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The First Immortal: A Novel Of The Future Mass Market Paperback – October 31, 1998


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The First Immortal: A Novel Of The Future + Long Life?: A Journey into the Unknown World of Cryonics
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (October 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345421825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345421821
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 4.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #497,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In 1988, Benjamin Franklin Smith suffers a massive coronary and is placed into cryonic suspension, igniting a storm of controversy among his suspicious relatives. In 2072, on his 147th birthday, he is reanimated by his great-grandson, rejoining a world in which such procedures--along with eugenic selection, virtual reality, and nanotechnology--have become commonplace. Ben's friends, children, grandchildren ,and mother are also given second chances in this brave new world; technology has even made it possible for Ben to have his dead wife cloned as an infant, raised by their son (also frozen and revived) to an adulthood in which she marries him again.

If this sounds a bit bewildering and overwhelming, it is, but it's also fascinating and often has the ring of genuine prediction. As in Halperin's first novel, The Truth Machine, the technology is always front and center, but this is ultimately a story of people and the political and sociological implications of near immortality. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-A family saga spanning 200 years. The catch is that most of the relatives remain on the scene throughout this whole time period, or show up again by the end. This remarkable feat is accomplished through cryogenics, the science of freezing a person in liquid nitrogen shortly before death, with the hope of resurrection at some later date. Ben Smith, born in 1925, marries his high school sweetheart, fathers four children, and becomes an advocate of cryogenics. After his "death," his children squabble among themselves and institute a suit against the estate in an attempt to unfreeze both their father's body and his assets. Each new period is introduced by what reads like a CNN clip of current news through the year 2125. The scientific ideas and possibilities presented capture the imagination, and YAs are sure to ponder and question the images with which they are left. What happens to the soul? Would anyone want to clone dead parents and raise them as their children? How is immortality to be lived? An afterword gives information about cryogenics. A challenging and fascinating glimpse of one possible future.
Carol DeAngelo, American Chemical Society Library, Washington, DC
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

If you enjoy good, no say great true Science Fiction, then you need to read this book.
"tinkers@olypen.com"
The First Immortal raises many cultural, religious and ethical questions; any reader will have much to contemplate.
J.A. Black
I enjoyed the author's easy writing style and layman's explanation of nanotechnology and its future potential.
Penfist

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Years ago I was a keyholder in the MIT Science Fiction Society, and read tons of SF. Then, I heard Eric Drexler give a talk about nanotechnology, read Engines of Creation, and started studying the field. I was ruined. Very little SF stands up to even a minimal understanding of future technology. That, plus work, cut my SF reading to just a couple books a year. I now rely very strongly on recommendations so I don't waste my few "slots."
One of the few exceptional books that does have some grasp on the technological future is Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, a great SF novel that also gets the future of technology accurate enough that one can criticize it. There is now another equally nano-savvy novel, The First Immortal, by James Halperin. I understand he set out to write this book to force himself to research cryonics, and decide whether or not it is worth signing up. Cryonics makes sense only if we have technology in the future we do not have today. That look forced Halperin to come to grips with nanotechnology, and in The First Immortal we have a technologically literate view of future society.
If you want to understand the future, this book is a great glimpse, showing much of what nanotechnology will bring. It is also a great yarn.
The main weakness of The First Immortal is that it relies heavily on getting characters to "lecture" each other, and thus the reader. This sets out a lot of material that is important to understand, but the lecturing gets obvious after a while. Also the book starts out slow, but it's worth going through the beginning to get to the middle and end.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Clough on January 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Halperin's "The First Immortal" is not only an engrossing work of fiction, but also a highly understandable introduction to the very difficult scientific, political and social subjects he addresses. Subjects we will all be forced to face directly in the near future. Please do not dismiss this book as "just" a work of imagination. I encourage every reader to look futher into cryonics and especially into nanotechnology. Mr. Halperin's greatest contribution is to make us think about our own future. Nanotech has the potential to change every aspect of our lives. I hope we will be prepared for those changes. I applaude Mr. Halperin for his research and for his vision. "The First Immortal" is a must read!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Spoering on March 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read this novel in hardback a couple of years ago, and now just finished this 2nd edition in paperback, changed somewhat. The plot and character development are good, equally divided between technology and the personal lives of the people involved. The plot centers around cryonics, people being suspended via cryonics and revived, decades later, when technology is more advanced. I gave this novel 4 stars instead of five stars due to some of the improbable things Halperin states, such as tens of thousands of people signed up for cryonics by the year 2005, when in fact only about 1000 people are signed up as I type this, and a few other not likely items. However, I do agree with Halperin that cryonics will ultimately work, given many decades. One thing the book stresses over and over again is that people today do not think for themselves, and instead follow the crowd. It does take sheer force of will to see the universe as it really is and take action, as it takes to become a cryonicist.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jackie Tortorella VINE VOICE on September 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was tremendously impressed by Halperin's treatment of the whole subject of cryonics. His exploration of all the implications of such technology was very thorough. This book probably would have been worthwhile just because of the technology, but as it turned out, the characterization was excellent also. It did not make me want to freeze myself, but it sure did make me ponder the religious, philosophical and practical aspects of human immortality. For anyone who likes to think, this is a gread read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Martinez on March 6, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
James Halperin has created an easy-to-read book on the still mysterious world of cryonics. In doing so I think, I hope, that maybe some people can nurture more of an optimistic view of the future. Granted it's fiction, but his ability to develop characters that one can truly liken to people in our own lives and also speak of the wonders of "immortality" has really hit something. Here's the thing: it gives hope in technology, albeit a world we won't see for a good deal of time. I'm only 25 years old, but already I fear that this life is not enough for me to accomplish everything I'd like to, big and small. Mr. Halperin shows us how to re-look our current status, and forces us to remind ourselves that the time we have with those we love is precious, not to be abused. Suspend belief, lighten up, and don't be a critic. Read the book. If you're on this page reading this, you're probably the type to enjoy it. And if I'm wrong, shoot me an email. But I honestly won't be expecting one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael F. Maddox on February 26, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
THE FIRST IMMORTAL is the sort of story that most hard sci-fi fans will enjoy - technology writing and speculation fill the book. Unfortunately, the author saw fit to add a rather contrived bit of character development and conflict as a key part of the story. Additionally, the author seems rather unsure of how to construct a narrative, as the book begins with first-person storytelling (i.e., "my grandfather was born..."), but then jumps to traditional third-person (i.e., "Ben found himself thinking...") throughout. While not confusing, this bizarre change of POV can be startling and unpleasant.
Bad things aside, the author DOES make a wonderful case for cryonic research, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. The author is blatantly attempting to sway the minds of his readers to support both pure and applied research into these fields, as he obviously sees them as key technologies to provide hope for humanity. This makes for an interesting, enthusiastic read, and creates a wonderful work of speculative fiction.
I read this book in two sittings, and found myself engrossed in the technologies described therein. It was a joy to find such hope placed in science and rational thought.
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