Peter Hamilton is famed for SF blockbusters of far-future interstellar adventure. By contrast Misspent Youth
is a social comedy set in the year 2040 in England. When gene therapy rewinds Jeff Baker's age back to his early 20s he finds that wisdom and experience are no match for hormones...
The rejuvenation treatment, developed by federal Europe to impress laggard America, is so complex and expensive that only one person every 18 months can receive it. Jeff is the first because he's a celebrity inventor, father of the "datasphere" which superseded the Internet.
Family upheavals follow. An "arrangement" with his much younger, still beautiful wife Sue lets her enjoy lovers while the aged Jeff turns a blind eye: now things are different. Meanwhile their 18-year-old son Tim is struggling ineptly with teenage sexual pangs and the impossibility of understanding girls. All part of growing up, but Jeff's renewed youth brings farcical complications.
It's not just that Jeff now fancies Sue again. He can't resist even younger women. An early one-night stand is publicised all over the datasphere. Embarrassment escalates when he's seduced by the granddaughter of a long-time pub companion. Worse, several of Tim's ravishing female schoolmates are interested in Jeff the celebrity stud. The dishiest of all is Tim's latest, most hopelessly adoring girlfriend.
Can it be coincidence that the action mostly happens in Rutland?
This comedy of embarrassments and revelations has a darker background: Europe is plagued by separatist movements whose terrorist habits make the old IRA look like pussycats. The turning point in Jeff's tangled relationships comes when he attends a London conference surrounded by protest that breeds riot--with Tim among the protesters.
A foreshadowed twist leads to a finale that mixes cynicism with sentiment. En route Misspent Youth is a lot of fun. --David Langford
From the talented Hamilton, a provocative look at the days not too long after tomorrow. It is 40 years into the future and, following decades of research on genetics, Europe is finally in a position to rejuvenate a human being. The first subject for treatment is chosen: Jeff Baker, the father of the datasphere (which replaced the Internet) and philanthropist extraordinaire. After 18 months in a German medical facility, the 78-year-old patient returns home looking like a healthy 20-year-old. Misspent Youth follows the effect his reappearance has on his family and also on his long-term pals who are now all pensioners, and starting to resent what Jeff has become. Standing quite apart from his previous novels, a very welcome new SF outing by a British leader of the field.
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