“Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon,” wrote British novelist Susan Ertz. So it would seem that humankind was never designed—emotionally or spiritually, let alone biologically—for long, productive lives. But new, life-extending technologies based on advanced genetics and stem-cell reprogramming are coming at us anyway.
Construction magnate John Praxis topples over on the golf course from a massive heart attack. And the attorney who was litigating against him, Antigone Wells, succumbs to a stroke. Both have unfinished business they need to pursue. And they are among the first recipients of the new medical techniques to will rebuild failing organs—his heart, her brain—renew deteriorating tissues, and extend their lives almost indefinitely.
Coming of Age is a novel of both ideas and action that covers the next century of American history and its probable and improbable impacts on Praxis, Wells, and their extended families through five generations beyond the traditional “three score and ten.” In that time, they will experience love and loss, civil war and geologic upheaval, the rise and fall of both personal and national fortunes, the banishment of old age, the rise of thinking machines, the end of work, and the virtual remaking of the American experience.
The Italian proverb says, “Hold your friends close, but your enemies even closer.” Sometimes you must hold family closest of all. As John Praxis and Antigone Wells benefit from the life-extending techniques of regenerative medicine to enter that unknown space beyond the traditional enfeeblements of old age, they discover that the endless conflicts of family, business, and politics still pursue them.
In her efforts to secure financing for the revived Praxis Engineering & Construction Company, John’s daughter Callie has brought a viper into the nest who will follow them through two generations. But the Praxis family has vipers of its own, as John’s second son Richard returns from Texas to install new intelligent software that will spy on their operations. Along with these local adversities, the family must also cope with political reverberations from the Second Civil War, dislocations from an untimely Bay Area earthquake, and the disaster of a mid-continent volcanic eruption followed by political collapse and foreign invasion.
Volume 2 of Coming of Age is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of personal challenges and social changes. John, Antigone, Callie, and their family members become strangers—both to themselves and to each other—in a world that is only partly of their own making.