Oh To Be Young Again!

Oh To Be Young Again!

You’ve thought of it too, I know you have. “Man, wouldn’t it be great to know what I know now – and have the body of a 20-something!” More often than I care to admit, I have found myself introspectively thinking of myself as a 30 something, only to look in the bathroom mirror of a morning, and wonder, “Who the hell is that!”

My brother introduced me to John Scalzi, who’d written a political essay that was so good I wanted to learn more about him. Turns out he is a prolific writer of science fiction. His primary work is a series called “Old Man’s War.”

On the assumption that some of you may enjoy reading science fiction, and might be tempted to try Scalzi out, I promise only a minimal spoiler-ation. But the premise of the first book in the series, also entitled Old Man’s War, is that men on earth can sign up in advance for transport at age 75 to an off-world location. There their 75-year-old bodies are exchanged for miracle-of-science 20-year-old bodies. Same brain (more or less), same memories, same life experiences – new fighting body unlike almost any other.

Oh yeah, did I mention they get turned into a sort of universal soldier, males and females? But they can’t say they weren’t warned: After all, they did sign up at a recruiting office, staffed by an actual military officer!

Suffice it to say, a transformation like this turns out to be anything but an unalloyed benefit. Sacrifices abound. For one thing, let’s just say that the universe is a big place, with lots and lots of enemies. The benefits and the sacrifices together make up much of the plot of the rest of this fascinating book.

(I guess I forgot to mention: This scenario is set about 200 years in the future. Dang! Missed it by that much.)

But back to present-day reality. Isn’t that the way of it for you and me, when we ponder what it would be like to re-inherit our 20-year-old physical bodies. At first blush the possibilities seem only positive. But what our imaginations couldn’t conjure up as negative possibilities, my guess is that the actual experience would soon be sure to disclose.

And so, for me at least, I have found that as I settle into my 70s, the attractions of a seductive-but-impossible transformation, such as Scalzi creates, diminish. And the desire to fully inhabit and enjoy the experience of my 70s increases. But every once in a while, ….

How about you?

Larry Mitchel


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