We continue our tribute to Robert Sheckley (1928-2005) with Immortality, Inc., Sheckley's first novel. Originally published in an abridged version called Immortality Delivered in 1958, this 1959 edition is the first printing, paperback original of the complete version. Immortality, Inc. was a nominee for the Hugo Award for best science fiction or fantasy novel of 1958. It has a wonderfully bizarre opening line, the kind that is possible only in science fiction and fantasy: "Afterwards, Thomas Blaine thought about the manner of his dying and wished it had been more interesting."
Immortality, Inc. was made into a 1992 film called Freejack, starring Emilio Estevez. The film was not good and entirely lacked Sheckley's trademark humor. Several of Sheckley's novels have been made into movies, and while I have not seen the others, I have it on good authority that only one is worth watching: The Tenth Victim (1965), starring Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress. In general, film producers and directors do not understand written science fiction and routinely butcher the SF stories they attempt to adapt to the screen. (The same used to be true of fantasy, but that is starting to change, thanks largely to Peter Jackson). This is why fans of written SF are forever trying to distance themselves from Hollywood SF - although most of us actually like to watch the movies, even the bad ones.