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CKA Uber
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:29 pm
 


Many of you know that I'm a writer in my spare time. Not a very successful one, but I've had my moments and managed to rack up about twelve short story sales over the past few years to primarily semi-pro publications.

Anyways I'm starting my novel now. Short stories are like girlfriends and novels are like wives. So I really wanted to find an idea I could commit to (sorry: "to which I could commit"). And I've found one.

My novel will be what is commonly known as "social science fiction," where the sociopolitical ramifications of sciencee are explored more than the technology.

The premise:

Immortality

Basically, in the near future, a researcher discovers an immortality drug. It's expensive and it must be taken continually, but it stops aging (actually, if things go according to plan, later in the book the drug will be improved to reverse aging).

Here's where I'm helping you can help. Any neat ideas you may have are welcome, but mostly what I'd like to know is, were this to really happen, what would be your biggest fear, whether it be economic, political, personal, spiritual, or whatever, of this discovery.

For instance, a friend of mine noted that compound interest would create an elite of super wealthy "old" people. Myself (and obviously this will loom large in the novel) I would see those in power now seek to control this drug for themselves (while claiming to act in the best interests of others, of course).

Any and all help appreciated. Apologies in advance tothe mods if I bump this now adn then so that everyone sees it.

Thanks.

Zip


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:36 pm
 


If no one dies, then there will have to be a moratorium on Children (assuming no space travel). When we live long enough, I think we would forget how and what to teach them, and a lot of our knowledge would fade.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:37 pm
 


A population that mostly never dies would lead to pretty severe overpopulation and food shortages, among other problems with natural resources. If the drug was only affordable by the rich, economic imbalance would definitely increase.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:39 pm
 


DrCaleb wrote:
If no one dies, then there will have to be a moratorium on Children (assuming no space travel). When we live long enough, I think we would forget how and what to teach them, and a lot of our knowledge would fade.


See that is just the kind of excellent response I was hoping for (sorry: "for which I was hoping"). Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 5:10 pm
 


I guess I'm more the optimist. People who have the benefit of a century or two of learning and wisdom could well have the intellectual capabilities to solve vexing problems like faster-than-light space travel and the problems...or perhaps, benefits, of a growing population that doesn't age. With the recent discoveries of hundreds of potential new planets that people can settle on maybe this could be the start of a new Age of Man.

I'd also be interested in the side effects (good and bad) of this drug. Perhaps the drug could have the unintended benefit of sterility so that anyone taking it can't have kids? And anyone wanting kids would need to make the choice to never start taking the drug.

Also, if the drug will make people immortal then you just KNOW the pharmaceutical firm that makes the drug will want an immortal patent so they can eternally profit from their discovery.

I could see that the drug could be a negotiating point to keep one country a superpower of sorts. Meaning that the country of origin could cut off your supply of the drug if they got into a disagreement with you. Sort of like how China is playing games with rare earth metals these days. Imagine a country like China literally holding your life or death in thrall to their whims. 8O

Other side effects would be social. Imagine getting to know your great-great-great-great grandkids...and vice-versa. Think about yourself in the year 3822 dealing with yet another idiotic popular fad of youth. Think about what an old stick in the mud you might appear to be to the younger crowd of that year.

Intergenerational marriages. Imagine a marriage between a guy who's 26 and a woman who looks like she's 26 but is actually 565 years old. She'd be the bloody Queen of the Cougars!

Politics. Imagine politicians serving as President/PM or MP/Congresscritter for centuries.

Imagine the upset caused when one of these multi-century leaders finally dies or otherwise leaves office. :idea:

Hmmm. I can also imagine a nation of immortals stifling because they are bereft of the influence of the new ideas that are typically the product of young adults.

Cool stuff. [B-o]


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 5:51 pm
 


Zippy, are you favouring the utopian view or the dystopian one? I imagine that the latter would be more compelling and easier to work with considering that you'd really only have to use elements of current reality to keep it moving:

- an upper class that is no longer merely existentially vampiric to one that in your book now literally is;

- a small elite surrounded by a vast ocean of poor, where the now-deceased middle class is a forgotten thing of a distant past, from whom they select their victims to make their 'drug' from as well as to choose their lackeys, slaves, and mercenaries;

- the employment of a skilled cadre of propagandists, who's sole duty is to keep the lower levels convinced that their only real enemies are each other, rather than the uber-class that oppresses all of them;

- an economic system so vicious and unrelenting in it's single-minded depravity that makes the early days of industrialization look like a paradise in comparison;

Too many ideas to choose from, but it could be fun in exploring how far they take you.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:48 pm
 


BartSimpson wrote:
I guess I'm more the optimist. People who have the benefit of a century or two of learning and wisdom could well have the intellectual capabilities to solve vexing problems like faster-than-light space travel and the problems...or perhaps, benefits, of a growing population that doesn't age. With the recent discoveries of hundreds of potential new planets that people can settle on maybe this could be the start of a new Age of Man.

I'd also be interested in the side effects (good and bad) of this drug. Perhaps the drug could have the unintended benefit of sterility so that anyone taking it can't have kids? And anyone wanting kids would need to make the choice to never start taking the drug.

Also, if the drug will make people immortal then you just KNOW the pharmaceutical firm that makes the drug will want an immortal patent so they can eternally profit from their discovery.

I could see that the drug could be a negotiating point to keep one country a superpower of sorts. Meaning that the country of origin could cut off your supply of the drug if they got into a disagreement with you. Sort of like how China is playing games with rare earth metals these days. Imagine a country like China literally holding your life or death in thrall to their whims. 8O

Other side effects would be social. Imagine getting to know your great-great-great-great grandkids...and vice-versa. Think about yourself in the year 3822 dealing with yet another idiotic popular fad of youth. Think about what an old stick in the mud you might appear to be to the younger crowd of that year.

Intergenerational marriages. Imagine a marriage between a guy who's 26 and a woman who looks like she's 26 but is actually 565 years old. She'd be the bloody Queen of the Cougars!

Politics. Imagine politicians serving as President/PM or MP/Congresscritter for centuries.

Imagine the upset caused when one of these multi-century leaders finally dies or otherwise leaves office. :idea:

Hmmm. I can also imagine a nation of immortals stifling because they are bereft of the influence of the new ideas that are typically the product of young adults.

Cool stuff. [B-o]


Thanks Bart. One of things I've always really appreciated about you is your optimism. I'm the same, in my better moments. The stars are there for us--all the energy, materials and room we'd ever need. I wish we could think bigger and see that as a species. Great ideas too, thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:39 pm
 


Zip,
One of the fears one could have is that you know most of the people you know are going to die or that you might out live your pension which, at least in the States, could happen.

On the other hand though life and society tends to get better. Life now is better than life in the 1920s, 30s or even in earlier centuries so one could look forward to better societies and perhaps we could do things like go to other planets or possibly meet aliens from another world.

I would tend to look at the positive aspects of it rather than the negative.

I'm interested in Astronomy and sciences I would like to hang around to see the new things that are out there.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:28 pm
 


Have fun. I hope to be publishing my first eNovel in about a month or two after many years of writing and it sitting on the back burner while I'm at sea.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:16 am
 


It really would depend on a few things, I guess. How a country would react, if this drug was known about by the masses, what it does to a woman's fertility (limited amount of eggs, after all), what it changes in a person's metabolism, just how expensive (and hence selective) the drug would be, if the nation would move to nationalize it under their control (wait, "if?" :P I kind of disagree with Bart, I don't think any country would let it be a market thing from the get-go) and so forth.

If it's publicly known, I doubt you would ever see a real elite form. People would notice if someone started living super long, people would be strongly concerned about the potential existence of folks able to live for long periods of time. There would be extraordinary amounts of pressure placed to maintain blocks on something which cannot be used by the masses, and I guess my biggest fear is that people would get a little hysterical about people wandering around with an anti-aging solution in their blood, and society takes a turn to being more hard-line on such substances regardless of where people work, etc.

Since it's expensive, I doubt you'd see wide spread dissemination of it, even in nations with strong socialist backbones. A limited subgroup inside any country carries a much greater risk than a group with less rights in another country. People in India are not pissed off at Canadians for having a higher GNP, but they are pissed off at intrusive language and cultural problems internally. People who perceive the creation of an actual, biological, definable class of humans who can receive a long-running treatment domestically would more likely form a taboo for going against the norm. While perhaps a handful of people could get away with it, I doubt many would, and any known ones would be harshly viewed in the public eye, somewhat like our current celebrities are. I have no doubt that people who are known to use it would quickly lose their wealth as support for them fell away over time for the most part.

I have to admit that I am somewhat optimistic that with an expensive drug that would be one of the worst things that you would see. History has had it's share of extraordinarily smart men who have been ringing the bells of doom, from Malthus and his overpopulation theorem to Marx. Even though we now see that their ideas did not hold water in some cases (even though these, as I mentioned before, were quite intelligent folks), we know why they do not hold water. In Malthus' case, he failed to notice that technological progress is an ongoing phenomenon, and to this day we see the effects of technological progress in how American factory workers continue to be competitive on an international scale. I would not be surprised to see a shift in society to offset potential negatives of this production.

In addition, because this is a short term drug, there is always the possibility that it would be used on or for "assets" to society. I remember an old Star Trek episode I hate to reference where a society allocated some amount of drugs which slowed the aging process to people who's jobs were important -- irrigation engineers who serviced hundreds of thousands, leading engineers on important projects, what have you. If there is a case where I'd think people may grudgingly accept the use of this drug with what I could describe as socially segregating properties, it would be in a case where it could potentially be good for humanity. Since the expense would no doubt make the supply limited, I would not be surprised if this sort of limit would actually make it an effective method as such. I already see in my head, the NDP claiming the future Liberals misused the drugs on the wrong people -- it would fit wonderfully into the Canadian political scene! Imagine the potential outrage at allegations of a politician using the drug on themselves. :P

I guess what also would be interesting is what would happen in cases of dictatorships. If there's one effective method of change, it's when the old ruler passes away and someone takes their place. Could you imagine a Kim with a replacement population every few decades, or an African warlord who only has to stay away from gunfire to ensure his reign? If there's one friendly thing about the lack of this drug is that it does force humanity to adapt to new conditions at eventually get rid of some of the worst examples of humanity the oldest fashioned way possible. I'd hate for that guy from the Westboro Church to have his family pool their resources to keep their crazed leader alive, or for any other fundamentalist or personality cultist to get their hands on it for their glorious leader.

So I guess my two biggest fears are potential paranoia causing internal troubles (McCarthyism, only with drugs as the target) or that some horrible examples of humanity would manage to live long past when their poisonous rhetoric should have died, rotted, and faded into blissful oblivion with them, requiring more active resistance from other parties or the downtrodden beneath them.

On the other hand, could you imagine the incentives and the possibilities of giving some people the ability to research for double as long? For someone leading long-term Canadian projects to actually lead long term Canadian projects? For their to be incentives in the system to encourage excellence? Like Bart, I do have a somewhat positive outlook -- although some folks are talking about if everyone could get it, rather than a small grouping, so I don't know if this is what you are looking for.

Plus, we have to keep in mind that people are constantly changing. Who I am is somewhat different than who I was even six months back, let alone six years. There is no guarantee that a Khar at 50 would be anything similar to a Khar at 100, 250, 500 or 1000 -- indeed, by then the person known as Khar might be an entirely different personal altogether. We are far from a static race, and each of us individually is hardly static as well. Humans are shockingly capable of adapting and getting used to new situations, thinking we would remain the same especially after the shock of not aging seems a little off to me as well. It's always funny that in those vampire books without the sparkles the ever dead vampires are broody and dark, and wouldn't you be, regardless of your personality when living, after hundreds of years of living in the dark, plotting, sucking blood and having living loves pass in an ever shorter period of time? I also don't think that people would go insane with the passing of time either -- while time might seem shorter looking back, the passing of time is only so fast either way, and I feel eventually how fast it felt time was passing would plateau. Our brains keep track of our heartbeat, we get hungry, we breath, we sleep, our rhythms keep our time going -- I don't think that would all be lost with an aging drug, and with it our sanity (which seems to be a leading argument these days).

One genre this does remind me of outside of your atypical aforementioned non-sparkly Vampire novel is steampunk, where we have advanced to a point where we are able to integrate more technology in our lives and how it impacts society. Interestingly enough, a lot of the situations involve people working hard to upgrade their bodies in some way or to live longer (although I find the trend of evil megacorps in those books monotonous and irritatingly common in the genre).

Erm, sorry for the length of this post, Zip! Good luck with your novel!


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:10 am
 


Must be the economist in me; I recognize trends. When I was 20, I weighed 165 lbs. Now I'm in the 185 - 190 lb range. That means I've been packing on about a pound a year over the past twenty or so years. Projecting this trend into the future means I should be 230 lbs by age 80 {knocks on wood}, should I live that long. If I were immortal, and continued to grow by a pound a year, I'd hit 300lbs around 2120AD. By 2320AD, I'd crack the quarter-ton mark. By 4000AD I'd be well over a ton.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:29 am
 


Yeah, but it worked out OK for Jabba The Hutt. He was grotesquely overweight and ate live frogs, but also had all the money and all the chicks. 8)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:19 am
 


Zip,
Have you published anything yet? If you have let me know I'd like to read it.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 7:24 am
 


Fantastic. Will they be collected into a single paperback and on sale at Chapters, Borders, Amazon?

Cheers


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:29 am
 


HOw about an angle on cost/coverage for said drug where people who can't afford it are given options to try it but they backfire (due to cost or loss of benifits) and end up trying anything to continue, or maybe some sort of black market undermining the whole thing


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