From the annals of people who truly have either too much time on their hands or the golden touch when it comes to writing grant applications, I give you this gem. Interestingly, the ScienceDirect system where the paper is hosted seems a little faulty: while the paper is not open access, if you click on one of the links for the full paper and then click on the abstract link on the paywall page, it will in fact show you the full paper. Web development is hard, sad to say, and you rarely get all of what you'd like to think that you paid for. In this case, there are fringe benefits for the rest of us, however. So take advantage while it's there:
Based on the assumption that cultural and literary criticism can and should impact scientific and medical research on aging, this paper asks whether the analysis of a text such as the Super Sad True Love Story that has received very broad recognition can be seen as a cultural critical intervention into the ageism so often openly displayed in scientific discourses.
Apart from more general social criticism, the novel includes numerous references to biogerontology and nanomedicine that - although at times sounding futuristic and satirical - represent up to date research results of modern life science laboratories.
As a matter of fact, Shteyngart indicates in the afterword that he modeled the indefinite lifespan extension company on the work of biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey. Although de Grey, whose radical ideas have provoked harsh opposition in the scientific community, was first seen as an outsider, he has now come to occupy a central position in the field of anti-aging studies. Despite the fact that at the first glance his theories seem very bold and futuristic, he is "a factor to be dealt with in any serious discussion of the topic."
In the end, Shteyngart maintains that "nature simply would not yield" (2010: 329) and biogerontology is seen as a major failure. Shteyngart here makes a provocative prediction regarding the future development of Aubrey de Grey's SENS project that serves as the scientific background of the novel, but does the novel's dystopic account of rejuvenation technology have the power to change its readers' ways of thinking regarding biogerontological research and the cultural meaning of old age? The Super Sad True Love Story mirrors and creatively distorts biogerontological discourses and thus provides a very good basis for comparison and discussion.
Even if you do a good job as the author of a Frankenstein work, getting the groundwork right on the science involved, it's still a Frankenstein work. Science failing man - man attempting new science and having it fail or get beyond him in some plot-vital way - is ever a popular vision, but it is fundamentally unrealistic. We are where we are because our ancestors succeeded in science, continually, over and again. They incrementally created a better world with science, one step at a time, until the dreams, wonders, and visions of yesteryear now walk in everyday life.
Novels that postulate gloom, failure, and malaise to result from human life extension are a dime a dozen. They far outnumber those that do not; indeed most of the positive visions are in those fictional settings in which great longevity simply exists, and is not really remarked upon, nor a part of the core plot. Consider the Culture, the Wheel of Time series, and so forth. Drag medicine and human longevity into the core plot, and suddenly the author is compelled to reweave Frankenstein out of the threads of biogerontology. It's a sad thing.
There are sound reasons for all this, of course. Dystopian visions, tales of hubris and the resulting fall sell books, much as bad news sells newspapers. But that this all exists in the industry of fiction does not make it in any way useful or valid beyond entertainment - or, sadly, beyond propaganda, intentional or otherwise. The logic of writing a dystopian story or a Frankenstein tale is that certain failures will take place: the author bends reality to the needs of the tale. A good author does that well enough that someone without a grounding in the fields in question won't be able to spot the dubious leaps and assumptions.
So no, I don't think fiction is the place to start any discussion of the future of biogerontology or the SENS vision. Not until we start getting a more useful class of fiction, anyway, which doesn't seem terribly likely. The truth and the reality of where we stand, what can be done with biotechnology, and what is needed to make progress - those are topics to focus on.