Book review: Drew Magary’s PostMortal
The Postmortal starts with whispers that an anti-aging cure has been discovered. This is similar to the human capacity enhancement proposal speculated in chapter 3 of Dickenson’s bioethics. Also, we see similar proposal play out in the chapters of More and Vita-More’s Transhumanist Reader, where technology is speculated to be used to stop aging process, enhance human intelligent, capability and agility. More even goes a step further to propose ‘the Posthumanist’ – overcoming the limitations that describe the less desirable aspects of human condition – a life devoid of disease, aging and death. However, the Postmortal cure does not prevent someone from getting sick, diseases or even dying from accident, rather it merely stops the body from ageing. That means a 27 year old that gets the treatment will have the same body and physical appearance and fitness until the day they die. The United States government instantly prohibits it for three decades, providing them an ample opportunity to research it and comprehend the effects better.
At this time, pro-cure and pro-death protesters were fighting more and more aggressively for and against the cure respectively. Just like the religious right fought against the stem cell research in chapter 6 of Dickenson’s bioethics in 2001, the religious devotees’ fight against the anti-aging cure and the Vatican issues a condemnation against it. Underground treatments known as black market cure were being perpetuated. Eventually John Farrell, the narrator got the cure at one of these underground markets. Within two weeks or there about, he convinced his friend to get the treatment and thereafter encountered a couple of tragic events associated with a mysterious woman that influenced his emotions throughout the story. Finally, the cure was legalized.
The novel includes how things regarding love, marriage, and the law and government changes overtime. Marriage became endangered because the fundamental premise of marriage “till death do us part” has been considerably altered. John’s law firm devised a new form of marriage called ‘cyclical marriage,’ – a 40-year term marriage which involves an obligation to live together as husband and wife for 40 years, with an option to separate (with evenly split assets) or to renew the marriage for another 40 years at the end of the contract. The cure nearly brought marriage to a halt and love undermined as most people believe there is a greater chance of separation for a new lover.
Mr. Farrell prefers not getting married to his lover who is pregnant with his baby but only choses to take care of the child. As things change around the world, he continues to document his life experiences. A new form of worship is discovered whereby man is seen as the god of his own and ruler of the earth. A lot of people become outlaws and selfish; others become religious enthusiasts; while some others chose to refrain from getting the cure.
Throughout the course of the book, the government gradually loses control over her citizens. Different laws are passed to expand death penalty to include giving “lee-way” to people who wish to die in a legal way without the need of committing suicide but which is of course morally wrong. The other detailed problems consist of jails, how to provide housing to people and basic necessities, as well as how to deal with countries that have become military powerhouses. Similar moral violation was seen in bioethics where executed Chinese prisoners’ kidneys are harvested for sale to wealthy westerners; the Tuskegee and Guatemala experiments by the US Public Health in chapter 7; and the surrogate motherhood and egg selling in chapter 2. All these practices, in one way or the other violate morality at the very least.
As the story continues to unfold in the book, Mr. Ferrell falls in love again which also results in another tragic incident. Over and over again he tries to find joy but has...
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