It’s always an exciting moment in an author’s life when you see an item online that connects to something you have previously written about. Particularly when you happen to write science-fiction, and have taken a leap of faith with a premise which may (or may not) ever be possible in real life – you know, the stuff that happens outside our heads, rather than inside them…
By the way, I should warn you now that there are spoilers for ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ ahead – so please look away now if you haven’t yet read the book, head on over to Amazon and grab yourself a copy, read it… and then come back to this page (pretty please)!
So….imagine my reaction, then, when after writing about gene therapy for longevity in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’, I came across this interview in The Guardian with biotech boss Elizabeth Parrish, who has caused concern in some scientific circles with her decision to test her company’s anti-ageing gene therapy – on herself.
I’m not going to enter the debating arena by coming down on one side or the other, nor will I get into a moral debate about Elizabeth Parrish’s choices. (I could argue that I already did that in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ – if you want to know what, if any, conclusion I came to, well… here’s that link again…)
As a writer, I take ideas (from existing science where possible, because that -to me- is more intriguing than simply ‘making stuff up’ – although I do that too, of course) and run with them. What if someone did this, or that – what might the consequences be? Even if my science (and I don’t have a University Degree in anything, let alone a field as complex as genetics) is somewhat shaky (and I did talk to someone whose wasn’t!) , science-fiction is about possibilities, and that is what makes it exciting.
Suffice to say, as I sit carefully on the fence about whether or not I believe Elizabeth Parrish has done a very brave or a very foolhardy thing, I can still take some satisfaction in having my fictional scenario play out (at least in part) in real life. Whatever the consequences of that action, Parrish has the same motive as one of the characters in ‘The Methuselah Paradox’ – she desires to help people with life-shortening conditions. Only history will reveal whether anyone’s life is improved, or appreciably lengthened, by what Elizabeth Parrish and her team are doing. But I can’t help admire that she at least has the courage of her convictions.
cover art by Rachel Lawston