The Immortality Code
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Allie Keane's breakthrough in quantum computing holds the key to unlocking eternity. But can she survive long enough to use it? A riveting science-fiction thriller from the million-copy NY Times bestselling author.
"Richards is a worthy successor to Michael Crichton." (SF Book dot com)
When Allie Keane makes a revolutionary discovery in quantum computing, she kicks the ultimate hornets' nest. She doesn't know it, but a hidden battle for tech supremacy is raging around the world, and whoever controls her discovery will dominate the globe. Soon, Allie is being hunted by ruthless forces desperate to learn her secret, and only Zachary Reed, a gifted operative within a shadowy government agency, stands in the way.
But as extraordinary as Allie's breakthrough is, it holds the key to unleashing something far bigger. An unrelated technology thousands of years beyond current science. A staggering advance capable of bringing about a utopia, rewriting the laws of life and death, and helping humanity spread throughout the stars.
As long as it doesn't wipe out all life on Earth before that can happen . . .
The Immortality Code is a masterful thriller. One crammed with breakneck action, unexpected twists, mind-blowing science, and ethical dilemmas readers will be contemplating long after they've read the last page.
Release date: March 4, 2021
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The Immortality Code
Douglas E. Richards
Dr. Allison Keane entered the modest home she was renting and collapsed onto a comfortable beige sofa. She had just returned from treating herself to a rare breakfast out and her taste buds were positively humming. She took a deep, cleansing breath, closed her eyes, and let herself drift through the cavernous darkness, alone with her thoughts.
Could it be that she might finally be getting back on track?
She was afraid to even think it, to allow herself to believe it for a moment. In a more innocent time, she would have been giddy, literally dancing in celebration and fantasizing about a glorious and consequential future.
But this was not a more innocent time. This was long after she had had her dreams torn from her as cruelly as a bully might yank the legs from a spider. Long after she had been confronted by pure evil, and had lost.
Lost her dreams. Lost her belief in justice. And lost her way.
But for the past three years she had begun to claw back. To inch her way out of the pit of hell. And the step she had just taken was far greater than just an inch. It was an exhilarating explosion that could launch her from the depths of despair to towering new heights.
As jaded as Allie Keane had become, even she had to admit that her life was finally looking up.
If one could call what she had a life. She spent every waking hour she wasn’t eating or exercising pursing her passion. And while she considered herself lucky to be able to do so, there was such a thing as balance, which was something she had woefully neglected.
But she vowed that this would begin to change starting now. No time like the present.
Three mornings earlier, she had finally gone public with the results of her last two years of work, a pre-publication of a theory that she was convinced was groundbreaking, and would finally garner the respect and acclaim that had been stolen from her.
She had only published the big-picture version of the theory, and only in an online physics forum, but the more formal, thorough version wouldn’t be far behind. First, she wanted to test the waters, get an initial reaction. This way, she could better address the vicious critiques and dismissals she knew would be par for the course from scores of smug, entrenched physics luminaries, who might be brilliant, but who were often trapped by group-think and fearful of venturing wildly beyond accepted physics dogma.
Every truly revolutionary advance was met with harsh resistance when first introduced, and she expected her ideas to be treated more brutally than most. As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer had famously expressed, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Of all the quotes she had ever read, this was her favorite. Followed by one from the great pioneer of quantum physics, Niels Bohr, who had said, “We all agree that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough.”
Online comments regarding her revolutionary ideas were already flying in. The last time she checked, right before retiring the night before, she had found dozens of savage, biting critiques. But also two responses from world-renowned physicists who had issued guarded praise of her ideas. Shocked praise, really, which almost seemed pried from them against their will, but praise nonetheless.
She could only imagine their dismay as they read her work, expecting glaring, amateur-hour errors and relishing the chance to poke holes in her ideas, math, and conclusions large enough to swallow continents. Relishing the chance to put the lowly Associate Professor of Quantum Physics, just recently promoted from the even lowlier rank of postdoctoral fellow, back in her place. An associate professor at the University of South Dakota no less—an institution that few of the elite physicists at MIT, Stanford, Princeton, or Cambridge could even find on a map.
But instead, these two giants had grudgingly admitted that her work was original, groundbreaking, and in some ways, breathtaking. She had to give them credit for this admission, which she wasn’t sure would be forthcoming, and which couldn’t have been easy while commenting on the work of a physics peasant. It was as if Luciano Pavarotti found himself upstaged by a tenor he had stumbled upon singing opera to a herd of cows in a pasture in Wyoming.
Allie hadn’t always been considered a physics peasant. In fact, many years earlier, she had been thought to be quickly moving toward physics royalty. She had been a child prodigy beyond compare, but with a personality that didn’t draw attention to this fact. Many she encountered had marveled that she came across as a fun-loving and well-adjusted “normal” kid. She had frequently been compared to a character on a show called Young Sheldon, a little blonde girl named Paige Swanson.
The show centered on a pre-teen genius named Sheldon Cooper, who was portrayed as being stereotypically quirky and socially inept. But Paige Swanson was a character who broke this mold. As brilliant as Sheldon, but personable, extroverted, and anything but robotic. Allie had been told she resembled this character, not only with respect to her personality and genius, but her appearance as well, although Allie’s hair was light brown instead of blonde, and her eyes were green rather than blue.
At the age of fifteen, an only child, Allie and her parents had moved from South Dakota to Acton, Massachusetts, so she could live at home and attend MIT. She graduated three years later at the top of her class, and then continued on at the same revered institution, working toward her Ph.D. in quantum physics.
But as she approached her twenty-second birthday, just as she was putting the finishing touches on her Ph.D. thesis, her life took a tragic turn. In the blink of an eye she was swatted from her towering pedestal and impaled on jagged rocks below. Her beloved parents were hit in their car by a drunk driver on the interstate, killing her father instantly and leaving her mother barely alive.
Her mother, Eleanor Keane, did manage to hang on by a thread for six months, through dozens of surgeries, which did little but provide false hope and prolong Allie’s agony. During this nightmarish stretch, Allie’s emotions were laid bare, as despair and heartbreak suffocated her normally upbeat spirit, and stress shredded her gut as surely as if she had eaten a bucket of broken glass. It was the most horrible six months of her life.
But this was only the beginning.
After taking off two additional months to mourn the loss of her parents and get her head on straight, Allie returned to MIT to finish her doctorate, only to discover that her advisor, Abraham Sena, whom she had admired, had stolen her thesis while she was gone, publishing it as if it were his own work.
Instead of losing herself in her work to help recover from the tragic loss of her parents, Sena had seen to it that Allie was pushed even further under the murky seas. And held down. Because robbing her of the fruits of her labor and genius wasn’t cruel and horrific enough. Sena needed to twist the knife, to insulate himself from Allie’s certain fury, accusations, and attempts to prove his theft.
So he had framed her. Obliterated her reputation and credibility.
Esteemed Professor Abraham Sena had managed to perform a hacking magic trick, erasing all traces of her work from her computer and even from her account in the cloud, and adding overwhelming evidence that she had been the one planning to plagiarize him.
Sena’s defamation of her had been genius, his manipulation of hearts and minds an evil masterpiece. And he had the reputation, the legitimacy, that she did not. He even had the gall to pretend to be sympathetic to her for having carried out the crime for which he had framed her, insisting only that she be thrown out of MIT in disgrace, but pleading that this should be her only punishment. It was tragic, he had said, that this poor girl had entered a stressful graduate program too young, got in over her head, and had flamed out.
And given the even more tragic loss of her parents recently, she should be pitied rather than loathed.
It was all too much for what was left of Allie Keane, and she came very close to a nervous breakdown. She spiraled down into the depths of hell, finding drugs, and sex, and alcohol—and always despair.
But, somehow, after a number of lost years—little more than a drug-addled blur in her memory—she had slowly, painfully, turned things around. She had sobered up, and had begun to put her life back on track. And while it had taken time, she was still only twenty-eight, and there now seemed nowhere to go but up.
She frowned deeply, her eyes still closed in contemplation.
Nowhere to go but up, she repeated in her mind. Sure. She wasn’t about to fall for that again. After all, she had thought this once before, six years earlier.
So now, despite the unexpectedly positive reactions her work had earned, she found herself more wary than hopeful. She had become so traumatized by the loss of her parents, and the theft of her work, that she now cowered in fear after being handed a beautifully giftwrapped present, sure that it was only a matter of time before the box would blow up in her face.
She shuddered as she imagined eagerly pulling open a red-satin bow on a magnificent gift, only to have the package explode, vaporizing her entire head in an instant.
A loud rap at the door interrupted Allie’s reverie, just as she was envisioning this grisly scene, and she almost jumped out of her skin. Her eyes shot open and she bolted off the couch, an anxious expression now firmly frozen on her face.
Who could it be? She wasn’t expecting any deliveries, and it was still only nine in the morning. And she hadn’t had a single visitor in over a year.
Her phone was off, resting on an end table in her bedroom, so her door cam was no help. She would just have to learn the identity of her visitor the old fashioned way, by actually opening her door, as barbaric as this method now seemed.
Given when the knock had occurred in her stream of thinking, she couldn’t help but imagine that it portended something truly horrible. Part of her wanted to pretend not to be home, ignore it. But she knew to fight this instinct. Just because her world had been gutted before, at the most optimistic point in her life, didn’t mean it would happen again.
But it also didn’t mean that it wouldn’t.
Dr. Allison Keane took a deep breath, braced herself, and reached for the doorknob.
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