By Sonia Arrison
Basic Books, $25.99, 251 pages

First it was the gods telling us how to strive for immortality, and then came the alchemists weaving their medieval spells. Now we have science. A tech writer tumbling over herself with optimism about the future of humankind, Sonia Arrison’s contradiction to the gloom-and-doomers reads like science fiction. But it isn’t…or not quite.

The chapters discuss innovations and the inventions yet to come, prompted by advances like replacement body parts and cures for debilitating diseases of the mind. Numerous studies are cited; the medical ones by far the most compelling. The pages detail the logistical and financial implications of a protracted lifespan. When fertility reaches beyond our present norm, siblings may be born decades apart. How will this pan out? Will elderly parents be able to cope with sibling rivalry and maintain the cheer fostered by good health and relative wealth?

It’s entertaining but lacks credibility and a soul. If Arrison’s expectations are realized, the family will live like the brood housed with the old woman in the shoe, baffled as they sing “I’m my own Grandpaw”.

Jane Manaster