& occasionally about other things, too...

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Telomere Problem

Guest post by Sharad Bailur

Sharad Bailur
Is Fate a deciding factor in human life? This book actually asks this question, never openly or straightaway. But it is the subtext, the premise, on which the novel is built.

Much of its basic philosophy is based on my reading of the philosophy of History from Plato to Hegel to Marx and Toynbee on the one hand, and, Thomas Kuhn, and then mavericks like Karl Popper and Paul Feyerabend, on the other.

While the first four seem to think that events occur as a stream that flows in which mankind wallows helplessly and has no control over, Feyerabend and even Karl Popper have a different and more interesting take on the subject. Popper’s argument is that this “historicism is a myth”. Both believe that chance events make for history. There is no such thing as a discernible pattern that can help us decipher the future.

The Telomere Problem is fiction, science fiction at that, but it has deep philosophical roots. It begins with the inevitability of a love affair gone wrong,  leads to the inevitability of the ‘repair of the situation’, in an entirely novel, if inadequate, manner. It ends with the chance factor of an unexpected death.

This novel doesn’t involve spectacular fantasized subjects like space travel, or monsters from Mars; nor car chases and dancing around trees; and not even court cases and arguments. It is not about crime. It is not a conventional love story.

So, the only way this tale could be told was to make it plausible. Making it plausible involved educating myself in an entirely new subject –molecular embryology. A lot of what was written as long ago as 2007 has come true in the last eleven years. A lot of what is written is expected to come true in the lives of the present generation. That includes major scientific and social, and economic revolutions that will change the face of this earth.

Is that Hegelian? Are these paradigm shifts, as Thomas Kuhn would suggest? Or is it just a string of educated guesses, that could go completely off-track based on chance factors? I don’t know.

On the face of it The Telomere Problem is just a novel. It starts on a simple core premise – the cloning of Madhubala, the film actress, and how it is possible 29 years after her death. Were it to remain at that level it would have merely been an entertaining, if implausible, story. But then it acquired a life of its own, refusing to close when it should have and went on to deal with the dangers involved with cloning.

From there to the use of nanotechnology in medical treatment. From there it turns to the 
new methods being used to arrest ageing and to the emerging possibilities of living forever, and its consequences in fields as far removed as Society, Economics and even world power balance.

You may buy Sharad Bailur’s debut novel here: The Telomere Problem

Sharad Bailur is that rare specimen, who are becoming rarer in our troubled times - an unbiased intellectual, who is willing to change his opinion in the face of new facts. A veteran media relations professional, Bailur has experienced the seamier side of the media at close quarters, and yet maintained a rare gravitas in his dealings with media professionals. I've had the privilege of knowing him for 31 years. 

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