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The Immortality Factor Paperback – August 21, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bova's cautionary medical thriller, the uncut version of his 1996 novel Brothers, explores the political, social and religious ramifications of what could be humankind's greatest medical breakthrough—organ regeneration. When biotech lab director Arthur Marshak discovers a way to grow replacement organs and limbs within a patient's own body, the uproar from religious extremists, conservative politicians and sensationalized media coverage threatens to derail the project. When Marshak decides to let a science court in Washington, D.C., rule on the validity of human organ regeneration, the subsequent travesty of a tribunal not only imperils his career but also his tempestuous relationship with his estranged brother, who happens to be married to Arthur's ex-fiancée. Even an implausible love triangle and a cast of two-dimensional characters can't dim the forcefulness of Bova's message: the singular significance of science in modern-day society. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Given Bova’s extensive catalog of science fiction and nonfiction, there are perhaps few better qualified to address the complex issues surrounding today’s controversial scientific breakthroughs. Toss the convoluted relationship of two brothers into a mix of cutting-edge science versus medicine for the masses, and his new novel engages both mind and emotion. Brilliant corporate researcher Arthur Marshak is on the cusp of an earth-shattering discovery that will cause the regeneration of damaged or severed tissue—organs and even limbs—so that amputees and people with cervical injuries, heart attacks, and strokes may fully recover without surgery. Jesse, Arthur’s younger, humanitarian physician brother, opposes Arthur’s breakthrough, however, because its hefty price tag will preclude using it to treat the poor. When Arthur’s project is evaluated in a “scientific court,” it draws national attention, thanks to an opportunistic evangelist, and pits brother against brother and science against religious ideology. Bova masterfully presents the subtleties of all sides of both personal and scientific issues in a movie-like presentation of court testimony interspersed with chapters of backstory. Guaranteed riveting reading. --Donna Chavez --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (August 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765306425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765306425
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,830,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Grenford Laboratory Director Arthur Marshak discovers a method for human organ regeneration that enables the host body to replace ailing parts. The announcement causes a tsunami of support and criticism. Some called him God's agent on earth while others claimed he was a blasphemer.

Arthur agrees to appear before a Congressional "science court" in Washington, D.C. so that his project is not destroyed by politicians pandering their political base as he believes strongly that his achievement is a great gift to mankind. On the science court board is Arthur's estranged brother, Jesse, a winner of humanitarian awards for his work with the poor in the Bronx. Jesse opposes the technique claiming another example of money buying health as only the wealthy would be able to afford it. He has personal reasons to be against it too as he and Arthur fell in love with Julia, but he married her and then there is their late mother to split them further.

This is an insightful exciting medical thriller that makes a strong case to keep politics out of scientific research. The story line is at its best during the tribunal hearings as all sorts of irrelevant headline grabbing sound bites is tossed continually including by the "judges". The relationship triangle feels stiff and out of place as means to add sibling conflict. On the other hand a hostile business takeover attempt though not as explored like the politics intervening in science is interesting as the other firm has agenda to squash certain unacceptable research. Fans will enjoy Ben Bova's latest tale as he argues politics and science research are a bad combination.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Although Ben Bova is one of the Greats of science fiction, this is not a science fiction novel. I wouldn't exactly call it a "thriller," either, since the biggest weapon involved is an animal tranquilizer dart. In terms of genre, "medical fiction" seems to come closest. The novel is really a drama about the issue of animal and human experimentation in medical research, where morality, science, business, politics, and religion collide.

The protagonists are two brothers, one a physician and the other a commercial research lab director, who find themselves on opposite sides of the issues as the lab races to develop a method of growing replacement human organs. Conflict between the brothers is heightened by a love triangle that is intricately woven into the well-plotted story. The climax of the plot is a "science court" to try the issue, an idea that has been mooted for several years now in the science policy community, and whose pros and cons are illustrated here in fictional form.

Bova makes no secret where his sympathies lie; he is 100% pro-science, to the extent that readers who feel strongly about animal rights may actually dislike the book. One of the characters in the book is a thinly-disguised send-up of Jeremy Rifkin, the anti-technology activist; other satirized characters include venal politicians and anti-stem-cell-research preachers.

There are enough plot reversals and personal conflicts to keep the book interesting and well-paced throughout. The heros are given enough flaws to make them seem like real people, warts and all, and the science, politics, and business issues are worked out in a pretty realistic fashion. People who enjoy reading issue-oriented fiction may like to give this one a try.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not the best Ben Bova novel. He does write some good passages in this work but not consistently. I write myself and know how difficult it is to achieve the combination of story movement, characterization, and good original story line. Mr. Bova occasionally managed these things, but not in comparison with his best work. I read this book for the science theme and found it and the difficulties of business realistically treated so that I kept reading. His science fiction novels are stronger work.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Acclaimed science fiction author Ben Bova has written a highly readable mainstream novel about human regeneration and family conflict.

Arthur Marshak and his team of scientists have been working on a process that will allow for the growth of new human limbs and organs inside the body without the need for surgery. His brother Jesse, who has just won an award for Humanitarian of the Year, is also involved in the process, but he doesn't think that Arthur and his crew are ready to begin testing on humans. Arthur disagrees. To further complicate matters, both men have feelings for the same woman: Julia. Arthur was in love with Julia, but Julia ended up falling in love with and marrying Jesse. This, along with the medical differences, has driven a deep wedge between the brothers. Also, their mother is near death in a nursing home.

Arthur believes his best bet to gain acceptance of his medical practices is to call a "science court"; a panel of scientists and biologists who will hear evidence and decide if Arthur would be allowed to proceed with human testing. There are many individuals lined up to oppose him, including his own brother and a group of religious zealots who are accusing him of playing God. In addition, Arthur faces problems within his own organization, including a young women who commits suicide after Arthur goes back on a promise not to use her chimp for further research.

I've read many of Ben Bova's novels, including all from the "Grand Tour" series, and I thoroughly enjoyed "The Immortality Factor". Bova does a good job of mixing scientific fact into his story so it does not confuse the reader. His characters are well-developed, and the story is not out of the realm of possibility. Highly recommended.
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