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Immortality, Inc.

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,096 ratings  ·  140 reviews
First published in 1959 as a startling, revolutionary novel of the future, then pushed to new cinematic limits as the feature film adaptation FREEJACK in 1992, Robert Sheckley's unsettling vision of Tomorrow now arrives in ebook format for the 21st century.

Thomas Blaine awoke in a white bed in a white room, and heard someone say, "He's alive now." Then they asked him his n
Mass Market Paperback, 250 pages
Published October 1991 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1959)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,096 ratings  ·  140 reviews

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Please…do NOT confuse this novel with the 1992 celluloid dump known as Freejack. Remember, the one featuring:

Emilio “I should’ve hung it up after The OutsidersEstevez,

Mick “Acting be damned, I’m a rock god and can star in any movie I please, so suck it” Jagger, and

Sir Anthony “Who do I have to blow to get out of doing this movie…really…fine I’ll do the movie” Hopkins.

That movie was an infected wart and had nothing in common with this book.
Nothing. Ignore its existence.
On the other hand,
Dec 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
In Robert Sheckley's charming 1959 novel, we visit a future where immortality has become standard, well-established technology. If you don't want to die, you just come up with the necessary money and trained professionals will take care of the problem for you. Your mind will survive the death of your body and be installed somewhere else. Sheckley has a lot of fun with the concept. It occurred to me to wonder today whether we might not already be in sight of a solution. I don't see it working the ...more
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, 2020-shelf, sci-fi
This humorous SF novel from 1959 is notable for its cavalier attitude to death. Of course, it makes a pretty standard case that society would naturally break down it there was no POINT to living, especially if you had set up your life insurance... :)

Yes. Life insurance is actually AFTERLIFE insurance. If you can afford the process, you too can live on and get yourself a new body.

Sound familiar, fans of Altered Carbon?

Of course, Sheckley goes into some of the more interesting aspects of this wor
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A rollicking, and at times laughable, sci-fi adventure involving time travel and mind/body swapping. There's less outright absurdity and more serious storytelling with genuine intrigue, skullduggery and depth here than is typical for Sheckley. He takes on some intriguing concepts including the mind-body relationship and the nature of death and the afterlife, as well as personal responsibility. It's not easy to pull off humor in sci-fi, which he does here with only a light touch, and Schekley is ...more
Lex Shooric
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Great book and amazing plot. Glad to see tribute to Sheckley in Futurama: Suicide booths, and Mars taken over by Chinese colonists is from this book :)
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Perhaps a grim-faced Oligarch had Earth in his iron grasp, while a small, dedicated underground struggled toward freedom”, wrote Robert Sheckley in 1959’s Immortality, Inc. as he thought about the future. When, in the first couple of pages, he finds himself in the future it is more complicated than that, terrifying in a different way.

The “Inc.” is important as our main character, Tom Blaine, is thrust into a future in which it would not be a spoiler to say corporations remain.

This is s lively
Dec 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2fiction, 1paper, scifi
The description says the movie "Freejack" was based on this novel, but only on the very basic idea. I liked the movie even though it gets a lot of hate. No matter your opinion of it, just keep it completely separate from this novel which was so much more than a fun romp with Renee Russo & Mick Jagger.

A couple of centuries in the future from 1958, they worked out how to keep the mind alive after the body died sometimes. Fairly often. Reasonably well. IF you got lucky or had the money. They also f
Sarah Sammis
Oct 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2009, pc
Immortality Inc. is the story of a man suddenly in a future New York (2110). He had felt himself die in a head-on car crash back in 1958 and now he's in a new body with nary a scar on himself. His new body though will be harvested again for an aging wealthy businessman. Oh yeah, and there's a zombie after him.

The novel is actually very funny and the future New York and future earth seems plausible. At just under 200 pages, it's a quick read.

Immortality Inc. unfortunately is forever tied to the v
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, audiobook, sci-fi
This is a story about a man (Thomas Blaine) who has been plucked from death in 1958 and brought into another body in 2110. It's a story about a future where scientists have figured out how to separate the being that is the mind/soul from the flesh of a person, thereby making immortality a real possibility. It's a story that if you like Futurama, you'll probably recognize parts of (notably, the suicide booths and the "underground" where the zombies are forced to reside).

On the surface, the story
Nate D
Oct 05, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, read-in-2012
Another of the $2 vintage sci-fis blind-bought from a street vendor last week.

This one deals with a future in which life beyond death is scientific fact, if a somewhat ambiguous one. Lots of room for discussion of mind/body problems and weird test-case variations, but a lot of this is brushed aside with cursory treatment in favor of action. This, along with the sorta iffy pacing at least at first, really shows that this was written as a serial, which never really works best for novels. And Our p
Ty Wilson
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2014
Where am I? Who am I? What am I?

Thomas Blaine died in a car accident in 1958. He is brought back to life in a new body in 2110. The book is Blaine's adventures in the future, and as he explores the world he finds himself in, he ponders often on those three questions. Where, who and what am I? This is a good example of old school science fiction with quasi-scientific sounding explanations for things, but it's really an excuse to examine what it is to be human. Blaine's encounters are numerous: w
Mar 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great and short novel, where the protagonists is snatched by a corporation from 1958 and awakens in a new body in the 2110s, a world where life after death is scientifically proven and, ironically but unsurprinsingly, commercialized. Oh, and ghosts and zombies are real. Not only that, but normal, everyday occurences. Actually, two of our hero's best friends are a ghost and a zombie. The book is both fun and smart, as it explores the implications of scientific afterlife on society and individua ...more
Carmen Serra
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I like to read sci fi written in the 50s because all the forward thinking in the world cannot wrap their mind around women in the workplace lol. In this future, women did work but his love interest longed to be a housewife of the 50 s. lol
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A re-read, inspired by an offer to get the Audible version free. I dug the 1978 paperback off my shelf to read along with the last few chapters. Bronson Pinchot narrates the audio, and he gives added creepiness to the zombie and the querulous old man ghost.

Tom Blaine dies in a car crash in 1958 and awakens in 2110 in a different body as a publicity stunt for the company that's invented the time traveling technology. It's already common to transfer minds to other bodies, and the afterlife is also
Noah Goats
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Immortality Inc. is an amusing novel by Robert Sheckley (who also wrote the hilarious Dimension of Miracles). It’s about a man who dies in a car accident in 1958 only to find himself alive again in 2110 where a powerful corporation has whisked him through time and brought him back to life as a publicity stunt. The corporation grows tired of him almost immediately and he is released into a world where death has been banished (for the rich at least) but complications have resulted. These complicat ...more
Pam Baddeley
A 1959 novel, this tells how Thomas Blaine, yacht designer, is transported to the year 2110 after a car crash which it later turns out was deliberately engineered - at least, his mind is transported. He wakes up in the body of another man into a nightmare situation where he has been brought forward as an advertising publicity stunt for the Rex Corporation. Things go from bad to worse when the director of the company cancels the advertising campaign on the grounds that it is now illegal to bring ...more
Ari Brin
Oct 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I haven't read any Sheckley for a decade, so this was a pleasant surprise. Imaginative, original writing, that manages to effectively satire science fiction itself. Tom Blaine, an uninventive junior yacht designer, is killed in a car accident in 1958, but he is resurrected in the year 2110 by the powerful Rex corporation as a "gimmick in a marketing campaign." That falls through, and Blaine finds himself alone in a changed world. Here, the secret to the afterlife has been scientifically discover ...more
Paul Ataua
Oct 15, 2016 rated it liked it
The story of a man, who is killed in an automobile accident in 1958, snatched up by a giant corporation, and transported 150 years into a future in which scientists have discovered the secret of immortality. His mind has been separated and placed into a new body as part of the company’s marketing campaign, but as the plans for the campaign are discarded, his new body is to be harvested yet again and given to a rich and ageing businessman. At its best, when considering the philosophical questions ...more
Margaret Lozano
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like most of the best sci-fi of its time, Immortality Inc. is full of far-fetched, ahead-of-its time ideas (like consciousness transfer) - with a soupçon of sexism and a dash of Eastern spirituality. I really enjoyed it (the book reminded me considerably of Altered Carbon).

The pseudoscience is a little over the top, but honestly, it’s a sci-if book about switching minds and bodies. Even contemporary science fiction sounds pretty silly attempting to explain such things, so perhaps the author’s d
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Originally serialized as Time Killer, this is Robert Sheckley's first novel. Making the assumption that there is something after life, he looks at how society changes, from suicide booths to legalized person hunts. Very influential to the television show Futurama, and loosely so to a movie called Freejack.

The exploration of future society is good, and the characters are interesting. One key part of the plot, the time travel mechanism that brings the consciousness of our protagonist to the future
Ami Iida
Nov 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I read it in m junior high school and watched the movie, Mick Jaggar appeared in it.
Jun 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 50s-60s sci-fi ideas
I had picked up this book a while ago, at a random book stall in the center of the city. It was almost raining, I was curious and got it on the impulse of the moment, without really checking it out first. Sci-Fi, the world of the future (as seen by a 50s writer...and character), transfer of the soul and so on...what's there to not like then?

I have enjoyed this book quite immensely. It has a great character to start off with, some intrigues here and there, and the whole world of 2110 to deal wit
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, audiobook
Welcome to a world which has conquered death. A world where one can live again and again in a new body and ultimately gain entrance into the hereafter. If you have the money to pay for it.

Thomas Blaine was driving down the New Jersey Turnpike when his car suddenly swerves and crashes into oncoming traffic. When he wakes up he hears someone say, “He’s alive now”, followed by a discussion of his ‘death trauma’. Thomas soon discovers that he has been snatched from the moment of death, transported t
Paul Spence
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Robert Sheckley’s first novel Immortality, Inc. (variant title: Time Killer) (1958) has a somewhat checkered publication history. It was originally published by Avalon books under the title Immortality Delivered (1958) where it was abridged against Sheckley’s wishes. Unless you are a collector of the Avalon publication series I recommend procuring the complete 1959 Bantam Book edition with its gorgeous (and alas, uncredited) cover. Later editions were decked with rather unfortunate covers linkin ...more
Frederick  Lopez
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
A man dies in the Fifties and is resurrected one and a half centuries later. He wakes to a world of suicide booths, of a Mars colonised by China, of entire plant ecologies that devour themselves for the entertainment of restaurant patrons, of mindswapping, of zombies and poltergeists and werewolves, and of frustratingly antiquated gender roles.

I didn’t like this book. I thought Robert Sheckley was meant to be funny, but this book was earnest. There was a tacked-on romance that felt completely gr
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-read
I thoroughly enjoyed both Sheckley's writing and Bronson Pinchot's narration of this darkly humorous dystopian mash-up. The story begins with the accidental death of the protagonist in a traffic accident in 1958, with the bulk of the action taking place after Blaine's mind is placed in a new body in 2110. A wild ride ensues -- trust no one.

Combines several popular tropes: transmigration of minds / reincarnation, corporate manipulation of the state, zombies, hauntings, and humans hunting humans.
Manuel Alfonseca
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
Although this sci-fi novel has an original plot and a very good construction, where all the loose ends are finally tightly bound and everything occupies its proper place, even with a somewhat moral ending, I'm afraid I cannot give it more than two stars.
I feel a strong dislike about its central theme, the scientific hereafter, that makes it impossible for me to empathize with the novel, to lower my level of incredulity. I find myself thinking, once and again, this cannot be, this is all a fake.
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1959, sci-fi
"Afterwards, Thomas Blaine thought about the manner of his dying and wished it had been more interesting. Why couldn’t his death have come while he was battling a typhoon, meeting a tiger’s charge, or climbing a windswept mountain? Why had his death been so tame, so commonplace, so ordinary?"

That's how the book starts and it maintains that tone. Serious subjects with a touch of humor. Like a less serious and trippy Philip K Dick novel.
Marie Segares
After watching Free Jack, I decided to look for the book it was (very slightly) based on. Although at times it was a bit schlocky (and at other times, it was obviously written in the 1950s), I found myself drawn into the story. It's a lighthearted exploration of some big ideas about life and death, the mind and body, and the future. Bronson Pinchot did an excellent job narrating. ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Solid example of classic science fiction that, despite numerous hints that the way 1950s society treats women is wrong, never quite escaped that 1950s-era treatment of female characters and women in general. I expect it from stories of this era, so I'm not sure why it bothered me so much here. Maybe it was the hypocrisy. But all in all it was a worthwhile read for the speculation. ...more
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One of science fiction's great humorists, Sheckley was a prolific short story writer beginning in 1952 with titles including "Specialist", "Pilgrimage to Earth", "Warm", "The Prize of Peril", and "Seventh Victim", collected in volumes from Untouched by Human Hands (1954) to Is That What People Do? (1984) and a five-volume set of Collected Stories (1991). His first novel, Immortality, Inc. (1958), ...more

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“You must realize, Mr. Blaine, that a man is not his body, for he receives his body accidentally. He is not his skills, for those are frequently born of necessity. He is not his talents, which are produced by heredity and by early environmental factors. He is not the sicknesses to which he may be predisposed, and he is not the environment that shapes him.” 6 likes
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