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March 09 , 2011

The Methuselah Solution


As the prison population grows exponentially in the U.S. today, writer Bill Harris has captured the politics of the prison system and found a revolutionary answer in his futuristic novel “The Methuselah Solution”. One of the story’s two protagonists, Dr. Cynthia Turner, is a rising star at the Institute where she supervises the administration of a new form of alternative sentencing - an aging serum developed to replace multiple years of costly confinement with the injection of a drug that rapidly ages convicted felons to their prescribed sentence. The serum is a favorite with politicians, but the bane of powerful companies long profiting from the spiraling expansion of prison construction. The serum is in its sixth year of use when the problems start. A time when prisons have become a place where aged felons can readjust to life with weaker bones, slower pulses and mottled minds. Except for the antagonist,Joshua Howard.

A career criminal, Joshua is clever, attractive, self righteous and has been sentenced to be aged twenty years for embezzlement. Dr. Turner watches with a mixture of awe and horror as Joshua is over-aged thirty years, leaving his body far weaker than his spared mind. Dr. Turner and her boss, Dr. Kenneth Lambert, attempt to deal with Joshua and another prisoner, Patricia Bennett - a former Olympic Gymnast, who killed her husband while responding to the encouragement of her dead father. The Institute is now faced with the epic task of confronting Patricia’s Olympic strength and the determination of Joshua’s contempt and rage.

What happens inside the underground prison throughout the story would remain as silent and deadly to the population of Texas as the Ebola virus was to Reston, Virginia, except for the disorganized attempts of the second protagonist, Alexis Troutman. Alex is a local reporter who has begun to oppose the use of the aging serum and attempts to enlist Dr. Turner’s help to rectify the prison’s problems. The Institute is racing to develop an antidote to counteract over-aging reactions; the only problem is that Joshua gets to the antidote first. The apocalyptic conclusion explodes when Alex enters the Institute as Joshua and Patricia embark on a reign of terror and vengeance after securing the antidote.

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