Too Young to Die is a compelling, gripping scientific thriller of a journalist’s investigation into a rejuvenation drug which is about to change the human race forever.
Dave Wilson, a middle-aged New York journalist suffering from depression and chronic back pain, is thrilled with his new assignment: an article about a new drug that allegedly can stop the aging process, rejuvenate the body and increase the human lifespan significantly.
The twenty-first century is the age of biotechnology and he goes to the depth of this during his investigation. Scientific developments are happening at an exponentially growing pace and are about to change the human species in unprecedented ways.
While learning about the impressive advances of science, he decides to do the unthinkable. His life changes in unimaginable ways, but not everything changes the way he had hoped. Dave gets sucked into an intricate web of crime, greed and genius evil.
Targeted Age Group:: Adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
It has been inspired by several real scientific developments and articles. Currently the scientific world is advancing at an unprecedented pace and nobody can really foresee yet how humanity is going to change by all this. Lots of research is conducted into aging and longevity. All the research can roughly be divided in three areas: understanding and investigating the aging process, slowing down the aging process and reversing aging. A number of drugs have entered clinical trial stage and soon we will see drugs on the market that will increase the human lifespan tremendously. This quest for the "Fountain of Youth" has reached a high speed and especially the research into "senescent cells" looks very promising and has been the main inspiration for this book.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The main character is Dave Wilson, a middle-aged New York journalist. Dave has gone through a typical midlife crisis and he has been suffering from depression and chronic back pain. His job and his son kept him going in his life. The character was inspired by some scientific research I had run into. Research shows that people's happiness in life goes through a typical u-shaped curve. The bottom of this happiness feeling is reached for most people between the age of 45 and 50 years after which their happiness starts to go back up again. I believe one of the causes of this midlife crisis is that typically around this age people start to become aware of the decline of their bodies and the limitations of life and their careers. What fascinates me is that current developments in biotechnology suggest that this could all change with the creation of a new type of drugs that actually rejuvenate people.
1. Stolen dream
The black van was driving away fast in the dark night. Yakov felt he was in a hopeless situation. His right leg was burning and still bleeding and his right shoulder felt painful. Maybe he should not have fled away like that, but it was in his nature to never give up and always try to find a way out of a difficult situation. Although this time it looked like he had not found a way out and he had stopped resisting. He was stuck and could not go anywhere. His head was still bleeding from the blow he had gotten on his head and he felt some blood dripping in his neck. His arms were handcuffed behind his back and his feet were tied together with a set of chains. They had attached the chains to the metal bench he was sitting on. No way to get loose. On his left side there was a heavy, muscled man dressed in black with a mean looking face. On his right side another heavy man with a large scar on his cheek. In front of him another two of these military types and all four men were heavily armed and carrying assault rifles. Yakov recognized the rifles. They were black AK-12 rifles from the Kalashnikov concern. Sitting on the cold bench, Yakov was wondering how he had gotten in this mess.
Three weeks earlier Yakov had planned to make an announcement to his boss Andrei Volkov at Bikov Software, the company he had been working for in the past five years. Yakov had gone through a fast and successful career path. As a former national youth champion in weightlifting, he knew what it was to work hard in order to succeed. After graduating from Saint-Petersburg State University with honors, Yakov had received an offer to come and work for Bikov Software. They had made him an offer he could not refuse and as part of this package he had been sent to California to get a Master of Science degree in Computer Science at Stanford University, all expenses paid for by Bikov Software. After graduating from Stanford University, he returned to work for Bikov Software in Saint-Petersburg. In the past five years he had become the star programmer of the company, but Yakov had another dream and at that point he could not know that this dream would get him into trouble.
He had reached an important milestone in the development of the first version of a “deep-fake” software. He had developed this software using machine learning techniques, and it was basically capable of making undistinguishable videos of someone and making that person say anything you wanted them to say. Yakov had been central in advancing this technology significantly and they were close to having a software they could start selling. Yakov had just finished giving a demonstration of the software to his boss. Andrei was impressed with the progress.
“Yakov, you have outperformed yourself! This software has become so good now, I believe it is ready for the market.”
“Thanks Andrei, although I still have some small bugs to fix.”
“Okay, but try to have it ready by next week since we want to present the software at the coming Board of Directors meeting.”
“I will do my best!”
Yakov hesitated for a moment, but he decided to announce his decision to his boss anyway.
“Andrei, there is something else I would like to discuss with you and it is a bit delicate, but I believe it is the right moment now since I almost have finalized the software.”
Andrei looked a bit puzzled at Yakov as he had no clue what he wanted to talk about.
“Tell me Yakov!”
“Well, I think I have told you already when I started working for you five years ago, but I still have this dream to start my own company and I feel the time is right for me now to make this big step. I have decided to leave Bikov Software to create my own company.”
Andrei’s face changed and he looked grim and surprised now.
“Yakov, you cannot leave us! We need you to work on the other projects we have in the pipeline. Are you not happy with your salary? We should be able to work something out for you.”
“No, I am sorry Andrei. Since I was young, I have dreamt of creating my own company and I feel now is the right moment for me. It is not about salary, but it is about me realizing my dream.”
“Yakov, you really cannot leave us, we need you. Please consider my offer to improve your package.”
“I really prefer to pursue my dream.”
“Come on, don’t make any hasty decision, think over my offer to increase your salary please?”
“Okay… Andrei… I will think it over, but I am almost sure it won’t change my decision.”
Yakov left Andrei with the hope he might consider his offer, but he only answered like that because he did not feel like upsetting Andrei too much since he was afraid the discussion could deteriorate further and he wanted to leave the company on good terms. The days after Andrei tried to convince him several times to reconsider his decision to leave, but Yakov did not want to bulge.
The week after Yakov presented the finalized software to Andrei, and it looked like the last bugs were fixed.
“Yakov, you did a superb job! I think it is ready to be launched on the market now.”
“Thanks, Andrei! When are you going to present the software to the Board of Directors?”
“Well, the meeting is tomorrow afternoon, but I actually would like to ask you to come and demonstrate the software in the meeting! Since it is your baby, it seems only fair that you should get all the credit for it!”
Yakov was a bit surprised to hear this. Yakov had never presented anything to the Board of Directors, nor had he met the members of the Board of Directors, except for the Chairman Adam Bromavich. He had been quite impressed with Adam Bromavich, who was one of the many billionaires in Russia. Although he had somehow managed to stay out of the press lights, people said he was one of the powerful Russian oligarchs. Yakov had heard that he had accumulated most of his wealth in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the nineteen-nineties during the area of Russian privatization. In the past five years of his career at Bikov Software Yakov had met him only two times and every time the encounters had been short.
Yakov was especially surprised that he was asked to present given the tensed conversation he had had with Andrei the week before. Was Andrei trying to convince him to stay with the company by offering him this opportunity? He had been clear to Andrei that he had decided to leave, but it was nice of Andrei to let Yakov get the credit for the software. In the past Andrei had always taken all the credits, so it seemed like he was trying to please him.
“Do I need to prepare anything special, Andrei?”
“No, I think the demonstration you gave me before will do fine. We start at three o’clock in the afternoon and I planned your presentation at four thirty, so be on time!”
Yakov left the meeting with Andrei and he still felt a bit surprised and he had the feeling there was more behind it.
The next day he felt a bit nervous before his first presentation to the Board of Directors. It did not change anything to his decision to leave the company, but he did feel flattered that he was asked to present for these rich and powerful people. A bit after four o’clock Yakov went downstairs to the large room where the meeting was taking place. The wooden door to the meeting room was closed, and he waited in front of the doors with his laptop under his arm.
About ten minutes later Andrei opened the wooden door.
“Hi Yakov! You can come in now!”
Yakov followed him inside and as he entered the room, he saw three gentlemen sitting behind the large wooden table. He recognized Adam Bromavich and Adam was the first one to get up and walk towards him.
“Hi Yakov, that has been a long time since our last encounter! I heard you have done excellent work at our company!”
“Hello mister Bromavich, it has been a long time indeed.”
Yakov shook his hand and at the same time he saw the two other men approaching. One had curly dark hair and the other one was bald.
“Hello, I am Serge Devaux. Nice to meet you!” the man with the curly dark hair said with a strong French accent.
“Hi, I am Yakov Cherepanov, nice to meet you mister Devaux!”
“Hello Yakov! I am Jeff Broch,” said the bald man with a grin on his face.
“Nice to meet you mister Broch.”
Yakov shook his hand which had a firm cold grip, which felt unnatural, but he did not dare to say anything.
The three men sat down behind the table and Andrei sat next to Yakov on the other side.
“Well, as I mentioned before Yakov is going to give us a small demonstration of our latest version of the software, which I believe is ready for the market now. Yakov go ahead!”
Yakov felt a bit nervous as he connected his laptop to the projector and dimmed the light in the room. He presented for about an hour. At some point he gave a demonstration using a video image of himself and he allowed the three men to type what he should say. This created some laughter and they all became quite enthusiastic about the software.
At the end of the presentation Adam said,
“Thanks, Yakov! My compliments! Very impressive work!”
Yakov closed his laptop and picked up his notebook and pen, when Adam continued,
“Yakov before you go, I understood from Andrei that you are planning to leave us to create your own company. I would just like to make clear that we all believe you are key to the success of our company and that’s why we have discussed the matter before you came in. We really want to keep you with our company so we want to make you an offer you cannot refuse. We propose to increase your salary with fifty percent and we will double your bonus.”
Yakov was amazed to hear the offer and normally he would have jumped to accept, but he had been thinking about creating his company for a long time now and he felt money did not change his decision. The three men looked seriously at him now and an awkward silence fell. Andrei broke the silence after a while,
“Well Yakov that is the most generous offer this company has ever made to anyone, I hope it can convince you to stay with us.”
Yakov felt uncomfortable as he obviously would disappoint everybody by sticking to his plan to leave. He decided it was probably best not to reject the offer immediately since this might insult them.
“Thank you for your generous offer. I have been thinking about creating a company for a long time and your offer does not make my decision easier. Let me think about it and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
Adam looked a bit annoyed now and the two other men looked grim.
“Okay Yakov. I would have preferred an answer right away, but I understand you need some time to think about it. Please let us know your answer by the end of this week.”
“Thanks for your understanding mister Bromavich, I will let Andrei know by the end of this week.”
Yakov picked up his laptop and reached out his hand to Serge Devaux, who had gotten up to say goodbye.
“Nice meeting you Yakov and my compliments on your presentation!”
“Thanks mister Devaux!”
Adam reached out his hand and thanked Yakov as well. Mister Broch got up last and shook Yakov’s hand and while he held his hand he said,
“Yakov you did some great work! I hope you will accept our offer as I believe it is your only choice since you do not want to disappoint us.”
Yakov felt uncomfortable now since mister Broch did not let go of his hand and it felt like he was holding an iron grip. What a strength this mister Broch had in his hand.
“Do you understand, Yakov?”
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W.F. van der Hart is an author who started writing after an intense and successful international business career in consulting and finance. As a passionate reader with a curious mindset, he has a strong interest in science in its broadest sense. He writes thrillers inspired by true and amazing scientific developments in our ever-changing world and based on extensive research. He has lived in different countries in Western Europe and South America and worked in many other countries all over the world which fueled his passion for traveling. He loves discovering other cultures and enjoying nice local food and wine with friends and family.