Book Reflection: “Longer” by Michael Blumlein

Longer is the last book this science fiction writer wrote before dying. And I think that’s part of why I enjoyed it so much. He died from lung cancer and, while writing this, I assume he was contemplating death, love, and “loving life to death”—something the main character, Cav, contemplates in the book.

I didn’t know about Blumlein before coming across this book at the local public library. I was looking for a shorter read, about 200 pages since it’s been quite some time since I’ve read a book. Also, I’ve been impatient lately, borderline stubborn, like Cav in Longer.

My contemplation of life—fear of lack of meaning, of there being nothing else, of this being something like a dream with an abrupt ending and no memory—gets in the way of my concentration and enjoyment. So when Cav contemplated whether living longer through a scientific breakthrough referred to as “juving” (i.e. rejuvenation) can offer him any satisfaction that he can’t find “naturally,” I related to this.

Why am I afraid? Why do dark thoughts and the seeds of negative beliefs invade my brain sometimes? Am I afraid of death? Deep down, no. I always come back to the truth: that it’s possible to love life to death.

Death is the true rejuvenation, but to die well we need to live well. This is what Cav tries to do in the book, and succeeds.

Book summary from publisher

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.

Longer

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