Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley

What if you died and woke the future?

Imortality, Inc. (1959) by Robert Sheckley
Genre: SF Time travel
Length: 5h 48m
Audio publisher: Blackstone Audio, 2011
Read by: Bronson Pinchot
Nominated for a Hugo under the name Time Killer
From: Purchased from Audible
Buy this audiobook from

Story: Thomas Blaine, a 32 year-old junior yacht designer, is already obsolete in 1958. There are only so many yachts that need designing. When he gets in a car wreck and wakes up in 2110 New York, he has some serious questions. How is he alive? What's happened in the past 150 years? and Who will hire a 20th century yacht designer?

Thoughts: For such a short story, Imortality, Inc. is full of big ideas. It's also really funny. I guess 'yacht designer' is an occupation much like 'architect.' It's upper class, cerebral, and pays well, but it's so random, it made me laugh every time it came up. The story follows every-man Blaine from the '50's as he bumbles around future New York. It's less about time travel and more about a future where ghosts and zombies have been scientifically explained, immortality can be bought, and the afterlife is for anyone who has the right insurance. Imortality, Inc. is a forward-thinking story that could almost have been written today. Almost because it shows its age in its female characters. They start off strong and unsympathetic, but as soon as they start acting sympathetic, they fall into the female 50's stereotype of stopping their own lives to follow their men. Bleck. Ignoring the women, this is a great story with fabulous ideas.

Reading: I knew Bronson Pinchot from his role as Balki on the 1986 sitcom Perfect Strangers. He did a great job on that show, but I had no idea the guy reading this story was the same person. His voices in Immortality, Inc. are all distinct and extremely well done with a 50's noir flair. I especially liked the voice of Joe, who sounded a lot like Peter Lorre in The Maltese Falcon. His female voices were good, too, although I didn't care for the 50's baby-doll bimbo. I know it's a period voice, but it's a period voice I'd like to forget. 

Dose of Wikipedia: Imortality, Inc. was loosely adapted into the 1992 movie Freejack starring Emilio Esteves, Mick Jagger and Anthony Hopkins. That movie sounds so bad it must be good!
A scene from Imortality, Inc. where Blaine mistakenly stands in line for a suicide booth, was used in the pilot episode of Futurama. Funny stuff!

Final thoughts: A SF classic and must-listen for science fiction aficionados and Futurama lovers alike.

Grade: 5 out of 5

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