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There's a book I borrowed from my grade 8 teacher's lending shelf (in Ontario, Canada) that I've been trying to identify for years.

The main character was a man in a futuristic setting who... I think... had the secret to an improved version of the lifespan-extension serum everyone used. If I remember correctly, the flawed version caused people's skin to turn clear over the course of their extended lives.

I think he was revived from some sort of stasis, but I can't be sure of that. I just vaguely remember a "stranger in a strange land" sort of cultural disconnect, him being cared for in some kind of hospital-like setting, and a sense that maybe the formula they want from him was invented by a now-dead family member of his.

The most distinctive detail I remember was the love interest, a cloned nurse named "Eliza Tertia" who he encourages to break out of her role. (All the cloned nurses were named Eliza, and I remember "Eliza Duodecima" being the name of another one who is briefly seen.)

I also remember the secret eventually being gotten out of him, only for it to be discovered that it's flawed, in that, while it does replenish the compounds that go missing in extended old age, it doesn't moderate their production.

I don't remember if it was long enough to be a novel or if it was just a novella.

My vague memories of the cover design and material suggest it was a 1970s printing or earlier, which would also fit with what I remember of the story's atmosphere.

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. You say you vaguely recall the cover design; are there any elements (even basic colour) that you could include in your question? And can you be more specific about when you read this?
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 20:25
  • @DavidW I was in Grade 8 in 2000, but my teacher was very close to retirement and the shelf was full of books she personally owned. As for the cover, it's a very hazy memory or I would have said more but it's likely a very muddled memory of the bright, colorful "The Forever Formula" cover posted in the two answers.
    – ssokolow
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 21:42

2 Answers 2

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Googling for "Eliza Tertia" indicates that this is The Forever Formula (1980), by Frank Bonham.*

Per this review:

The veteran author of nearly two score novels, Bonham has his ups and downs. Here he treats a theme of cosmic significance and potential richness with the superficiality and careless logic of a 1940s movie serial, complete with endless exposition in the dialogue. The year is 2164. Seventeen-year-old Evan Clark awakens after 180 frozen years into a society whose citizens commonly live well past one hundred years into uselessness and boredom. So scarce is living space in Los Angeles, now the U.S. capital, that young people, those under 60, are kept in kennels. Evan's own father, the legendary Dr. Clark, had in 1984 invented the formula that made longevity possible, though he was later killed in an accident; all that's in the history books. Dr. Clark also developed a refinement in the formula that promised not just longevity but continued youth, and he never disclosed it to anyone except Evan. The bad guys want to pull the formula from Evan's subconscious, and the good guys want to erase it from his brain by laser surgery. Although the longevity formula is outlawed elsewhere in the world, we aren't told why (or why it is legal in the U.S.); and a lot more isn't explained either, namely why technology has not kept pace with population growth or why Evan stayed frozen for 180 years undiscovered. There are other loopholes big enough to walk through, in a plot that leaves a multitude of questions unanswered and many more not even asked.

It seems to have most frequently had this cover.

Hardback Cover

But this one also appeared (presumably showing Evan and Eliza).

Paperback Cover

*Apart from a number of real women with "Eliza Tertia" as their given names, by Googling I found this student's online book report about the novel.

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  • For some reason, I could never get Google to cooperate when I was trying for Eliza Tertia... maybe my Google Fu is just too tuned for more technical subjects. I'll want to do a little confirming before I accept your answer, but it's very likely I read a copy published with the second of those two covers.
    – ssokolow
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 21:44
  • Looks like it's the one and someone apparently had the same "Your Google Fu was better than mine" reaction over on the "What was that book?" forum I just discovered GoodReads has.
    – ssokolow
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 21:55
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The Forever Formula by Philip E High

After sleeping for 180 years, Evan Clark awakens to a world populated by old people kept alive by drugs, eludes those who want his formula for eternal youth, and joins the Juvie Underground

more description

enter image description here

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    What is this to do with Philip E.High?
    – mmmmmm
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 14:36

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