Monday, October 15, 2007

Sample Chapters Are Now Online

The first few chapters of Stewards of the Flame are now online at Scroll down the main page and you'll find the link just above the box for ordering signed copies. I decided that when major authors such as Dean Koontz are posting sample chapters from their new books, I had better do the same. So now you can get an idea of whether you'll like the book -- though I'm not sure if the sample is representative, as the tone changes somewhat as the story progresses. Jesse Sanders is getting into something much bigger, and more dangerous, than he guesses at the beginning.

It's a controversial book, of course. Not everybody is going to agree with its premises. Some may not consider the extreme to which medical dominance has been carried in the colony of the story a bad thing -- after all, in every respect but one, it's not very far beyond where we're headed today. I suspect the only thing that will keep us from such an extreme will be lack of funding. It is ironic that in our own world, where many sick people cannot afford medical care they need, many healthy ones -- certainly the majority among the affuent -- get "health care" that in my opinion is not only unnecessary but damaging.

Dr. Eugene Robin, who was a professor at Stanford Medical School, wrote a book in 1984 titled Matters of Life and Death which in its paperback edition was retitled Medical Care Can Be Dangerous to Your Health. It is unfortunately out of print; I got my copy years ago at a used book sale. But it should be required reading both for doctors and for the general public; if you ever come across a copy, grab it. His obituary in the New York Times says that it was widely used in weighing the risks and benefits of treatments; if so, we have moved quite a bit since the 80s in the direction of my fictional society.

Stewards of the Flame is also controversial in other respects. Transhumanists, who believe the aim of medical science should be to prolong human life to the extent of eventual immortality, are not going to like it. While I support some goals of transhumanism, I feel that one is misguided -- which is not to say I don't think they should be free to pursue whatever research they think will lead to its achievement, but I'm quite sure that it's neither a desirable achievement nor a possible one. If someday humans do become immortal, then I'm wrong not only about that, but about my whole view of the human condition, which personally I don't consider a pessimistic view.

Finally, people who don't want to believe in the "paranormal" (which isn't dealt with the sample chapters) won't enjoy the story. But I think there are plenty of readers out there who do want to believe in it, even among those who think it's all as fictional as some of my far-out extrapolations on what is known of ESP today.

1 comment:

Panzermeister said...

It is a fundamental question arround which orbiting most of the human mythologies and religions...
I would like to advise the reading of a passage in the Tolkien's Silmarillion about Mortality vs Immortality.