Fiction Bear, Greg Vitals

ISBN 13: 9780007129751

Vitals

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9780007129751: Vitals

Scientist Hal Cousins is close to discovering the key to immortality but someone has already found it and will kill him to keep it secret. Vitals is a tense technothriller in the best Michael Crichton tradition. A mile and a half below the surface of the Pacific Ocean, scientist Hal Cousins, frightened of the dark and no friend of God, is looking for the fountain of youth. The Nobel Prize doesn't interest him. Hal is in longevity research for the long haul, the really long haul. 'Angels' (rich businessmen keen to live a thousand years) fund him. Hal finds what he is searching for: xenos, the single-celled tramps of the sea floor, each one as big as a clenched fist. But then the pilot of his sub goes berserk. Hal barely survives; the xenos don't. The pilot kills himself. Five other scientists in related fields die violently in the space of a week. Hal discovers a trail of death stretching back over decades, from Stalin's Russia to present-day Manhattan. Another epidemic of murder by superbly trained killers has been triggered by what Hal nearly discovered...From the bottom of Russia's Lake Baikal to a billionaire's bionic house built into the cliffs of the Californian seashore, from the darkest days of the reign of Joseph Stalin in Russia to the capitalist free-for-all of modern America, the edge of immortality is the most dangerous place to be.

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Review:

Reading Vitals, Greg Bear's dark, suspenseful, paranoid thriller of high-tech bioterrorism, would be terrifying even without real-world anthrax attacks. But the news stories of late 2001 add layers of resonance to the book.

You'd think the secret of eternal life would be an eagerly awaited boon to humanity. Yet when cutting-edge researcher Hal Cousins travels deep below the ocean's surface in a two-man submersible, seeking primitive lifeforms that may hold the key to immortality, his pilot attacks him. Barely surviving, Hal maneuvers the sub to the surface--and finds a fellow scientist has shot up his research ship. Then his lab is destroyed, his twin brother leaves a mysterious message saying they're both being pursued by an unknown force, and his sister-in-law calls to tell him his twin, who is also researching life extension, has been murdered. Someone or something has already discovered the secret of eternal life. It has immense power and influence, and it will stop at nothing to protect its secret. --Cynthia Ward

From the Inside Flap:

Blending fierce, fast plots with vivid characters and mind-bending ideas, Greg Bear has mastered a powerful alchemy of suspense, science, and action in his gripping thrillers. Darwin?s Radio was hailed across the country as one of the best books of the year. His newest novel, Vitals, begins with a harrowing descent to a netherworld at the very bottom of the sea?and then explodes to the surface in sheer terror.

Hal Cousins is one of a handful of scientists nearing the most sought after discovery in human history: the key to short-circuiting the aging process. Fueled by a wealth of research, an overdose of self-confidence, and the money of influential patrons to whom he makes outrageous promises, Hal experiments with organisms living in the hot thermal plumes in the ocean depths. But as he journeys beneath the sea, his other world is falling apart.

Across the country, scientists are being inexplicably murdered?including Hal?s identical twin brother, who is also working to unlock the key to immortality. Hal himself barely eludes a cold-blooded attack at sea, and when he returns home to Seattle, he finds himself walking into an eerie realm where voices speak to him from the dead . . . where a once-brilliant historian turned crackpot is leading him on a deadly game of hide-and-seek . . . and where the beautiful, rich widow of his twin is more than willing to pick up the pieces of Hal?s life?and take him places he?s never been before.

Suddenly Hal is trapped inside an ever-twisting maze of shocking revelations. For he is not the first person to come close to ending aging forever?and those who came before him will stop at nothing to keep the secret to themselves. Now every person on earth is at risk of being made an unsuspecting player in one man?s spectacular and horrifying master plan.

From the bottom of Russia?s Lake Baikal to a billionaire?s bionic house built into the cliffs of the Washington seashore, from the darkest days of World War II and the reign of Josef Stalin to the capitalist free-for-all that is the United States, Vitals tells an astounding tale of the most unimaginable scientific secret of all?exposed by the quest for immortality itself . . .

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