What do you think? Would you want to live 800 years if your body aged very slowly? So, when you are 200 years old, your body is still that of a 20 year old. At 400 years, your body is that of a 40 year old. What would you do with all that time? How do you think our lives and our world would change? I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love for you to see if any of your thoughts about that world are reflected in my book, ETERNITY. Available as an ebook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble May 13th and in print May 30th.


Emma said...

I don't know. Keep in mind there was a time when life expectancy was barely 45 years. In my lifetime, it was as low as 67. If the idea of 800 years was something I expected, something I grew up with, the answer is 'maybe.'

But if it takes 200 years to get from '20 to '40,' how long are we kids? 400 years? How long are we in school or in the workplace? Worse, how long are we teen agers? How many kids would I have in 200 years? How long would I have to care for them? And how many old people are still around?

What about things like terrorists and dictators? Stalin died a natural death but he still had time to murder millions. Do we really want to give him 800 years? And how many Secret Service agents would we need to protect all our ex-Presidents?

Your question about marriage and relationships is dead on. How many marriages don't make it 15 years let alone 50 or 60? How many times would we marry?

800 years is a very long time. I just don't know.

Therese said...

Wow! I can't wait to see how you handle these concepts. :D

My first thought was - that extensive a lifespan would shift fear, greed, and power, into entirely different levels. I'm really sort of mind-boggled at all the potentials that would be different personally and globally.

I'm totally hooked, this book is a must read for me. :D

Genene Valleau said...

Great question, Maggie! And I love Emma's thoughts on this. Much to ponder. You must have had a great time writing this book.

P.S. to Paty: Love the wood background on your blog!

Sandy said...

Wow! My first thought was heaven forbid that we live that long. Then, I thought about some of the scriptures in the Bible where people supposedly did live 700 to 800 years.

My next thought was anything that can be used for good can be used for evil. There again, in the Bible and in our lives there is always a struggle against evil and good.

Maggie, you have a terrific idea for a book, and I'll look forward to see how you put it all together.

This may be sci-fi, but it's still real life.

Cathryn Cade said...


I'm so glad this story is finally going to be available. I've been waiting to read it for a long,long time.

Cathryn Cade

Sarah Raplee said...

Maggie, I can't wait to read this story! I haven't heard of a good take on this since Heinlein wrote his books about Lazarus Long forty or fifty years ago.

So many things would change! The stars would be within the reach of a lifetime's journey or less. In 'old age'Would we be eight times as wise? Or eight times as foolish?

It's a heady, frightening prospect. I'll enjoy reading how your story world and characters handle it.

And relationships would certainly be affected.

susan said...

Quite the thing to think about. I have to admit Emma had some very interesting topics to ponder. I often say I will have to live 200 years to get my books I want to read all read. I also have painting projects to last another 200 years but I am basing everything on now..after all my children are on their own, I am retired and now trying to play catch up. You have gotten me thinking that's for sure. ha ha susan Leech

Anonymous said...

And what if only certain people were affected by the virus? What if you could live for 800 years but not your spouse? Would you accept the virus?

Something to think about!

Selena Fulton

Anonymous said...

Thanks sooooo much for having me, Paty. Blogger has been freaky the last three days, so I'm publishing without my pic to see if this works. Let me take a little time to answer some questions.

@emma asked "But if it takes 200 years to get from '20 to '40,' how long are we kids?"

Great question! In my world, the "shot" which gives the virus isn't
given until puberty. so, children age normally until puberty then they get the shot. Of course, that does mean for some teenagers that they have a long teenage period. This was decided by those who control the virus in order to lengthen the childbearing years. Of course there is also good and bad to that. In my mind being able to bear children for a couple hundred years can be hell. :) How
that alone plays out in the book, makes the difference between the lives of some people who can bear children and some who can't. There is a SEPARATE shot from the Eternity virus that allows you to get pregnant or not.

@ Therese Hooked is great! I'll be interested to see your comments once you have the chance to read it. In some ways it is a dystopian novel because bad guys can do bad things with people already, and if they have people who live a long time those bad things multiply. On the other hand, there are good things too. What if geniuses like Da Vinci lived longer. Would they create
even better art? What about actors? Sculptors? What about scientific genius like Einstein? If he had lived a longer life would we already have solved the space travel problem? Would he have found a way to travel faster than the speed of light?

@ genene I had a blast creating this world. It has many complexities and I can see possibilities of multiple books should I decide to pursue them. For example, if you do live that long does it help us with space ships that cannot exceed the speed of light? Could we then populate Alpha Centauri instead of having to deal with generational ships? The same people who enter the ship on earth are the same who colonize a new planet. Also, so many possible questions to deal with when people live that long. Does overpopulation happen more quickly? What rules do you put in place to avoid that? Who has power and who doesn't? For those without
power, is it even a more difficult climb to gain it?

@ selena Exactly. In my book the virus is used in a way to create genocide for certain populations. Think about it, if all the people in the country of Isralabia (a combination of Israel and Saudi Arabia) were NOT given the virus,
that would decimate their power base and eventually extinguish them as a viable population. What if other socio-economic groups were denied the virus--or worse
were required to take it to provide "worker bees" for the rest--their children forever designated as the workers. Would you want to be a street cleaner for 600 years? Worse, what about a hooker? Scary!!!

Thanks again for commenting. I'm really excited about this release and would love to hear from you if you decide to pick it up and give it a read.


Melissa Jarvis said...

I love the science fiction aspect you described--and glad to see more authors incorporating those ideas into their books. I write time travel, (first book in a series coming out soon) which does raise similar questions about living long or from century to century. What I think might be an issue to longevity is simply boredom. If you've been there, done that, what is left? Do you get stuck in old patterns?

susan said...

I left a comment here last week but do not see it now. I can not imagine living this long but if reality is not to be considered I could handle many more years then normal IF I have my kids raised,no health issues, enough money to live on ane and to think how much longer I could enjoy reading books and just having fun. susan Leech