The Longevity Thesis.


256 pages
ISBN 978-1-896944-37-1
DDC C813'.6





Reviewed by Douglas Barbour

Douglas Barbour is a professor of English at the University of Alberta.
He is the author of Lyric/anti-lyric : Essays on Contemporary Poetry,
Breath Takes, and Fragmenting Body Etc.


Maybe Jennifer Rahn just has too many ideas. Whatever the reason, The Longevity Thesis is something of a confused mélange, not quite sure what it wants to be. There’s a bit of academic satire, a something of a mystery, something of a fantasy of magic and psychic powers, even something of a story of family love, but these separate aspects never quite join to become a single, powerful tale.


Antronos, born on the almost living and certainly magic desert, comes to an underground city-state after his mother dies; there he works hard as a student and eventually becomes a graduate student in medicine. He wants to find a way to defeat death, but when he ends up with a graduate supervisor who may be over five hundred years old, he finds himself ensnared in a battle to preserve his mind, his soul, from that old magus’s malicious attempts to psychically control him.


There’s much more, at least two “tribes” within the caverns of the city-state, also at war, the Prince who has immense psychic powers but can’t control them, and whom the old magus wants to control, various people Antronos meets and helps or betrays as he tries to defeat his supervisor. There’s something of a thriller narrative here, but it’s somewhat undermined by Rahm’s willingness to just introduce some new aspect of magic or ESP whenever she needs to keep the plot simmering. There’s a lack of logic to all this new information, and the writing is simply not sparkling or witty enough to sustain all the narrative missteps. The Longevity Thesis becomes something of a slog for the reader, so that even its intriguing aspects finally lose whatever glow they might have had.


Rahn, Jennifer., “The Longevity Thesis.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024,