Our lives are limited but, on average, getting longer. This has an impact on all sorts of things, from healthcare provision to pensions, but the rate of acceleration of the length of lives in the Western world appears to be increasing.
Maximum Lifespan is a sci-fi extrapolation of this quest for a longer life, which takes the process far and beyond its logical conclusion. Symbiogenesis is a company that, on the surface, seems to be researching an acceptable side of human cloning for medical purposes, though there’s still plenty of public opposition. However, in vaults deep below the research facility there are dark experiments going on with cloning and cryogenics, which Chairman Ken Garrett hopes will eventually bring immortality to himself and anyone else willing to pay the exorbitant cost.
Although it sounds far-fetched, it feels less so while you’re reading it. Writer Edward Park is a qualified doctor, so the science, while clearly non-existent at the moment, is dealt with in a plausible, matter-of-fact way, earning it the gravitas it needs to suspend your disbelief. The script is converted from a movie script and sometimes the leaps between scenes seem a little sharp. But its history and genesis have given the script a tightness that works well, particularly by the time you get to the fast-moving final act.
The art is also well done. It helps drip-feed some of the mysteries of the book, including those around the issues of cloning humans. The figures can look a bit stiff at times but it doesn’t really get in the way of the story, which necessarily features much person-to-person dialogue. But Leksell is great at creating mood and brings a clinical, futuristic style to the story.
The story starts slowly and isn’t easily accessible courtesy of its sophisticated nature. But it’s well worth persevering because the over-arching concept makes for a slow-burning, intelligent thriller. And the finalé, while a tad predictable, still makes a satisfying end to a fascinating journey.