Within the first three pages of Geoff Ryman’s 1989 science fiction novel, the Child Garden, which I thoroughly recommend, within the first three pages they cure cancer. Using an artificial retrovirus based on herpes, they invade the human cell and lock every strand of DNA inside an impenetrable crystal box, permanently guarding against genetic damage.
There’s a side-effect. It turns out this also prevents ageing and without ageing, everyone dies on or around their 35th birthday.
I’ve got four years left.
What do you do in a society where the life span is 35? Like, how do you have productive industry in a world where there simply aren’t enough years growing up to develop the required expertise and wisdom?
One of the things they do is they squirt knowledge into people’s heads so they are educated and well-conditioned for society by the age of 10, at which point they start a career.
Conditioned for society. So, for example, children don’t have to be taught not to steal. They have an overdeveloped sense of empathy squirted into their heads, along with all the book knowledge, and they can’t steal because they can always empathise with the person they’d be stealing from