There was a book I read a long time ago, maybe 20 years or so. It starts with a young woman waking up in the future, and slowly starting to learn what's been going on since she's been in cryogenic hibernation:

Life extension technology has been developed, but it's both expensive and imperfect. Only the rich have access to it, and it keeps them alive, but leaves them horribly deformed. People call the deformities the "yuppie effect". Society has devolved into at least something of a dystopia by this point, including labor programs literally involving digging holes and filling them up again.

Her father had been a researcher working on life extension. It's believed that he managed to get it right, but somehow he died and his research was lost.

At some point, he talked about the critical formula with her, that no one has been able to replicate since then, but she wasn't really paying attention, since that was his area of interest, not hers. But the people who found her believe that the secret is still somewhere in her brain.

There are two factions. The "good guys" want to use a brain-scanning machine on her to find the secret and surgically erase it from her brain so that the rich and powerful can't use it to further their dominance over everyone else. The "bad guys," of course, want to use a brain-scanning machine on her to find the secret and use it. Eventually, the bad guys get ahold of the secret and start to use it, but it turns out that

there was a flaw in the formula and it ends up killing the people who use it instead of prolonging their lives and fixing the "yuppie effect."

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

  • This does sound familiar, but I can't remember a title... I'll keep looking. – FuzzyBoots Sep 22 '15 at 19:14

If you are misremebering one critical detail (the gender of the Protagonist), it could be 'The Forever Formula', by Frank Bonham, written in 1979.

[From memory, so my apologies if I get some of the details a little off.]

Set in 2164, the main character (Evan Clark) was the 17 year-old son of the Scientist who developed the formula (called "Rejuvenal") that allowed prolonged life, but some aspect of it basically didn't stop aging. I don't remember the details of how our hero ended up in the future (I want to say a serial killer or something and being stuck in cryogenic suspension in his Father's barn/lab), but the future was basically run by the old people, who, being in the majority, voted to keep the young with very few rights. Our hero wakes in the hospital, and befriends one of his nurses, as I recall.

The old folk are somewhat distorted by age, and I believe their skin becomes almost like gelatin. The condition is referred to as "Guppyism." (The hero meeting his still-alive girlfriend (who exhibits this) is a particularly uncomfortable scene.) SOMETHING still left the cells, despite the treatment, although I was about 8 when I read it, and don't remember the scientific details.

Eventually he gets to visit his childhood home (now a museum), and is eventually kidnapped by the youth faction that wants to get RID of the knowledge in his brain (from his father talking to him about it, or, rather using him as a soundingboard; our hero wasn't really listening.) They bring him somewhere and use a process to walk him thru his memories, with the intent of deleting it when they find it. Unfortunately, they are betrayed, and when they find the memory, the (old) 'Establishment' ends up getting it.

The twist comes when

the new drug is used on all of the existing prolonged folk, and it DOES make them young.. for a bit. (With a golden color, as I recall. The substance I referred to above was being put back in the cells... but then it kept going.) Then it kills them. Our hero wonders if that was actually what his father intended; a glorious, but short lived return to their youth before death.

Does that sound familiar?

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