Longer is a unique dive into the human psyche to examine what it means to extend the human lifespan. It’s the best kind of character piece, focusing on personal conversations and overarching themes that go beyond explosive plot points. This is the story of a woman who wants to live forever and a man who feels he’s had enough.
The writing is on another level, pairing an ethereal conversation style with a few converging plot points that never fully materialize. There are world-changing events always on the perimeter, but the focus remains on Cav and Gunjita as they try to come to terms with time and what it means for their futures. It’s an extremely personal take on the common life extension question: is it right that we should go against natural aging and give ourselves multiple lifetimes? We get both sides of the conversation. For Gunjita, there can never be enough life. She wants to horde as much time as possible, to fulfill every dream she’s ever had and to become more. For Cav, he doesn’t believe it’s natural or fair to get more time, especially when everyone can’t afford it. The cost is too great in his eyes.
In a way, the novella leaves you feeling strangely connected to these characters. It’s hard to describe Blumlein’s style of writing, but ethereal seems to be as close as I can get. The spoken words are never fully formed, adding a sense of realism that I didn’t know was missing. When Cav speaks, we see that sense of introspection that comes with aging. His mind works differently than his younger counterparts in the station, mixing a childlike wonder of his surroundings with a floundering train of thought. He’s dying, yet he’s living more than either of his companions. It’s a strange and inspiring state to witness.
Overall, Longer is something special, a look into the human soul to ask the big questions. What does it mean to be human? What would you do if time wasn’t an issue? And finally, does more time necessarily mean a better life?
By Michael Blumlein
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.