The Last Generation to Die
isbn 1894953185 (ebook)
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Welcome to the future. The future is perfect -- we have beaten death, and are doing a pretty good job on aging. So what's fashionable, now that there's no more death and decay? Why, sporting an aging look of course, better known as Granny Chic. Dancing (or thrashing) the night away in The Gerotica, THE club to be seen in. And finally, suing the government for your right to die.
Join us in Carlos Hernandez' very disturbing, all too prophetic vision of the future. It's not so far away as you might think. Slough off that tanned svelte physique, and take a walk on the wild side, armed with prosthetic spare tires and stuffed bras (to simulate sagging, you know). And walk alongside the one woman who sees through all the claptrap and nonsense, along with every one else in the world, ask her the question, "Auleria Laque, why in the world do you want to die?"
"Hernandez may have written the Brave New World for our generation, yet it is more like the love-child of Aldous Huxley and Terry Pratchett, had they contrived it together in an Amsterdam pub whilst drinking beer and smoking hash." -- Adrienne Jones, author of Temple of Cod, Oral Vices and The Hoax
His mother was sitting at the kitchen table eating the single largest serving of gazpacho the world has ever known. "Hi honey," said Auleria, trying to speak and not dribble soup from her mouth at the same time. She failed. "Do you want some gazpacho? I bet you didn't even eat lunch today."
"Mom, look at the size of that bowl!" said Larry, placing his attaché in one of the empty kitchen chairs, then pulling one out for himself. "That's, like, food enough for four people. If they're all really hungry. And they all have a death wish."
"It's good," said Auleria, still eating. "I just made it. Fresh cilantro. Have some."
"I'm eating later."
"Oh, come on, have some," and Auleria scooped up some soup and insistently stuck it a centimeter from her son's mouth. "It's gazpacho. It doesn't have any calories."
Her son defiantly pursed his lips. Then, without moving his head even a millimeter away from the suspended spoon, he reached for his attaché. He dialed open the lock without looking and opened it, groped for and finally found his Cal-o-Matic: a small plastic black box with a digital read-out and something that looked like a little dip-stick. With Auleria still resolutely holding out the spoonful of gazpacho, Larry reached over and inserted the dip-stick into the spoon. He counted to five, then removed it and read the verdict. He shook his head. "Only you, Mom, could make a gazpacho this fattening," he said and held up the Cal-o-Matic so Auleria could read it. "This single spoonful of Gazpacho has 21 calories. 21 calories in one spoonful of soup! And how many spoonfuls do you think are in that toilet-bowl size tureen you have there? 50? 60? Let's say 50: 21 calories per spoonful times 50 spoonfuls equals 1050 calories. That's already a whole day's worth of calories in that one bowl of soup. So that's all you can eat, that gazpacho. You can't eat anything else today. That's it."
"Including breakfast?" asked Auleria, smiling. "Because I already ate breakfast. A pretty big one, too." She retracted the spoon and swallowed the gazpacho noisily.
"It's not a joke, Mom. This is your health we're talking about. You have to eat less calories. You're eating, like, 2200 calories a day. Do you know realize how eating that many calories is going to accelerate your aging? I mean, you were at the trial. You heard the evidence."
"That was the other people's evidence. And we beat them." She pointed her spoon meaningfully at her son. "You beat them. Therefore, we're right and they're wrong."
"We didn't dispute their claims about the salubrious effects of eating a less-caloric diet. We stipulated all of that, because that wasn't the battle we were fighting. We won on the issue of civil liberties, Mom, not science."
"When I was growing up, 2200 calories a day was a perfectly sensible diet."
"When you were growing up, bloodletting was still considered a viable medical procedure." It was obvious from the look on his mother's face that Auleria didn't get the joke. "Look Mom, the point is, times change. We've made huge scientific progress in the course of your lifetime. But you, you as a person, have to progress along with the times. I mean, it's the best time in the history of the world to be alive."
Auleria tapped her spoon against her mouth thoughtfully. "I don't know. I always thought I would've been great during the Renaissance. Your mom would've looked great in a bodice . . ."
"You're missing my point, and you're doing it on purpose. Mom, people don't have to die anymore. The dream of immortality . . . it's here, right now, within our reach. We can undo the aging process now. We have conquered death. We have conquered death, Mom! It's only now that the human race has truly begun to live."
"That's not what you made all those experts witnesses say on the stand. You made them say that B-juv is still, what was it you kept saying, 'largely unsubstantiated'? And that especially my generation might still be mortal? You made them say that."
Larry sighed. He spoke slowly, with the tone of a professor spinning out a technical, yet pivotal point in a lecture, "Yes I did make them say that, and yes, it's even possibly true. Without the benefits of in utero genetic enhancement, your generation may not have all of the advantages that ours does. It may finally prove impossible to keep your cells from senescing, to lengthen your telomeres indefinitely. So you're right. Yours may be the last generation to die."