"Must I die?" asked Gilgamesh. Forty five centuries
later, we're still asking the same question.
Science writer Paul Bracken embarks on a
lighthearted assessment of the human condition, to
explore what it means to be mortal, and what our fate
may be. This scientific reimagining of the ancient
Gilgamesh quest delves into a multitude of topics
including the origin of life, the workings of the human
mind, and the possibilities for life prolongation.
The ancient Gilgamesh was so distraught at the
death of his friend Enkidu, and so sickened by the
knowledge that he too would die, that he rebelled
against his fate and set out on a search for salvation.
Likewise, at the age of eleven, Bracken wondered if
there might be a way to bring his grandfather back
from the dead and has been pondering this question
ever since. Is death a problem to be solved, or is it
an essential aspect of our humanity?
Back in the eighties, astronomer Carl Sagan
established a space advocacy group called The
Planetary Society, based in Pasadena, California.
Author Paul Bracken was the society's representative
in Ireland, and he became known as a leading
planetary science educator and evangelist.
In 1993, Bracken was recognized by The Planetary
Society's founders for his extraordinary initiative and
effort in support of the exploration of the solar system,
and the search for extraterrestrial life.
"We human beings instinctively resist the notion of
personal extinction. In his thoughtful and hugely
readable Gilgamesh in the 21st Century, Paul Bracken
canters effortlessly through an amazing range of
science to help put this fraught human proclivity in
perspective, both for himself and for us."
Paul's Favorite Books:
ISBN - 978-0-615-95315-1
"In his Gilgamesh in the 21st Century, Paul Bracken
mixes ancient myth, modern science, and science
fiction futurism on a intellectual quest to explore the
meaning of human existence by confronting and
challenging the inevitability of mortality.
This is both a highly personal inquiry into the uniquely
human knowledge of personal finitude and its
implications for human psychology and culture and a
scientifically motivated investigation into the dreams
and schemes to extend life. He even unsentimentally
speculates about a future without human death and
how these immortals might look back on our Age of
In his search for physical immortality we are given
glimpses of innumerable ways that people confront
this destiny and how some are attempting to
understand the science of its relentless clockwork in
hopes of outwitting it."
-- Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley.
-- Ian Tattersall
American Museum of Natural History, NY
Advance Praise for Gilgamesh in
the 21st Century