________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 13 . . . . February 22, 2008

cover

The Longevity Thesis.

Jennifer Rahn.
Calgary, AB: Dragon Moon Press/Hades Publications, 2007.
248 pp., pbk., $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-896944-37-1.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Ronald Hore.

** /4

excerpt:

She took up the chant she had helped Vernus compose over the last few years, allowing him to use the sound as an anchor as he reached out with his mind once more. He watched greedily as Meriamdan reached forward and tore a scalpel out of Opalena's grasp, flipping it and dragging the blade across the soft flesh inside the younger woman's elbow. He felt a giddy rush as Opalena's strength spilled out with her blood in a shimmering wave to fuel the power of his pentagram. The new symbols were working even better now. They freed him from his body in a tidal rush. He surged upwards, out of his office, into the hallways, into the cafeteria, through the concourse, across the convocation hall. He soared with elation. He was going to make Sephus dance!

Opalena faltered and slumped forward in the pentagram, greatly weakened from the unexpected draining. Vernus lost control of his flight. He was tumbling randomly, slowly being pulled back into his corporeal form. Too soon! Not enough time! I have not had the chance to finish my experiment! He angrily reached out as he roiled along, trying to force his spirit into the body of anyone nearby, to finally invade a stranger without first having a chance to become familiar with his victim's mind.

One student flinched at his first attempt, shoving him off. The second fainted, leaving him nothing coherent to hang on to. Damn, Opalena is too weak! If he just had more power, he should be able to invade and possess anyone."

 

The setting of The Longevity Thesis is a world that is, in some ways, similar to, yet also very different from, the one with which we are familiar. We never know for certain if we are dealing with a post-apocalyptic planet Earth or another place or dimension altogether, but we can guess. The protagonist is Antronos, a boy born in the Desert, and deformed by it. His mother dies in the first chapter, and readers are introduced to some of the strange goings-on that take place in this world of magic and sand.

     Seven years later, now a youth, Antronos discovers the world that lies beneath the Desert, the underground civilization of Temlochti State. Antronos overcomes the stigma of being a surface dweller, becomes a student, and graduates with a degree in medicine working on longevity studies. He runs afoul of Sen Vernus, elderly head of the laboratories, who wants longevity for himself and who is experimenting with the power to telekinetically control those around him. Antronos comes to learn that Vernus has more than a passing knowledge of mind control and long life, and he learns of Vernus' plot to control the rich and powerful members of the society.

     With different factions at play, both supporting and resisting Vernus, and the Head of the State, Lord Jait, weak-willed and ill, readers are led through a Byzantine world of intrigue and murderous families. Longevity and mind-control experiments continue, body parts are stolen, people are dominated, and Antronos struggles to survive and to do what is right. His own very life is in danger as others try to control him for their own purposes. On top of all this, he still has to struggle with being considered different from those around him because he is surface-born. Some who might be his allies find it hard to trust him, at least partially because of this attitude toward him.

     The Longevity Thesis is a blend of science and magic, with the bulk of the city-dwellers firmly on the rational side of science, not believing in the arcane power that flows all around them. The story is complex, with details of the struggles for control of mind and body, and between life and death.

     The book is in the large paperback format, 248 pages, with four and a half pages listing other books from the publisher. It is broken into 37 chapters, each chapter opening decorated with the skeleton figure from the cover painting.

     Not for the reader looking for a yarn about spaceships and ray guns, or barbarians with swords slaying dragons, The Longevity Thesis tells of intrigue, science bent for personal gain, and the struggle to overcome prejudice.

Recommended.

Ronald Hore, involved with writer's groups and workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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